Governor General: Labor’s Heydon Stunt Stalls In Senate

THE CONSTITUTIONAL FRIPPERY Labor is desperate to pursue in the name of its lawless, thuggy union mates has hit a hurdle in the Senate, as crossbench support for implicating Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove in its bid to destroy union Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon is proving hard to secure. Even if ultimately forthcoming, the stunt will come to naught: knowing deep down its position is ambit, Labor will not take its “fight” to the Courts.

It is a fairly straightforward post from me this morning, as I am out and about; but one of the issues we have been following closely in this column — ALP attempts, on instructions from its Trades Hall masters, to destroy Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon and/or have his inquiry shut down is meandering further along the path to inevitable stalemate.

Those who missed my most recent piece on the ALP’s crack-brained scheme to politicise the office of Governor-General in its quest to get the lawless, miscreant thugs who face prosecution as a result of Heydon’s Royal Commission off the hook can revisit it here; that article also contains links to other material I have published on this subject, so those tuning into this for the first time will be able to get up to speed with our discussion as well.

I have been reading The Australian this morning, and I note with some satisfaction its report that due to difficulty convincing crossbench Senators to embrace its grimy attempt to trash the independence of the office of Governor-General — a reticence, just for the record, not evident among the sanctimonious Communist Greens Senators, who parade themselves as scions of virtue but who are predictably happy to jump into bed with the ALP on yet another unprincipled outrage — it has been forced to formally postpone tabling its motion to that end until today.

Short of the votes as Labor is, it is also worth noting that Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm — whose decision to abstain from voting on the motion to be tabled by Penny Wong will assist its prospects for passage — is not acting from any desire to savage Heydon or to endorse the insidious vice-regal action Labor seeks, but from a position apparently motivated by a get-square bent against the Liberal Party over a dispute about party registration that is completely unrelated to the matter at hand.

To be sure, Labor may — today, this week, or some other time — convince the Senate to follow it; there is certainly enough anti-government sentiment (and enough unprincipled, opportunistic charlatans on the Senate crossbench) for the ALP to persuade those abhorrent parliamentary squatters that breaking convention and trashing the independence of the Head of State is a good idea, and one that should be indulged in the name of excusing the criminal and corrupt misdeeds of its paymasters at the union movement.

But what Labor obviously thought was a slam-dunk exercise in having the Senate defy and challenge the Abbott government yet again is not a cut and dried as it may have first believed, and anyone interested in standards and decency in government can at least take heart from the minor win that even if it capitulates, the Senate hasn’t mindlessly fallen into line.

There are real issues at play here, as we’ve discussed in the past; for me — setting aside the thoroughly appropriate convention that the Governor-General is above politics — what does it for me is the fact that to do the bidding of union criminals, Labor is trashing its own carefully constructed position on the office of the Governor-General, to which it has remained wedded ever since the Dismissal: that the Governor-General takes advice from his (or her) Prime Minister, and from no-one else.

Gough Whitlam must be turning in his grave: not only would the actions his party is determined to take be anathema to him, but the cause — excusing corrupt and illegal actions — is, based on his own regard for propriety, one he would almost certainly never endorse.

Since we last looked at this matter, the consensus of discussions taking place in the mainstream press and elsewhere is that not only would an “address” from the Senate have absolutely no binding impact on Sir Peter Cosgrove — as we have already discussed — but that for want of some form of words to give effect to a semblance of consideration, Cosgrove would be likely, rightly, to disregard it.

Labor’s defence that Senate “addresses” were common prior to 1931 doesn’t justify this constitutional outrage: 1931 was the better part of a century ago, and parliamentary convention has evolved since that time. (If reviving common practice from that era is such a good idea, then let’s look at abolishing all the fixes Labor made to the Senate in the 1900s too, and revert to the system as originally designed: I bet that won’t fly, allowing conservatives to get closer to control of the upper house as the restoration of the Federation-era system would do).

However the charade of the “address” Wong has been charged with securing in the Senate plays out, the campaign against Dyson Heydon is likely to end right there and then.

Cosgrove, on balance of probabilities (if not in utter certainty) can be expected to ignore the “address.”

And despite whatever bluster consequently issues forth from the ALP and the unions, the dispute over Heydon’s fitness to head a Royal Commission or his “bias” against unions will never see the inside of a Court.

The problem is that not only is there not a shred of evidence to suggest Heydon is in fact “biased” — and the fabricated outrage over a silly mistake made without full knowledge of the circumstances of the Sir Garfield Barwick Lecture does not satisfy that test — but having read Heydon’s opinion in refusing to recuse himself from the union Royal Commission and reviewed it informally with a legal associate, I am also satisfied his reasons are absolutely solidly based in law.

For Labor to go off to Court, should Cosgrove refuse to do its dirty work on behalf of thugs and bastards in the unions who now face prosecution, it runs the real risk that any appeal judge would dismiss its challenge to Heydon’s reasons as groundless.

Were that to happen — with a reinforcement of the original Heydon decision dismissed by another Court which Labor has neither pretext nor reason to attack, and malign, and seek to destroy in public opinion as “biased” — then its argument against the Royal Commission would collapse irretrievably, and it would have no choice but to abandon its filthy mates and masters to the fate they deserve.

And in turn, the vapid, unethical foible Labor had tried would be laid bare before the public, and desperate for community support for its dishonest, jumped-up attempts to save criminals from justice, the ALP — the union hack who “leads” it, the union stooge doing the unions’ work in the Senate, and the entire confected masquerade of uproar — would be shown up before voters as the abhorrent outrage of self-interest it really is.

Much better to rip into the Governor-General; and if Cosgrove ultimately ignores the “Senate” when Wong comes calling on him, that is what it will do. So beholden and obligated to unions and the thugs who face prosecution is the ALP, it is utterly unmoved by the prospect of any damage it might do to Cosgrove’s office.

Labor — as we always say — cares about power above all else, and in this case, it is the power of its dodgy friends to operate outside the law and evade justice that it is concerned with. It is a reprehensible but indefensible reality.

It’s not hard to deduce why Labor is reticent about taking its challenge to Heydon to Court; it is completely baseless.

But in a grotesque way, that aversion to Court — and to having current and former union hacks shuffled through it — is well informed.

The number of recommendations for prosecution arising from Heydon’s inquiry is growing. Those who have been guilty of all kinds of lawlessness are going to have their day in Court: and the ALP, despite noisy outrage and sympathetic coverage in the usual Left-leaning press, will be powerless to stop it.

And that’s a bloody good thing — and the real pay dirt for those, like me, who genuinely care about the restoration and improvement of standards in public life.

 

Union Dirty Work: Labor Now Risks Democratic Fabric

NOT CONTENT with its complicity in a challenge to a Royal Commissioner — made purely to protect criminal thuggery — the ALP is so beholden to lawless, violent unions as to now undertake an enterprise that risks democracy itself; its plan to seek vice-regal intervention to remove Dyson Heydon is inappropriate, breaches convention, and imperils democratic institutions. Tellingly, it couldn’t care less for the potential consequences.

I wanted to post a follow-up to my article yesterday, in which I hailed the decision by Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon to dismiss the application to have him recuse himself from further proceedings at the inquiry into the union movement as a victory for decency; it was every inch such a triumph, for the alternative amounted to little more than capitulation to institutionalised lawlessness in the face of a sustained campaign of abuse, intimidation, and a bellicose blanket of noise channelled through sympathetic — but irresponsible — organs of the press.

And two weeks ago — when news of Labor’s “back-up” plan first aired — I took aim at the ALP and at Senator Penny Wong in particular, who appears the designated parliamentary vandal in driving its next planned outrage; the Governor-General is not a party political figure, and does not hold office to do the handiwork of whatever grimy political agenda happens to lob onto his desk from unscrupulous political hacks (and whilst I am happy to argue that what happened in November 1975 is utterly consistent with that statement until the cows come home, to do so today would be a diversion: just the sort of diversion ALP types are likely to wish to encourage to detract from the reality that what they now propose represents an attempt to brutalise the entire system of parliamentary democracy).

There is a lot of press around today dealing with both the fallout from yesterday’s decision by Heydon and the next course of action Labor, acting in cahoots with and on behalf of the thugs and bastards in the union movement who control them, appears determined to pursue.

The article I wish to share with readers today comes from Paul Kelly at The Australian — a sober voice of good sense if ever there was one — and whilst I might be accused of partisanship, sinking the boot into Labor and the unions with reckless abandon, Kelly isn’t exactly the sort of journalist anyone can credibly accuse of “bias:” although Labor will, whenever he isn’t blindly concurring with its nonsense, and on account of the ridiculous truism that in ALP eyes anyone who doesn’t unquestioningly comply with its bullshit is “biased” against it.

(I might also note in my own defence that I have been a persistent critic of the Abbott government and my own party — with good reason — and that there is nothing unfair or unjustified in anything I have had to say either way; this, of course, isn’t good enough for the Left, which takes criticism of conservatives as a given but again, so much as a syllable uttered against itself these days is “bias.” There is no reasoning with stupidity, which pretty much characterises Labor these days).

Even so, Kelly writes that “in a squalid stunt, Labor has debased any claims to principle” in its pending demands that Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove “act improperly, trash the principles of responsible government, and violate the principles of his office” — and so eloquent is this scathing summary of the course of action the ALP is quite openly pursuing that I don’t see much need to add to it.

There is something very wrong in Australian politics at present, and it isn’t confined to the fact that the Liberal Party (and by extension, the Abbott government) is utterly incapable of articulating a message, proactively carrying popular sentiment with it, or decisively responding to the kind of outrages we have seen too often from the ALP and/or the union movement in recent years, of which this mad, bad plan to compromise the Governor-General is merely the latest.

Rather, I think we are nearing a point at which it’s almost passively accepted that anyone in public life (read: the Left) who is able to make a lot of belligerent noise, hurl abuse around and relentlessly pursue their agenda — however improper or even unlawful — stands at least a 50-50 prospect of getting what they want.

It is the reason Labor and the unions have gone after Heydon on no worthier pretext than an accidental RSVP to a Liberal Party function that was withdrawn the instant he became aware of the circumstances in which it had been organised.

It is the reason Labor, on behalf of the unions, now demand the Head of State, no less, to interfere in their unscrupulous plot to excuse criminality, safeguard union thugs from prosecution, and to take sides in a dispute that has nothing whatsoever to do with the office of Governor-General at all.

And the thing that makes this undesirable state of affairs exponentially worse is the fact that a solid chunk of the press, politically sympathetic to the Left — Fairfax, the ABC, and Private Media chief among them — largely turns a blind eye to the unethical and/or illegal objectives being bandied about or (in the case of the ABC in particular) simply ignore them altogether.

It is why, for example, the ABC isn’t interested in the wrongdoing and misconduct being uncovered at the Royal Commission into the unions: as part of the partisan cheer squad, it resents the fact there is a Royal Commission in progress and refuses to pay more than scant attention to its findings — which, insidiously, are weaving a tapestry of corruption, fraud, extortion and violence that has absolutely no place in modern Australia or, indeed, in a civilised democratic society at all.

The Senate — still as good as controlled by Labor and the Communist Party Greens once the votes of crossbenchers like Jacqui Lambie who typically vote against the government are factored in — has already been abused during this term of Parliament, and this latest stunt, entrusted to Wong to ensure it is abused yet again, will do little to elevate the standing of Parliament, politicians, or a Senate already rigged by Labor’s 1984 reforms and shanghaied by the crossbench that would be empty if its inhabitants needed to secure a reasonable stipend of support to win a seat (the independent Nick Xenophon aside).

Already, Labor and the Greens acquiesced to the crack-brained agenda of Clive Palmer to set up a Senate inquiry into the former LNP state government in Queensland, explicitly breaching both convention and the Constitution by violating the rule that one level of government must not launch parliamentary inquiries into another.

And why? For Palmer it was about revenge, as part of his crusade to destroy Campbell Newman, the Coalition, the Abbott government and the Queensland LNP. For Labor and the Greens, it was for no better reason than to score cheap, petty political points to help expedite their return to power.

And happily, the Pineapple Inquiry led precisely nowhere — not that that’s any justification for its existence in the first place.

I contend the Senate has been abused, again with Labor the central engineer and the Greens and the Palmer crowd the enthusiastic accomplices, in trying to render the country ungovernable whilst the Liberal Party remains in office; there is nothing illegal or unconstitutional in this, mind, but ethical or moral considerations don’t even enter into the mix.

More to the point, it speaks to a pattern of behaviour — and that pattern of institutional abuse and anti-democratic conduct (in this case, obstructing the ability of an elected government to govern and operate as it sees fit) is about to be perpetuated in a deeply disturbing and thoroughly reprehensible fashion.

I wrote, in my article two weeks ago, that what Wong and Labor propose in having the Senate “address” Cosgrove is probably ghost-writing a fair slice of a slam-dunk “no” case for next time a referendum on a transition to a republican model of governance is put to voters, for if what they are attempting to have Cosgrove do in a robust system of constitutional monarchy comes to pass, the prospect an elected (and by nature, partisan) President could simply end up being an activist rubber stamp of the government of the day and for literally anything is being graphically played out in advance as we speak.

From co-opting a Head of State to doing the dirty (and criminal) work of Labor’s union mates and mindful of what I said about Labor’s entrenched abuse of the Senate — directly and indirectly — it’s only a short step from there to the outright substitution of the rule of the mob for the rule of law, and (as Margaret Thatcher similarly observed about militant unions 30 years ago) it must not succeed.

If the ALP were to succeed in persuading (or bullying) General Cosgrove into dismissing Heydon and/or shutting down his Royal Commission it would be a black, black day for Australia; the fundamental independence of the office of Governor-General would have been irreparably destroyed, and with it a check on the power of Parliament that is intrinsic to the operation of the Constitution and elected government in this country.

Irrespective of whether you agree or not — and irrespective of whether you think the Heydon inquiry is a “witch hunt” or not (and I don’t: the evidence of criminality emerging from it easily shoots that complaint down) — the Abbott government is perfectly entitled to conduct a Royal Commission; the one underway into the union movement is legitimate, was instituted on reasonable suspicion (and considerable evidence of) widespread irregularities and wrongdoing at a number of individual unions, and it must be permitted to run its course.

If people disapprove of the government’s actions in convening the inquiry — or are displeased with its findings, and the subsequent actions (i.e. prosecutions) that stem from them — they are free to express their displeasure at the ballot box, an opportunity for which may arise at any time within the next year.

Of course, were a change of government to occur prior to the Royal Commission reporting, it is incontestable that Labor would shut it down: even if the union stooge who “leads” the ALP is replaced ahead of an election, Labor is to “servant” what unions are to “master,” and it defies belief to think Trades Hall would stand for the Commission remaining operational beyond 9.01am on the Monday morning after a federal election if Labor won.

In that case, anyone who cared about the rule of law and rigorous standards of probity in public life would be powerless to do anything; it would in no way legitimise the virtual indemnity Labor conferred on its crooked buddies by doing so, but it would at least have won a mandate to govern in those circumstances.

As things stand, it has no mandate to govern at all; it commands a third of the seats in the Senate, which isn’t a mandate to control the upper house; it has no legal basis to junk the Royal Commissioner investigating its filthy union mates; it has neither the grounds nor the authority to shut the Commission down.

Instead, it has the choice between decency and complete anarchy, utterly devoid of any morals or a sense of what is right.

Sadly but predictably it seems, Labor has chosen the latter: and already refusing to accept the will of the people when it loses an election and hellbent on excusing the lawless mates from the consequences of their actions, Labor now seeks to trash the whole system in order to get its way despite having no legitimate grounds to pursue that objective in the first place.

In short, the ALP is prepared to risk — and rent asunder — the entire fabric of Australia’s democratic institutions if it has to, and all in the name of preventing thugs and criminals being forced to face justice.

To be clear, the Governor-General is under no obligation whatsoever to either listen to an “address” presented by Wong or to act on its demands, and one hopes Cosgrove will bluntly tell “the Senate” — when Wong’s motion is passed — to fuck off.

Because if he doesn’t — and the Governor-General does the unions’ dirty work at Labor’s behest — the integrity of democratic government in this country will be dead.

Those who care about such things have been warned. The fact Labor will try this, irrespective of the outcome, is bad enough.

But the fact the ALP appears not to care less about the damage it might do to Australian democracy ought to frighten even the most rabid socialist to their senses, if only for a moment.

There is nothing that justifies such a reckless gamble with the whole system. The fact Labor is prepared to go to these lengths in the name of violent lawbreakers is inexcusable. But as night follows day, it is determined to try.

If these realities don’t force voters to abandon both the unions and the ALP in droves, then heaven help Australia.

 

Vice-Regal: Bryce To Depart A Dame Unlamented

THE IMMINENT replacement of Quentin Bryce as Governor-General by Sir Peter Cosgrove warrants national pride, with the ascent of the distinguished General coinciding with the overdue restoration of knighthoods and damehoods to Australia’s honours system. It’s a reminder that reputations can be easily shredded: Bryce departs as just another Labor hack, a grub, and does not deserve the damehood bestowed upon her by the Prime Minister.

First things first: I think the re-introduction today of knighthoods and damehoods to Australia’s honours roll is overdue, highly appropriate, and something that all Australians should support; it is important to be able to single out individuals in our midst of the highest standing and achievement for recognition, and the elite category Prime Minister Tony Abbott has restored to the Order of Australia today fills a gap in that Order that has been missing since the Hawke government abolished it in 1986.

It is important to note that contrary to popular misconception, these awards are neither British nor Imperial in nature; these are Australian awards, made under the Order of Australia, and as such very different to, say, being called “Sir” on account of being made a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) which is, ultimately, a British award.

Republicans, therefore, can have no complaint against it on anti-monarchical grounds.

And I contend some of the noisier and outraged members of the lobby of the downtrodden can have no gripe with it, either: just as I have no problem with their advocacy for and on behalf of the poorest and most disaffected members of society, they in turn should have no problem with individuals having something like this to strive for: a recognition of excellence and achievement.

Just as the poorest should be lifted from their circumstances, so too should the best and brightest be encouraged and rewarded and spurred on to greater heights, and it is an indecent view of society that would have one to the total exclusion of the other.

These awards have been reintroduced to coincide with the completion of the present Governor-General’s term in office, and her replacement by a true Australian hero and living national treasure in the retired General, now Sir Peter Cosgrove.

To me, the timing is exquisite; the departure of Bryce doesn’t completely close the door on what has more or less been a dominant Labor generation* in terms of its prominence in Australian politics — that can only happen once the balance of power in the Senate changes in July — but I have to say that the arrival of Gen Cosgrove at Yarralumla will signal a break with Australia’s recent Labor past, and restore some much-needed dignity to the highest office in the land after the disgraceful precedent set by Bryce.

The fact Bryce was a woman in vice-regal office is no precedent; after all, she wasn’t even the first female governor of her home state of Queensland.

I actually think her gender makes no difference at all; in my view, the only considerations are a) can she do the job? and, b) how well, with hindsight, she did the job.

Only a fool would argue Bryce wasn’t up to being Governor-General; she is no idiot, and in fact, that was part of the problem.

Readers will recall that in November last year — when she foolishly waded into domestic politics, advocating in favour of gay marriage and a republic — this column slammed her interventions, pointing out (very correctly) that it was entirely improper for the holder of the office of Governor-General to be intervening in the political issues of the day. For those who didn’t see my article at the time, it is here.

Until that outburst, I had previously opined (the few times the Governor-Generalship even surfaced as a topical subject) that Bryce, by and large, had rather surprisingly made an excellent Governor-General, serving with distinction and aplomb.

What had been so “surprising” about these observations had nothing to do with Bryce’s gender and everything to do with her background, based as it is in the radical activism of the social Left. It surprised me she had been able to keep a lid on these prejudices in her official capacity. I had spoken too soon. My observations had been premature.

And in direct answer to those who might refer to Abbott’s comments at the time — that he had been “comfortable” with what Bryce had said — I would simply point out that those comments are words from a man with a vested interest, as Prime Minister, in offending as few people as possible.

No true interpretation of responsible government in Australia and the role the office of Governor-General plays in it could ever excuse such a divisive foray into rank partisanship by its occupant.

Conventions around roles such as the Governor-Generalship exist for good reason; in this case, the political impartiality and strict neutrality of the role are essential if the office is to remain uncompromised as an instrument of the system of constitutional monarchy, or to enable its holder to act properly and fearlessly if a situation similar to the events of October-November 1975 should ever again arise.

The higher the office, the higher the expectation; and in this vein, what might have been regarded as the rendering of meritorious vice-regal service was ripped apart by a few cheap cracks Bryce simply lacked the self-restraint or discipline to keep quiet about.

She leaves the office of Governor-General ready for her successor to restore it to the propriety and dignity it deserves; whilst not perhaps a complete failure, the kindest judgement of her term at Yarralumla is that is was unremarkable — save for the offensive partisan statements she made in a speech that quite literally should never have been uttered by somebody in her position.

Nobody should mark down the period spent by Quentin Bryce as Governor-General as a time to be remembered with any affection. She was not a great holder of the office. Her tenure was not remarkable or distinguished. In contexts such as these, reputations are hard-earned over long years and may be destroyed in an instant. Her time in the role has left a great stain of partisanship on a great office of state. She does not deserve the damehood the Prime Minister has bestowed upon her.

 

*To clarify, whilst the Liberal Party governed for 12 years under John Howard, federally, from March 1996 to November 2007, it must be remembered that his election took place at a time when Coalition state governments were early in an overall process of falling from office across the country; Labor has had the better of Australian politics over the past 20 years or so when the states are included for consideration, and it is this dominant Labor generation to which I refer.

Finally! Peter Cosgrove Named Australia’s 26th Governor-General

PRIME MINISTER Tony Abbott has confirmed one of the worst-kept secrets in Australian politics of recent times, announcing that retired General and Defence Force chief Peter Cosgrove is to become Australia’s 26th Governor-General; Cosgrove is a standout candidate for the role, and his appointment is to be heartily applauded. The restoration of decency to the office, and respect for the institution it represents, is long overdue.

Confirmation today of the appointment of Peter Cosgrove as Australia’s 26th Governor-General since Federation is to be welcomed, applauded, and even celebrated; this is the highest office in the land, and Cosgrove will take up the role in March with the best wishes and support of millions of Australians.

It is difficult to think of a better — or more suited — candidate as Governor-General at this time than General Cosgrove, who will replace Quentin Bryce when her (extended) tenure comes to an end in March; with a fine record in Australia’s military, business and charitable sectors, Cosgrove brings a broad depth of experience to this role backed by a reputation for competence and a tradition of integrity and probity of service.

Significantly, Cosgrove — a committed constitutional monarchist — is unlikely to rock the boat as his erstwhile predecessor ultimately chose to do; whilst the nature of Australia’s institutions of governance may or may not evolve and change over time as dictated by the will of the people, in accordance with the Constitution, those institutions demand the respect and impartiality of those who serve them and this is especially true of the office of the Governor-General.

It is regrettable that Quentin Bryce — a prominent Labor figure and social activist of many years’ standing prior to her first vice-regal appointment as Governor of Queensland by the government of Peter Beattie — opted, in the end, to sully her tenure as Governor-General by making direct interventions into the realm of partisan political politics.

I have opined in this column previously that political appointees to this office over the decades — Liberal and Labor alike — have forged a surprisingly distinguished tradition of service in the role, however questionable their suitability may have been regarded at the time or however dubious the motives of their Prime Ministers in appointing them.

In seeming to seek to provide vice-regal imprimatur to the causes of gay marriage, affirmative action and the republican movement, Bryce lowered her colours and trashed any value her time as Governor-General may have represented; I have said in the past — and prior to her regrettable foray into active politics — that despite her background her tenure in the office was one of distinction.

That cannot be said of it now; regardless of the elegance with which Bryce conducts herself publicly, or the crisp, polished communication style she deploys, she has shown herself to be just another political grub devoid of timing, sense of occasion, or indeed any comprehension of what constitutes acceptable standards of conduct required of the office she has held — or, it seems, what does not.

Gen Cosgrove comes to the office of Governor-General at what is likely to prove a time of great change for the institution he will now represent; already, it is well known publicly that Prince Charles is taking on the bulk of the public commitments of Her Majesty the Queen, and will continue to assume more of her workload behind the scenes as he prepares to become King. Her Majesty is now 88 years old, and whilst the subject was once regarded as unspeakable, it’s an open secret that government and Palace officials are preparing for a succession in the monarchy, and perhaps sooner rather than later.

In this regard, it is critical that the representative of the monarch is an individual of unimpeachable character at a time when stability and continuity is likely to be required. Gen Cosgrove satisfies those criteria.

And in fact, at 66 years of age, Cosgrove embodies the very youngest end of a generation that might have any direct memory at all of living under a monarch other than Elizabeth II, who ascension to the throne in 1952 ushered in a reign currently standing second in duration only to the 64-year rule of Queen Victoria from 1837 to 1901; it may be the historic nature of this appointment today will run far deeper in retrospect, in years to come, than might be apparent now.

Cosgrove’s appointment is for five years, running from March this year until early in 2019, and is believed to have received the Queen’s assent at the weekend.

Some monarchists will be bitterly disappointed today that former Liberal Prime Minister John Howard isn’t the man at the centre of this announcement.

As a conservative and a monarchist I understand their views and to some extent sympathise, but I cannot stress strongly enough that as much as Mr Howard may be qualified to serve as Governor-General — indeed, the role could have been tailored to him, such is the fit at face value — he is too deeply political and polarising a figure to represent an appropriate selection to the office, and I encourage those who may have hoped for his appointment to get behind Gen Cosgrove. He is a fine candidate for the role.

To those readers of republican bent, I appeal to you to embrace Gen Cosgrove in his new vocation; if there is one thing Bryce has shown, it is that the office of the viceroy can be warmly accepted (even if, admittedly, largely by fellow travellers of her social agenda), and for long as there is a role for a Governor-General in this country it will continue to be filled by a fine Australian. Cosgrove is certainly that, and deserves the support and affection of his peers.

And to those warriors and spivs of the ALP, operating in the unscrupulous and ethics-free spirit of smugly attacking anything and everything even indirectly associated with Tony Abbott — just because they think they can — get a grip and wake up to yourselves for once, and leave Cosgrove alone: it’s one thing to try to force-feed the voting public a steady diet of lies where domestic politics is concerned, but another altogether to take aim at the structural edifices of the system itself. Quite simply: Don’t. The only people impressed by your antics, at the very best of times, is yourselves.

It’s a shame to even dignify such people with a mention on what is a great day for Australia. But the tactics they used to destroy Peter Hollingworth were never deployed against William Deane or Quentin Bryce, and they should under no circumstances be revisited now, just because Cosgrove is Abbott’s appointment.

I am delighted that — finally, after years of speculation — Cosgrove has been appointed to that office which sits at the apex of Australia’s system of governance. I am sure he will discharge the role with distinction, and I congratulate him heartily on his appointment as Governor-General today.

God Save The Queen!

 

Our Call: Peter Cosgrove Should Be Australia’s Next Governor-General

THE MURDOCH PRESS is reporting the Abbott government has all but finalised the appointment of former Defence chief and war veteran Peter Cosgrove as Australia’s next Governor General; we believe General Cosgrove is — quite simply — the standout candidate for this appointment by a wide margin, who will restore some much-needed dignity to the office of Australia’s Head of State.

I trust readers have had an enjoyable and safe Christmas with their families, loved ones and friends; as ever, life goes on, and to that extent I will be posting during the so-called silly season: at times on less time-specific subjects of interest to me that I am sure readers will also find engaging, but also on issues that arise on the way through — like this one.

Most readers will know I have long been an advocate for General Cosgrove’s appointment as Governor-General even if, admittedly, that view has been expressed through the prism of whom I do not support for the role: namely, the Right Honourable John Winston Howard.

(For those who are new to our discussion, however, you can view here and here to see what I have been on about).

The Murdoch press — whose journalists, let’s be honest, would know — is reporting today that Cosgrove’s appointment is more or less a done deal: yet to be formally recommended to Buckingham Palace for approval, it appears Cosgrove is nonetheless ordering his affairs in preparation to assume vice-regal office on the recommendation of Tony Abbott.

This column gives its wholehearted, enthusiastic and unqualified support to the appointment of General Cosgrove to the post; a fine career in the military, public service, business and the not-for-profit sectors uniquely qualifies him to serve at the apex of Australia’s system of governance.

Importantly, it is said the appointment carries Howard’s imprimatur which should, in equal measure, mollify those who believed Howard himself should have been called upon to serve as well as silencing those political critics who have argued a deal existed with Abbott for Howard to be appointed — a suggestion that, frankly, defies reality.

I am particularly pleased — as the son of a veteran of the Vietnam War — that one of his number is set to be recognised in this manner; some will find it a small point, but I believe veterans of that conflict have never been properly acknowledged for their service, and in this regard I think the consideration is a significant one.

But to be brutal, General Cosgrove’s arrival at Yarralumla should also trigger the restoration of some decency and dignity to the office.

It is ironic that someone like Quentin Bryce — a highly partisan and often controversial Labor lawyer and social activist prior to her time in vice-regal life — should have mostly served in the post with some distinction.

Unlike some of my conservative cousins elsewhere, I have never believed she faced a conflict of interest on the basis her son-in-law — ALP “leader” Bill Shorten — was firstly a government minister under Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, and now opposition leader; if anything, that conflict (if it really existed) fell to Shorten to resolve, on the simple basis Bryce was in place in her role first.

But Bryce’s outburst, in one of the Boyer lectures she delivered for the ABC, that Australia should become a republic was an outrage, and completely destroyed any claim she may have had to legitimate respect for either her tenure as Governor-General or for the manner in which she has discharged her duties, which is rendered derelict by her remarks.

(Should he be prepared to accept the honour, I have no problem with the call by Australians for Constitutional Monarchy for Cosgrove to be knighted upon confirmation of his appointment, either).

Her remarks on the fraught political issue of gay marriage in the same lecture series, openly advocating legislative sanction of the measure, were reprehensible.

The post — despite a history of being filled with political appointees — is traditionally apolitical, and that tradition has surprisingly been upheld even by some of the most controversial political appointees to the post.

And someone like Bryce would have fully understood the inappropriate nature of her remarks on that occasion, and should have exercised the self-control to desist.

There are also lingering questions surrounding the Heiner Affair in Queensland from the early 1990s that Bryce may be called upon to address that place a question mark over whether she should ever have been elevated to such a prestigious position of governance in the first place.

Indeed, we believe she shouldn’t have been — be that to the Governor-Generalship or to the governorship of Queensland prior to that.

I know many of my readers — whether they sit on the Left or the Right — will probably see me pushing an agenda I have pursued in this column for some time, and for that I make no apology.

I simply think General Cosgrove is — to put it stereotypically — the only choice for the post of all the names that are under consideration, and if the news is correct that his appointment is a virtual formality, then so much the better.

 

Gay Rights, Republic: Pull Your Head In, Governor-General

IN A FLAGRANT abuse of office, Quentin Bryce has made an inappropriate, tacky public foray into politics, using a lecture series convened by the ABC to advocate gay marriage and a republic. The Governor-General has shown cavalier disrespect for the sovereign, and compromised her position.

It is an utter disgrace that a serving Governor-General should opt to intervene in issues that have nothing whatsoever to do with her role, let alone divisive matters that politicise what is and should always be a strictly impartial role at the apex of Australian governance.

Yet for someone who was a social activist as a prominent Labor figure prior to assuming vice-regal office it comes as no surprise, not that that excuses or justifies her actions.

Quentin Bryce has used the last in a series of lectures orchestrated by the ABC to outline “her vision” for a country “where people are free to love and marry whom they choose and where…(a) young girl or boy may even grow up to be our nation’s first Head of State.”

To be clear, my remarks today have nothing to do with my positions on the issues the Governor-General has raised, although readers will know that I am opposed to both and have outlined my reasons in this column several times in the past.

Very simply, Quentin Bryce has politicised what is an apolitical post, and for that she deserves contempt.

Providing vice-regal imprimatur to contentious social issues probably sounds like a brilliant idea to a socialist, but that’s the point: it’s the one office in Australia that “has no opinion.”

The views of Quentin Bryce on these matters is irrelevant, although the reaction from predictable quarters is an object demonstration of the irresponsibility of airing them.

Communist Party Greens leader Christine Milne was quick out of the blocks, taking to Twitter to express her congratulations “for strong advocacy of marriage equality, a republic and an ethic of care. Real leadership.”

The former Labor Premier of Western Australia, Geoff Gallop — now chairman of the Australian Republican Movement — used the speech as his cue to declare that it was time to revisit the issue of “an Australian head of state.”

But Liberal MP Kelly O’Dwyer — also a republican — was, properly, more circumspect, declaring “It’s highly unusual for a currently serving Governor-General to advocate for a republic.”

Quite.

It is not indelicate to point out that since her appointment as Governor of Queensland in 2003 and subsequently as Governor-General in 2008, Bryce has been content to pocket millions of taxpayer-funded salary dollars as the representative of the Crown.

It is entirely reasonable to therefore hold her to the consequent expectation that she would adhere to the clear convention that her offices should not interfere in political issues.

Past Governors-General have done so; even Labor appointees such as Bill Hayden and William Deane performed their duties admirably and with distinction, although Deane had a mildly controversial reputation at the time for his advocacy on Aboriginal disadvantage.

By contrast, however, Bryce has revealed herself as nothing more than a grub.

As I said at the outset, my remarks have nothing to do with my own stand on the issues Bryce has elected to interfere in, and they don’t.

But the principle of the independence of the Governor-General has been violated in a calculated and deliberate fashion, and for that Bryce should be condemned.

Her comments do not legitimise one side of the debate on such issues o’er the other, nor invalidate the contrary position.

But the reactions from elements campaigning on the same side of those debates shows why the convention of independence exists at all: now, they will parade and trumpet Bryce’s intervention as the provision of official sanction where none should exist — either way.

There is, not to put too fine a point on it, also the issue of disrespect for the monarch who remains — irrespective of the wishes of some to the contrary — Australia’s head of state.

For its part, the institution itself maintained the admirable neutrality that Bryce clearly lacks the self-discipline or principle to display, saying in a statement that “in response to any questions about the future of the Monarchy in Australia, Buckingham Palace has always maintained that this is a matter for the people of Australia.”

Which is how it should be.

In closing — and to address any charge of hypocrisy that readers opposed to my views might level — I should point out that my remarks in no way disrespect the office of the Governor-General.

In my view, its current occupant was an unsuitable appointee who was also an inappropriate selection as Governor of Queensland, and I said so on both occasions at the time (and had this column been in operation in 2003 and/or 2008, I would have published remarks to that effect here then too).

Bryce has shown, by her contempt for conventions of appropriate conduct as the holder of that office, that she is not entitled to any respect: indeed, I look forward to her pending replacement by a more suitable candidate.

It is because of my respect for the office that I make the points I do here, and the sooner Bryce ceases to sully it, the better.

 

Constitutional Crisis? More On Potential Fallout From Rudd Return

SOME HOURS after publishing our article last night — in which we stated the Governor-General may have “a role to play” in a return by Kevin Rudd to the Labor leadership — an article appeared in the Fairfax press raising similar questions. It seems the “Yarralumla Prospect,” unforeseen by Labor, is real.

There has been a lot of discussion — openly and behind the scenes — on matters I raised last night in relation to the timing of a return by Kevin Rudd to the leadership of the ALP.

Opinion seems divided among readers of The Red And The Blue about exactly what might transpire if Labor switches leaders after the conclusion of next week’s parliamentary sitting, but few readers who have commented here or raised the matter with me directly believe it likely Rudd will simply be sworn in as Prime Minister in such circumstances.

(Interestingly, some people don’t realise that after next Thursday, that’s “it” in terms of the prospect of a no-confidence motion: even if the election date is changed, Parliament is highly unlikely to sit again this side of an election. One reader pointed out the House of Reps could sit again on August 20, but this would necessitate an election in early October (at the earliest): a politically fraught option indeed for the ALP. But that’s another story).

Now, the “Yarralumla Prospect” — as someone rather quaintly described it to me this afternoon — is openly exercising the minds of others close to the political game as well.

I read with great interest a piece by Mark Kenny that has been published on the Fairfax news sites today (“Labor Risks Majority Crisis”) which readers can access here, and I strongly encourage all to check it out.

It adds another layer to the labyrinth of intrigue that currently shrouds the Labor leadership, who has the numbers to win it, and whether that has any bearing in relation to any move to subject it to a contest.

As I have been frequently pointing out of late, I don’t believe for a nanosecond that Kevin Rudd, at this point in time, commands a majority of votes in the ALP caucus or that he is within a vote or two of doing so.

I do think however that the 71-31 thumping Gillard meted out the last time there was a vote probably overstates her support by about fifteen votes; the margin is a lot closer: the question is how much closer, and whether that gap can be closed out in another week.

Certainly, the mood is far more febrile and fluid than even three months ago, at the time of the non-coup, the histrionics and leaking of “numbers” by the Rudd camp notwithstanding.

Even so, I still think the most likely outcome is that Gillard makes it to the winter recess as Prime Minister, and goes on to face Tony Abbott at an election on 14 September.

But a week is a long time in politics, and on the issue of a potential constitutional crisis arising from a leadership change in the ALP, the key point to my mind from the attached article by Kenny states that

“Both pro-Rudd and pro-Gillard forces have been working on the assumption that the leadership stalemate would be brought to a head…on Thursday next week to avoid a parliamentary no-confidence vote.”

It’s a point that reflects more on Rudd than on Gillard; as the plotter (which is what he is, just in case anyone is naive enough to think his pledge not to return as leader holds water) Rudd — or at least, someone close to him — has thought of this possible pitfall.

A cynic might say that for someone who manages and plans every detail to the minutiae, Rudd must have initially overlooked this; that yet again, he’s been too smart by half, and that even if he made a return to the ALP leadership he couldn’t control the outcome.

The Yarralumla Prospect is alive and well. How it would play out is anyone’s guess.