"Apologise to the Governor!" demands senior political commentator
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Thursday, 01 March 2007
“Apologise to the Governor”, demanded the headline in the Sun Herald on 21 January, 2006.  Alex Mitchell, the doyen of the NSW parliamentary press corps, reported that the NSW Premier, Morris Iemma had issued a press release the previous Monday which began: “Her Excellency the Governor, Professor Bashir, has prorogued the 53rd NSW Parliament effective today. NSW Premier Morris lemma said the Governor's proclamation to prorogue Parliament brought the official business of the parliamentary session to a close."  The rest of the press release, according to Mr. Mitchell, contained “a wearisome recitation by lemma of his Government's so-called ‘achievements’, including ‘expanded public services that provide improved transport, health and education for the people of N5W’".

The press release concluded with a two-paragraph attack on Opposition Leader Peter Debnam. The media release amounted, Mr. Mitchell wrote, to the “most cynical and outrageous use of the Governor's name in a piece of party political propaganda. These people have no shame and they should apologise to the Governor.”  In ACM's view, the government could make some rectification by returning the Governor to Government House. NSW governors were evicted in 1996 by the then Premier, Bob Carr.  This was said to be to save costs and make Government house more accessible to the people. Neither has been achieved.  Mr. Carr has since admitted that one reason for the eviction was the reserve powers ie one of the constitutional checks and balances on an errant premier.

The newspaper reported, on another page an “ alarming surge “ in armed hold-ups in Sydney not only of pubs, but also registered clubs, TABs, service stations and small businesses. According to the latest figures from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research robberies involving a firearm are up by 50 per cent in inner Sydney and a “staggering” 70.80% in the inner-west.  What has this to do with checks and balances on power. It was in this sentence in that report: “But with the state election just weeks away, police headquarters has been silent, failing to issue media releases on any of the attacks.”

The police, along with the rest of the public service, are not supposed to play party politics in the exercise of their functions.  The impartiality of the public service was one of the great achievements of the Westminster system, at the heart of which is our oldest institution, the Crown.