When I Grow Up I Want To Be Governor-General…
Prime Minster Ronald Dump: Good morning, sir, I just wanted to tell you that I’ve just appointed myself Minister for Home Affairs so could you swear me in.
Governor General Humpty Doo: Sure, what’s happened to the current Home Affairs minister?
PM Dump: Nothing yet, but as soon as you swear me in I’m having him arrested under the extensive powers I have under the legislation. Oh, and while you’re at it, can you make me Immigration Minister. I want to cancel the citizenship of some Opposition MPs on character grounds.
GG Doo: Character grounds?
PM Dump: Yes, they don’t like what I’m doing and that’s un-Australian, so can we get on with it?
GG Doo: Yes, I’m just here to serve and to do whatever I’m told.
All right, the question is: Could something like the above dialogue actually occur? I mean, would it be legal? You think that it’s far-fetched? Fair enough, but a week ago you wouldn’t have thought it believable if I’d told you that we have a secret shadow government that consisted of Morrison, Morrison, Morrison, Morrison and Morrison… I hope I didn’t forget anyone!
The trouble with Australian politics is that nobody – apart from a handful of nerds – truly understands the laws, rules and conventions.
Now, I think that I should point out that I’m not the expert here but Jordan Peterson is unavailable, and none of the cafe owners wanted to speak on the record, so I’ll just have to do.
Anyway, our PM, Anthony Albanese, told us that the Governor-General was there to do what he was told and he shouldn’t be blamed for doing what the government of the day told him. After Sir John Kerr, it’s not surprising that the Labor Party would think this way.
According to some people, the GG is simply the Queen’s representative and Her Majesty steers clear of politics so that means that the GG should just stick to opening the odd bridge and making the odd speech and signing the odd document and generally acting like a good little rubber stamp because – after all – we are a democracy and just because we still have the Queen as our Head of State that’s no reason for Her Majesty’s representative to pretend that he has some role in the whole thing. I mean, even though the Queen herself is there because of nepotism and the fact that God put one of her ancestors on the throne under the idea that Kings and Queens are there by Divine Right and so we can’t elect them so we should just ignore the fact that the whole basis of their position is absurd and ignore the absurdity and just be thankful there’s something to encourage people to buy “The Women’s Weekly”.
However, this does overlook the fact that the GG does, in fact, have a constitutional role. There are considerable reserve powers invested in the office and they give him or her the power to do all sorts of things should the need arise.
The Governor-General’s reserve powers are generally agreed to include:
- The power to appoint a prime minister if a federal election has not resulted in a clear outcome
- The power to dismiss a prime minister if they have lost the support of the majority of the House of Representatives
- The power to refuse a request for a double dissolution
- The power to dismiss a prime minister or minister if they break the law
- The power to refuse a request from a prime minister to call an election.
Now I’m not suggesting that what Scotty did was illegal, and I’m not suggesting that the GG should have refused to do it. I’m certainly not suggesting that the relationship between the fellow-Christian is anything other than professional and that the $18 million that went to Hurley’s charity was just a drop in the bucket compared to the largesse of Morrison to a range of others.
But I AM suggesting that Governors-General are more than just rubber stamps. Just like the dialogue at the start. He or she should know when the government is exceeding its authority under the Constitution and under what circumstances it would be appropriate for him or her to seek further advice on a course of action.
Otherwise, the $24 million a year is pretty expensive for someone to sign a few documents and tick off legislation when it’s passed both Houses. After all, that much could buy the government a full time drought envoy.
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The Queen is far more demanding of her prime ministers and doesn’t miss a trick when they try to put one over on the nation.
In fact, the Queen reminds me a of a little old lady in an office I worked in, in London in the 1960’s. She was in charge of stationery and consumables and took her job seriously to the extent that if you wanted a new pencil you would have to return the stub of the old one and it had to be less than an inch long before she would release a new one to you.
I think we need somebody like that as our GG she’d soon sought out the likes of Morrison : you can’t have a new ministry until you return the old one !
The misbehaviour of Morrison has highlighted the inadequacies of our Constitution!
Michael Pascoe suggested we do away with the GG and simply use a rubber stamp instead!
Maybe the GG should also be responsible for ensuring the PM doesn’t take too much on. I now understand why ScoMo didn’t get anything done as PM – he was too busy “shadowing” 5 ministers to do his own job. Pity none of the ministers had to hold a hose as that might have been useful life skill for ScoMo to learn. 🙂
While we are enshrining the Voice in the constitution maybe we could add a clause to make it illegal for any polly to assume a ministerial role without it being announced publicly within a time limit and make the GG responsible for verifying the announcement and timing. (May as well get the GG to earn their keep until we become a republic.) Thumbs up Michael Pascoe.
The whole thing stinks.
The GG is so unconvincing even Morrison looks honest
Well said Rossleigh
The gg (lower case intended) clearly realises he is likely to need the “Nuremberg defence”.
Perhaps this charity that the gg created, should be investigated ?
You have a wicked sense of humour Rossleigh, and I look forward with great anticipation to your perceptive insights into Australian politics.
Indeed, as others have noted on AIMN, your scenario may NOT be too far from the intended mark. Take one eagle inspired emotionally insecure amoral unChristian nutter, mix in a messianic complex, a unwavering unprincipled dedication to self in all matters, stir in a ”buy your way to heaven now” Hell$inger$ cult affording the opportunity to believe that everything is possible, a pinch of an unprincipled Attorney General to overcome the inadequate academic performance at a very good state high school ….. and exploiting all the flexibility of commonsense legislation and political conventions ….
VOILA!! Scummo the Grate!! The first self crowned Head of state since Napoleon I in France in the 18th century. (This would suit the Nazional$ plan to turn New England into a 19th century theme park for Prince Beetrooter & his bit of fluff).
There are many stranger things under heaven but buying off the GG with an about $18 MILLION gift of taxpayers money would insure Betty Windsor complied (as if she cared as shown in 1975).
Why even the Hell$inger$ Choru$ would sing the Hallelujahs that the Next Coming had occurred in the body of Scummo. Christianity had completed its historical pre-determined task ….. so now the Americans could have their atomic war to enter Paradise.
Not my kind of future!!
Unusually, Governor-General David Hurley’s diary makes no mention of the five times he handed extra ministerial powers to then-prime minister Scott Morrison.
That is why we have a high court, rossleigh.
The LNP has long flaunted and trashed conventions and their judicial appointments has created some odd laws and interpretations. Not the least being the meaningless ‘born in Australia’.
We have a 44 year old chief minister, a 44 year old minister for health, a 44 year old minister for alcohol, a 44 year old minister for major projects, a 44 year old minister for defence fortunately they are all a woman.