What Good Does a Stickybeak Do?
Why is so much time and expense being taken to have a stickybeak at correspondence between the Governor-General and the Queen of 44 years ago? Is it to make money from writing a book or it is an attempt to infer that the Queen interferes in our system of governance and thus try to bolster support for a republic?
Under our constitutional system, the Queen is our sovereign. It is she who appoints the Governor-General and dismisses him or her when circumstances call upon her to do so. For the entirety of our existence as a nation no Governor-General has been dismissed and any controversy that may have arisen has been settled amicably.
It is therefore quite natural that the Governor-General, who acts as the representative of the Queen, would correspond with her. It is also natural that the Queen would wish to be informed whenever there is disruption to smooth governance of any of her realms. No one could possibly expect any less from a sovereign head of state.
However, under our constitutional system, once appointed, the Governor-General operates independently as executive head of state. The Queen may be advised on what is proposed but she will never intervene and give instructions.
It is also natural that the Governor-General would correspond with the Queen’s private secretaries, but any communications would be solely between the Australian Governor-General and the secretary to the Queen of Australia, which is a vast difference from the Queen as Queen of the United Kingdom.
Whatever the circumstances that led to the withdrawal of the letter of commission to prime minister Gough Whitlam by the then Governor-General Sir John Kerr, a Labor appointee, the situation was resolved by a general election of the Australian electorate resulting in an overwhelming rejection of the Whitlam government. That is democracy in action. Fiddling around trying to get access to confidential papers of over forty years ago even to the extent of taking High Court action to publicise them does no one any good.
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