June 14

Why this vicious, personal attack?


Perhaps the growing realisation in the media that the republican movement is in trouble explains the Herald Sun’s recent personal attack on the Royal Family.  It began with a piece by Mark Dunn on 13 June,2007, “Royal Scrooges sting taxpayers.”
On the next day, the Herald Sun editorialised that it was no wonder that opinion polls are showing increasing disaffection for the monarchy. But all published polls have said the opposite. It is extraordinary to begin an editorial with such a misstatement of the facts. Viciously, and ignoring all diplomatic and government practice , the editor said it had unearthed stunning parsimony by the Royal Family. It had not. All it had done was to show that governments agree on and pay for official gifts which courtesy and custom rquire be exchanged. And by the way, there was no mention of the fact that the Prince of Wales raised half a billion dollars for charity last year. Some parsimony.
In reply, ACM’s Victorian Convenor, Brett Hogan wrote:”There is an obvious hypocrisy about news articles itemising every imaginable cost from a visiting royal or current/former governor general but next to nothing about the costs associated with visiting Presidents or Prime Ministers.When you invite someone to your place for dinner you don’t charge them for the meal. All around the world, governments cross-subsidise domestic and foreign embassies, diplomatic visits and the like.
According to the Electoral Commission, the 1999 republic referendum cost the taxpayer $66 million. We would need another royal visit every year for the next century for the royal family to cost us that much.
What a beat-up!”
I sent his comment “If the Governor-General, or the Governor of Victoria visited, say the King of Malaysia, and they exchanged gifts in accordance with traditional standards of hospitality, who do you think would pay? When the Queen of Australia does this, who pays? Who do you think would pay if we had a president and he stayed with say the Governor of Western Australia, or visited the Emperor of Japan or the Pope? Why do you make an exception for our Sovereign, one of the most respected figures in the world?  Is it that support for a republic is in free fall?”
Dr Nigel Greenwood of Canberra commented:” With respect, your editorial lacks understanding of the background.In Australia (or other Queen’s Realms, such as Canada, New Zealand or the Caribbean realms), local taxpayers only cover costs relating to Elizabeth II as Queen of Australia. Ordinary royal costs are covered by the British Government, using a complex arrangement under the Civil List (which your editorial also doesn’t understand, talking of multi-billion family fortunes; the royal estates are not private wealth.) Gifts formally made by the Queen usually involve a degree of prior arrangement with the Australian or other government; they may also involve the British Government. The involvement of taxpayer money can be appropriate, depending on what the respective governments have insisted on. This is the final flaw of your editorial: from what you have written, it isn’t "stunning parsimony" by Buckingham Palace, but policy from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Don’t blame the Queen, blame Tony Blair”




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