The Governor General and the attack dog

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Quentin Bryce, Gus and Amanda Vanstone (Image via &

Governor-General Quentin Bryce should be applauded for calling for an Australia republic and Amanda Vanstone should stop acting like her dog Gus, says senior correspondent Barry Everingham.

When I opened my copy of The Age today I saw there was a pointer to a piece by Amanda Vanstone looking at the remarks made by our Governor General, Quentin Bryce. Dear old Amanda, she can always be relied on for a laugh and even, at times, a cry.

Who will forget the treatment of Cornelia Rau under her watch as Immigration Supremo. (Or Kevin Andrews and Dr Haneef. What is it with these conservatives? Look at Scott Morrison right now, or better not.)

Back to Amanda when she was our Ambassador in Rome.

She will be mainly remembered for one incident and once incident only. The dreadful out of control dog of hers, Gus, who tried to take a piece out of the Pakistani Ambassador when he was making an official diplomatic call on our Amanda.

At the time, I was briefed on a daily basis of Amanda's faux pas and I was delighted to hear to hear she used many hours of Federal Police time trying to unearth the source of my information.

Back to her story in The Age — ‘The ‘look at me’ G-G’. Amanda went in boots and all but shot herself in the foot with her closing paragraphs, which rehashed that old furphy when Her Excellency the Governor General changed clothes after meeting Barack Obama on his arrival in Australia, before rushing to a luncheon in his honour.

Come on Amanda, you should know better.

In her story, Vanstone is highly critical of Ms Bryce in the Andrew Bolt claptrap style. Australia's leading racist was outraged when the Governor-General ‒ on the instructions of her then boss, Kevin Rudd ‒ undertook a backbreaking tour of several African countries to shore up votes to secure a seat on the Security Council.

Like Queen Elizabeth, her Australian representative does the bidding of the Prime Minister of the day. In London, when Cameron tells the Australian Head of to State to jump, the Queen of Australia asks "how high?"

The same applies to her representative here.

Amanda points to ‘dignified and professional’ manner of the Queen who, she reminds us, wasn't destined for the top job.

Big deal.

She got it for two reasons. The first was that her uncle, the then Prince of Wales fell in love with an American divorcee and the UK Government of the day ‒ with the collusion of the forelock tugging colonial Governments, including ours ‒ refused him permission to marry his lover, so he abdicated. His next eldest brother, Bertie, got the gig and when he died the job fell to his eldest daughter — the then Princess Elizabeth.

This is where we should look at the ridiculous outdated insulting system we are stuck with because, strangely enough, our own ridiculous outdated insulting Constitution says we have to.

Her Excellency put her toes into warm political waters in the last of her Boyer Lectures and quite correctly hoped that one of our children might one day be able to aspire to her job, which right now is constitutionally impossible.


And while she was paddling she expressed the hope that one day any current impediments to two lovers tying a knot would be removed.

Amanda, this is the 21st Century and you for one should be ashamed of yourself for going where you did in The Age.

Quentin Bryce has followed in the footsteps of several foreigners who were given the job for God knows what reasons: a drunken Duke of England's royal family, several chinless peers of no consequence at all and, at the same time, some first rate Australians to represent our foreign and absent head of state — Zelman Cowen, Bill Hayden, Ninian Stephen to name just a few.

Our Governor General lifted the job's profile to heights never before seen and she shattered the vice regal anonymity with the support of her husband, His Excellency Mr Michael Bryce, maintaining the dignity of the office.

Ms Bryce was a "first" and she deserves praise and she certainly didn't need the hissing head shaking derision of arch monarchist, David Flint.

Shame on those who sneeringly refer to Her Excellency as Bill Shorten's mother in law, which she happens to be. She did offer her resignation to correct that situation ‒ which certainly is of no moment constitutionally ‒ and Tony Abbott quite correctly refused to accept it.

When history records the tenure of Bryce in the top job, it will be a template for future Governors General and then, hopefully, Australian heads of state to emulate.

Disclaimer: Their excellencies the Governor General and Mr Bryce honoured my late wife, Avril Everingham OAM, by attending her Memorial Service in Melbourne.

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