The children of the years 4,5,6 composite class at Burren Junction Public School were offered a very special insight into the role of the Governor-General recently.

Their Excellencies, the Governor-General David Hurley and Linda Hurley, appeared via video link in the 4,5,6 classroom and spent nearly an hour answering the children’s many and varied questions.

As part of the Governor-General’s response to restrictions imposed by coronavirus, which resulted in his not being able to travel around the country, his office reached out to schools around Australia to arrange virtual meetings.

The 18 children in the class had prepared a series of questions for the Governor-General, and Mrs Hurley, who used to be a primary school teacher.

Burren Junction Public School’s current ‘Prime Minister’ Elke Sendall, introduced her own Parliamentary colleagues from Year 6, and explained that the class’ questions would fall into three broad categories: the history of Australia, the role of the Governor-General and the qualities of good leadership.

In answer to a question from Kendra Cook and Grace O’Brien about Their Excellencies’ own heritage, the Governor-General revealed that his ancestor arrived in Australia from Ireland in the early 1800s as a convict, after stealing a calf.

Since the children have been learning about early convict life this was of particular interest to them.

Mrs Hurley, in answer to a question put to her by Sophie Slack-Smith and Rebecca McMahon, about any special Aboriginal sites she had visited, remembered a time, when their children were young, when they visited Uluru. She described the way the rock glowed both orange and purple in the dying light of the day and how she felt it to be a very sacred and important place.

After a question from Chloe Jackson, the children were transfixed to learn that their Excellencies had lunched with the Queen and Prince William, and the royal corgis. Bridie Harris and Lucas Duff were particularly engaged by the Governor-General’s explanation about his constitutional
authority to sign bills into law.

He revealed that he does not have to speak to Her Majesty about the bills he signs, since the power resides solely with him and, as an unelected leader, he must follow the wishes of the Parliament, the democratically elected representatives of the Australian people.

Sam Ferris and Jock Carolan were keen to hear from the Governor-General what skills he believed helped someone become a good leader.

After assuring the students that they could certainly become Governor-General one day, General Hurley explained that he believed the ability to be a good listener was chief amongst the things he looked for in leaders.

The Governor-General suggested that BJPS’ current ‘Prime Minister’, Elke Sendall, might appoint her own Governor-General of the school.

That position is yet to be decided.

After going well overtime, Elke asked the final question.

Since the class has also been studying heroes and villains in their classroom and reading JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Elke asked their Excellencies which were their favourite Harry Potter characters.

Mrs Hurley was firmly in favour of Hermione for her bravery and loyalty and General Hurley revealed that he liked Ron the best, because, as he said, “Ron is a bit of a larrikin, a bit of an Aussie, like us”.

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