12th May 2003

  - ARCHBISHOP DOCTOR HOLLYWOOD (or is that Holroyd or something?), GOVERNOR OF AUSTRALIA -

About 28 years ago, Australia's Governor dissolved parliament without first asking the Prime Minister who appointed him, Gough Whitlam.

Australia's constitution (like most national constitutions around the world) requires a person who has nearly absolute power.  Like the Bruitish Monarch, our governor general has nearly unlimited power, excepting the power to enact taxation legislation (which can only be enacted by a parliament of elected representatives).  He can dissolve parliament and rule by decree.  He is the commander in chief of the armed forces.  The Governor is Queen Elizabeth's representative in the Australian Monarchy, and so far the Queen has always acted on the Prime Minister's advice in selection and removal of the Governor General of Australia.  She is the final safety valve that protects Australia's constitution.

The US president has somewhat comparable powers, although I understand that he cannot dissolve congress.  I believe that he has nearly absolute power to rule by decree through the system of "Presidential Directives".

Since Prime Minister Gough Whitlam (1973-75?), the most important attribute required to be considered for selection as Governor General of Australia has been loyalty to friends.  So it will come as no surprise that governor Hollywood (or Holroyd or whatever in his past life as Archbishop of Brisbane) was loyal to a subordinate who was also a friend, even to the point of disbelieving quite serious and persuasive charges of serial pederastry levelled against that friend.

The present media frenzy calling for the Governor's removal is more likely to be an attack on Prime Minister Howard (quite possibly by members of his own party) probably to encourage him to resign as PM.

Of course a cleric who allowed a cleric subordinate charged with pederastry to continue ministering to the parish children was at the very least derelict in his duty of care, and thoroughly deserves to be removed from office, but I can understand, that from our PM's viewpoint, it was a noble attribute that he stuck by his friends before acting on what was morally right.