Our Governor General, Quentin Bryce, is one classy lady and a role model for young women everywhere.
Speaking yesterday at the launch of the federal gender watchdog’s latest census of women in leadership, the 69-year-old Bryce, rocking a skirt suit of the hottest pink you can imagine, shared her memory of life before the women’s movement. It’s worth recalling here:
“I’m a girl of the 60s,” Governor Bryce began, “a time when women in jobs were clustered in a narrow range of occupations. Marriage meant resignation. Pay was two thirds of men’s. No maternity leave. No childcare. No role models. No mentors. Little access to superannuation or higher education. There were separate job ads for women and girls, men and boys. I was the only girl from my school to go to university. There were a handful of us in law school. I was shocked to see only one woman scholar on campus at University of Queensland and to learn that I would have to leave work when I was married. It’s no wonder women started to take action.”
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If Ricky Ponting scores a double century in the Boxing Day Test and announces his retirement from cricket, there would be nothing preventing the Prime Minister making Australia’s greatest run scorer the next governor-general.
How about Kylie Minogue? She would bring international experience and contacts to the vice-regal post and is a recipient of France’s highest cultural honour, the Order of Arts and Letters. She’s talking about retiring to a “big house” with a garden. Would Government House be suitable?
While either scenario might seem absurd, it could in fact be a reality. There are no rules, no selection criteria, no formal list of qualifications, no formal vetting procedure and no restrictions for appointing a person to the highest office in the land. It is the personal gift of the prime minister, who alone makes a recommendation, which the Queen is obliged to accept.
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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.
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Her Majesty will be warmly and enthusiastically welcomed today because it is always a grand occasion when Australia’s head of state is actually on Australian soil.
Rare, but grand nevertheless. Mind you, she is only here because of next week’s Commonwealth summit in Perth.
We outsoure the pinnacle position in our democratic structure but the woman herself is splendidly separate from that awkward constitutional arrangement. She is special.
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