July 9

Mad Hatter Tea Party: Media Accused Over 2020 Summit


It seems this site was more reliable in reporting the conclusions of the 2020 Summit on proposed republican change than most of the media.

Even the self styled “serious” media were inaccurate.

It makes you wonder about the other news Australians are receiving.

This was partly because of the chaotic way the Summit was managed.

As one leading republican, Professor Robert Manne  puts it, the Summit had become a Mad Hatter’s  Tea Party ( see this column, “A Mad Hatter’s Party…frenzied and chaotic” : Leading 2020 Summiteer’s assessment,” 12 June, 2008).

How ironic then that the people who were obviously incapable of organising a meeting, and keeping proper minutes of their decisions have the hide to argue that one of the world’s most successful constitutions should be changed.

…media failure…

There were, I think, two other reasons the media who were at the Summit failed to report the Summit properly.

First , they were too close to it.

Some were even participants.

The other reason is that many journalists spend so much effort commenting  they forget about their primary task which is to collect the facts.

I suspect that hardly any actually looked at the report released on Sunday. (Nor for that matter did most of the Summit delegates.)

If they thought it was wrong, that should have been the story.

But they obviously ignored it.

We didn’t. On the day the Summit concluded, 20 April, 2008  ACM put out a media release, “Summit Laughing Stock.

In it we warned that the Summit was ” in danger of becoming a laughing stock.”

“The panel recommends an as yet unknown republic through a two-stage process. The first stage is to end ties with the UK.”

Such ties of course went years ago. This story was taken up in some of the media, particularly Sydney’s high rating radio station, 2GB.

People were laughing across Sydney as the message came out. That spread across the nation, even if the serious media played it down.

Some delegates were outraged and contacted the summit secretariat.

That no doubt caused frenzied meetings in Canberra and Melbourne.

It took ten days to do something about it .

Instead of openly admitting something was wrong, the Summit records were surreptitiously changed  ( see this column, “Information and media manipulation par excellence,”  23 May 2008).

I cannot find any report about this in the media.

Anyway, I was asked recently whether I have anything in writing to prove the Summit record were changed. Well, I replied, I posted the decisions onto the ACM site.

 But there was nothing about the change on the Summit site, I was asked.

Of course there wasn’t, I replied.


…our report confirmed…


My report is corroborated by a delegate and person of high standing, Dr. Anne Twomey. She writes:

“Even worse was the fact that the final recommendations of the Governance group — fought out in a frantic and chaotic final session — were not correctly incorporated in the report presented to the Prime Minister.

“For example, the report listed as one of the top ideas of the Governance group: ‘Introduce an Australian republic, via a two-stage process, with Stage 1 ending ties with the UK while retaining the Governor-General’s titles and powers for five years. Stage 2: Identifying new models after extensive and broad consultation.’”


Another source confirms this. And we have other evidence which we will publish in the coming referendum or plebiscite campaign.

If there is one.

The point is, if you can’t run a weekend talk fest in Canberra, where you have already rigged the representation, don’t have the hide to tell the people to change their constitution.

Thanks to the Summit, we will be able to demonstrate is in any campaign.


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