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ACM Home arrow Anthems arrow Convenor's Column Archive arrow BUTLER ASKED LATHAM TO MAKE HIM THE GG!

BUTLER ASKED LATHAM TO MAKE HIM THE GG! Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Saturday, 03 April 2004

According to Kerry-Anne Walsh, writing in the Sun - Herald on 4 April, has asked Mark Latham to make him Governor-General. The avowed republican and Labor mate, as she describes him, apparently proposed this in mid-March at a private meeting in Tasmania with visiting Labor leader Mark Latham, who did not respond either way to the idea. The Governor's private secretary confirmed a private meeting did take place, but, after seeking advice from Mr Butler, refused to answer whether the Governor - Generalship had been raised. Kerry-Anne Walsh understands that after the meeting, which involved other officials, Mr Butler had asked ifhe could be left alone with the Labor leader. She recalled that Mr Butler described the Queen in an interview in 1999 as: A rubber stamp for the person who hangs out in Yarralumla [the official vice-regal residence]. Why do they want to keep her? I don' t get it. He said that having a foreigner as a head of state also gave many Australians feelings of being unable to trust themselves and, as he put it, being uncomfortable in their own skins.

Describing Mr Butler as far from uncomfortable now, she observed that if successful in climbing the regal tree, Mr Butler will move from the elegant, sandstone 73-room Tasmanian castle to the refined mansion at Yarralumla on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, with the bonus of Kirribilli's Admiralty House thrown in. But to enjoy those comforts, she says Mr Butler will have to swear allegiance to Her Majesty-something he refused to do when sworn in as Tasmania's 25th Governor last October. Ms Walsh confirms that instead, he made an affirmation. At first, he had refused to take the oath of allegiance at all, saying he was going to swear to "the people of Tasmania". It was, she reports, the first time a Tasmanian governor had affirmed rather than sworn the oath. A handwritten alteration to the book containing the original oaths and signatures of Tasmania's governors had to be made. She believes he wouldn't get off so lightly as Governor-General. Under a photograph of Mr Latham accompanying the report, the caption reads: Mark Latham is determined to rid Australia of the monarchy but faces an uphill battle selling a republic to voters in less affluent electorates, such as his seat of Werriwa. The meeting with Mr Latham occurred before the Premier publicly warned Mr Butler that he must observe the constraints which surround the office. This followed an extraordinary political intervention byMr Butler in a speech in Hobart in which he had accused George Bush of beating the living daylights out of countries regarded as posing a threat. The Premier has required that Mr Butler strictly adhere to the undertaking made to the then Premier not to intervene in the political arena. Mr Butler's behaviour may well flow from his misunderstanding of the constitutional position. The Queen is not a foreigner-she is the Sovereign of Australia. The Governor -General is the Head of State all foreign countries he visits-and the United Nations accept that if he has any doubts about the position of the Governor - General, he should read Sir David Smith's submission to the Bolkus-Stott-Despoja Senate Committee which is trying to work out how to make do what the people do not want-turn us into a republic.

 
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