25 August 2006

Following publication of an article by Mr Ian McPhedran in The Daily Telegraph, The Herald Sun, The Adelaide Advertiser and The Courier-Mail, the letter that appears below was sent to these papers.

Letters Editor

Ian McPhedran claims that up to 80 per cent of Australians have no idea who Governor-General Michael Jeffery is (He knows… 24.8.06), based, apparently, on a “national survey” conducted by News Ltd. last week.

But this “survey” was neither national nor statistically reliable: it was limited to four capital cities where people were approached and shown a photograph. Any extrapolation based on these responses is simply not valid.

McPhedran claims that the role of the Governor-General is being usurped by the Prime Minister who wants to “keep the Queen’s man under wraps”. This is nonsense and offensive.

The Governor-General and Mrs Jeffery perform their roles with distinction across Australia on a tireless basis. Just ask the people of the Outback who met the Governor-General on his trip along the Birdsville Track, the thousands of Australians who travelled to Gallipoli this year and saw, heard and met the Governor-General, the hundreds of people attending commemorations to mark the 40th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan, or the nearly 200 organisations of which the Governor-General and Mrs Jeffery are Patron.

Indeed the community demands on the Governor-General and Mrs Jeffery are such that they can accept only some of the many invitations they receive. A full outline of the Governor-General’s programme can be found on the website and I encourage your readers to visit that site to gain a better understanding of the constitutional, ceremonial and community roles of the Governor-General.

Perhaps sections of the media are trying to have it both ways when it comes to the Governor-General: they ignore the positive things and then put resources into what can only be described as a beat-up based on a fanciful “survey”. What a pity that so much of the Governor-General’s activities, in Australia and overseas, are not reported because, apparently, they are good news.

Malcolm Hazell
Official Secretary to the Governor-General