31 August 2008

Governor General puff piece by former speechwriter!

| HA
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Why doesn’t the Sunday Canberra Times’ Andree Stephens (the editor) tell readers today (31/8) in her page 1 splash about the GG, spilling to a double page spread inside, that up until a few months ago, she was the long-serving speech writer for H.E. Governor-General Michael Jeffrey? This is a highly relevant piece of information given Andree’s piece is a huge spray at the “major national/metrop” media (and News Ltd inparticular for some unspecific sin) short-changing the GG and accusing him of being pompous and out of touch. Instead, Andree devotes pages and pages (of a largely unread newspaper in the nation’s capital) over to Jeffrey to attack the media, defend his years of tea, scones and country fairs — never once telling readers “and oh…I should tell you…I was his speechwriter up until recently”. What a disingenuous, unethical load of nonsense. Sycophantic crap is what it is.

This is Rural Press, don’t forget. This is dumb-downed, simplistic and awfully provincial journalism at its best.

Leslie Martin, Canberra

[ED – Personally I thought the article made some valid points but agree some disclosure would have been nice]

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Sounds more like sour grapes to me.

Many have missed the point. It was not the content so much as the failure of the “journalist” to disclose and declare a previous vested interest. It’s very simple Journalism Ethics 101, whether you’re doing it on a shoe-string (as Jack Waterford says is the Rural way of the future), or on an expense account. The piece was provided to Stephens solely because of her prior relationship promoting the GG in speeches she wrote for him. He did not make himself available to any other journalists. There was no door stop, no media conference, no transcript boxed for the Gallery — nada. He sat down for a cuppa with Andree and bagged the media. How cosy. How sweet. But where was the disclosure Andree?

I believe that Michael Jeffrey has been an outstanding GG. He was somewhat constrained considering that he had taken over a lame-duck role after the Peter Hollingworth debacle, and John Howard gave some clear riding instructions to Jeffrey as to how to behave.

I’m involved in several community groups and other activities and through this had the pleasure of meeting both the Jeffreys on several occasions. Their joint persona added credibility and lustre to the GG role.

Sure, sometime in the (hopefully not too distant) future, the GG will disappear when we move to a republic, but in the meantime, we need people of the calibre of both the Jeffreys in this office. I have doubts about Quentin Bryce, but we’ll see.

‘He said the key functions of the governor-general were indispensable for the nation. ”It’s being the umpire really. And whatever system of government we have or go to, I think we would be in desperate straits if we didn’t have that apolitical umpire.”

I don’t think I’ve misunderstood this statement in the article – which is highly disingenuous of GJ. To claim that his position was one of an apolitical umpire is untrue. GJ has said in correspondence before that as an unelected official he doesn’t feel that he can go against the elected government of the day. The issues here are a lot more complex, but it’s not true that the GG is apolitical by any measure.

BTW what was Rudd doing in Beijing for the Olympic Games? Shouldn’t he have been running the country? Was the GG there representing us in all state-to-state ceremonial matters? What’s the point of having a GG if he/she isn’t our primary rep?

They seemed really kind and down to earth when we accompanied our daughter to the Xmas Parties they throw for children with a disability. Mrs Jeffreys chatted to my partner at length on one occasion particularly.

Hmm. high staff turnover is always a big red flag.

At least he’s half decent – Quentin Bryce comes across as self-conscious, vain, shallow and brittle – a Barbie Doll as our Governor-General. The heavy staff turnover is a bad sign. She’s probably a perfumed bully.

Since when is quoting the G-G criticising a News Ltd outlet a taboo subject?

I’d venture that any non-News Ltd outlet might find it worthy of reporting, given what he said.

The disclosure might have been better handled, but surely the ersatz head of state bagging Rupert’s minions is newsworthy.

Anyway, rest easy, the way things are going News Ltd will be your only mainstream source of info soon enough.

Disclosure: Ari knows Andree and has some involvement with Fairfax.

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