*take nothing for granted!
Unless otherwise indicated all photos © Richard McKie 2005 - 2015

Who is Online

We have 111 guests and no members online

Translate to another language

Article Index

The House

 

History changes according to the teller.  Some time ago I took a free tour of Government House where a volunteer guide gave an idiosyncratic version of NSW history; Federation; Jack Lang; and the Constitution Australia.  From my perspective nothing in this account was glaringly wrong but nothing was precisely right either.  I can't imagine what the overseas visitors took away.  

Having taken similar tours around overseas palaces the most striking thing for me about the House is its intrinsic modesty.  You could fit the entire ground floor area into the grand ballroom of a typical European palace.  It is far less grand than many private homes in England.  It was built after abandoning the two, even more modest, Government Houses of the initial business-like governors, who were relatively junior working sailors and soldiers.  In British terms the house is appropriate to accommodating a minor royal relative in the antipodes or military high achievers, past their child rearing age, as a modest retirement sinecure. 

Initially the entire botanical gardens and the domain were set aside for the Governor's private use but in egalitarian NSW these private grounds were quickly drawn-in to the present much smaller area and the remainder made public.  Today the Governor is treated like any other senior official and lives in her private home.  The House shouts égalité from the very top of its modest staircase.

The contradiction with the actual importance and implicit status of the Governor is palpable.  Had I been explaining the history to tourists I might have said, 'the Governor is the highest official in the State.  New South Wales is similar in economic size and wealth to Switzerland and ranks in every physical and economic measure above Denmark, Norway and Finland.  The Governor, in council with her ministers, is at the head of our government, appoints the judiciary and senior public servants and signs every act into law (the guide did mention this signing as a responsibility of the role).  She can dismiss these ministers and parogue the Parliament; should the advice she receives from them be sufficiently inappropriate in her opinion; by convention after seeking qualified independent advice.' 

At a similar point in his story our guide mentioned Jack Lang and linked his dismissal as Premier in 1932 to a refusal to pay for the Sydney Harbour Bridge.   Two months prior to the dismissal the Bridge had been opened by Lang when he was temporally gazumped by Captain De Groot on his horse, who was incensed that it should instead be opened by the Governor on behalf of the King.

De Groot was dragged from his horse by irate police and taken to the notorious Darlinghurst reception centre, where he was unsuccessfully charged with a range of extreme offences; culminating in an attempt to have him declared insane. 

With the collapse of these charges he was finally convicted of offensive behaviour and fined five pounds.  He responded by serving a writ on the New South Wales police alleging wrongful arrest, securing an out of court settlement reported to have been 'a tidy sum'.

 

Add comment


Security code
Refresh


    Have you read this???     -  this content changes with each opening of a menu item


Travel

Southern England

 

 

 

In mid July 2016 Wendy and I took flight again to Europe.  Those who follow these travel diaries will note that part of out trip last year was cut when Wendy's mum took ill.  In particular we missed out on a planned trip to Romania and eastern Germany.  This time our British sojourn would be interrupted for a few days by a side-trip to Copenhagen and Roskilde in Denmark.

Read more ...

Fiction, Recollections & News

The Writer

 

 

The fellow sitting beside me slammed his book closed and sat looking pensive. 

The bus was approaching Cremorne junction.  I like the M30.  It starts where I get on so I’m assured of a seat and it goes all the way to Sydenham in the inner West, past Sydney University.  Part of the trip is particularly scenic, approaching and crossing the Harbour Bridge.  We’d be in The City soon.

My fellow passenger sat there just staring blankly into space.  I was intrigued.   So I asked what he had been reading that evoked such deep thought.  He smiled broadly, aroused from his reverie.  “Oh it’s just Inferno the latest Dan Brown,” he said.   

Read more ...

Opinions and Philosophy

A Carbon Tax for Australia

 12 July 2011

 

 

It's finally announced, Australia will have a carbon tax of $23 per tonne of CO2 emitted.  This is said to be the highest such tax in the world but it will be limited to 'about 500' of the biggest emitters.  The Government says that it can't reveal which  these are to the public because commercial privacy laws prevent it from naming them. 

Some companies have already 'gone public' and it is clear that prominent among them are the major thermal power generators and perhaps airlines.  Some like BlueScope Steel (previously BHP Steel) will be granted a grace period before the tax comes into effect. In this case it is publicly announced that the company has been granted a two year grace period with possible extensions, limited to its core (iron and steelmaking) emissions.

Read more ...

Terms of Use                                           Copyright