Tim Blair


New Criterion



Tuesday, August 10, 2004
SO, THE BUTLER HAS WALKED, and he's taken the silver with him.

Tasmanian Premier Paul Lennon presented the butt of the revolver to His Excellency Richard Butler last night, and Butler preferred that end of the weapon to the other. He'll be gone in three weeks, after less than one year of a five-year term.

Butler delivered neither on the traditional preach-and-praise role of a State Governor, nor on the promised role of Tasmanian honey-pot for the world's movers and shakers. Is anyone, apart from the shade of late Premier Jim Bacon, surprised?

Girl Guides are such a bore, and those of Butler's former contacts who are not in gaol or in court are probably pleased to have no further cause to meet him.

By the standards of your average failed or criminal businessman Butler's payout, half a million, is no big deal. By the standards of Tasmania's rules for Governors it's a rip-off.
Senior law lecturer at the University of Tasmania, Michael Stokes, said he would not leave Tasmania with a taxpayer payout. Under the Governor of Tasmania Act 1982, governors retiring within five years were entitled only to a generous annual pension if they left office because of ill-health or mental or physical incapacity. And being sacked did not entitle a governor to any extra compensation, Mr Stokes said.
Could even the Bob-Brown Greens accommodate Richard Butler for his next attempt at ego-inflation?

For that matter, will the Butler drone still seem to the Sydney Symphone orchestra the right tone for the words of Abraham Lincoln? It's like having John Howard read Pericles, or Mark Latham do the Sermon on the Mount.

Later. Lord Bob-Brown of the Greens has welcomed Butler's demise. He thinks Governors need to show patience and humility. From the author of the Right to be Loud, in any circumstances, that counts as hypocrisy of a high order.