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Thursday, 17 October 1985
Page: 1415

Senator VIGOR(3.36) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

This is a very interesting report in that this is the first time that staff are able to be appointed by the Governor-General. The report is from the Office of the Official Secretary to the Governor-General. This is the first time that staff can work directly for the Governor-General rather than being part of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. This segregation of the administration of the Governor-General's household from the political and Public Service arena has been long overdue. The constitutional strength of the Commonwealth of Australia rests largely on the separation of politics from justice, and the final authority of the Crown is above each of these.

It is with concern that I note the increasing work load falling on the Governor-General's secretariat through the introduction of the Australian honours system. Previously the imperial honours recommended by the States used to be handled by the Department of the Special Minister of State. It was in recognition of Australia's independence from the United Kingdom that the Queen, on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, signed letters of patent establishing separate awards for honouring outstanding Australian citizens. Yet the Government has refused to approve additional appropriations for the Governor-General's secretariat to enable the secretariat to administer efficiently the nominations of people worthy of these honours. The Government has saved eight positions in the Department of the Special Minister of State which previously administered the nomination of imperial honours. Yet the Government is quite unhappy about offering even one extra person to the Office of the Official Secretary to the Governor-General to process this area.

If Australia is not going to earn a reputation overseas as a banana republic it is essential that our Governor-General nominate for awards only our most distinguished and outstanding citizens. It is therefore important that he have a reasonable staff to be able to handle these matters. I commend the Office of the Official Secretary to the Governor-General for its dedicated service in coping with its increased responsibilities in the face of such stringent economies in its budget. I commend the report to the Senate.

Question resolved in the affirmative.