The Memorial Service for Diana, Princes of Wales at the Guards’ Chapel in London on 31 August, 2007, dominated the TV news in The Commonwealth and around the world. The French news, relayed through SBS in Australia, opened with an extensive report on the service. The Australian national broadcaster, the ABC, did not broadcast the service. The Melbourne based Monarchist Alliance featured this letter from Mr Chis Benham of Carnegie Victoria, a letter which was published in The Age on Monday, 3 September, 2007 :
“It is sad but not surprising that despite the immense media coverage of the 10th anniversary of the death of Princess Diana, no Australian television station showed the memorial service. Neither of our national broadcasters saw fit to squeeze the one-hour program into their schedule, after all athletics and a TV cop drama are far more important! Thankfully pay TV viewers could see it on either the BBC or SkyNews. But the total failure of the ABC to cover royal events of direct interest to many Australians is appalling. Again and again the ABC simply refuses to acknowledge that Australia is a constitutional monarchy. The most striking failure of the ABC remains the refusal to show part of the funeral of the Queen Mother. Until the ABC recognises that it has a responsibility to Australians to show events involving OUR royal family, they are failing the Australian people!”
On the same day, which being 3 September is National Flag Day, I tuned my radio by error to the Sydney 2UE Mike Carlton-Peter Fitzsimons breakfast programme. I found Mr. FitzSimons insisting – at some length – that the Australian flag had to be changed. (Readers will recall that Mr. FitzSimons created the republicans failed Mate for a Head of State campaign, the subject of a special report in this column on 13 August 2006.)
This attack on our Flag, on National Flag Day, was followed by an extensive interview with a person who claimed to be on the list of those forbidden to enter the declared zone for the Sydney APEC meeting.
That very morning the Daily Telegraph announced that the former premier, the Hon. Bob Car, who had expelled NSW Governors from Government House allegedly to save money, had in fact cost the taxpayer $404,529 in various expenses over the last year. (The expulsion of our governors proved to be more costly than allowing them to live in their home, and when he left office Mr. Carr admitted that the reason for the expulsion related to the reserve powers which makes the Governor a check and balance on the politicians: see the RETURN THE GOVERNOR! campaign on the ACM site.)
This expenditure by the taxpayer for Mr. Carr of over $400,000 in just one year does not include his superannuation. However this was about $30,000 less than Mr. Carr’s expenses in the previous year. This was achieved by not charging various journal and newspaper subscriptions, including such magazines as the New York Review of Books, to the taxpayer.
Mr. Carr is employed as a consultant with the Macquarie Bank. How much he is paid has not been revealed, but it is believed to be lucrative. In the meantime republicans, including republican politicians, complain about the “cost” of Royal Homecomings, although these “ costs” are inflated by charging every possible item to the visit. They do not so this in relation to their activities, for example the Senate Investigation on a republic.
No republican politician appears to be complaining about the cost of the APEC which is likely to be $320 million. I am not suggesting they should. If Australia is to play its role in the world it must take its turn in hosting important meetings.
The APEC meeting incidentally encouraged Ms Pamela Chippindall of Woollahra, NSW, to write this letter which was published in The Sydney Morning Herald on 5 September, 2007:”If I have ever made scathing comments in the past about the preparations for royal visits, please forgive me.”
Some of our republican politicians and the media could learn something from this.