Royal watcher and constitutional gadfly Barry Everingham writes:

The vice-regal gravy trains continues its journey unabated – and The Australian’s
story on Saturday shows Archbishop Hollingworth is having a first-class
ride. The erstwhile viceroy is costing us $1,600 a day – office,
assistant, cars, planes, the lot. A quick ring around has confirmed
Howard gave him perks denied his predecessors – anything to get him out
of the way… Ninnian Stephen, Zelman Cowan, Bill Hayden and William
Dean all have the usual spoils traditionally given to viceroys, but not
of the magnitude offered to His Grace.

Of course, this raises the issue of the manner of the appointment
of viceroys. As the current incumbent sees it, they represent the
Australian head of state – the Queen of England. Then he went a step
further pointing out that all she really does is appoint and sack
governors general and governors, on the advice of the prime minister of
the day. That’s a strange one – state premiers appoint their viceroys,
and in the case of the debacle surrounding Richard Butler’s appointment
in Tasmania, he was appointed by one premier, who sadly died, and would
have been sacked by another, his successor, had he not accepted a
$600,000 plus golden handshake – the gravy train in Tasmania runs along
the same rails as its mainland counterpart. Major General Jeffery got
that one wrong.

The monarchists will no doubt use this latest
Hollingworth revelation as an illustration of how important it is to
keep the Queen in situ. Maybe if we had out own head of state appointed
by the Parliament or the people, or both, we wouldn’t need the states
to maintain hangovers of a colonial era and a lot of taxpayer dollars
could be used on items that really matter – health and education to
name two. John Howard’s weekend gauntlet to Peter Costello is an
example of the irrelevance of Michael Jeffery anyway. Howard’s
increasingly presidential style embraces doing what viceroys usually
do, especially when it comes to anything dressed in khaki. While he is
in Kirribilli House we have a prime minister and a viceroy all for the
price of one.

Peter Fray

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