April 29, 2004 | Jeff Wall

Why Professor Flint must go

THE cat fight between John Laws and Alan Jones must not be allowed to obscure the serious questions that have arisen concerning the Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA), “Professor” David Flint.
As a believer in the Constitutional Monarchy I have long held the view that Professor Flint is the best thing the republican cause has going for it!
But his frequent intrusions into political debate, and his apparently active membership of the Liberal Party, must raise serious questions about his suitability to hold the quasi-judicial office of Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Authority.
Members of the judiciary generally accept that they cannot be members of political parties, and the difference between the judiciary and a body such as the ABA is not substantial. The ABA has wide powers over the broadcast industry, including the power to suspend or cancel broadcast licenses, and impose heavy fines on stakeholders, and it operates as a statutory Tribunal.
I noted on the day of the Wentworth Liberal pre-selection ballot that Professor Flint was a participant. To say I was surprised is an understatement.
The ABA is a powerful body that inevitably attracts intense media scrutiny – and so it should.
Surely someone in Professor Flint’s position ought to appreciate that his own impartiality, and that of the ABA, will be questioned if he is an active participant in politics, especially party politics?
If he does not appreciate that, then his appallingly bad performance on the 7:30 Report on Tuesday night was no aberration!
Of course he is free to support the cause of the constitutional monarchy (I just wish he would do so with a much lower profile) but his not infrequent intrusion into political debates cannot possibly be defended.
If he wants to be a political activist then he should stand down from his quasi-judicial role, return to academic life, and then be as active as he wants.
But he cannot continue to hold an elevated quasi-judicial role exercising great influence over the media while being a political activist and partisan player.
The beginning of the end of the Bjelke-Petersen era in Queensland really came about when the Premier began politicising high judicial appointments – and especially that of Chief Justice.
The National-Liberal Coalition ended in 1983 for a variety of reasons. One of the underlying reasons why Liberal coalitionists, such as the late Sir William Knox, gave up on the National Party, and the then Premier, was the politicisation of the judiciary.
I know from my own association with him as his first Press Secretary that Sir William Knox, when Attorney-General, regarded judicial appointments as a ministerial duty to be performed with absolute probity. When his successor allowed that process to be sullied, a career long commitment to the coalition came into question.
It took the Queensland judiciary a generation to recover from the damage inflicted by its politicisation.
Unless Professor Flint has the good grace to quietly exit the ABA stage, that quasi judicial body, and the proper role it is charged with, will be significantly damaged.
If he does not exist voluntarily, the responsible Federal Minister should gently show him the door!

Posted by Jeff Wall at 12:21 pm | Comments (3) |
Filed under: Uncategorized


  1. Nothing intelligent to say about your piece except a resounding “hear, hear”! I cannot stand the vile Flint; the man whilst being a fiscal elitist has the audacity to call the leftist intelligentsia of this country elitists, that do not speak for a large group of Australians. Hogwash.

    Comment by matt byrne — April 30, 2004 @ 5:19 pm

  2. Flint’s only claim to elitist status, has to be completely outsideoutside the realms of intellectual endeavour. I don’t doubt he may once have possessed a degree of intellectual competency; but can this really still be said of him? I wonder whether dementia praecox [especially with an originally reasonably bright person, and in its early stages] might have been overlooked?
    With regard to the Republican Debate, Flint’s performance at the last referendum continues to worry me. In the event of another referendum being held, and the proposed model being badly flawed, I could imagine Flint’s appalling style and ideas being so repugnant to undecided voters, that they voted “Yes”, simply to punish the pompous old dear.

    Comment by Norman — April 30, 2004 @ 9:34 pm

  3. A well reasoned piece of writing Jeff!
    The key for me is seeing that those serving in ‘high office’ behave impartially – and are ‘seen’ to do so in everything they do. Clearly Prof. Flint had lost sight of this and seems to want to have the ‘position’ without the responsibility and probity which goes with it.
    Another sad episode in our history.

    Comment by David Graham — May 1, 2004 @ 12:07 am

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