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Queen Elizabeth in Australia, Where Child Sex Scandal Rages - 2002-02-27

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II has arrived in Australia for an official visit to celebrate her golden jubilee and has flown straight into a dispute over the country's governor-general. Peter Hollingworth is the queen's representative in Australia, which maintains close constitutional ties to the British monarchy.

Under constitutional arrangements dating back to Britain's colonization of Australia more than 200 years ago, Britain's queen is also Australia's head of state. But her visit is already overshadowed by a storm surrounding the governor-general, her official representative in Australia.

Peter Hollingworth is accused of covering up allegations of child sex abuse during his 11-year tenure as the Anglican archbishop of Brisbane. Critics say he discouraged children from reporting to police about abuse suffered at the hands of priests. Others accuse Mr. Hollingworth of having appointed a clergyman suspected of molesting youngsters to a committee investigating allegations of sexual assault within the church.

The debate has raged here in Australia for more than two weeks. The governor-general has denied any wrongdoing and has refused to resign.

Opinion polls suggest that public support for him has crumbled. He has the support, however, of Australia's pro-monarchy Prime Minister John Howard, who thinks the royal tour will not be disrupted by questions over the governor-general. "This suggestion that unimaginable embarrassment is being created for the Queen in relation to this issue is to say the least a complete beat-up," Mr. Howard said.

The Queen arrived in Adelaide from New Zealand. She was met by the governor-general and given a ceremonial welcome by aboriginal dancers. A large crowd turned out to see her.

She will visit the city of Cairns in the northern state of Queensland before heading to Brisbane later this week to attend a meeting of leaders of Britain's former colonies.