I read with great interest an article in last Friday's Sydney Daily Telegraph by Mr. Steve Lewis (available on-line under the Courier-Mail masthead, link above) about certain changes taking place in the Governor-General's official staff. The Official Secretary, Mr. Malcolm Hazell, despite being regarded as "resolutely non-partisan", was dismissed by the head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. Mr. Rudd denied any involvement, and it is not too great a leap of logic to infer that Ms. Quentin Bryce, the Governor-General-Designate, was behind the sacking.
(And I was amused to note that "More recently, Ms Bryce raised eyebrows after visiting Therese Rein, the wife of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, at her office in Brisbane last Friday." They would have been two peas in a pod.)
So what does this imply for our expectations about Ms. Bryce as Governor-General? I think we ought to prepare for an activist, 'agenda-setting' viceroy; in particular, the feminist agenda. This demands like-minded, even partisan, assistants, secretaries and speech-writers, hence Mr. Hazell's dismissal, and no doubt he will only be the first. Her Excellency's greatest pre-gubernatorial distinction appears to have been becoming one of Australia's top-ranking political correctness commissars ('Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner' or some such high-sounding but mediocre office) and is well-known as a member (one of the first, in fact) of the genteel, pearl-necklace-wearing wing of feminism that has been so influential in the corporate and civic worlds (in contrast to the noisy but irrelevant feral feminists in academia, like Germaine Greer). Ludicrously, she is of the opinion that "it can be argued I believe that Jesus was a feminist" (see here for that and other insights), which clearly verges on blasphemy.
When we hear Ms. Elizabeth Broderick (cut from the same cloth as Ms. Bryce, and her successor as Sex Discrimination Supremo (Suprema, or would that be sexist?)) say that "There is no question that legislated paid maternity leave is a basic human right" we can dismiss it as par for the course. But imagine what resonance it will have when coming from the mouth of the viceroy. We will see an inglorious new chapter open up in the cooperation of feminists like Ms. Bryce and economic rationalists like Mr. Rudd in driving every last mother into menial, low-paying work. And I'm sure it will be a suitable softening-up of the populace for the inevitable popularly-elected 'President' with a popular mandate of his or her own, at which point the 'Washminster' (Washington/Westminster) system of ours will break down entirely.