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ACM Home arrow Latest News and Opinions arrow Resignation of Tasmania's Governor

Resignation of Tasmania's Governor Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Monday, 09 August 2004
The only joy in the resolution of Tasmania's problems concerning the office of Governor was in the way it was done. There was no blood in the streets, nor was there a long drawn out impeachment process which, as we have seen elsewhere, can paralyze the government to the detriment of the state and the nation.

Our constitutional system ensures that such processes are fast, smooth, efficient and inexpensive. When Mr Butler was appointed, and appeared on ABC television, ACM objected not to his appointment but to his putting words into The Queen's mouth, claiming that Her Majesty was surprised by the referendum and had wondered why we did not become a republic. We also said he must swear the Oath of Allegiance, and when he did ( he actually affirmed) we indicated our delight that, being the honorable man we assumed he was, he now supported the existing constitutional structure and would be loyal to it and to his Sovereign.. We regretted the fact that he did not accept the traditional role of the Governor as Deputy Prior in the Order of St John, which has tremendous grass roots support and does such wonderful voluntary work at sporting events and in emergencies. This demonstrates the danger of an appointee, however well intentioned, determined to change the office, without appreciating the reasons for and value of tradition and custom.

We also approved of the Premier's statement warning that it was inappropriate for the Governor to make, or be perceived as making political comment.

We have no special knowledge of the recent events which brought the issue to a head, and accordingly, ACM has declined to express an opinion on them. We are certain on one point-the whole saga demonstrates how well the system works.

I was told by the ABC that Australian Republican Movement argues that this sorry story demonstrates the need for change. One would have thought that this would be the day that republicans, who had achieved the appointment of a once fervent republican to a vice-regal post, would be keeping a very low profile indeed. Just think of the problem the country would be in if he had been President! So, was it a coincidence that the Senate Committee failed to table its report today on how Australia should be turned into a republic? Were they embarrassed by what had happened in Hobart?. Did they think that now is not the time to be talking about republicanism?.

They have already delayed tabling their report once before. Their new target, the end of the month, may or may not be achieved. If Parliament is prorogued because an election is called for September, the Senators will not be able to report to this Parliament.

And if they are attempting to answer, in any meaningful way, Sir David Smith's submission on the status of the Governor-General as Head of State, they may never report!

Until next time,
David Flint

 
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