Why Carr did it
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Saturday, 26 November 2005

In our last column, we recalled Bob Carr’s ham-fisted decision tho throw the Governor out of Government House and make the office part time.

All of the alleged advantages of the decision - cost and accessibility have been shown to be wrong.

Costs have spiralled, the House is no more accessible than it could be with the Governor in residence, and the Governor spends an inordinate time in Sydney’s traffic jams. Nobody who lives outside of Sydney can ever be made Governor.

Although he had to surrender his attempt to make the office part time, Carr stubbornly insisted on keeping the Governor out of Government House.

That is, except when it suited him.

Carr resigned the Premiership in 2005. He now has an office in the same building as the government, and in spite of his generously taxpayer funded retirement, he went to a position with Macquarie Bank, one of the leading financiers of infrastructure development. He maintains a high public profile.

Before our 2005 National Conference in August, when we announced we would renew our campaign to see the Governor back in Government House, ACM decided to approach the new Premier.

We thought Mr. Iemma might not be as committed personally to Carr’s decision, which at the time was generally considered to be a disaster.

So much so, it has not been followed in any other state. Even in Tasmania, when a “passionate” republican and fervent supporter of the republican movement, who had attacked The Queen, Mr Richard Butler, was briefly installed as Governor and lived in Government House.

Our hopes that Premier Iemma might wish to distance himself from Carr’s disastrous decision have not been realized.

The Premier has told us that his government currently has no plans to review its policy relating to Government House.

In a letter from the Director-General of the Cabinet, we have been told that “By opening Government House, the New South Wales Government has made the historic building more accessible to the public…. The Governor continues to use the property for all principal Vice Regal functions”

It seems the government no longer argues the cost advantages of the decision. How could it? It has completely ignored the inconvenience to the Governor, and the fact that no one who lives outside of Sydney can be made Governor.

So keeping the only Governor in Australia out of Government House is all to do with making it accessible to the public.

And anything the Governor does in her office is, by definition, not a "principal Vice regal function".

So who decides what such a function is?

Bob Carr used to decide this, it seems.

As we said in our last column, Carr used to ensure the Governor received him at Government House when ever the media could be expected to film him strolling, democratically, through the gates.

Assisting the Premier to obtain a "photo opportunity" is apparently one such "principal Vice Regal function".

But is public accessibility the real reason for ejecting the Governor, as Premier Iemma maintains?

Bob Carr has completely undermined his successor on this.

He has admitted that public accessibility was never the real reason. Accessibility and cost were no more than a camouflage.

The real reason was partly revenge, partly to diminish the office, and to intimidate and neuter future governors. In brief it was an assault on our constitutional system.

We shall continue this in our next column.

Until next time,

David Flint