Governor resigns blaming ‘malicious campaign’

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The resignation, effective immediately, followed a three-hour meeting with Premier Paul Lennon at Government House.
Nanjing Night Net

The Premier arrived at the official residence with his chief of staff Rod Scott at 7pm and departed at 10.15pm.

Mr Lennon made no comment to the media contingent waiting outside the gates of the residence, but instead issued a one-page statement written jointly with Mr Butler — distributed by Government House’s acting official secretary Michael Stevens.

Mr Stevens would only say that the meeting had reached a successful outcome.

In the statement, Mr Butler said the campaign against him would continue and “would continue to damage the good name of Tasmania”

.”I have always acted with the best interests of the State at heart and, consistent with that, I felt bound to make this decision,” Mr Butler said.

Mr Lennon applauded the Governor’s decision and described it as courageous and statesman like.

“He has dealt with a very difficult situation with honour,” the Premier said in the statement.

However, the Premier is believed to have gone to Government House last night seeking the Governor’s resignation, following the escalation of controversy surrounding the vice-regal representative.

Mr Butler and his wife, Jennifer, have been the subject of intense scrutiny since taking up the post 10 months ago, culminating in last week’s resignation of all Government House senior staff.

The former UN weapon’s inspector and wife Dr Jennifer Butler returned to Hobart from Sydney on Sunday to face a political storm sparked by the resignation of the three during their fortnight’s absence.

The exodus spawned a flurry of reports in the local and national media of alleged bad behaviour by Mr Butler and his wife, breaches of protocol and inability to secure the confidence of his staff.

The Governor’s republican style had also been a particular bone of contention for someone whose role was to be a representative of the Queen.

Throughout the weekend, Mr Lennon failed to give his unconditional support for the Governor, but said he would meet with him to seek a resolution to the conflict.

Mr Butler, a former Federal Labor Government adviser, has consistently referred to a high-level, right-wing conspiracy to oust him from office.

Opposition Leader Rene Hidding denied that claim.

“We reject any notion or knowledge of any campaign of any description,” Mr Hidding said last night.

“Our first public expression of concern about the role of the Governor was last week and that expression was directed at the Premier for him to engage in exactly the discussion he had last night with Mr Butler.

“We totally reject any suggestion there was a conservative conspiracy against the Governor.”

Mr Butler was sworn into the position on October 3 last year and was Australia’s most highly paid vice-regal representative on an annual salary of more than $370,000.

The Premier will allow the Butlers to stay at Government House until September 3 in order for them to organise their departure.

Mr Butler is likely to be replaced by Tasmania’s Lieutenant-Governor, William Cox.

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