Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

Our Governor-General is more than just a ceremonial rubber stamp

By David Flint - posted Friday, 6 June 2003

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: instant dismissal.

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.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. All

This article was first published in The Canberra Times on 3 June, 2003.

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

David Flint is a former chairman of the Australian Press Council and the Australian Broadcasting Authority, is author of The Twilight of the Elites, and Malice in Media Land, published by Freedom Publishing. His latest monograph is Her Majesty at 80: Impeccable Service in an Indispensable Office, Australians for Constitutional Monarchy, Sydney, 2006

Other articles by this Author

All articles by David Flint
Related Links
ACT government
Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy
University of Technology Sydney
Photo of David Flint
Article Tools
Comment Comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend
Latest from Australians for Constitutional Monarchy
 The formidable Fred Nile prevails: premier concedes
 Prorogue then intimidate
 The ‘Utegate’ affair and the constitution
 ETS: emissions trading scheme or energy tax swindle?
 Information and media manipulation par excellence

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy