Skip to comments.Sir Peter Cosgrove sworn in as Australia's 26th Governor-General (a great day for Australia!)
Posted on 03/27/2014 5:56:41 PM PDT by naturalman1975
Sir Peter Cosgrove has been sworn in as Australia's 26th Governor-General, declaring that he comes to the role "agenda free".
The man who has become Australia's first knight under Prime Minister Tony Abbott's revived honours system used his swearing-in address in the Senate to pay tribute to Corporal Cameron Baird, who was posthumously awarded a Victoria Cross in February this year.
"We hail and salute Cameron Baird," he said. "He lives in the injured hearts of those he left too soon."
His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove, as he is now known, was applauded as he walked through Federal Parliament's marble foyer shortly after receiving a general salute from the guard of honour on the Great Veranda.
Sir Peter succeeds Dame Quentin Bryce, who departed Yarralumla this week after more than five years in the job.
His first words as Governor-General paid tribute to Indigenous Australians and to his predecessor.
Earlier, the pomp and ceremony began with Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his wife Margie greeting the governor-general designate and his wife Lynne Cosgrove out the front of Parliament House.
He was escorted into the president of the Senate's private suite before entering the Senate, which was packed with MPs and Senators.
Parliamentarians stood as the Usher of the Black Rod led the governor-general designate into the Senate chamber.
The public galleries were only partially filled for the swearing-in ceremony, which took place before Australia's Chief Justice Robert French.
Sir Peter came to national prominence in 1999, when he was appointed commander of the international peacekeeping mission in East Timor.
He was appointed chief of the Army in 2000 before being appointed chief of the Defence Force in 2002.
He was Australian of the Year in 2001 and retired from active service in 2005.
In 2006, Sir Peter led a taskforce to rebuild communities in Queensland devastated by the category-five Cyclone Larry.
Since retirement, he has worked as a non-executive director of Qantas.
A Commander-in-Chief who understands what that really means.
Is that a ceremonial post? If not what does he do?
unless something changed the governor general’s are the ones with the real power. colonies used to have them, canada has one, and all uk run territories and such had one. something may have changed to alter their roles but i am not certain if/what has changed.
Knight of the Order of Australia (actually in the photo, he was still a Companion of the Order but the ribbon and position of wear remains the same in his case)
Military Cross - awarded for heroism during the Vietnam War
Australian Active Service Medal 1945-1975 - general campaign medal awarded for service in war or warlike operations between those dates
Vietnam Medal - campaign medal
Australian Active Service Medal (1975-) - general campaign medal awarded for service in war or warlike operations since 1975
International Force East Timor Medal - campaign medal
Australian Service Medal (1975-) - general campaign medal awarded for service in non-warlike operations
Centenary Medal - awarded in 2001 (centenary of Australian Federation) to people deemed to have made a significant contribution to Australian life
Defence Force Service Medal - with four rosettes denoting over 35 years service in the Australian Defence Force (I believe he got the Federation Star device denoting 40 years service just prior to retirement)
National Medal - For diligent long service to the community in hazardous circumstances, including in times of emergency and national disaster, in direct protection of life and property
Vietnam Campaign Medal - foreign award from the Republic of Vietnam
Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit - foreign award, given after he lead New Zealand soldiers during the East Timor operation
Commander of the Legion of Merit - foreign award from the United States
Tong-il Medal of the Order of National Security Merit - foreign award from South Korea
Since the time the photo was taken, he has also received the Australian Defence Medal (awarded to everyone who serves a basic term in the ADF). And while he has just made a Knight of the Order of Australia, he had already received Knighthoods from Portugal and the Vatican - so he's actually a Knight three times over.
Thank you. The reason I asked is it sounds like a Colonial sort of position but I am sure I read somewhere that Australia no longer considers itself a part of the Empire except maybe economically.
Most of the time, it is ceremonial - he represents the Queen in Australia, and Australia to the rest of the world in situations where a Head of State is needed.
But the Governor General has what are termed 'reserve powers', that can be used to resolve serious crisis situations. These are meant to be used extremely rarely, and only in situations approaching emergencies. The only significant time a Governor General has used these powers was in 1975 when then-Governor General Sir John Kerr sacked Gough Whitlam as Prime Minister, and sacked his entire government, because Whitlam was unable to get a budget passed by the Parliament and could not provide the Governor General with a plan to continue governing Australia that was either constitutional or legal (what Whitlam should have done is asked for a general election - instead what he proposed was a totally illegal plan to get money from Australia's national bank). These situations are not meant to happen, so Governors General should rarely, if ever, need to use their powers - but if they do, they have quite a lot of powers.
In theory, if necessary (for example, a Nuclear War type situation) the Governor General could constitutionally govern by himself. He'd be expected to restore a more traditional form of government as soon as possible, but his powers are that broad in an emergency situation.
Thank you. That is actually interesting.
Glad you are happy naturalman! He looks like a true Australian, I must say. God bless your country!
OK, that's a little complicated.
Australia's Head of State is (legally and constitutionally) Her Majesty Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia. This is the same person physically, as Her Majesty Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom, but legally speaking, it's totally distinct.
The Queen appoints (on the advice of her Australian Prime Minister) a Governor General to carry out her role in Australia in her absence - which, of course, is most of the time, as she lives in the UK. So in that sense, it is a vestige of Australia's Colonial past.
Australia is no longer part of any Empire (the British Empire doesn't really exist anymore) but remains part of the Commonwealth.
What's the difference?
Unlike the US, which had to fight a war for independence and thus achieved it all in one go, Australian independence is a gradual process. The Australian colonies became self governing for virtually all purposes (except defence and foreign relations) in the late 19th century, and when Australia federated as a single nation in 1901, that remained the case - Australia self governed on almost all issues - but overall defence policy and foreign relations were still handled from London. We were what was termed a Dominion of the United Kingdom - technically still subservient to the UK. This started to change in the 1920s with the Statute of Westminster. At that point, the Dominions (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Newfoundland (not part of Canada at the time) became entitled to equal status to the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom was no longer our superior within the Empire, but we were legally equal to it. The differences this made - for a start, we could send our own Ambassadors to countries, rather than the British Ambassador simply being Ambassador for the entire Empire but more notably at the start of World War I, all the Dominions automatically went to war when the UK declared war. At the start of World War II, while all the Dominions did go to war, they actually had the power to refuse to do so, and actually declared war separately. King Edward VIII had also had to abdicate in 1936, because the Statute of Westminster required all the Dominions to agree on the succession, rather than as previously, London simply being able to tell us what to do.
Under the old system, Australia would not have been able to fight alongside the United States in Vietnam - because the UK was not involved.
We're independent - but we choose (and we had a referendum on this in 1999) to retain the Australian Monarchy, and to have an appointed Governor General, rather than any alternative arrangement. We can change that decision by referendum at any time we choose, but for the moment we haven't.
That probably explains why the Governor General’s power is still technically there. If it was used indiscriminately it would be taken away.
Yes, that’s the big control on it - using the Reserve Powers without a very good reason would be unacceptable to the Australian people. They would demand the Queen remove the Governor General from office, and if she refused to do so, Australia would probably become a Republic in fairly short order.
As I remembered it, Basically, Gough Whitlams Labour Party government had lost the support of the populace by forcing through policies which were far to the left of the positions on which they had campaigned in the General Election.
When the opposition party used its majority in the Senate to block passage of appropriations bills, the Whitlam government was unable to function. Whitlam wanted to call an early Senate election to try to lift the Senates block on appropriations bills, but since all the polls showed that the result of such an election would be an even greater opposition majority in the Senate, Governor-General John Kerr dismissed both Houses of Parliament and called a General Election.
The Government of Gough Whitlam did not have the numbers in the Senate to push a budget through. The Governor-General had no option but to sack the government, dissolve both Houses of parliament, and call a general election, which would, hopefully, and in fact did, break the deadlock. The overwhelmingly landslide win of the Malcolm Fraser-led coalition showed most Australians agreed with Kerr’s decision.
For those who don’t know, Whitlam is still alive and will be 100 years old in July 2016.
Partly, yes - certainly it was more left wing that some of the people who had voted for it had expected, but that alone would have been tolerated. Added to that was some astonishing financial and suspicious incompetence. The Khemlani Affair. The Whitlam government tried to bypass normal Treasury practice by getting an extremely large loan from the Middle East and used a broker who was, to say the least, of questionable propriety to do it. He couldn't deliver and so the loan was eventually sought from the US (Treasury would have insisted on either the US or Europe earlier if they'd been allowed to) and at that point, the Minister for Minerals and Energy, Rex Connor, continued trying to get the Arab loan without actual legal authority to do so. Whitlam had to sack him, having already had to sack his Treasurer over an early part of the affair. And that pretty much destroyed all credibility his government had.
When the opposition party used its majority in the Senate to block passage of appropriations bills, the Whitlam government was unable to function.
It was the Khemlani Affair that made this politically possible. If Whitlam's government hadn't made such a monumental financial mistake, Australians would not have been willing to accept what the Opposition was doing - it was legal and constitutional to 'block supply' in the way they did, but was very questionable behaviour that could only be justified by being able to credibly argue "We are protecting our nation's finances from a government that has no idea what it is doing." Without the Khemlani Affair, Fraser wouldn't have dared do it - and if he had, any subsequent election would have probably gone Labor's way.
The Governor General probably would have granted Whitlam's request for a Half-Senate election if he had made it earlier than he did (by say, the 21st October, when it would have had a chance of resolving the crisis before the government ran out of money). By November 11, when Whitlam finally decided he'd ask for one, it would no longer have solved the problem, and was clearly just a last desperate attempt to hold onto power.
The Government of Gough Whitlam did not have the numbers in the Senate to push a budget through. The Governor-General had no option but to sack the government, dissolve both Houses of parliament, and call a general election, which would, hopefully, and in fact did, break the deadlock. The overwhelmingly landslide win of the Malcolm Fraser-led coalition showed most Australians agreed with Kerrs decision.
Note - the Governor General did not actually call a general election on his own authority - the crisis had reached the stage that he could have done that, but instead it was slightly less dramatic - as part of commissioning Malcolm Fraser as Prime Minister, he got Fraser to agree that if commissioned, he would, as Prime Minister, advise a general election - so it was actually, on paper, an ordinary general election, rather than an imposed one. If Kerr had thought it likely he'd get the right answer, he probably would have said to Whitlam "I have Fraser outside and he will advise me to call a general election if I commission him. Is there anything you want to advise me to do, Prime Minister?" but Kerr did not trust Whitlam not to try and pull something (perhaps calling London to try and have the Governor General sacked by the Queen first).
Good for you.
It’s nice to see men of actual achievement honored.