Days after the news that the Australian Anglicans have broken the “stained-glass ceiling” by appointing their first female bishop, comes the news that there is some vice-regal glass being broken too: Our new PM, Kevin Rudd, has appointed a woman for the first time in our 107 year history as a nation to the post of Vice-Regal Representative (we don’t, for some reason someone will tell me in the combox, use the term “Vice-Regent” for the Governor General). There have been women who have served as Governors of some of the States before (as has Ms Bryce herself), but this is a first on the national level.
(Nb. for foreign readers, each state, as a former colony of Great Britain, has its own Governor who is also a direct representative of our Monarch over the Sea in a relationship quite independant of the federal Vice-Regent–this could cause a problem for Australia if we chose to become a republic some time in the future).
It seems that just about everyone is happy with this avant-garde decision by our avant-garde Prime Minister. Many commentators are comparing it to the less wise choice of former Archbishop of Brisbane, Peter Hollingworth, by our former PM, John Howard. I liked (and still do like) Archbishop Peter, and it is perhaps wrong to judge Howard’s Choice by the unfortunate way that Archbishop Hollingworth’s term in office ended, but I do think that that choice was wrong in every way.
I offer my heartiest congratulations to Ms Bryce. I have absolutely no argument with women holding the highest office in the State–how could I? I am a fiercely loyal supporter of Her Majesty the Queen. After explaining to my daughter the other day that a woman cannot be a priest, much less a bishop, in the Catholic Church because priests and bishops are ‘images’ of the maile Christ (the simplest explanation for a young child next to “Jesus didn’t appoint women among the Twelve), she very naturally concluded this morning that all our Governors should be women since the Queen is a woman…
Of course, it would be sad if our first woman Vice-Regal Representative was also the last Vice-Regal Representative ever. God save the Queen!