“HE IS a man of the people,” John Howard said as he promoted Major-General Michael Jeffery to the position of Governor-General.
The media lauded Jeffery as a “safe” and “modern” choice.
In reality Jeffery is a deeply elitist and conservative figure who embodies John Howard’s vision of Australia.
“I believe passionately that Vietnam was a just cause in the circumstances of the time.”
Jeffery was awarded the Victoria Cross for his role in killing Vietnamese freedom fighters. His citation boasts of “the heavy losses inflicted on the enemy” during his time there.
He later commanded the elite SAS for two years, and went on to become head of Australia’s anti-terrorism unit.
Jeffery has spoken of his concern that Australia’s military is “stretched” and wants a bigger army.
“I would strongly suggest that the re-introduction of religious studies into our schools could do much to augment the values component of the new school curricula.”
Jeffery wants compulsory religious education in schools. He is a supporter of compulsory pre-marriage counselling, even for non-Christians.
He says the “ideal family…is the traditional one-mum, dad and the kids.”
Jeffery is a fan of “responsibilities” over “rights”.
On drugs, he says, “If we decide to pump heroin into our veins we have to accept responsibility for the outcome.”
He also says those who engage in “casual promiscuous sex”-read “gays”-“must take responsibility for the possible outcomes.
He also attributes the failure of some children to absorb social “values” to their parents.
Jeffery’s appointment is no surprise, although many tipped the head of the military, Peter Cosgrove, to be Howard’s choice. Either way, the elevation of a senior miliary figure will help the government’s efforts to boost military spending.
Abolish the monarchy
THE ONLY opposition the Labor Party raised to Jeffery’s appointment was the method. Simon Crean said the selection process should involve wider consultation with the Australian people.
This echoed arguments made by the Australian Republican Movement in response to the Hollingworth scandal. The ARM argued that the system is broken and that there should be a more democratic system of choosing the GG.
But that misses the point—there is nothing democratic about a system that appoints a member of the ruling class, awarding them an enormous salary, a mansion and other privileges, to represent the Queen, herself a wealthy, undemocratic parasite.
In 1999, the referendum on the republic failed because voters recognised that the proposed new system would leave nomination of the president in the hands of the top politicians.
Ordinary people want more democracy—not a hollow piece of political theatre.
The Hollingworth episode shows that republicans (including Socialist Worker) who argued for a No vote in 1999 were right.
A Governor-General appointed by a committee rather than Howard alone is no step forward. The position of GG should be abolished, along with the monarchy.