There is a widespread view that the Governor-General, and the Governors, are superfluous, their role being essentially ceremonial.
One exception is admitted. They do have that ultimate power over government:
There has been a quite successful attempt to taint the exercise of this power in 1975 by ad hominem attacks on Sir John Kerr. But the blame for this surely lies with the politicians who created what was a political, and not a constitutional, crisis.
Nevertheless, some of them have since blamed Sir John, the Constitution or both. Such is the tendency of political man to turpitude, to use the mot de jour (although one media commentator talked, in all seriousness, of "moral ineptitude"!)
And now, Simon Crean is doing to "turpitude" what others did to "naughty" changing its meaning through misuse.
Accusing Hollingworth of moral turpitude, as he did, was as wrong as Manning Clark's description of Lenin as "Christ-like"!
The view that the vice-regal function is that of a rubber stamp was asserted recently by federation historian and lawyer Dr Helen Irving.
Rather than "rubber stamp", she could have written "mechanical idiot".
These are the very words the Administrator of the Commonwealth, Sir Guy Green, used in 1999 to describe this theory, which he then dismissed out of hand.
The only support for this in our case law seems to be in observations from the Bench by the late Justice Lionel Murphy.
Now, the fact that the rubber-stamp theory was rejected by all of the other judges and just about anybody who has ever held a vice-regal position does not stop it being taught in many of our schools and universities without, it seems, students being told there is another view.
Surely the assessment of those who are actually doing the job ought at least to be acknowledged.
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