A job well done. Governor-General Jeffery returned respect to Yarralumla.
AN opinion poll midway through his five-year tenure found that only one in seven Australians could correctly name Governor-General Michael Jeffery. As he prepares to leave office this week, that recognition rating may have bumped up slightly after the overhyped coverage on his comments that the majority of Aborigine in Australia were leading normal lives. Popularity contests, however, are not what the occupant of the highest office in the land should aspire to. History will judge Major General Jeffery as a dedicated and principled Governor-General who restored dignity to the vice-regal position after the controversial tenures of his predecessors Peter Hollingworth and William Deane. Dr Hollingworth's tenure in Yarralumla was mired by his mishandling of allegations of sexual abuse in the Anglican church. Sir William politicised the office and turned it into a lightning rod for various causes. Major-General Jeffery was chosen to bring stability and respect to the office. He succeeded. And if he did not attract the same scrutiny as his predecessors, it is because he avoided self-aggrandisement and understood the apolitical nature of his job.
Although The Australian has long supported this country becoming a republic, Major-General Jeffrey's tenure has blunted the urgency of that change. As he correctly said on the eve of his departure, the role of a governor-general is similar to that of an umpire. Whatever the system of government, it is essential that Australia has an apolitical referee, a person with strong affinity to all Australians and an ability to articulate the issues that concern them. As Australia's first female governor-general, Quentin Bryce appears a worthy successor. Her record as a former state governor, federal sex discrimination commissioner, lawyer and academic points to her adopting the same apolitical, non-controversial and non-interventionist approach that became the most enduring legacy Major-General Jeffery's distinguished tenure.
— THE AUSTRALIAN