One of the areas in which the Rudd and Gillard governments have departed from precedent and respect for office is the way in which announcements have been made.
Many appointments are formally made by the Governor-General in Council (either under the Constitution or an Act of Parliament). Before Rudd, as far as my memory serves me, an announcement of an appointment would only be made after the Governor-General had signed the appointment. The typical words would be something like
The Prime Minister / Treasurer / Minister is pleased to announce that the Governor-General has accepted the Government’s recommendation to appoint <name of person> to <position>.
Over the last few years, though, there have been many examples of the Government pre-empting the Governor-General’s decision, such as the most recent
The Government is pleased to announce it will recommend to the Governor-General the appointment of Mr Peter Harris as the new Chair of the Productivity Commission.
As if the announcement couldn’t wait until the Governor-General had signed the instrument of appointment.
So too with elections. To my knowledge, no Prime Minister – except Julia Gillard – has pre-empted the Governor General. In fact the media has had a watch on the street leading to Government House in Yarralumla for the Prime Minister to drive to the Governor-General and then, and only then, announce that the Governor-General has agreed to dissolve the House of Representatives and issue writs for election.
Gillard has thumbed her nose at precedent and respect for the Office of the Governor-General by announcing a date without the approval of the Governor-General (did she even speak to the Governor-General before the announcement?).
Imagine if the Coalition had shown such disrespect to Quentin Bryce.