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ACM Home arrow Convenor's Column arrow Governor-General swears allegiance

Governor-General swears allegiance Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Saturday, 06 September 2008

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In a simple but moving ceremony, our new Head of State, as The Australian described her, was sworn in on 5 September, 2008  in the Senate Chamber of the Federal Parliament in Canberra.

 

The process prescribed by the Constitution and by convention has long assured that at the centre of our constitutional system, our oldest institution continues to provide leadership beyond politics, and remains an effective check and balance – something which few countries have achieved.


First,  this Commission from Her Majesty appointing Her Excellency  was read:

“ELIZABETH THE SECOND, by the Grace of God Queen of Australia and Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth: To Quentin Alice Louise Bryce, Companion of the Order of Australia,

 

Greeting:

 

WE DO, by this Our Commission under Our Sign Manual and the Great Seal of Australia, appoint you, Quentin Alice Louise Bryce, to be, during Our pleasure, Our Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia.

 

AND WE DO authorise, empower and command you to exercise and perform all and singular the powers and directions contained in the Letters Patent dated 21 August 2008, relating to the office of Governor-General or in future Letters Patent relating to that office, according to such instructions as Our Governor-General for the time being may have received or may in future receive from Us, and according to such laws as are from time to time in force.

 

AND WE DO declare that the powers conferred by this Our Commission include any further powers that may in future be assigned to the Governor-General in accordance with section 2 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia.

 

 

 

Given at our Court at Balmoral Castle on 21 August 2008

  

By Her Majesty's Command,

 

(Kevin Rudd)

 

Prime Minister “




...two Oaths sworn...




Then, Her Excellency was invited by the Chief Justice of Australia to swear two Oaths on the Holy Bible.

 

The first was this Oath of Allegiance:

“I, QUENTIN ALICE LOUISE BRYCE, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her heirs and successors according to law. SO HELP ME GOD!

 

(Quentin Alice Louise Bryce)

 

Sworn, declared and subscribed by the abovenamed Quentin Alice Louise Bryce at Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory before me on 5 September 2008.

  

(Robert French)

Chief Justice of Australia”

 

This was followed by the Oath of  Office:

“I, QUENTIN ALICE LOUISE BRYCE, do swear that I will well and truly serve Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her heirs and successors according to law, in the office of Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, and I will do right to all manner of people after the laws and usages of the Commonwealth of Australia, without fear or favour, affection or ill will. SO HELP ME GOD!

 

(Quentin Alice Louise Bryce)

 

Sworn, declared and subscribed by the abovenamed Quentin Alice Louise Bryce at Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory before me on 5 September 2008

  

(Robert French)

Chief Justice of Australia”

 

Her Excellency then made the following Proclamation, countersigned by the Prime Minister:

 

“WHEREAS Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second has been graciously pleased by Commission under Her Royal Sign Manual and the Great Seal of Australia dated 21 August 2008 to appoint me, Quentin Alice Louise Bryce, Companion of the Order of Australia, to be Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia:

 

NOW THEREFORE I proclaim that I have this day made the prescribed oath of allegiance and the prescribed oath of office of the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia before the Honourable the Chief Justice of Australia, and that I have assumed that office accordingly.

 

Signed and sealed with the Great Seal of Australia on 5 September 2008.

 

(Quentin Alice Louise Bryce)

 

Governor-General

 

By Her Excellency's Command

 

(Kevin Rudd)

 

Prime Minister”


A twenty one gun salute announced that a new Governor-General had been sworn  in.l As Dr David Phillips, ACM's South Australian Convener reminded me, such an honour is reserved for The Queen, certain royalty  and Heads of State.

The Governor-General is, of course,  the Australian Head of State. 




...speeches....

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The Governor-General then addressed the assembly, during the course of which she said:

 “I want you to know that I take on this role with solemnity, impartiality, energy, and a profound love for the country we share.

 

“I undertake to do my very best to observe, sustain, and uphold the principles, conventions, and rule of law that are our foundation....

  

“I promise to be alive, open, responsive, and faithful to the contemporary thinking and working of Australian society.

 

“Australians, you have entrusted a great deal to me. I will honour your trust wholeheartedly.”

The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, responded, in the course of which he commended the continuity which our constitutional system provides:

“We are here today to celebrate two great continuities.

“A continuity which exists Aboriginal Australia and  the continuity that exists also in our modern constitutional arrangements.”

What a pity he had to spoil this when later eulogising the occasion and the bipartisan support for the appointment he twice added this rider to a Channel 7 reporter, laughing : “ While we are a constitutional monarchy.”

 

Prime Minister , there is a time and a place for this sort of thing.

In the meantime, one person watching the installation noted that the Prime Minister was seated on the right of the  Governor-General and at the same height during the ceremony, suggesting equality.

This was mitigated to an extent, by those sitting with the Prime Minister.

Would it not be more appropriate to adopt the seating when Parliament assembles to   hear the speech from the throne at the opening of Parliament, and where the Prime Minister sits in the body of the chamber?

 
 
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