Image for Andrew Nikolic Chucks a Wobbly

*Pic: Andrew Nikolic MP ...

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The correction ...

In local journalism, Nikolic asserts the Power of One ...

You have to admit when it comes to the politically outrageous Andrew Nikolic has few equals.

The North-Eastern Advertiser plies its trade admirably in local news but Andrew Nikolic seems to regard it as a personal vehicle to print his finer philosophical musings.

His most recent effort was an “Opinion Editorial” on the issue of the “Monarchy v. Republic”.

In the article he suggested that the (ARM) Australian Republic Movement’s advocacy of a plebiscite would see the opinion of Tasmanians swamped by the bigger states.

The article appeared to me so ill-informed I could not resist a response.

Simply put, no plebiscite is legally binding and in any referendum to change the Australian constitution to a republic, Tasmania in fact would have a disproportionally larger say in the result.

As an example I wrote that - as with the suggested same-sex marriage plebiscite - it would not be binding “as Senator Abetz has made clear and with which Mr Nikolic would no doubt concur.”

This minor aside implied no criticism but sent Mr Nikolic into overdrive, fulminating and, to my mind, badgering the Editor, Neil Grose to print a “Correction”.

Not a letter from him giving his opinion. No. Nikolic demanded a “Correction”, written at his behest and printed in the name of the paper, which is what is done when something is potentially defamatory or in very serious error.

This, to me, is an act of inflated high-handedness and editorial interference - and quite unprecedented - in effect obliging the paper to “acknowledge” they made a mistake in publishing my letter. And in this they acquiesced.

So, what is this “Correction” of such monumental importance?

Well, the North-Eastern Advertiser printed that my letter “stated that … Nikolic would not abide by the results of a plebiscite on same-sex marriage” and “acknowledges” that Mr Nikolic “is on the record clearly” that he would abide by “the decision of Bass voters”.

It goes on to say that my claim that Mr Nikolic’s article was “ill-informed and included misleading remarks” was wrong and that “the North Eastern Advertiser accepts that these assertions were unsubstantiated”.

Well bless my soul! Not what was said!

Even Mr Nikolic’s nuanced qualification acknowledges he would not necessarily be bound by a plebiscite, which was all that was suggested. As for “unsubstantiated” assertions his own article clearly shows he was wrong and misleading about the significance of a plebiscite in any constitutional change.

This, to me, is a repetition of Nikolic’s tactics, badgering, bullying and interfering in the open expression of opinion.

These are decent people. Neil Grose, the Editor, said he ’copped a lot….. from Nikolic’s office’ about my letter. He said he would not print any further comment from me, which i accept, but it seemed a sad capitulation.

Win to Nikolic, in silencing a critic.

This Battle of Trafalgar in a Fishbowl would be an amusing Tasmanian tale except this man of inflated self-importance is up soon for re-election.

A politician who is unable to take any criticism is a real worry.

One without a sense of humour is a danger to himself and others.

He is, to me, becoming increasingly ludicrous.

*Dr Michael Powell is no longer employed at UTAS, Launceston - ‘given the furore Nikolic created’ - and has returned to his business of property and pastoral development. He ‘misses the teaching but that’s life’. He is just finishing a book which will be published at the end of the year.

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