Here’s an Idea: Elect the Governor-General

Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has just appointed a notorious political activist as Australia’s latest Head of State, the incoming Governor-General Samantha “Sam” Mostyn, a  ruling class insider who has likened Australia Day to “invasion day” in online posts and has been a Labor functionary for years, more recently working with the Albanese government as chairman of its Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce. As reported, Mostyn embraces every aspect of the woke worldview, including “global warming” alarmism and highly discriminatory “affirmative action” policies.

No wonder Albanese likes her.

“But is being some Labor apparatchik really the qualification for governor-general these days?”, asks Sky News presenter Andrew Bolt rhetorically.[1] In an article published in The Herald Sun this Thursday, he calls Mostyn’s appointment “the triumph of affirmative action over talent and accomplishment”[2]. According to The Australian‘s Janet Albrechtsen, she has just been appointed because she is a woke woman.[3] “As far as one can tell from her public profile”, writes Albrechtsen 

she has no track record running an actual business or taking P&L responsibility … Her main skills appear to be gender advocacy, networking and being a quote queen, with a helpful side order of ALP [i.e., Australian Labor Party] connections. Her CV reads like a Disney movie about Ms Woke, winning climate awards, popping up in university diversity programs, deputy chair of Diversity Australia, presiding over the CEW, charing the Women’s Equality Taskforce and sitting on multiple corporate boards and commissions…[4]

Conservative political lobbying group Advance agrees. It has branded the appointment of the new Governor-General as “an insult to mainstream Australians and confirms he cares more about the activists and elites than the people working hard to make this nation great [5] … Advance opposes this deeply political appointment to what should be a completely non-political role”, says Advance executive director Matthew Sheahan.[6]  

I agree with almost everything Sheahan says but with the caveat that I believe appointments of the Governor-General are always political, regardless of theoretical assumptions to the contrary. Being an appointment by the King on the advice of the Prime Minister, the tenure of the Governor-General can be terminated at any time by the King on the advice of the Prime Minister.

Legally, the government is comprised only of the Governor-General in Council, meaning the latter acting on the advice of an Executive Council comprising the ministers of the Crown. In reality, however, collective decisions are always made by the Cabinet that is controlled by the Prime Minister, and not the constitutionally designed Federal Executive Council, which only serves as a rubber stamp for decisions taken elsewhere.

The vast majority of the Governor-General’s powers are either ceremonial or exercised on the strict advice of the Prime Minister, not that of personal discretion. This encompasses the functions of the ‘Governor-General in Council’ to call an election of the House of Representatives, to create government departments, to appoint public servants and federal judges. And even where the Constitution does not refer to the ‘Governor-General in Council’, but only to the ‘Governor-General’, conventions, developed over the last few decades, require the incumbent to exercise power strictly on the advice of the Prime Minister. This is understood to apply wherever the Governor-General exercises a vast range of powers, including:

♦ to summon, prorogue and dissolve Parliament;

♦ to recommend money Bills to Parliament;

♦ to order a double dissolution and convene a joint sitting;

♦ to assent to legislation

♦ to appoint members of Executive Council to serve as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces; and

♦ to submit constitutional amendments to a referendum.

Section 5 of the Australian Constitution states “[t]he Governor‑General may appoint such times for holding the sessions of the Parliament as he thinks fit, and may also from time to time, by Proclamation or otherwise, prorogue the Parliament, and may in like manner dissolve the House of Representatives.” However, the High Court has already decided that such discretion vested in the Governor-General concerning a decision to dissolve Parliament needs to be exercised at the behest of the Prime Minister, the person who controls Parliament.[7] Although the Governor-General may request the Prime Minister to reconsider the advice the latter is tendering, ultimately, effect must be given to such advice.

One of the powers the Governor-General theoretically exercises under section 59 of the Constitution is that of disallowing legislation. However, this power to veto legislation has actually been made redundant at least since the 1926 Dominion Conference, which determined that such power to disallow legislation should never be used by the Governor-General. The power of disallowance is now a dead letter. This section is among the inoperative sections of the Constitution.[8]

Of course, section 60 allows the Governor-General to reserve a Bill passed in Parliament for a decision on assent directly by the King. This would be a possibility only with respect to abolishing appeals to the Privy Council under s 74. However, and subsequent to the enactment of the Privy Council (Appeals from the High Court) Act 1975 (Cth), which was assented to by the Queen following reservation, these appeals are now possible only through certificate issued by the High Court, which the Court itself has made very clear it will no longer issue.[9]

The Governor-General can still dismiss a Prime Minister when he no longer has the confidence of the Lower House but refuses to resign and persists in the action. Such a dismissal has occurred only twice in history. In 1932, NSW Governor Sir Philip Game dismissed Premier Jack Lang when his government unilaterally suspended payments owed by the state to the Commonwealth. At federal level, Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was dismissed by the decision of the Governor-General Sir John Kerr in 1975.

As can be seen, the undesirable allocation under the Westminster System of executive functions to members of the legislative branch extends to the power to recommend the appointment of the Governor-General. This practice naturally raises the question as to whether the appointment of the Head of State is truly non-political. I certainly do not think so. Derived from this is another and perhaps more important discussion, namely whether Australia should have an elected Head of State so as to temper the almost unlimited power of politicians, thereby potentially strengthening the rule of law.

WHEN the Australian framers began to write the Constitution, they invariably agreed that the legal-institutional framework should be under the Crown. And yet this did not necessarily commit them to having a Governor-General indirectly appointed by the Prime Minister.[10]  According to Sydney University Law School’s Professor Helen Irving, the original debate over appointment of the Head of State (that is, remember, the Governor-General) did not occur in the context of republicanism but instead of representative government. “That Australia would hold allegiance to the British monarchy was never in doubt, but that did not mean that the Governor-General could not be elected”, she argues.[11]

The idea of electing the Australian Head of State was first raised at the National Australasian Convention in Sydney in 1891. There, 45 representatives from seven colonies (including New Zealand) came together to embed into a written constitution the principles of federation they had agreed upon at the Federation Conference in Melbourne one year earlier.[12] One of the three representatives at the Convention, Sir George Grey (right) of New Zealand, at the age of 79 was the oldest delegate. Previously, he had been appointed as the Governor of South Australia, and then the Governor of New Zealand, in 1845. Then he was elected to Parliament in New Zealand, becoming that nation’s Prime Minister in 1877. Grey proposed that the section about the selection of the Governor-General should read as follows:

There shall be a governor-general who shall be her Majesty’s representative in the Commonwealth.[13]

This proposal left open the means of selecting the Head of State. Moving this amendment, he argued that this would allow for the possibility of the Governor-General being popularly elected. It was essential, according to him, “that every officer should be elected by the people of Australia. The electors should be free to choose their governor-general”.[14] Above all, Grey deemed “unjust” for Australians to support the office of Governor-General without the opportunity to choose the incumbent.

The first response to this proposal came from James Munro, who was Victoria’s Premier. Since the Governor-General was supposed to represent the monarch, Munro reasoned that “the only way in which we can have Her Majesty’s present is through her representative, and if her representative is to be elected by us, and not by herself, he will not be her representative, but ours”.[15] Grey, however, was not convinced by the argument. He replied that the Queen would not, in fact, appoint the Governor-General. Instead, parliamentary ministers were those who would make the decision by ‘advising’ the Queen as to whom would have to be appointed. “To my mind, to subject the people of this new federation to a rule of this kind is to degrade, and not to ennoble; is to lower them in their own estimation’, he said.[16] Grey thus finished his argument with the following rhetorical question:

I say that you should rather allow the people to give the advice [as to who should be appointed the Governor-General]. Why cannot the united people of Australia be capable of choosing a man, and advising the Queen as beneficially as a person who knows nothing about us?[17]

In other words, Grey believed the choice by the electors of the highest Commonwealth officer should be essentially democratic.[18] Charles Kingston (left), soon to be the Premier of South Australia, was quite sympathetic to the idea. He even went further, proposing that all the Governors of all colonies should be elected by the relevant electorates.[19] Sir Samuel Griffith, the Premier of Queensland, who later became the nation’s first Chief Justice, to a great extent was equally sympathetic to the idea. Eventually, however, Griffith preferred to believe that “the government of England would ascertain and exercise proper care to deliver what was acceptable to the Australian people; and when the people of Australia were of the opinion that an Australian should be elected, this course would be followed”.[20]

The issue of directly electing the Australian Head of State re-emerged at the Second Australasian Federal Convention, in 1897. At that time Grey was at the age 85 and no longer able to attend the gathering. Edmund Barton, who later served as the nation’s first Prime Minister, reminded the delegates that ‘there are some who are in favour of the election of the Governor-General by our people’.[21]  I am aware that it is said that the election of the Governor-General by the people is quite compatible with the relations which exist between us and the mother country”, he noted.

Ultimately, Barton decided to not support the idea of an elected Head of State on the grounds that “it would mean the sundering of the strong, and perhaps almost the last bond that exists between us and the mother-country”.[22] Frederick Holder, South Australian delegate, disagreed. He argued that framing the Constitution ‘under the Crown’ of necessity did not bind it as to the manner in which the Head of State should be chosen. “The mere appointment by the Crown of the Governor-General is not a real bond”, he said.[23]

That long ago debate remains of interest, as it reveals the appointment of the Governor-General was not treated as a forgone conclusion. As noted by Professor Irving:

While supporters of direct election might now regret that Grey’s original motion was not taken more seriously, they cannot fail to recognise the logic in the argument that, as ‘the Queen’s representative’, the Governor-General could not at the same time be the Australian people’s representative.

This argument — as some of the dictum in the Conventions, debate indirectly acknowledged — only held so long as the Governor-General was the Queen’s representative and even more so, so long as this meant, in practice, that the Governor-General was the representative of the Crown or more precisely, of the British government.[24]

Of course, the above description of the Governor-General as the representative of the British government no longer reflects the reality of Australia’s constitutional order. Until 1926, when the Statute of Westminster recognised Australia, Canada, the Irish Free State, Newfoundland, New Zealand and South Africa were equal, not subordinate, to Britain, the Governor-General had to report directly to the British Colonial Secretary. Subsequently it was determined that imperial legislation would no longer apply in the self-governing British colonies. Initially the Governor-General was to report directly to the monarch, although, at the present, while nothing prevents her from reporting informally to the King, the incumbent no longer truly gives an account of her decisions to the monarch. So, who does the Australian Head of State actually represent? As Professor Irving correctly points out,

If it is the people, or the nation as a whole, the original opposition no longer stands. Indeed, the logic of the opposition to direct election in the 1890s suggests that he should now be chosen by the people. It might be replied that the Governor-General is no longer a representative at all. If so, his historical role as a representative (indeed his job-description as one, in section 2 of the Constitution) has been changed. If he is no longer a representative of any description, what then is he? Opponents of direct election today are perfectly entitled to answer that he should be nothing more than a ribbon-cutter or medal-giver. But we know that this is not an accurate description of either his duties or his constitutional powers, let alone his ‘reserved powers’.[25]

One possible solution to solve this lack of legitimacy is to have the Head of State chosen by the people. Naturally, this would require a constitutional reform. Under section 128 of the Constitution, however, the people have no right to initiate constitutional amendments of their own choosing. According to Professor Martyn Webb, the late emeritus professor at the University of Western Australia, “this means that any further hope of peaceful change rests entirely with Parliament and the willingness of the government of the day to put forward a proposal which takes into account the already well-known preference of the people for a directly elected head of state”.[26]

As can be seen, any constitutional reform is extremely difficult. Besides, as many would argue, many Australians remain unconcerned about the excessive dangers of concentrating too much power in the hands of a few parliamentarians. Andrew Murray, senator for Western Australia from 1996 to 2008, noted that “the worship of authoritarian leadership … is strong in Australia”. [27]  As he points out, this accounts for those who knowingly vote for measures that increase the power of government and its leaders.[28] One plausible explanation for such an authoritarian culture in Australia, wrote Professor Martyn Webb,

is that the continuance of Australia’s colonial past, rooted as it was in the foundations laid by its London-appointed autocratic governors helped create an authoritarian constitutional culture in which democracy is merely the means to secure and to exercise in the same autocratic way the powers of long-dead governors. There can be little doubt that having exchanged one governing class for another, the new class is holding on to its powers, patronage and privileges with just as much tenacity as did the old moneyed class.[29]

The Prime Minister’s recent appointment of a political activist as the new Governor-General surely makes one deeply sceptical as to the current political system’s ability to promote accountability. Moreover, one wonders how much accountability is in evidence now that even a former “vaccine commander” and a chief health adviser are appointed the governors of Western Australia and Queensland respectively. So, it is entirely delusional to expect the Head of State will ever exercise the power to veto legislation that violates fundamental legal rights. This is so not only because the person in charge as the Head of State is chosen by the dominant political class but also because such a person does not have democratic legitimacy to do so. Under the present conditions, writes University of Western Australia social sciences professor Campbell Sharman,  

Australia has a Head of State which is low in political legitimacy, but has all the powers bequeathed to it by the British monarchical tradition. The low legitimacy is in part a result of the lack of popular involvement in the choice of the Governor-General.[30] 

There is indeed little doubt in my mind that the ongoing decline of freedom and the rule of law in Australia is partly due to a considerable lack of separation of powers and checks and balances as per our present constitutional framework.

At its best, the election of Australian Heads of State by the electorate would represent the triumph of democracy and the common people over those elitists who hold them in contempt, and over those who want to rule them by fear, manipulation and unchecked power. This reform would give the Head of State democratic power to veto unpopular or oppressive legislation that violate our fundamental rights and freedoms.

Sir Anthony Mason, a former Australian Chief Justice, once stated that, in our constitutional order, “ultimate sovereignty” should “reside in the Australian people”.[31] To make this a reality, a constitutional reform to allow the people to elect their Head of State would have as its foundation stone this very principle of popular sovereignty and the truth contained in the Charter of Bakery Hill, proclaimed in Ballarat in 1854: “The people are the only legitimate source of all political power”.[32]   

Augusto Zimmermann is Professor and Head of Law at Sheridan Institute of Higher Education. He is a former Associate Dean, Research, at Murdoch Law School. During his time at Murdoch, Dr Zimmermann was awarded the University’s Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research in 2012. He is also a former Commissioner with the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia (2012-2017). Dr Zimmermann is the author/co-author of numerous academic articles and books, including ‘Foundations of the Australian Legal System: History, Theory and Practice’ (LexisNexis, 2023) and ‘Western Legal Theory: History Concepts and Perspectives’ (LexisNexis, 2013)


[1] Andrew Bolt, ‘Rise and Rise of the Queen of the Quota’, Herald Sun, Melbourne/Vic, 4 April 2024, p 23.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Janet Albrechtsen, ‘Cushy Job for the Wokest Woman’, The Australian, 3 April 2024. 

[4] Ibid.

[5] Advance Statement on the appointment of former Labor staffer and Voice activist Samantha Mostyn to the role of Governor-General, Advance, X (former Twitter), at https://twitter.com/FairAusADV

[6] Ibid.

[7] Western Australia v Commonwealth (1975) 134 CLR 201 (‘First Territorial Senators Case’) and Victoria v Commonwealth (1975) 134 CLR 81 (‘PMA Case’).

[8] Gabriël A Moens and John Trone, The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia Annotated (LexisNexis, 8th ed, 2012) 252.

[9] Kirmani v Captain Cook Cruises Pty Ltd (No 2) (1985) 159 CLR 461.

[10] Helen Irving, ‘“They Will Choose Well, They Will Choose Wisely”: The Idea of Direct Election of the Governor-General in Australia in the 1890s’ in Andrew Murray (ed), Trusting the People: An Elected President for An Australian Republic (Optima Press, 2001) 36.

[11] Andrew Murray, ‘Introduction’ in Andrew Murray (ed), Trusting the People: An Elected President for An Australian Republic (Optima Press, 2001) 11.

[12] Irving (n 7)

[13] Ibid 38.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Official Report of the National Australasian Convention Debates (Legal Books, 1986) 565. Quoted from Irving (n 96) 40.

[16] Ibid 40.

[17] Convention Debates, 566. Quoted from Irving (n 7) 41.

[18] Irving (n 7) 40.

[19] Ibid 42.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Official Report of the National Australasian Convention Debates, Adelaide 1897 (Legal Books, 1986) 23.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Irving (n 7) 48.

[24] Ibid 50.

[25] Ibid 51.

[26] Martyn Webb, ‘When No Means No: The Failure of the Australian November 1999 Republican Referendum and Its Roots in the Constitutional Convention of 1998’, in: Andrew Murray (ed.), Trusting the People: An Elected President For An Australian Republic (Optima Press, 2001) 154

[27] Andrew Murray, ‘Introduction’, in: Andrew Murray (ed.), Trusting the People: An Elected President For An Australian Republic (Optima Press, 2001) 22.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Webb (n 26) 152.

[30] Campbell Sharman, ‘Over Powered and Under Legitimized: Redesigning the Australian Head of State’, in: Andrew Murray (ed.), Trusting the People: An Elected President For An Australian Republic (Optima Press, 2001) 176.

[31] Australian Capital Television Pty Ltd v Commonwealth (1992) 177 CLR 106, 137-8 (Mason CJ).

[32] John Molony, ‘Eureka and the Prerogative of the People’, Parliament of Australia, Papers on Parliament No. 42, December 2004, at https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Senate/Powers_practice_n_procedures/pops/pop42/molony

21 thoughts on “Here’s an Idea: Elect the Governor-General

  • Ian MacDougall says:

    QUOTE BEGINS: Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has just appointed a notorious political activist as Australia’s latest Head of State, the incoming Governor-General Samantha “Sam” Mostyn, a ruling class insider who has likened Australia Day to “invasion day” in online posts and has been a Labor functionary for years, more recently working with the Albanese government as chairman of its Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce. As reported, Mostyn embraces every aspect of the woke worldview, including “global warming” alarmism and highly discriminatory “affirmative action” policies. QUOTE ENDS
    Here in Australia IMHO we have the ideal constitutional setup. Apart from performing on ceremonial occasions, the only political role of the King’s Representative is to sack a government and immediately call a fresh election. Readers will recall that GG Kerr raised a storm of controversy by acting, not on the advice of the PM of the day, but on the advice of Malcolm Fraser, then leader of the Opposition. The calling of elections is on the advice, and not the order, of the PM of the day. And we do not, and clearly should not, have any role in the appointment of any British monarch.
    So the British ruling class gets to foot the bill for all the paraphernalia that goes with the office of Head of State, and the normal money direction of money flow, from Australia to Britain, is reversed. But if we follow Zimmerman’s advice, we will lose that one instance of arguably correct and appropriate flow of money. AND, we will fully politicise the role of G-G, and open the way for him or her to become just another politician; or worse: former politician. So not a good idea, IMHO.

    • Peter OBrien says:

      Technically, Kerr did not act on the advice of the Opposition Leader. He used his reserve power to withdraw the commission of Whitlam and appoint Fraser as caretaker Prime Minister. It was in this capacity that Fraser advised an election.
      I share your concerns over direct election.

  • Peter Marriott says:

    Thanks Augusto, good piece.
    Mostyn is a ridiculous, even incredible choice for our Governor General…far left, hates Australia Day and regards us as having ‘invaded’ the country etc. etc. you don’t get much more ridiculous than that, particularly if she actually believes it. Plus, she seems to even looks ridiculous….even incredible.
    Also I do not agree with the idea of electing our GG.
    I don’t think they were always political…….. not when they’d been serving WW1 and WW2 officers anyway.

  • lbloveday says:

    “According to The Australian‘s Janet Albrechtsen, she has just been appointed because she is a woke woman”.
    Paywall-free at:
    “In an article published in The Herald Sun this Thursday, he calls Mostyn’s appointment “the triumph of affirmative action over talent and accomplishment”
    Paywall-free at:

  • Paul.Harrison says:

    Quote: “to appoint members of Executive Council to serve as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces; and”. Far be it from me Augusto, to criticise, however I need some guidance. As an ex-serviceman for 30+ years I understood clearly that the Governor General (GG), was my Commander in Chief (CIC), and it was he, as a direct representative of our Monarch, who would sign the Articles of War. As an important part of his duties also, was the appointment of the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF). Semantics of course, but by naming a CDF we neatly sidestep the problem of naming a CIC, as in fact that title belongs to the Monarch. Further, we should reflect on the political appointment our first female GG , Quentin Bryce, as just as disastrous as this one. Just a little research will spew out evidence of her true colours, and one could start that process by looking at the Bryce v Proudfoot affair when she was the Discrimination Commisar in the ACT. I much enjoyed your words, thank you.

  • Botswana O'Hooligan says:

    Sounds like a good idea initially but on second thoughts wouldn’t that be like electing a president as in a Republic and that’s a b…dy awful prospect when one considers the implications of a President Gough or Malcolm type or ” I am yr mate Kevin” or the other suspects, As in the monarchy a GG can’t do us a lot of harm but an elected GG would probably go the whole nine yards and the constant welcoming smoke and odour of burning eucalyptus leaves would be a mere nothing compared to the carnage wrought upon us so maybe it’s best to leave sleeping dogs alone.

  • Ian MacKenzie says:

    Surely this idea is a non-starter, for all the same reasons as those identified for an elected republican president. Mainly this is about elections bestowing a mandate, and thereby setting up competition with the parliament rather than cooperation. It also sets up a slippery slope and begs the question “if we are going to have a faux elected president, why not have the real thing?” Lastly there is always the populace’s sense of humour to bear in mind. Rodney Rude for GG anyone? Labor’s current appointments are bad enough. Lets not make things worse.
    As for Labor appointing inappropriate Governors General, they have form of course. The previous Labor Government appointed Bill Shorten’s mother-in-law. Impartial? We were fortunate that no constitutional crisis occurred during the Abbott government.

    Inappropriate politised appointments are just one of the things Labor always does. For the rest of the list, see Victoria. Huge increases to debt levels, increases to taxes to pay off the increasing debt, politisation of the civil service leading to incompetent and corrupt Ministeries (see the Vic legal system), and increasing secrecy to cover up the incompetence and corruption. These are the hallmarks of all long-term Labor governments.

  • Sindri says:

    The Constitution gives the Governor-General enormous powers. The GG, as the author points out, can refuse to assent to legislation, dissolve parliament at will, and is the C-i-C (to name a few). There are also the reserve powers, which are still not precisely defined. These powers, however, are by convention only exercised on the advice of the Prime Minister. The same principle applies to the powers of the monarch in the UK. The reason for this eminently sensible convention is that the GG (and the King) have no popular legitimacy. They have not been elected by the people; the Parliament has. For a Governor-General with no popular legitimacy, conservative or otherwise in outlook, to arbitraily refuse to consent to legislation passed by the elected Parliament, because they didn’t like it, would be an outrage.
    If the Governor-General (re-named “President” if you like) is elected, the GG suddenly has popular legitimacy. The GG becomes, at a stroke, a legitimate rival power centre to the Parliament. As Augusto says, “this reform would give the Head of State democratic power to veto unpopular or oppressive legislation that violate our fundamental rights and freedoms.” Yes, it would, but it would also give the elected Head of State power to veto any piece of legislation he or she didn’t like. It’s all very well to talk about some noble, all-wise President swooping in to disallow legislation that violated fundamental rights and freedoms. What about President Dan Andrews?
    The problem, which Augusto doesn’t allude to, is that simply to graft the current massive powers of the GG onto an elected Head of State would be a huge constitutional change with vast repercussions for our relatively stable and successful system of government. There are plenty of countries with executive Presidents, where the incumbent has very considerable power – eg the US. But in those countries, the powers of the Head of State are carefully circumscribed so that there are proper checks and balances as between the Legislature and the President. There is no country in the world where the elected Head of State has the untrammelled, unrestricted powers of the GG or the British monarch. The US President doesn’t have limitless powers to refuse to assent to legislation. He doesn’t have to power to dissolve Congress at will.
    If we are to have an elected Head of State, there needs to be the most careful thought given to defining the powers of the new office, and then putting those powers into the Constitution. It’s not just a matter of grafting the existing (massive) powers onto the elected head of state. At the most benign level, legislative paralysis is the likely result.
    Which leads to the question why we need to make such a change at all. People may object to the opinions of this or that GG, but at the end of the day it’s unlikely to matter, because the massive powers of the GG are in practice subservient to the elected legislature. And in addition, do we really want President Maguire, or President Hinch, or President Garrett, or President Andrews for that matter?
    It’s naive to think that an elected head of state, with the current extraordinary powers of the GG, will somehow be a guardian of our rights.

  • Daffy says:

    I love seeing Tom Robert’s ”big picture’. A copy hung on the sitting room wall in my grandparent’s home and It fascinated me from my first days until they died in the early 1970s.

    • Roger Franklin says:

      Daffy, you bring back memories of my grandma, Ethel Barrett, who passed away in 1988, four months shy of her 100th birthday and the telegram she was expecting from the Queen. When Mum and Dad cleaned out her house, they found she had used a framed picture to block Melbourne’s winter winds whistling down the fireplace chimney. Astonished they were upon turning it around to find it was a print of the Roberts work, complete with pencilled signature. Gran’s family had been involved in the creation of Canberra, and her uncle was what we would today call the “environmental officer” in charge of the Cotter Dam’s watershed.

      That pic is now in storage awaiting my return from the US. Wouldn’t sell it for quids, nor the note from King O’Malley about a pleasant day’s fishing, or the letter from a third party noting in passing that Uncle Ritter’s cockatoo had bitten the fingertip off a visiting English dignitary.

  • James McKenzie says:

    Who ticked the box for King Charles to approve the next GG?

  • ianl says:

    DEI supposedly means Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity (?)

    Actually: Didn’t Earn It.

    Mostyn, anyone ? Can’t imagine her doing a Kerr on Elbow, no matter what further idiocies his Ministry concoct.

    Come Australia Day January 2025, unable to help herself, she will tilt her head and lecture us about our deplorable meanness. Jacinta Price is so much more.

  • Davidovich says:

    My first thought on seeing the proposal to elect the Governor-General was that it would be a strong step towards establishing a Republic, a Trojan Horse in reality. Augusto’s statement that “This reform would give the Head of State democratic power to veto unpopular or oppressive legislation that violate our fundamental rights and freedoms.” may well be correct and desirable but the opposite could also be such an outcome. We could well end up with a popularly elected G-G who simply disagreed with the Government’s legislation even if it were sensible and sound thereby creating an impasse with a Government unable to govern. We could hope that the elected one had the wisdom of Solomon but that is highly improbable.
    No, abyssmal though some Governors and Governor Generals may be and have been, direct election by the people is not a supportable proposition.

  • Louis Cook says:

    Sorry to say this folks but some have their solutions ‘arse up’. It is the elected politicians who should be on the rack!
    If WE had the right to recall the Prime Minister next week to face the electorate, do you really think he would have followed along this line of appointment for Governor General? Four year terms of Parliament are too long!
    The present System of Government of Australia is the best governmental system in the world BUT it is up to the Electorate to keep the bastards honest. Keep voting the same way and it is your God given right to get more of the same.

  • Brian Boru says:

    I add my voice to those opposing an elected GG. I have no desire to leap into the dark in lieu of our present system.

  • pmprociv says:

    This might be a superficially attractive idea, but as many others have commented above, fails to withstand even cursory scrutiny (as is well covered by James Allan, in today’s Oz, 8/4/23). Has Augusto forgotten the reasons both the republic and voice referendums failed? The present system was assembled very thoughtfully by a bunch of smart people, and it has worked extremely well so far, so why destroy it?

    An elected G-G will inevitably succumb to a swelled head, on the grounds of “having a mandate”, and who knows where that would lead? Then, just how would we go about electing one? Who would be eligible, or not, to stand for election? Inevitably, more politics would feed into this; just how would you keep the political parties out of it? On what grounds would they campaign, for what’s essentially a ceremonial role, interspersed with occasional but critical contingencies? “My scissors are the sharpest, for the perfect ribbon cuts; I have the best tailor, and hairdresser”? Or will it be: “I’ll make sure to keep those elected bastards honest”? Just how will they go about it, and who’s to keep them to their word, once they get in? Does our federal parliament really need a “third house”, vested in one, all-powerful individual? Are we prepared for our electoral system to degenerate into the circuses seen in the USA? And, finally, will all the time, energy, funds and goodwill invested in setting up this new system guarantee better government? I’m pretty sure I know how the Australian electorate will vote on this . . .

  • Geoffrey Smart says:

    I think we have enough elections, every state, local councils, territory governments and the federal govt. It is a little excessive for 26m people. More importantly once elected they will demand some power, so at least another referendum. It is a very bad idea and would putthe nation in some strange postion not dissimilar to the USA. We need an article that defines the government of the USA. We know the US president is the head of State (=GG), but what is the structure of the US government (if ther is one). Once we re-structure the nature of the GGs appointment, we will see a massive extension of government (longer arms than ever before) and will it mean that state governors should also be elected

  • Doubting Thomas says:

    Count me among those opposed to an elected Governor-General/President.
    This latest demonstration of the Albanese Government’s willingness to put petty partisan politics and woke idiocy ahead of common sense is not in the least bit surprising. Nothing is sufficiently obnoxious to be beyond the modern union-governed ALP.
    Unfortunately, popular election of a G-G would only exacerbate the problems.

  • gdaybrimic says:

    No! No! No! A thousand times NO!
    No system is perfect, but as many more learned people than me have already commented here, to set up an elected G-G would be one of the very worst things we could do! Reducing the role of G-G to be the equivalent of just another ambitious, competing, politician, is just fraught with so many perils, I am surprised a learned Professor could seriously suggest it. Was it written on the 1st April?
    I also suspect it could be inspired by a lifetime Academician’s distrust of the hoi polloi’s understanding of politics, as opposed to their self-interest (“What’s in it for me?”). A valid concern, but for many obvious reasons, electing our Head of State is not a solution!
    Be careful what you wish for!

  • Rebekah Meredith says:

    April 8, 2024
    While I am uncomfortable with the idea of an elected Governor General, I share Mr. Zimmermann’s concern with our lack of separation of powers. By the Constitution, Parliament is the legislative branch and the GG is the executive branch. In practice, Parliament (or, more accurately, the Government of the day) has both legislative and executive power. This was not the intention of the Founders and is a dangerous concentration of power.

  • Searcher says:

    No! No! No! An elected governor general would have a personal mandate from the people, to compete with the manadate that the Parliament has. No! No! No!

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