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ACM Home arrow Convenor's Column arrow India deserves congratulations

India deserves congratulations Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Sunday, 17 October 2010


The Commonwealth Games ended in a spectacular closing ceremony, which received surprisingly little attention in the Australian media.

You can see the closing  ceremony on this site – just click here.

(A video of Prince Charles opening the Games may be viewed here. A report on the opening may also be seen from this site.)

The fact is Indians delivered a superb Commonwealth Games.  Some of the projects were made “media ready” at the last minute, but journalists should be used to this.

They were ready on time and that is the important thing.

Image
[ Australian netball team]


India deserves credit for this. But where she should be especially praised is her openness, her freedom of speech and of the press.



..a magnificent democracy..

 

The clear fact is that  India not only tolerates this rare and precious jewel, she guarantees it -  and she welcomes it.

Indians are not afraid of investigative reporting and of robust debate. Just watch the Indian Parliament, hear learned counsel argue their cases in the courts, read the opinions of the judges, note the many dissents and open any Indian broadsheet.

India has taken the Westminster system - and Fleet Street- and made them her own.

What a magnificent country. She should be receiving top rating for this from the Western media which rushed to criticise the final details of the preparation for the games.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the media: is it not time for one of those ‘agonising re-appraisal’ so loved by John Foster Dulles?




...Australia and Delhi..



Of course once Australia began to win medals the naysayers in the Australian media took notice. As they should have.

Inevitably, someone had to question the relevance of the Games and the Commonwealth.

Opinion pollster Ross Neilson did so in the Sunday Telegraph and The Punch, dismissing them as some ‘glorified Schools District Gymkhana’. Apart from a swipe at the Empire, his principal objection was that ‘only’ 54 out of about 200 nations in the world compete.

Only 54 nations, only about one quarter of the world’s. That these are nations with many shared traditions, institutions, values, language and law does not impress the pollster.

Actually there were 71 teams at Delhi, which included separate national teams as well as teams from dependencies and territories. But if you rule out the Commonwealth Games you rule out any competition apart from the Olympics and similar world events.

There go all regional competitions, even ones between Australian and New Zealand.




...insult to the athletes...


 

His insulting reference to the Games as a glorified schools district gymkhana – was an insult  to the athletes, officials and volunteers that make them happen. 

It attracted this comment  by ‘Joan’ on The Punch website:

What an old sourpuss- one of the sneering chattering class- sneer as much as you like at individual achievements- bet you can hardly get off your b*m to walk round the block. No one equates Commonwealth games with Olympic—- they never have.

Commonwealth Games allows Australian sports people to come together perform for Australia as a unit, a dress rehearsal for the Olympics. Beating the world record can happen anywhere at any time…don’t need the Olympics for that. How many people actually watch or take interest in any other athletic or swimming events outside Olympics?





...a brutal empire?...




The Sunday Telegraph balanced this piece with an editorial on 10 October, “Why these Games still matter to us”.

But they threw in the gratuitous line, that

The Games are bleached with faded glory - the last remnant of an empire which once controlled the globe with brutality and benevolence in equal measure.

Brutality and benevolence in equal measure?   Of all the empires the British was by far the least brutal.

Would Mahatma Ghandhi’s policy of non-violence have worked d against any other empire but the British?

This line is as accurate as Robert Hughes’ portrayal of the penal colony founded in Australia in 1788 as a’gulag”.  The only gulag with the rule of law.

 

...republican myths...



Of course the republicans had to wade in. In the 1999 referendum ACM reminded the republicans that their repetitive sloganeering should be supported by some elementary research, followed by prudent measures to avoid future problems. 

When it came to our membership of the Commonwealth, ACM was arguing that they should avoid the trap the South African republicans fell into in 1960 when they promised a South African republic would remain in the Commonwealth.

(To get that the republicans had to add foreign whites to the rolls and disenfranchise all voters not classified as white.)

                                          [Continued below - click on 'Read more'] 


You see it is an incontrovertible fact that the rules of the Commonwealth for realms becoming a republic required the new republic – as affirmed unanimously by CHOGM – “reapplying for membership.”  

(CHOGM tried to change this in 2007; I suspect the change is ineffective to stop a veto.)

And as the Secretary General confirmed in writing in 1999, when he received the advice about the change  he would write to all Commonwealth governments “seeking their concurrence for the change...”

If just one objected, the application would fail. 

And there was on potential objector – Dr Mahathir, he had already vetoed our participation in at least one other international body.  Relations with Malaysia had not been improved by two Australian Prime Ministers who had engaged in unwise ‘megaphone’ diplomacy against him.

They were Bob Hawke and Paul Keating. Both, incidentally, are republicans.

Instead of taking note of our sound advice the republicans denied the rule existed. They are still doing it.

Without apparently bothering to check the rules of the Commonwealth, they are still accusing ACM of scaremongering and mythmaking.



...even Professor Williams joins in ...

  

This has included not only the chairman of the ARM, his media director, but  surprisingly, Professor George Williams in new book published by the University of New South Wales.   An extract was published in The Sydney Morning Herald on 11 September.

I sent this letter to The Herald:

George Williams and David Hume (Convincing a nation of naysayers 11-12 September) accuse me of scaremongering in the 1999 referendum.

I did not.

I warned that the “Yes" case, including the then Attorney-General, seemed unaware of the veto then available to  any of the other 52 Commonwealth governments to block our continuing membership.   The Secretary General agreed with me. Details may be found at
www.crownedrepublic.com.au

Rather than scaremongering, what I was saying was that the " Yes" case had a responsibility to ensure that if the people approved  their model, there were no deleterious consequences.


 Sincerely,etc
 

Why won't republicans check the facts?   Indeed, why won't they reveal to the Australian people what they are planning to do to the Constitution and the flag?

 

 

 
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