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ACM Home arrow Return the Governor

Return the Governor

Evicted from Government House by Bob Carr in 1996, ACM is calling for the return of the Governor of New South Wales to Government House in Sydney.

To find out more about the campaign, including the power-grab that was behind the Governor's eviction, you can read our coverage below. To get involved, be sure to download and read our Return The Governor brochure.

This section begins with a series on the role and function of the Governor. This is followed by reports on the eviction.



Little known electoral law changes could affect composition of NSW Legislative Council. Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Friday, 16 March 2007

One of the issues in the background in the NSW election is the return of the Governor to Government House, which has Australia wide implications.  There have been calls in other states to move their Governor out of Government House.  In addition, there are politicians - in all parliaments – who are determined to remove or at least to hide the symbols of, and any allegiance to the Crown, despite the clear message from the people in 1999.  I still find that some republicans refuse to face the fact that the people overwhelmingly rejected the model which the republican establishment wanted.  Instead they hide behind some or other quite childish invention about how John Howard “nobbled” the referendum, or how he put the “wrong”question.  If any one has a right to complain, it is the constitutional monarchists.  Not only did the media overwhelmingly campaign on their news pages and bulletins for a Yes vote, the referendum question did not refer to the unprecedented provision for the instant dismissal of the president at the option of the prime minister.  No other republican constitution has, or has ever had such an outrageous provision.  The republicans should stop their endless and tiresome wingeing and move on. 

 While the election for the Legislative Assembly has attracted the most interest in NSW, few voters are aware of the changes to the method of voting for the Legislative Council.  The NSW Parliament changed the law in relation to the 2003 and future Legislative Council elections.  Preferences are now determined by the voters, not the parties.  This change has not been widely publicized.  Voters may vote for individual candidates by voting “below the line”, or the can vote for the parties by voting “above the line.”  To vote above the line until this election, you only put “1” in the box marked, say, “Labor.” This change has been effected by extending optional preferential voting to voting above the line.  You can put “1” in your preferred party’s box, and “2” in the next.  If you want to, you can fill in your third, fourth and other preferences. 

 

 

Read more...
 
Call to evict another Governor. Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Thursday, 15 March 2007
There should be an award for the rudest, most uninformed piece of journalism in Australia.  We now have a nomination.  It is for an opinion piece, “Sun should set on colonial excess,” published in the Courier Mail on 13 March, 2007.  It was by Paul Syvret, who describes himself on the newspaper web site as the paper’s “News editor and columnist.”  He says his job includes taking some “sacred cow” and attacking it “with a blunt axe.”  Mr. Syvret is entitled to enjoy himself, but as a senior journalist, he has a professional obligation to check that his assertions are justified, and surely, in a journal of record, he should resist pouring gratuitous insults on the objects of his scorn.

 

 

Mr. Syvret’s argument is that to save money, Queensland should follow former NSW Premier Bob Carr’s example and “turf” the Governor out of Government House, opening it up for public and state functions –as if they are not already held there.  Under the Syvret plan, the Governor would be part time and work from a downtown office.

 

 

The eviction of the NSW Governors from Government House has actually cost the NSW taxpayer millions of dollars.  It is more expensive to have the Governor live in her own home.  The fact that it costs more money is on the public record - so much so that the NSW government no longer tries to justify the eviction on the ground of saving money.  Why didn’t Mr. Syvret concede this?  We must assume he did not hide this, so it seems he did not check this. Nor does he seem to understand that evicting the Governor means he or she has to have a home in Brisbane - which excludes the appointment of many eminent Queenslanders.  What an insult to regional and rural Queensland.

 

t

 

And while he demonstrates that he knows that the Crown’s reserve powers are an important check on the abuse of power, Mr. Syvret still wants the position of Governor abolished.  Is he aware that Bob Carr has actually admitted that he evicted the Governor precisely because of those reserve powers?

 

 

The worst thing about this piece is the appalling way he insults our Royal Family. The worst he can say about The Queen is that she is “octogenarian”, as if that were a criticism.  The venom –so venomous I will not repeat it - he pours on the other members of the family is an egregious example of Baldwin’s dictum on the exercise of "power without responsibility - the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages."

 

Read more...
 
Who supports the return of the Governor? Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Friday, 09 March 2007

Three parties have indicated they support the return the Governor to Government House.  

 

Fred Nile, the Leader of the Christian Democratic Party has long held this position, and he once again confirmed this at a meeting ACM called at Parliament House on 28 February,2007. The Christian Democrat candidates are listed on the Christian Democratic Party site election page.

 

On 21 February, 2007 the Leader of HM NSW Opposition, the Hon. Peter Debnam confirmed to Alan Jones on 2GB that under a Coalition government, the next Governor would live in Government House, and the present Governor would be given the option to return.  The Liberal Party candidates are listed on the Party’s website.

 

The National Party is led by Andrew Stoner, a strong constitutional monarchist.  The National candidates are listed on the National Party’s website.

 

The Executive Director of ACM, Thomas Flynn, is writing to the candidates of the major parties, and others to ascertain their views on the return of the Governor to Government House.  Relevant responses, or a summary of them, are being posted to this site - see the entry above dated 19 March 2006.

Read more...
 
Public opinion Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Wednesday, 07 March 2007
Two letters in the Sun Herald of 4 March 2007 caught our attention.  The first, from Allan Green of Leonay in NSW appeared under the headline:  “Give Governor a house.”

 

 

“It is a sad state of affairs that the Governor of NSW does not live in the official residence. In all other states the Governor lives in Government House.  NSW inflicts much indignity on our Governor. It causes the Governor inconvenience and expense due to the number of necessary journeys through heavy city traffic.  Let's hope the election on March 24 will bring us a government with a mature approach. We don't need petty nonsense like playing chess with where our Governor resides.”

 

 

The second letter was from Ron Barnett of Lakemba, and was published under the headline: “The Queen v Cheney.”  It read:-

 

 

“It would be interesting to know the cost of the short visit to Australia by US Vice-President Dick Cheney to Australian taxpayers. With him came assistants, security, even their own cars. Then there was the cost of the huge police and security presence in the city. Compare this to the quiet dignity and calm of Her Majesty. In London where huge crowds welcomed her 80th birthday, the Queen stood up in the back of an open car laughing and waving to the people. And hardly any security in sight.”

 

 

 
"Apologise to the Governor!" demands senior political commentator Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Thursday, 01 March 2007
“Apologise to the Governor”, demanded the headline in the Sun Herald on 21 January, 2006.  Alex Mitchell, the doyen of the NSW parliamentary press corps, reported that the NSW Premier, Morris Iemma had issued a press release the previous Monday which began: “Her Excellency the Governor, Professor Bashir, has prorogued the 53rd NSW Parliament effective today. NSW Premier Morris lemma said the Governor's proclamation to prorogue Parliament brought the official business of the parliamentary session to a close."  The rest of the press release, according to Mr. Mitchell, contained “a wearisome recitation by lemma of his Government's so-called ‘achievements’, including ‘expanded public services that provide improved transport, health and education for the people of N5W’".

The press release concluded with a two-paragraph attack on Opposition Leader Peter Debnam. The media release amounted, Mr. Mitchell wrote, to the “most cynical and outrageous use of the Governor's name in a piece of party political propaganda. These people have no shame and they should apologise to the Governor.”  In ACM's view, the government could make some rectification by returning the Governor to Government House. NSW governors were evicted in 1996 by the then Premier, Bob Carr.  This was said to be to save costs and make Government house more accessible to the people. Neither has been achieved.  Mr. Carr has since admitted that one reason for the eviction was the reserve powers ie one of the constitutional checks and balances on an errant premier.

The newspaper reported, on another page an “ alarming surge “ in armed hold-ups in Sydney not only of pubs, but also registered clubs, TABs, service stations and small businesses. According to the latest figures from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research robberies involving a firearm are up by 50 per cent in inner Sydney and a “staggering” 70.80% in the inner-west.  What has this to do with checks and balances on power. It was in this sentence in that report: “But with the state election just weeks away, police headquarters has been silent, failing to issue media releases on any of the attacks.”

The police, along with the rest of the public service, are not supposed to play party politics in the exercise of their functions.  The impartiality of the public service was one of the great achievements of the Westminster system, at the heart of which is our oldest institution, the Crown. 

 

 

 
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