Our so unpopular Flag
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Monday, 30 January 2006
 

I suppose it was to be expected that the Sydney Morning Herald would not publish my letter of 29 January, 2006, which I included in my column that day: http://www.norepublic.com.au/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=476&Itemid=4

I thought the editor  might have at least otherwise corrected two republican untruths in the Herald.

The first is that an overwhelming majority of Australians -66%- would support a republic if Prince Charles were King. Gerard Henderson had committed a monumental error in reporting this as the finding in a recent Newspoll. (Newspoll is a highly regarded opinion poll undertaken by the rival Murdoch News Corporation) . This report is now a week old, and despite the letters editor telling me it would be corrected, it has not been.

I  suppose this means that Dr.Henderson will have to explain it in his weekly column, which I think will appear on Tuesday, 31 January, 2006 - far too late. This puts the Herald in clear breach of the Press Council Principles, the newpaper industry's code of ethics. In his next column, Dr Henserson should  explain why this untruth was allowed to run for so long nationally through his syndicated column and the web, as well as internationally.

He will have to admit that the Newspoll finding indicates a republican referendum would be lost both today and in the foreseeable future.

At least he'll have to say something about that fiasco, the republican "mates" campaign.

Strangely, the father of the campaign, Peter FitzSimons, has been absolutely and unusually quiet. As has the other half of their 2UE  Sydney breakfast radio talkback programme, the passionately republican Mike Carlton, who for once has not poured out the usual torrent of vitriolic abuse on those who dare support the constitution. Well, at least Mr. Carlton has changed his mind on the Flag.

Meanwhile, those who promoted the campaign in an unbalanced way in the media have been silent too.

No reports at all about the success or failure of the Mates Sunday Sausage Sizzles have been seen or heard in the ultra -republican parts of the media. Imagine if a few hundred had actually turned up to just one of them.

The second republican untruth published in the Herald is that the Australian flag is the most unpopular in the Western world. Again, this is just not true. I recently referred in this column to a survey reported in the Daily Telegraph which shows the flag enjoys overwhelming support.

Now Tim Blair has come in with a really interesting point. It is on his Blog :http://timblair.net/

This is his comment, published under the heading, "Unpopular flag sells in record amounts" :

"Brendan Jones (writes) in the SMH: "Australia has the world’s most unpopular national flag ... Support for the Australian flag peaked in the early 1960s at about 70 per cent. Since then, support has declined steadily at an average of one half of one percentage point each year. "

I guess that explains why current flag sales are so poor:

Sales have increased three-fold in the past five years, with the most notable rise among private rather than corporate buyers ...

Bruce Merrett of Abel Flagpoles and Flags said sales had been steadily rising for three years. “Since September 11, patriotism has increased probably four-fold,” he said.

Jim Hilbert, managing director of Carroll and Richardson Flagworld, said his company’s sales this month were at a 40-year high and 50 per cent higher than at this time last year.

Maybe people are buying all these flags just so they can set them on fire. "

And while I am still quoting Tim Blair, this comment on the same page is a gem, posted under this heading,"Paper dislikes public"

"The Sydney Morning Herald’s Australia Day editorial:

As the fireworks explode this evening to celebrate Australia’s national day, the crowds, the anthem-singing and the flag-waving camouflage an emptiness at this country’s heart."

Tim Blair's quote from the Herald editorial reminds me of Malcolm Turnbull's assertion, on the evening of 6 November 1999, that if John Howard were to be remebered for anything, it would be as the man who broke the nation's heart.

Now Mr Turnbull is working for him.

And who said the Prime Minister doesn't have a fine sense of humour?

Until next time,

David Flint