23 June 2003

Wise appointment confirms why the system needs fixing
Because the new Governor-General is one man's choice and because politics dictated that choice had to be extremely cautious, a selection which broke with convention was never a possibility.

There was never a chance, for example, that Howard would be the first prime minister to choose a woman for the job.

But these are the reasons why this choice confirms that the current system is a failure. A choice in which political imperatives are the overriding factors compromises the chances of a governor-general who is the people's choice candidate.

But it says a lot about the parlous state of the Australian republican movement that despite the Hollingworth debacle John Howard was under very little pressure to do other than he has done.

I would argue it also compromises any sense of reality that in the twenty-first century we are all cavorting about insisting that autocratic appointment of the head of state is the only safe or even thinkable way to go. If the debate was informed by any sense of history the commentariat would realise they sound like chaps in frock coats at Versailles circa 1780.

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