August 24

Advising The Queen of Australia – Sir Robert was right

In September 2013, Quentin Bryce’s term as Governor-General is due to end,” writes former public servant Godwin Grech in a piece in Spectator Australia (18/8), “Make John Howard Governor-General  and consign Malcolm Turnbull to history.”

It should of course be noted that Ms. Bryce’s term could be renewed or extended.

This brings us to the way in which The Queen is advised. On this Sir Robert Menzies’ approach, described below, seems the better way for a Governor-General to emerge. 


Before coming to that, I should point out that the Spectator column  is only accessible  to subscribers, but has been widely reported in the media.

Mr. Grech says  that “by any objective measure, John Howard would make a first-tclass Head of State who would be warmly embraced by Buckingham Palace.”

Howard,” he adds “would perfectly compliment Tony Abbott as Prime Minister, providing Australians with a world-class leadership team.”

A  team? I do hope that these incumbents of these two vastly different offices are never seen as “a team”.  

…the Menzies precedent…


As we know, The Queen is advised in these matters by the Prime Minister. Typical of his pragmatic and gracious style, former Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies proposed and The Queen agreed that he would provide a list of three people whom they would discuss before one name was chosen.

This is an excellent precedent. If a renewal or extention of Ms. Bryce's term is not to be made, this precedent could be followed by the Australian Prime Minister next year. 

As to who will be Prime Minister in these uncertain times, the timing of the election is an important factor.  

A House only election could be held now if the Prime Minister advised this and the Governor-General agreed. At this stage of the electoral cycle, viceregal assent would be likely but could not be assumed. 

If a joint election of the House and half the Senate is called – the most common format for elections – the earliest possible date would be  Saturday, 3 August 2013.

The last possible date for such a joint election is Saturday, 30 November 2013.


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