May 4, 2003

Governor General resignation welcome

Governor General resignation welcome

MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 4 May 2003

The decision today by the Governor General to stand down is good news for all Australians especially victims of child abuse.

I am pleased that the Governor General has realised that his position as a moral leader and representative of the Australian community is untenable.

Given that the Prime Minister failed to act responsibly and immediately to dismiss the Governor General, Dr Hollingworth, has finally made the right decision to resign as Governor General of Australia.

Hopefully the Prime Minister will appoint a new person to the Office of the Governor General who will not further erode the highest office in the Australian community

It is clear that Dr Hollingworth was no longer able to fulfill the central responsibility of his Office – to be a unifying figure for our nation. The insensitivity displayed by Dr Hollingworth towards the victims of child sex abuse has outraged and deeply offended many Australians.

The report by the Anglican Church into the handling of claims of sexual abuse found that Dr Peter Hollingworth had acted unfairly, inappropriately and without compassion in his dealings when Archbishop of Brisbane.

I also renew my call for the Government to allow Parliamentary time for debate on my Private Members’ Bill, the Governor General Amendment Bill 2002.

This Bill seeks to amend the Governor General Act 1974 to allow members of the Federal Parliament to scrutinise the performance of whoever holds the Office of Governor General.

Across the community, in the media and around the kitchen table, Australians were discussing the performance of Dr Peter Hollingworth but under the Standing Orders of the House of Representatives no such discussion is permitted in the Federal Parliament amongst our democratically elected representatives.

The Australian people currently do not have the right to choose their Head of State. At the very least their democratically elected representatives should be able to comment on the vice-regal’s performance.

I have tabled a motion that seeks the removal of the offending Standing Order – Standing Order 74. I now urge the committee responsible for selecting the motions for debate during Private Members’ Business – the Selection Committee – to schedule my motion for the earliest opportunity.

It’s time to restore the public’s faith in our public institutions. Let’s start by making the highest office in the land accountable.