January 16

“Scurrlilous… baseless allegations” published

The following letter appeared in the Sunday Telegraph of 7 January, 2007, under the title: “G-G kept out of it.”  “Glenn Milne has asserted that the Governor-General "has been dragged into another controversy" (ST, 26/11).

"How is it that, despite emphatic denials by the Governor-General and the Premier of South Australia, your paper continues to publish scurrilous, baseless allegations which, of your own making, can only be construed as seeking to embroil the office of the Governor-General in controversy?  The Governor-General has never heard of Milne’s suggestion. He has never raised the matter with the South Australian Premier, as Mr. Rann [the Premier] has confirmed.  Nor would he do so, as the matter of a South Australian vice-regal appointment is one for the Premier and the Queen.”

The letter is signed “Malcolm Hazell, Official secretary to the Governor-General.”  Mr. Hazell is a highly respected public servant, and not given to exaggeration. The Governor-General has served his country, both in the military and in vice-regal roles with great distinction.  The Sunday Telegraph seems to be currently involved in two campaigns. As we noted in this column on 1 January, 2007, one is to make Malcolm Turnbull prime minister. The other, as we reported here on 26 November, 2006 , is its campaign against the Governor-General. The journalist involved, Mr.Glenn Milne has himself been involved in some controversy, a matter noted here  on 2 December, 2006.  This was during the recent Walkley Awards for excellence in journalism, where a “tired and emotional” Mr Milne rushed up onto the stage to push gossip journalist Mr. Stephen Mayne off the platform.  Mr. Mayne had been chosen to present a prize.

Indeed the press seems to be conducting some sort of campaign against the Governor-General.  A proposal to vastly increase the power of a prime minister by abolishing the office of the Governor-General actually appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald on 14 January, 2007.  It was written by a John Carmody, who is described as writing and broadcasting “regularly on books, music and medical history.”  His argument is based on the proposition that there is an “invisible royal representative and a royalist who acts as head of state”.  Neither is of course true, but you might think it were if your only source of information were our campaigning media.  Nor would you understand that the Crown is not only our oldest institution, but is central to the Westminster system.  On a related matter, on 15 January, Jason Morisson, on 2GB’s Alan Jones programme, Sydney rightly lamented that once the Police Commissioner did not answer to the Premier but only to the Governor.  That is precisely why the Governor was evicted from Government House – to so intimidate the incumbent and others that the role of the Crown as a check and balance on the abuse of power is reduced or even neutralized  (See this column, 27 November, 2005  “Why Bob Carr ejected the Governor.”)But to return to the Governor General and the Sunday Telegraph, the newspaper is entitled to engage in such campaigns as it wishes.  But in doing so, it is not entitled, and certainly not under the codes of ethics to which it subscribes,  to publish scurrilous, and baseless allegations.






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