In between answering claims that he has done nothing to stop the enormous waste in a series of billion dollar government programmes, the Federal Finance Minister, Lindsay Tanner, found time to make a blistering attack on fellow republicans.

He chose as his target  the "direct-elect" republicans. They  argue that in a politicicans' republic the president should be chosen through a nationwide  election rather than chosen by other politicians.   Curiously, he claimed that he belonged to this faction.

“Remember the republicans who campaigned for a ''No'' vote in the republic referendum,” he asked in an opinion piece in The Sydney Morning Herald  (“Greens do nothing to bring about change” 25 March).  

“They wanted a directly elected president and promised a vigorous campaign for a "real republic" after the referendum was defeated,” he continued.” Did we hear anything further? Of course not. They were full of hot air. “

" I'm a direct electionist but I voted "yes" in 1999," he admitted.

…”just a lust for power”…

This was too much for the independent republican, Ted Mack ( letters, Herald , 26-27 March).  He is one of the most honest men ever to go into Australian politics. As Mayor of North Sydney he sold off the mayoral Mercedes, buying buses instead.

He resigned from the NSW Parliament two days before he would have been eligible for the politicians extraordinarily generous taxpayer subsidised superannuation scheme, of which he strongly disapproved. He later resigned from the Commonwealth Parliament in similar circumstances.

Mr Mack’s letter reads ” It is sad to read Lindsay Tanner denigrating those who campaigned for the public's right to vote for a president at the referendum in 1999."

“The proposition offered no public benefit. It addressed none of the many dysfunctional aspects of our constitution."

" It was simply an attempt to concentrate power in the two major parties by appealing to the racist and sectarian elements of society," he continued.

"Its political supporters had no interest in a genuine republic, just the usual lust after power.”

“This shameful episode is why the politicians have retreated to a generally sullen silence since then. It is clear that no serious move towards a genuine democratic republican constitution will be made until the present generation of political leaders has faded into obscurity.”

…Ted Mack is consistent….

At Corowa in 1999 for a debate on the referendum organized by The Australian, I asked him whether the proponents of the Turnbull –Keating 1999 republic realized how vastly it would increase the powers of the  politicians.

Delivered in his dour style, his answer was chilling:  “Not only do they realize it, that is precisely what they want.”

….Referendum campaign…


 Mr. Mack was appointed by the government, with Clem Jones and eight ACM delegates to the official Vote no Committee in 1999. This was decided on the basis of the votes in the Convention election.

The Committee chaired by Kerry Jones met regularly, worked together and was very effective in conducting the official No advertising campaign.

 

….Lindsay Tanner refuses to apologise for baseless allegations of serious criminal conduct…

In June 2009 I sent the following letter to Lindsay Tanner.

He has not replied nor has he apologised for making, under parliamentary privilege, baseless allegations of criminal conduct against several prominent persons.  He has not acknowledged the letter.

'Dear Mr. Tanner,

 I am delighted to see your refreshing call for the waiving of parliamentary privilege.    I would be grateful if you would confirm by return that you are waiving any privilege concerning your allegation of a tax scam and fraud made against me and several other persons in the House on 13 February 2006.

You will recall that after a most rigorous investigation this was subsequently found by the Australian Tax Office to be baseless. However you have not to date apologised to any of those defamed.  

 The affair is summarised in the following negotiated reply from me included in a report from the Privileges and Members’ Interests Committee received by the House of Representatives on 4 September, 2008 and  incorporated in Hansard. 

 “On 13 February 2006, Mr Lindsay Tanner MP, the Member for Melbourne, alleged that Australian’s for Constitutional Monarchy (ACM) had ‘engaged in a brazen tax scam’ and that the association between ACM and the Constitution Education Fund Australia (CEF-A) was a ‘fraud on Australian taxpayers,’ according to Hansard, 4 September, 2008.   

 “He offered no evidence nor had he contacted either ACM or CEF-A beforehand. 

 “However he urged ACM ‘to make use of their right of reply in parliament’ to provide an explanation of the circumstances.’”   

 “In referring to me as the national convenor of ACM, there was an implication that the allegations Mr Tanner made applied to me in a way that adversely affected my reputation.     

“The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) conducted a comprehensive and lengthy audit of CEF-A, and substantial costs were involved in satisfying the requests of the ATO.   

 “The audit resulted in no finding of any breach of the tax laws. Although requested, Mr Tanner has not withdrawn his allegation.” 

 If you could confirm the waiving of privilege I undertake to inform each person affected by your allegation.  

 David Flint,

 National Convener ACM