The Governor-General of Australia is not a mere figurehead. Governors-General possess real power which is given to them by the Constitution. It is intended that these ‘reserve’ powers should be used only very rarely. One of these is the power to withdraw the commission of a Prime Minister, and this was invoked in 1975 by Governor-General Sir John Kerr to resolve an intractable political impasse. As a result of his actions, Kerr has been vilified mercilessly ever since.
Villain or Victim argues that Kerr acted constitutionally, judiciously and effectively. It also postulates that the campaign against him has been crafted and sustained to undermine those reserve powers and to intimidate future Governors-General against their use. This compelling book explains the constitutional basis for Kerr’s decision, clarifies the role of the Monarch in Australia and warns that circumstances under which the use of any of the reserve powers may be called for, could very easily arise in the near future. Australia needs a Governor-General well versed in the nature of these powers and prepared to use them when necessary. And we need an informed public that is able to understand such action.
Peter O’Brien graduated from the Royal Military College Duntroon in 1970 and was posted as an infantry platoon commander on operations in South Vietnam with the Fourth Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment. He served in the Australian Army for twenty-one years, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. During his military service he gained a Bachelor of Science degree, a Graduate Diploma in Data Processing and a Diploma of Military Studies.
After retiring from the Army, Peter spent twenty years in business and scientific computer sales. He has contributed frequently to Quadrant and Spectator Magazines and is the author of Bitter Harvest – the illusion of Aboriginal agriculture in Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu.