The opinion page of The Australian on 23 November, 2009 featured a large drawing of The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh and a corgi. The Duke was looking at The Queen with a look of absolute horror; the corgi was looking at Her Majesty quizzically. You see, The Queen’s face was that of the Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
In an accompanying opinion piece “Acting above his pay grade” Associate Professor Greg Melleuish points out that Prime Minister Rudd is a political leader. “He is not head of state nor is he in a position to act as if he is head of state.” He says that in delivering yet another apology on behalf of the nation, Mr. Rudd is behaving like some sort of monarch.
“In days gone by royals claimed to be able to cure skin complaints by touching the person concerned. Rudd seems to believe he can cure the psychic ills of the nation through a wave of the hand and a bit of waffly rhetoric.”
This sort of behaviour he says is not good for the health of our body politic, a system which has served us well. “Our system of government has traditionally divided ceremonial and symbolic activities from political ones. The ceremonial activities, those that are non-political and unite us, are carried out by the governor general and the various state governors. The political activities belong to the politicians.
The constitutional system, he says, has helped to keep the “infinite egotism of political leaders” in check.
However, he warns, we have in recent times have seen political leaders attempting to become more than just political leaders. “Now we have Rudd seeking to be the Father of the Nation. It is important that politicians like Rudd be confined to what they are good at, politics.”