A little wisdom and a good ear go a very long way
I’m part of an ever-shrinking club. Young people are resisting joining up in droves and well, we’re just not that cool any more. Yep, I’m in favour of Australia becoming a Republic.
I would like to see Quentin Bryce lose her job. So it was a very contradictory feeling yesterday when I found myself pleased about the news the Governor-General’s term was being extended until March 2014. It’s very inconvenient when people you’ve come to admire hold positions you’d like to see abolished.
Like the Queen. Can’t stand the monarchy, but Elizabeth II is terrific. And now I’ve developed a soft spot for our immaculately presented, incredibly hard-working, GG.
PR-wise Bryce had a rocky start to her stint in Yarralumla, which she started in 2008. There were reports of tensions in her office, speculation about her clothing budget and a sense that she was all too consumed with her own image.
Generally the position of GG was a bit embattled. After the glory days of William Dean, it was rocked by the Hollingworth years and then recovered with a somewhat lower profile during the tenure of the buttoned-up Michael Jeffery.
Back in 2009 my colleague Tory Shepherd accompanied Bryce on an Outback trip to visit some Aboriginal settlements.
It was a highly staged managed and thoroughly inauthentic experience. Shepherd wrote in the Advertiser at the time:
The sight of her pristine Excellence in an Aboriginal aged-care facility, surrounded by red dust and barbed wire is strange. An elderly Aboriginal woman smiles and nods as the Governor-General speaks quietly then waits for a response. “She doesn’t speak English, Your Excellency,” an embarrassed helper says. The media is carefully controlled, with questions vetted in advance and interviews monitored.
There was a general perception that the GG was a bit too imaculate, a bit too posh to be one of us.
Cut to 2012 and this insight from The Age’s Tony Wright:
Since her appointment on September 8, 2008, Ms Bryce has undertaken 2700 public engagements (’‘community engagements’‘, she corrects). That’s an average of more than two a day, every single day, more by a long stretch than any of her predecessors. The word community means much to this Governor-General. It implies connections everywhere, from women in remote outback homesteads to the night people of North Melbourne, and everyone between. Ms Bryce has set herself the task of listening to all their stories.
The GG is highly visible, cropping up in those amazing coloured suits at a dizzying array of events. There is no doubt she has eclipsed her recent predecessors in the profile stakes.
And it’s not condescension to say Bryce has grown into the job. She said as much to Wright herself: “I’ve learnt so much from so many people, my understanding of who we are is deeper, I’ve become more reflective and a little wiser.”
And surely wisdom is at the top of the list of traits we should seek in our Governor-General. Wisdom, the ability to listen, and a fabulous sense of style.
Quentin Bryce is doing my dwindling club no good whatsoever.
Comments on this post will close at 8pm AEST.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…