Of governors and presidents
We are lucky ducks in Australia to have such a fine, competent, compassionate, smart Governor General - not like our cousins in places like USA or Fiji where the presidents have serious problems! (Not much explanation needed except that a court case concluded that the Fiji President has extraordinary powers that can even ratonalize a coup!) And our Australian Governor-General is a woman. Hoorah!
from today's Age - because she has been visiting the people along the Murray-Daling basin where continual drought has threatened not only the ecology of the rivers and land but the livelihoods of the farming communities.
Reaching out: Quentin Bryce does not intend to be a passive and speechless figurehead in the vice-regal role. Photo: Simon O'Dwyer
Governor-General has no taste for politics but believes that her bipartisan role doesn't have to be silent
October 11, 2008
GOVERNOR-GENERAL QuentinBryce has defended her right tospeak out on social issues, andsays Australians have made itclear they want to discuss withher a wide range of mattersthat are important to them.
However, she told The Age she would never become involved in partisan politics or the political process.
The vice-regal traditional of bipartisanship was enormously significant, and highly valued by Australians.
"But that doesn't mean you can't express views and opinions on matters of importance to the community," she said.
The view that a governor-general's job should be little more than snipping ribbons to open flower shows was "a very old-fashioned idea".
Ms Bryce said she agreed with former governor-general Sir Zelman Cowen's description of the vice-regal role as "holding a mirror up to Australia".
In a long interview with The Age, Ms Bryce said her most important job was to be part of the Australian conversation, and most importantly, to listen.
She likened her job to that of a local council constantly organising social, cultural and sporting events to give people a sense of community by bringing them together and giving them a chance to discuss their lives.
The financial crisis and the drought "makes it more important than ever for people to get together and just ask 'How are you going'," she said. In such circumstances, people could look at friends doing it tough and say "Listen mate, you better go and see the shire counselling services", Ms Bryce said.
The Governor-General said women concerned by financial and family stresses had approached her during her week-long tour down the Darling and Murray rivers. They were among scores of people who had made it obvious from Bourke to Mildura that they wanted to draw her into discussion about their concerns about the environment, their families and their communities. etc. etc.
So, what is the role of a governor-general or a president?