Thursday, 17 November 2011

Letters from Zamhareer - 17-11-11

Am I the only one that thought Quentin Bryce was being a little silly yesterday? She was the first on the tarmac to greet Barack Obama, which is appropriate given she is our vice-regal representative, and she was quite nicely turned out in whatever outfit it was that she was wearing. (Given I am a man, I don't actually recall what her outfit looked like, but I didn't notice anything wrong with it; it was not as if she had donned a hessian sack).

Yet, 30 minutes later when she formally welcomed the President of the United States to Parliament House she was wearing a completely different outfit. Seriously, Quentin, what was that about?

Don't mistake me, I think it is a very good thing that we have a female Governor General. It is long overdue. However, I am an ardent republican (in the anti-monarchist sense, not the American political sense) - so I would much rather see a female President than a female Governor General. I also think that the choice to appoint Ms Bryce was an uninspired and disappointing one, given that I believe there are many other Australian women who would have made a far superior choice. Nevertheless, I acknowledge the status of women has been given a much-needed boost by having both a female Prime Minister and a female Governor General (excluding the merits or otherwise of the respective incumbents themselves).

But what detracted from the positive message to women, particularly young women, was the ridiculous outfit change that Bryce made somewhere between the airport and the entrance to Parliament House (where she again greeted Obama). I say ridiculous, because it is hard to see a male Governor General changing his suit after half an hour. It just wouldn't happen. It just doesn't happen. What message is Bryce sending? The whole thing, in my view, was grossly misconceived.

Surely, aside from one soiling oneself - which I am pretty sure was not the case yesterday (although given that she is getting on in years, I can't completely rule it out) - changing from one elegant outfit to another in such a short space of time only occurs for reasons of vanity. It is not as if she dressed down for comfort into a tracksuit or a thong and tank top.

Of course, I acknowledge that I may be biased. I don't particularly like Quentin Bryce and, with the exception of Sir William Deane, I consider every Australian Governor General appointed since the end of Sir Ninian Stephen's term in 1989 to have been a complete dud. 

Notwithstanding that bias, it is my view that Bryce's shenanigans yesterday set back decades the cause of total equality of opportunity for women in this country. No one will ever be able to satisfactorially explain to me, how flitting around like fashion-plate Fanny dignifies the office of Governor General or the person to whom the role is entrusted.

Appearances are so superficial, it was disappointing she could not rise above them to make her tenure in the top job more about competence in the role as defacto Head of State rather than about how she looks in public wearing taxpayer funded pastel frocks and silly hats (this has been a common occurrence / theme during her 'reign'). State Occasions aren't fashion parades; she should have realised she wasn't at the Melbourne Cup yesterday.

To me, yesterday was simply another reminder why Australia needs a popularly elected Head of State as soon as possible.

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