What publicity! It must have been worth millions. They had Peter FitzSimons, Gerard Henderson and other media celebrities on side, with Ann Henderson and Greg “Australia is a pigsty “Barns handling some pretty obvious free media promotion by republican symapathisers.

Then there was the balanced reporting by, for example, 2GB’s Jim Ball and Channel 7’s David Koch, who ran stories where the other side is allowed to speak.

So you would think with all that , in a city of over 4 million people and a state of about 7 million people, a few interested members of the public would turn up to hear the opening shots in the campaign .

Apart from an exclusive downtown launch to the republican elite, the central feature of the public campaign in Sydney was to be a widely advertised “Beachside Brunch & Sausage Sizzle” at North Bondi Beach, on Sunday, 22 January 2006 .

This was to be held between 10:30am-12:30pm. in the Biddigal Reserve, a pleasant grassy rise just a hop step and jump to the beach.

The republican movement’s big guns duly arrived, and commandeered the only public barbecues at the end of the beach.

Did Waverley’s Council, still mired in the controversy over its ban on our Australian flag flying over the Bondi Pavilion, and charging lifesavers to park their cars , actually consent to moving out ordinary Australians for the purposes of a political campaign?

So in this city of over 4 million, just how many people actually turned up? A reliable observer says a total of forty six, and a journalist tells me “about fifty”

But that included the republican big guns and the media!

And only one was wearing the yellow ribbon Peter FitzSimons had so carefully chosen in months of republican planning in Sydney’s legal precinct.

And the public?. Not one member of the public turned up , it seems. Not even for a free sausage!

And in the meantime, crowds were queuing up a few yards away for a sausage sizzle at the North Bondi Surf Club. But these non-republican sausages weren’t free- they had to pay $1.30 for one sausage.

But this was for a good cause, and Australians are interested in good causes. They are apparently not at all interested in a republic.

Not at all.

As we said, who will they blame for this fiasco?

Until next time,

David Flint