May 1, 2003

Time for Hollingworth to go


MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 1 May 2003

In light of the report into the Anglican Church’s handling of child sex abuse complaints tabled today in the Queensland Parliament, Dr Hollingworth should take the dignified course of action and resign as Governor General of Australia.

If Dr Hollingworth won’t go voluntarily, then the Prime Minister should ask the Queen to immediately dismiss him. As it was the Prime Minister alone that made this appointment, he has a responsibility to act.

Only such action will ensure public confidence in the Office of the Governor General is not further eroded by the actions of the scandal prone Dr Hollingworth.

Dr Hollingworth can no longer fulfil the central responsibility of his Office and that is to be a unifying figure for our nation. The insensitivity displayed by Dr Hollingworth towards the victims of child sex abuse has outraged many Australians.

The report found that Dr Peter Hollingworth had acted unfairly, inappropriately and without compassion in his dealings with some child sex abuse complaints when Archbishop of Brisbane.

I acknowledge Premier Beattie’s courage and leadership in tabling the report in the Queensland Parliament thereby ensuring that the issue of child sex abuse within the church is not again covered up.

The Prime Minister should show equal courage and leadership and request Dr Hollingworth’s resignation.

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 are discussing the performance of our current Governor-General, 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.