A politician in Government House? Thanks to former Prime Minister Paul Keating we know that’s how it will be under a politicians’ republic – or even before. When then premier Bob Carr ejected NSW Governors from Government House, the reasons given included making the building more accessible, reducing costs and making the office of Governor part time.
Not one objective was achieved.
When he retired Bob Carr revealed the real reason – to demonstrate to all governors they were purely ceremonial, without any reserve powers. (These do exist and include the crucial reserve power to dismiss a prime minister or premier acting illegally or unconstitutionally)
Now we learn that Mr. Keating, who has been given some curious special role by the state government in the re-design of areas around Sydney Harbour, has plans for Government House.
In “Hungry rats eye harbour delights” (The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 September) Elizabeth Farrelly says:
“In truth, though, he has long hated Sydney's industrial heritage…Keating has always had a strategic and intensely personal take on Sydney Harbour. For years, like the Ancient Mariner, he has buttonholed anyone who'd listen, regaling them with his vision of restoring headlands and moving the PM into Government House. Nice view, if you can get it.”
And what is wrong with Kirribilli House? True, it is smaller, and it is on the harbour facing Government House. But it’s not as though the prime minister has to catch the bus, as war time Labor Prime Minister John Curtin used to.
You can see what the aims are of the proponents of a politicians’ republic. No wonder they want to remove the one institution from our constitutional system which offers leadership beyond politics – our Australian Crown.