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ACM Home arrow Media and monarchy arrow The Governor-General and the media

The Governor-General and the media Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Thursday, 31 January 2008

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The Governor-General and the media

You could have assumed that many, especially in the “serious” media had taken a decision on the appointment of Major General Michael Jeffery as Governor-General not to report his many activities and those of his beautiful and elegant wife, Marlena.

They then complained that he was invisible, sometimes even referring to him as “what’s his name.”

Didn’t they realise these quite infantile tactics were quite transparent?

 It was obvious that having tasted blood with the vice regal office, they were quite prepared to continue to use their reporting, or lack of it, as a weapon in their long political campaign about who should or should not sit on the Treasury benches.

This was bad enough in the print media. But our national broadcaster should have known better.  
We used to turn to the ABC as a sort of electronic national journal of record.  And this includes, of course, matters relating to the Australian Crown.It is no good the ABC - or anyone in the serious media -saying a republic is inevitable. So  was socialism, and any way that is just an opinion.

It is certainly not for the ABC to say what the country should be. In fulfilling its great role as our national journal of record, the task of the ABC is quite clear and above all objective.

This includes reporting on great national events and on our national institutions, and broadcasting  the great events of the time, including those which surround the Australian Crown.


 
...niggling backbench campaign...


And while we are at it, it was equally unworthy of a small group of backbenchers to use the parliamentary processes to carry on a pointless, niggling and again infantile campaign about the office, the role and the person of the Governor-General.

 Again this was very transparent and  most unworthy weapon in a wider political campaign.
The then Leader of the Opposition -  let us recall, the Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition -  should have counselled them not to go down that path. 

One suspects he was in no position to control them.

When the leading protagonists were sworn in recently  as Ministers of the Crown, and received graciously and without any animosity, they no doubt felt very small indeed.
Let’s hear no more of such things.


...timely call  for civility and good manners....


And how good it was to hear His Excellency call[i] for a return to civility and good manners in sport, and in particular cricket.

No one has put it better. Leading sportsmen and sports women are in many ways ambassadors of our nation.    What happened at the Sydney Test was to be regretted. Things had gone too far.
Who could object to the Governor-General’s calm and considered  advice, a gentle call to return to the standards of the time of the great  Sir Donald  Bradman?

Well, it seems some republicans could. They predictably jumped on the bandwagon, instead of telling us what exactly will be the new flag and the new constitution they are trying to foist on us.

The Daily Telegraph[ii] linked Senator Mitch Fifield with conservative politicians “ lampooning” the Governor-General. If he did not he should declare this. If he did, he should be counselled.

There not being  much news around, the  Daily Telegraph really over-reacted, with a stry editorial and a loaded on-line poll. Come on Mr. Editor, lift your game. You can do better than that.

And for those republicans who foolishly say the Governor-General’s call is an Anglo-centric view of Australia, they should surely know that India is now the world’s leading cricket nation.  And Sir Donald Bradman ( pictured) was no 100% Anglo-Saxon. His great-grandfather, Emmanuel Danero, emigrated from Italy in 1826. 

... while vultures circle over the people's republic..  

Incidentally, just on online polls, the Sydney’s Wentworth Courier is running one with its 30 January, 2008 edition. The question is “Is it time for Australia to revisit the question of an Australian republic?” The answers online are “Yes,” “No,” and “Don’t care.”

 But in the print version available in the people's republic of Vaucluse-Paddington there is an explanation of each: “Yes, it is time for Australia to have its own head of state,”  and  “No, we should wait until the end of Queen Elizabeth’s reign.”

Clearly the writer of the poll is unaware that under international law, the Governor-General is head of state, or that the High Court says that we have six Australian Constitutional Heads of State and one Australian Constitutional Head of the Commonwealth.

And pray, how do you vote “ No” if this is to be interpreted that you merely want the issue put off?

 What if you happen to think, as I do, that it is ungracious, impertinent and downright rude to keep on going  on about the end of the reign like a pack of circling republican vultures?

And finally, as no republican has been able to mount one cogent argument why the issue which was well and truly settled in 1999, what if you think that the issue should not be re-opened at all, and particularly with a dishonest plebiscite specifically designed to circumvent the Constitution?




[i] “Cricket graceless: G-G” The Sydney Morning Herald , 30 January, 2008
[ii] “Is our Governor-General's role a waste of time?”Joe Hildebrand, Daily Telegraph, 31 January, 2008
 
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