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Monday, 18 February, 2002, 10:25 GMT
Hollingworth rejects new abuse allegations
Queen Elizabeth
Peter Hollingworth is the Queen's representative
Australia's governor-general has said he has no intention of resigning over fresh allegations he ignored sexual abuse in his church while acting as Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane.

His Excellency continues to enjoy my confidence

PM John Howard
In an interview broadcast on Australia's ABC television, Peter Hollingworth said he could have handled the situation at the time better, but he intended to see out his remaining four-and-a-half years in office.

Dr Hollingworth received support on Monday from Prime Minister John Howard who told parliament: "His Excellency continues to enjoy my confidence."

The governor-general is the official representative in Australia of the head of state Queen Elizabeth, who is scheduled to visit the country in less than two weeks.

Constitutional experts say if the public lose confidence in Dr Hollingworth, Mr Howard may have little choice but to take the unprecedented step of asking the Queen to dismiss him.

The prime minister said he expected the governor-general to issue a detailed statement replying to the allegations.

Television allegations

Dr Hollingworth came under increased pressure to resign on Monday after a television programme alleged he discouraged a victim from pursuing an abuse claim against a priest.

Peter Hollingworth takes the oath of office as the governor-general of Australia, June 2001
Peter Hollingworth has been dogged by controversy
Channel Nine's Sunday programme said Dr Hollingworth later appointed the same priest to the sexual abuse committee at St John's Cathedral in Brisbane.

Dr Hollingworth described the allegations as a "disgrace".

He said: "I would never discourage someone from going to the police if they felt there was a case and there was serious criminal abuse."

But the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper on Monday said the allegations against the governor-general had reached a critical mass.

"He should consider resigning before more damage is done to the office," it said in an editorial.

Family groups have also called for him to stand down and Brisbane's Lord Mayor, former Catholic priest Jim Soorley said Dr Hollingworth was "finished as governor-general.

Resignation calls

Dr Hollingworth was appointed last year by Prime Minister John Howard.

His time in office has been plagued by allegations that child abuse was covered up when he was the head of the Anglican church in Brisbane.

In December he made a statement denying any cover-up of the abuse by a former teacher at a church school, who committed suicide after being charged with indecency.

He said legal and insurance considerations had prevented him from taking a more active role in helping the victims.

See also:

02 Jan 02 | Asia-Pacific
Sex scandal threat to Queen's visit
21 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
Howard speaks out over sex scandal
20 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
Sex scandal dogs Governor-General
29 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
Australian governor-general sworn in
03 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Timeline: Australia
03 May 01 | Country profiles
Country Profile: Australia
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