Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney is reportedly on the shortlist to become Australia’s next Governor-General but some former Parliamentary colleagues have raised concerns about her selection.
It is understood Ms Burney is being floated by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to replace Governor-General David Hurley when his tenure ends in July 2024.
Although Mr Hurley still has eight months left in his position, the Prime Minister is expected to deliver his shortlist of candidates to King Charles by the end of the year.
On Thursday, the Daily Mail approached Ms Burney’s office to confirm the speculation but a spokesperson declined to comment on the discussions.
If Ms Burney does secure the role, the 66-year-old will become Australia’s first Indigenous head of state.
Despite the symbolism of selecting Australia’s first Aboriginal head of state, former speaker of the house Bronwyn Bishop raised concerns over the pick and questioned Ms Burney’s physical health.
“My concern for Linda Burney is that it’s a very vigorous job, it’s very busy and honestly I don’t know that she’s awfully well,” she told Sky News Australia on Thursday.
In August, Ms Burney went public about suffering a mini-stroke and undergoing heart surgery in 2020, and revealed she takes medication to manage her heart which has impacted her speaking voice.
The minister for Indigenous Australians has insisted she is fighting fit and said she has undergone speech therapy to address the change in her speaking voice.
On Thursday, Nationals MP and former deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce also questioned Ms Burney’s fitness for the role and suggested Rugby great Mark Gordon Ella as an alternative for Australia’s first Aboriginal Governor-General.
“I feel sorry for Linda and that’s because she really struggled didn’t she?” he told Andrew Bolt on Thursday.
“There are some great Indigenous Australians out there and Linda may be in the mix but Mark Gordon Ella is my suggestion.”
As Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ms Burney emerged as one of the most prominent faces of the Yes campaign during the referendum on an Indigenous Voice to Parliament that was ultimately defeated.
Commentator and Small Business Women Australia entrepreneur Amanda Rose called Ms Burney’s consideration for the role “concerning” and suggested she may have been promised the position in exchange for fronting the failed Voice to Parliament referendum.
“When it comes to politics it’s all about deals, and I have a suspicion that the deal was, ‘if you lead this Yes campaign we’ll give you the role,’” she said.
“(Linda) probably said ‘you promised this and I want it.’”
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