Michael Jeffery can’t seem to steer clear of controversy and once more the viceroy has shown his partisan colours – this time on the issue of Australia becoming a republic. In the annual report of the Constitutional Education Fund-Australia (CED-A), established by the government for Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy (ACM), Jeffery chanted his usual mantra: I am not advocating a change to our existing system of government nor am I a supporter of the status quo.

In the next vice regal breath he claims that “our present system has worked well for over 100 years giving us a stability of government that is the envy of many other nations” – surely shorthand for don’t change things. He goes on: if people want to examine change, it’s perfectly within their right to explore that. Really? Here comes the rub: “But in doing so I think it would be wise to have a clear understanding as to why our present system has worked so well; and what have been the mechanisms, including the checks and balances, to ensure that.”

Jeffery is the patron-in-chief of the tax deductible CEF-A and regularly holds receptions for Fund’s executive and members at Yarralumla or Admiralty House. But he is steadfast in his refusal to speak to the Australian Republican Movement’s chief, Professor John Wadhurst. Jeffery finds the company of staunch Queen’s people like David Flint, Dame Leonie Kramer, Hugh Morgan and Howard’s architect-in-chief of the NO case in the republic referendum, Kerry Jones, to be more appealing.

That’s fine, and if he happened to be a private citizen there would be no cause for alarm. As it is, he’s the representative of the head of state and should act accordingly – immediately resign as patron-in-chief of the Fund and steer well clear of Fund functionaries. The annual reports also reveals that the Fund is funds-flush, so much so that last year it was able to spend $393,989 of its $472,538 income on wages, promotions, consultants, rent, travel and office expenses. Along the way it is reported that Kerry Jones’s management company KJSMS Pty. Ltd pays the fund’s accounts. She also doubles as ACM’s national director which happens to work out of the Fund’s offices. The case is rested.

Peter Fray

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