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A Mirror to the People

By September 21, 2011films

His Excellency Sir William Deane
Governor-General of Australia (1996 – 2001)

Our cameras follow the Governor-General of Australia for a year leading up to the Republican referendum in 1999. We see him at the official residence in Canberra and in Parliament and traveling throughout Australia and the world as the Australian head of state – or perhaps more accurately the representative of HM The Queen of Australia.

We see the ceremony involved in this, the highest constitutional office in Australia. The swearing-in of the second Howard Ministry and the opening of the new Parliament. We follow Sir William on a trip to two outback communities in remote Central Australia and to Gallipoli on Anzac Day. All of his activities being consistent with Sir William’s own particular understanding of his constitutional responsibilities which he has described as “providing a mirror to the Australian people”. We also see the Governor-General travel to Windsor Castle where he meets the Queen, and we accompany him on an official State visit to Ireland — the first by an Australian Governor-General.

The year of 1999 was not just any year, it was twelve months during which a debate took place as to whether our constitution should be altered to make provision for a President and a new Republic of Australia. This film makes a significant contribution not only to this ongoing debate but also to a better understanding of the historic and contemporary roles of the Governor-General. It provides an important and unique perspective on the operation of our highest Australian constitutional office — the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia.


His Excellency Sir William Deane
22nd Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, 1996-2001
Associate-Professor Brian Costar
Head, School of Public Policy, Monash University
Syd Coulthard
Traditional Owner, Tempe Downs remote community
Sir Zelman Cowen
19th Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, 1977-82
Dr. Jennifer Hocking
Australian Research Council, Queen Elizabeth II Research Fellow, National Centre for Australian Studies, Monash University
Bessie Liddle
Traditional Owner, Middleton Ponds remote community
Sir Ninian Stephen
20th Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, 1982-89

Directed by Daryl Dellora
Produced by Sue Maslin
Feature Duration: 56 minutes
Written by Daryl Dellora
Narrator: Sigrid Thornton
Original Music by John Phillips
Released Nationally on ABC-TV Big Picture 9:30pm Thursday 7 September 2000
Developed with the assistance of Film Victoria (a division of Cinemedia)
Produced with the assistance of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Financed with the assistance of the Australian Film Finance Corporation
© 2000 Film Art Doco Pty Ltd and the Australian Film Finance Corporation Limited