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Return of the Knave
Drink It Black
Friday, 30 April 2004
What'll it be, guvnor?
The issue of becoming a republic won't vanish from the agenda unless the full choice option the Opposition is proposing gets up and the people still vote to retain their constitutional monarchy (and even then...). When push comes to shove, I don't think that will happen. It's just that a republican debate hosted by a staunch monarchist was doomed to failure.

There is also word that the present form of government might last only as long as the reign of Queen Elizabeth II (I in Scotland) as 'we' don't take to Prince Charles, especially not after Camilla. I don't think he's as bad as all that. Of course he's going to have something of the upper class twit about him but that's understandable. At least he has interesting ideas and is passionate about his pursuits.

The thing about all this - and I'm pro-republic by disposition - is that 'untying the apron strings' will have ramifications here too. The political parties will go on doing their deals but it's at the vice-regal level that the nation could feel the most impact.

This may seem a strange thing to say since the state governors barely register on the national conscience. I'd been wanting to put Ted Egan in the picture for a while and thought I should just scout through the other governors' profiles before I went and nominated him as my fave.

Now I'm a Western Australian native and I didn't know who the Governor of Western Australia was. Lieutenant-General Sanderson is the most conservative appointment but he isn't any old military man, he was born in Geraldton and rose to become head of the Australian army.

Having sports stars make the transition into more reserved public life is not without precedent. A rugby player has been Lord Mayor before. So perhaps the Governor of South Australia and the Governor of Victoria are not surprising choices. The ceremonial role is appropriate for someone who has achieved unambiguously. Being first across the line is unrelated to your political, religious or personal inclinations so is uncontroversial (in a way that the clergy no longer are)yet profoundly dynamic.

Then there is the community-building and nation-building move to appoint someone who exemplifies high achievement outside the WASP environment. The Lebanese community in Australia isn't that old - and is suffering bad P.R. thanks to some criminal jerks in the western suburbs - so the Governor of New South Wales represents a proactive choice.

And if you want to be truly diplomatic, why not select a career diplomat. Step up, Richard Butler, Governor of Tasmania

As for Ted, he's an unorthodox choice even for the Top End. The NT tilted at statehood a couple of years back but the people voted against it so Egan is Administrator of the Northern Territory rather than Governor.

The Governor-General is another WA military man. After his disastrous predecessor, it must have seemed to the Prime Minister, who is the worst judge of character, to play it safe by selecting not only a military coot but one who has previously been State Governor with relatively little controversy.

II

Postscript: well Tasmanian readers of my blog will be thrilled - a different state got forgotten this time. Somehow I managed to completely forget about the second biggest state and, incidentally, the state I moved to when we were having our first baby.

And I hadn't heard of this Governor of Queensland either.

So that's three women, one academic, one lawyer, two runners, two generals and one singer-songwriter/larrickin. Governors at their best are colourful and reflective of our aspirations as a nation. They have the luxury of representing high office without needing to be tainted by wedge politics.



Posted by berko_wills at 4:00 PM NZT
Updated: Thursday, 6 May 2004 12:19 AM NZT
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