Sunday, January 20, 2008

Kim Beazley-From Parliament to Next GG?

Today's media carry news of the possible appointment of former Labor leader Kim Beazley (pictured Photo: as Australia's next Governor-General. There seems to be support from senior Labor members, including Cabinet Secretary John Faulkner, Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith and Treasurer Wayne Swan.

During John Howard's term as Prime Minister, the office of Governor-General was subjected to some controversy:
  • Archbishop Peter Hollingworth resigned following public disquiet about his handling of allegations of sexual abuse by priests under his control. His appointment was also seen by some as a statement to some groups by Mr Howard that 'Australia is a Christian country whether you like it or not'

  • Current G-G Major-General Michael Jeffrey was told to keep a low profile by ex-PM Howard - leaving Mr Howard more photo opportunities for his own political purposes.
The appointment of any person as Governor-General of Australia needs to be tempered by the need to avoid political appointments. Some such appointments include those of Sir John Kerr, Archbishop Peter Hollingworth and Bill Hayden, who lost the ALP leadership to Bob Hawke shortly before Hawke won a Federal Election. History will judge them as Governors-General, but the principle of political appointments to such an office does no good to it.

Kim Beazley might well make a good Governor-General, but he has only just retired from Parliament, his party has just won government, and his appointment will be seen as political. It is not yet time for him to be appointed as Governor-General.


Prime Minister Rudd has confirmed that Kim Beazley - nor any existing or former politician - will NOT be the next Governor-General. He said, in a media conference:

"The next Governor-General of Australia will not be a former or serving politician - conservative or Labor. The reason being is, I believe it's an office which is often best
discharged by someone from the broader community."

That agrees with Truepolitik's policy on political appointments.