Quentin has done us a favour by showing why an elected G-G is a terrible idea

OK. Professor Julia Gillard, in her retreat by the sea in Adelaide, feels she has something to contribute on our current controversy with Indonesia. She is not only welcome to do so, but as an almost perfect direction finder on policy – do the opposite of what she suggests – she actually does contribute to the debate. Have her out in front, I say. Make sure she remains the most visible member of the Labor Party. Never deprive her of an opportunity to speak whenever she feels the need. I will defend her right to free speech etc etc etc.

However, this is not also the case of Quentin Bryce whose views seem to be as inane as the views of the former Prime Minister but the thing about those personal views is that we are not supposed to know them. She is permitted freedom of opinion, but given the job as Governor-General, she is not free to express them. I again think that by speaking her mind in public, she has actually damaged the causes she favours but that is so far from the point that it is almost not worth mentioning. It’s really this incredible lack of judgment in neither respecting nor understanding her role in a Parliamentary system that is the concern.

Indeed, she almost perfectly underscores why an elected President would cause great harm to the governance of this country. The job of the Governor-General is to hold a series of reserve powers to be applied in those very rare cases of constitutional division and deadlock. In the meantime, it is to be as far from possible from political engagement. If she doesn’t understand that she should by now. And if an apology is owed anywhere by anyone in this country, it is she who owes a private apology to Tony Abbott, and a sincere one.

But if she were an elected President, then she would feel a greater licence to say what she wants in public since she would have the authority of the approximately 50% of the country who had voted for her as President. And rather than commenting here or there on some issue of some kind, the elected Governor-General would feel free to become involved with any and every issue of the day since they would feel they have a constituency of their own.

The Governor-General has done us a favour by giving us just a taste of a world in which our head of state might feel free to enter the political debate. It is why electing the Governor-General would be the worst of all possible constitutional arrangements we might possibly construct.

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49 Responses to Quentin has done us a favour by showing why an elected G-G is a terrible idea

  1. boy on a bike

    Reminds me of the great line in Heartbreak Ridge:

    Maj. Malcolm A. Powers: I don’t know what strings you pulled to get back into this division but I can assure you that I don’t like it. This is the new Marine Corps. The new breed. Characters like you are an anachronism. You should be sealed in a case that reads break glass only in the event of war. Got no tolerance for you old timers who think that you know it better and can have it all your own way. Understand?

  2. Ant

    Our system of government requires for its GG nothing more than a solid barrister who knows when to keep his or her mouth shut.

  3. stackja

    This is the new ALP model. An earlier model

    Bill Hayden
    After winning the 1987 election, Hawke offered Hayden the post of Governor-General as a consolation for replacing him as Labor Leader, denying him the chance to become Prime Minister. The Queen of Australia’s appointment of Hayden as the next Governor-General to succeed Sir Ninian Stephen was publicly announced in mid-1988, and within the following months Hayden resigned from Parliament and severed his political connections with the Labor Party. He assumed the post in early 1989, and served with discretion and distinction, including during the period of transition from the Hawke Government to the Keating Government in December 1991.

  4. Is this the same Quentin Bryce, who as Qld’s governor general was continually in the press re her extravangant spending on clothes and also the quick turn over of staff? If so what more can you expect fro a latte socialist

  5. minderbinder of QLD

    What rush of blood to the head prompted this sad old lady to think that her opinion on anything, should be expressed while she has a role to play as a stand in for a ‘Rent a Royal’? Already the children like Sarah Two Fathers are barking at the moon, exclaiming that there is vice regal support for a Republic of Gay Families. We eagerly await the next announcements from the now talking clothes horse, on what TA should say to BAM BAM, and how he should dismantle our sovereign borders.

  6. H B Bear

    Skeletor is the last relic (pardon the pun) of six years of Labor vandalism.

    A few more months and she disappears round the S-bend with the rest of them.

  7. tomix

    Skeletor is the last relic

    The ALP High Court appointments will be with us for a very long time – plus their other judicial appointments – plus CPS appointments – plus sleepers in the Defence force etc. etc..

  8. David

    Pity Ms Bryce is not as gracious as the Lady she is supposed to represent.

    I’ll ‘fess up straight off that I am a Constitutional Monarchist on the basis of the principle that within such a system it is not the power that the Monarch has but the power she/he denies to some politician. In all their emotive ramblings the Republican enthusiasts have not proposed a system offering us the same safeguards as our current one.

    Ms Bryce has demeaned the office she holds and should do us all a favour and hand in her resignation [not just offer it] and bugger off out of the system.

  9. Bruce

    I’m an apathetic monarchist by inclination since it ain’t broke, needs no fixing yet, and we don’t have to pay for Liz’s upkeep. But I’m quite willing to consider a different model, so here’s my modest suggestion.

    Institute a republic and an office of President chosen by the ruling federal party in Canberra of the time.

    Give that person a 44 magnum and a passport and $5 million escrow account in Switzerland, and permission to shoot dead one person of their choice during their term of 5 years. The President would have no other power. The $5 million would be collectible on execution of the single responsibility of their office.

    I guarantee two things. One, the choice of officeholder will be made very carefully, and two, the views of the President would be quite well listened to.

  10. Vicki

    Off topic – but can anyone lip read? Would love to know what Mitchell Johnson has said to Alastair Cook in the last 3 overs! We can guess, of course…but then….

  11. Bruce, I have reposted your comment on my blog.

    I think your manifesto nicely solves all of those fiddling issues about election systems, terms of office, structure of government and balance of powers, and whose head will go on the back of the money.

    Congratulations.

  12. Viva

    “Abbott, a staunch monarchist who opposes gay marriage, said: “It’s more than appropriate for the governor-general approaching the end of her term to express a personal view. “And as you’d expect of Quentin Bryce, she did it in graceful style.”

    Even as a dyed-in-the-wool Republican who supports an appointed Australian Head of State, I wish Tony would stop being so bloody noble.

  13. Stateless, free and happy

    Alan Jones for President. He is local and gay. Ticks lots of boxes. QB would surely be proud of such an appointment.

  14. Ellen of Tasmania

    We could invite Harry to come and be our very own king. He could marry one of Abbott’s daughters.

  15. tomix

    Harry could wear his SS costume and suck the best mans nipples.

    But he still wouldn’t be as grotesque as Quentin Bryce.

  16. cuckoo

    Had the sickbag handy when ABC news last night were crowing that Tony Abbott ‘supported’ the GG. Any grownup (hence no-one in the ABC) could see that Abbott was maturely choosing not to fight a battle that he couldn’t win, despite being in the right, and which would disappear in a few months anyway. I suspect he is a student of Sun Tzu.

    In the meantime I ponder what the ABC would make of an Abbott-appointed GG opining that marriage is between a man and a woman, and Australia should never become a republic.

  17. Andrew

    Give that person a 44 magnum and a passport and $5 million escrow account in Switzerland, and permission to shoot dead one person of their choice during their term of 5 years. The President would have no other power. The $5 million would be collectible on execution of the single responsibility of their office.

    A week before the election Kevni would have appointed Bob Ellis. We’d probably now have a Turnbull govt.

  18. Andrew

    In the meantime I ponder what the ABC would make of an Abbott-appointed GG opining that marriage is between a man and a woman, and Australia should never become a republic.

    Quite so. Or that airborne plant food is good for the planet, but cadmium-filled solar cells are not. Or pointing out how much unemployment fell since WorkChoices. Or that no govt should waste $90bn trying to build a PayTV company. Maybe calling for an enquiry into the AWU.

  19. squawkbox

    A week before the election Kevni would have appointed Bob Ellis. We’d probably now have a Turnbull govt.

    Bob Ellis sobering up enough to shoot straight? Now there’s a thought

  20. JC

    A week before the election Kevni would have appointed Bob Ellis.

    This Bob Ellis?

  21. Boambee John

    The only way (IMHO) that a President/GG (who would be elected by the nation as a single electorate) could work would be if the incumbent sat in the House of representatives, as a combined PM/GG/President, with a Cabinet selected from the Reps only (the Senate becoming strictly a House of review, as was intended).

    The PM/GG and Cabinet must retain the confidence of the House, or a new election is called on the motion of the PM/GG/President, ie he/she gets to dissolve Parliament, as well as being the combined Head of Government/Chief of State).

  22. Andrew

    Bryce supporting Australia becoming a Republic is another good reason to be a monarchist.

  23. Petros

    Nice to know there are other like-minded libertarians and monarchists out there. QB is an imbecile and hypocrite. She should have stepped down by now because of Shorten. The nightmare isn’t over yet.

  24. cohenite

    Bruce’s idea of a .44 Magnum is a bit unsubtle. In the wild west of Sydney the 9 mm is the weapon of choice and at the risk of being sexist would be a more gender neutral selection since it is a much smaller weapon than the .44 and has far less recoil with a light load.

    Actually since this is going to be a sanctioned hit a .22 would do the trick at short range.

    As a corollary to the main right of extreme prejudice should the President have the right to knee-cap one person PA? And if they don’t exercise their right of veto does their successor inherit the right to execute 2 people?

    Remember the devil’s in the detail as Gough found out with his choice.

  25. tomix

    Bob Ellis appears to be another Charles Bukowski imitator.

  26. Leigh Lowe

    Had the sickbag handy when ABC news last night were crowing that Tony Abbott ‘supported’ the GG. Any grownup (hence no-one in the ABC) could see that Abbott was maturely choosing not to fight a battle that he couldn’t win, despite being in the right, and which would disappear in a few months anyway. I suspect he is a student of Sun Tzu.

    Exactly.
    Abbott sees her as an irrelevancy and he has twice taken the opportunity to say that she is coming to the end of the road (yesterday and when she made the faux resignation offer over Pieman).
    She sees that the gravy train of free travel, suites in five star hotels, fine wines and couture outfits on tap is coming to an end.
    Standby for more bitterness from her which Abbott will ignore.

  27. struth

    Ah now we have a GG, for some of the people, not all of them. Lefties trashing institutions yet again.

  28. She sees that the gravy train of free travel, suites in five star hotels, fine wines and couture outfits on tap is coming to an end.

    Not that I’m squealing on a guest, but I’ve not known her to show the slightest inclination toward fine wines, and she seems to thoroughly detest travel.

  29. Mater

    My response to anyone who raise this issue with me is simple.
    When anyone from the ‘Right’ suggests that it is a good idea, I asked them to choose between ‘Liz’and Gillard. Same applies to anyone inclined to the left except it is between ‘Liz’and Howard. This tends to have a very sobering effect on the ‘enthusiasm’ of most republicans. As for me, I’m a bit like Bruce, agnostic when it comes to it. When someone can give me a good reason why we should altering a good system and a replacement which has the same safe guards, I might reconsider. I won’t be holding my breathe.

  30. Jim Rose

    the first elected president would be dick smith? Alan Jones? none would be the retiring type.

    ceremonial head of state is a very boring job.

  31. Robert O.

    I thought the GC should always act in an impartial way, and represent the interests of all Australians.

    In the view of the gross deception by Labor in relation to the Carbon Tax, and the duplicity by the PM towards a written agreement with Andrew Wilkie, and the betrayal of electorates by Oakshott and Windsor, should not the GG have asked the PM to hand in her resignation and have had a new election, or am expecting to much?

  32. wreckage

    should not the GG have asked the PM to hand in her resignation and have had a new election, or am expecting to much?

    Nope, it was a valid result and carried a valuable lesson for the electorate: the ALP will say one thing and then, with full foreknowledge and intent, do exactly the opposite. Then, as the yellow fluid rains down on your head, they will assure you that it is raining.

  33. I am the Walrus, koo koo k'choo

    Steven Kates and Andrew at 3:43pm – excellent points, well done.

  34. GeorgeMitchell

    Not expecting too much at all Rober O, just completely misunderstanding the nature of an Australian election and the role of the GG. I think you’ll find that Oakeshott and Windsor supported Gillard because they found Mr Abbott to be a worse alternative as was their right, and, indeed, their duty.

  35. incoherent rambler

    On the contrary, the flower shop was appointed by a politician that nobody liked (can’t get lower than that).

    An elected (no preferences) GG would have at least 20 or 30 percent of people approve of the incumbent.

  36. Rococo Liberal

    I often wonder if most Australians actually know what a republic is.

    The truth is that the model favoured by the bien pensants is not a republic. Can I just repeat that: the model upon which we voted in 1999 was not a republic!!!

    It was a consitutional monarchy, exactly as we have now, except the HoS was to be chosen by Parliament rather than inheriting the title. Big deal. The job was still the same. Unfortunatley, we would lose our second backstop in HMQ.

  37. .

    I’d rather a mix of sortition, electoral college powers to subsidary elected bodies then two round elections to go higher up the Federal chain (proportional representation then approval voting, juries would be the electoral college body for local councils), negative only CIR, recall powers, and confirmation of a CEO appointed by a President subject to the approval of the electorate, President can be vetoed by his own board like in Vermont/New Hampshire.

    Elections ought to be like the Hunger Games of our pre nuclear war, pre Panem society.

  38. .

    It was a consitutional monarchy, exactly as we have now, except the HoS was to be chosen by Parliament rather than inheriting the title. Big deal. The job was still the same. Unfortunatley, we would lose our second backstop in HMQ.

    I out it to you R.L that it would function exactly the same. Explain why there isn’t a second backstop beyond the prima facie statement.

    Let’s be honest about an elected President, Ireland does just fine with a ceremonial President, Sth Africa basically withdraws their Premier from Parliament and raises them to executive President and chief of State and half the world uses the French model, Mexico is developing at a rate of knots with what is essentially the US Presidential-Congressional model with direct elections of the President, and Switzerland has only a titular, rotating head of state among their cabinet ministers and the cabionet (Swiss Exec. Council.) has collective defence powers.

    Her excellency is simply unimpressive. She does not represent the pros or cons of any constitutional model.

  39. Since the issue of the Republic has come up, is there anybody who contends there are actual advantages for a republic over our current conmon – advantages that are more than symbolic?

  40. .

    The Queen is compromised. She is British, regardless of the semantics about her not having British citizenship.

    Another issue is that no one really knows who has power over what. RL and myself are making assumptions about how people would play along with commonly accepted, gentlemen’s agreement type of rules.

    The third quick point is that it impedes other pro liberty, genuinely republican reforms by keeping the monarchy.

  41. Popular Front

    Oakeshott and Windsor supported Gillard because they found Mr Abbott to be a worse alternative as was their right, and, indeed, their duty.

    Horseshit Mitchell, that had nothing to do with it in Windsor’s case. I’m in his former electorate and I’ve known the quisling for 30 years. Windsor has held a seething grudge against the National Party for failing to bestow pre-selection on him, as he believed was his due. He has baited needled and scorned the Nats for years, looking for ‘revenge’, inventing stories about John Anderson for instance that landed him in court where he was thrashed. In 2010 he got his chance with the hung parliament scenario and he sided with Gillard, against the wishes of this electorate who gave the ALP rabble just over 8% Primary. What does that tell you wiseguy?

  42. Sparkx

    Larry Pickering nailed QB perfectly with this one-

  43. The Queen is compromised. She is British, regardless of the semantics about her not having British citizenship.

    I’m not entirely sure how that makes her compromised. It certainly keeps her out of the political fray here. I rather think it is part of the benefit; at worst there are both advantages and disadvantages.

    Another issue is that no one really knows who has power over what. RL and myself are making assumptions about how people would play along with commonly accepted, gentlemen’s agreement type of rules.

    There is a large degree of freedom in our current structure. There are a lot of changes that could be made – both beneficial and detrimental – within the current system, in response to the changes that occurs over time. One of the interesting ones I noted is that the GG can include any prior minister in their executive council – the government of the day does not have a constitutional monopoly on advice to the GG.

    The third quick point is that it impedes other pro liberty, genuinely republican reforms by keeping the monarchy.

    Are there pro liberty reforms that cannot be made under a monarchy?

  44. GeorgeMitchell

    Nailed it how Sparxx? Looks like a cheap shot from a low-rent scumbag to me.

  45. Token

    She is not only welcome to do so, but as an almost perfect direction finder on policy – do the opposite of what she suggests – she actually does contribute to the debate.

    There are so many good quotes in your post Steve, but this is the one I will be borrowing early & often.

  46. dragnet

    Oh Sparkx, please refrain from using “nailed” and “Quentin Bryce” in the same sentence. I am eating lunch!

  47. Token

    Dragnet, don’t tell me your lunch was Tangerine or Lemon or Lime coloured.

  48. dragnet

    No, Token, THAT can remain a state secret.

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