Governor-General of Australia
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The governor-general of Australia is the representative of the
monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New College DictionarMonarch Houghton Mifflin. Boston. 2001. p. 707. Life tenure, for life or until abdication, and therefore the head of state of a monarchy. A monarch may exercise the highest authority ...
, currently King
Charles III Charles III (Charles Philip Arthur George; born 14 November 1948) is King of the United Kingdom and the 14 other Commonwealth realms. He was the longest-serving heir apparent and Prince of Wales and, at age 73, became the oldest person to a ...
, in
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. With an area of , Australia is the largest country by ...
.Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australiaofficial website
Retrieved 1 January 2015.
The governor-general is appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of government ministers. The governor-general has formal presidency over the Federal Executive Council and is commander-in-chief of the
Australian Defence Force The Australian Defence Force (ADF) is the Armed forces, military organisation responsible for the defence of the Australia, Commonwealth of Australia and its national interests. It consists of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), Australian Army, ...
. The functions of the governor-general include appointing ministers, judges, and ambassadors; giving
royal assent Royal assent is the method by which a monarch formally approves an act of the legislature, either directly or through an official acting on the monarch's behalf. In some jurisdictions, royal assent is equivalent to promulgation, while in other ...
to
legislation Legislation is the process or result of enrolling, enacting, or promulgating laws by a legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereign st ...
passed by
parliament In modern politics, and history, a parliament is a legislative body of government. Generally, a modern parliament has three functions: Representation (politics), representing the Election#Suffrage, electorate, making laws, and overseeing ...
; issuing
writs for election A writ of election is a writ issued ordering the holding of an election. In Commonwealth countries writs are the usual mechanism by which general elections are called and are issued by the head of state or their representative. In the United S ...
; and bestowing Australian honours. In general, the governor-general observes the conventions of the Westminster system and
responsible government Responsible government is a conception of a system of government that embodies the principle of parliamentary accountability, the foundation of the Westminster system of parliamentary democracy. Governments (the equivalent of the Executive (gove ...
, maintaining a political neutrality, and acts only on the advice of the prime minister or other ministers or, in certain cases, parliament. The governor-general also has a ceremonial role: hosting events at either of the two official residences Government House in the capital,
Canberra Canberra ( ) is the capital city of Australia. Founded following the Federation of Australia, federation of the colonies of Australia as the seat of government for the new nation, it is Australia's largest inland city and the List of citi ...
, and Admiralty House in
Sydney Sydney ( ) is the capital city of the States and territories of Australia, state of New South Wales, and the most populous city in both Australia and List of cities in Oceania by population, Oceania. Located on Australia's east coast, the metro ...
and travelling throughout Australia to open conferences, attend services and commemorations, and generally provide encouragement to individuals and groups who are contributing to their communities. When travelling abroad, the governor-general is seen as the representative of Australia and its king. The governor-general is supported by a staff (of 80 in 2018) headed by the official secretary to the governor-general of Australia. A governor-general is not appointed for a specific term, but is generally expected to serve for five years subject to a possible short extension. Since 1 July 2019, the governor-general has been General
David Hurley General (Australia), General David John Hurley, (born 26 August 1953) is an Australian former senior officer in the Australian Army who has served as the 27th governor-general of Australia since 1 July 2019. He was previously the 38th governo ...
. From Federation in 1901 until 1965, 11 out of the 15 governors-general were British aristocrats; they included six
baron Baron is a rank of nobility Nobility is a social class found in many societies that have an aristocracy (class), aristocracy. It is normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty. Nobility has often been an Estates of the rea ...
s, two
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s, two
earl Earl () is a rank of the nobility in the United Kingdom. The title originates in the Old English word ''eorl'', meaning "a man of noble birth or rank". The word is cognate with the Old Norse, Scandinavian form ''jarl'', and meant "Germanic ch ...
s, and one
royal duke Duke is a male title either of a monarch ruling over a duchy, or of a member of Royal family, royalty, or nobility. As rulers, dukes are ranked below emperors, kings, grand princes, grand dukes, and sovereign princes. As royalty or nobility, t ...
. Since then, all but one of the governors-general have been Australian-born; the exception, Sir
Ninian Stephen Sir Ninian Martin Stephen (15 June 1923 – 29 October 2017) was an Australian judge who served as the 20th governor-general of Australia, in office from 1982 to 1989. He was previously a justice of the High Court of Australia The High C ...
, arrived in Australia as a teenager. Only one governor-general, Dame
Quentin Bryce Dame Quentin Alice Louise Bryce, (née Strachan; born 23 December 1942) is an Australian academic who served as the 25th governor-general of Australia from 2008 to 2014. She is the List of elected and appointed female heads of state, first woma ...
(2008–2014), has been a woman.


Appointment

The governor-general is formally appointed by the monarch of Australia, in terms of
letters patent Letters patent ( la, litterae patentes) (plurale tantum, always in the plural) are a type of legal instrument in the form of a published written order issued by a monarch, President (government title), president or other head of state, genera ...
issued by the monarch at some time during their reign and counter-signed by the then
prime minister A prime minister, premier or chief of cabinet is the head of the Cabinet (government), cabinet and the leader of the Minister (government), ministers in the Executive (government), executive branch of government, often in a parliamentary syst ...
. When a new governor-general is to be appointed, the current prime minister recommends a name to the monarch, who by convention accepts that recommendation. The monarch then permits the recommendation to be publicly announced, usually several months before the end of the existing governor-general's term. During these months, the person recommended is referred to as the ''governor-general-designate''. After receiving their commission, the new governor-general takes an
Oath of Allegiance An oath of allegiance is an oath whereby a nationality, subject or citizen acknowledges a duty of allegiance and swears loyalty to a monarch or a country. In modern republics, oaths are sworn to the country in general, or to the country's consti ...
to the monarch and an
Oath of Office An oath of office is an oath Traditionally an oath (from Anglo-Saxon ', also called plight) is either a statement of fact or a promise taken by a sacrality as a sign of verity. A common legal substitute for those who conscientiously obje ...
. These oaths are administered by the
chief justice of Australia The Chief Justice of Australia is the presiding Justice of the High Court of Australia and the highest-ranking judicial officer in the Commonwealth of Australia. The incumbent is Susan Kiefel, who is the List of the first women appointed to Au ...
or another senior judge. Traditionally, the ceremony takes place in the
Senate A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house An upper house is one of two Debate chamber, chambers of a bicameralism, bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the lower house.''Bicameralism'' (1997) by George Tseb ...
chamber.


Tenure

The
constitution A constitution is the aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the legal basis of a polity A polity is an identifiable Politics, political entity – a group of people with a collective identity, who ...
does not set a term of office, so a governor-general may continue to hold office for any agreed length of time. In recent decades the typical term of office has been five years. Some early governors-general were appointed to terms of just one year (
Lord Tennyson Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson (6 August 1809 – 6 October 1892) was an English poet. He was the Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom, Poet Laureate during much of Queen Victoria's reign. In 1829, Tennyson was awarded the Chancellor's Go ...
) or two years ( Lord Forster; later extended). At the end of this initial term, a commission may be extended for a short time, usually to avoid conflict with an election or during political difficulties. Three governors-general have resigned their commission. The first governor-general, Lord Hopetoun, asked to be recalled to Britain in 1903 over a dispute about funding for the post. Sir John Kerr resigned in 1977, with his official reason being his decision to accept the position of Australian Ambassador to
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a List of specialized agencies of the United Nations, specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) aimed at promoting world peace and security through international coope ...
in Paris, a post which ultimately he did not take up, but the resignation also being motivated by the 1975 constitutional controversy. In 2003, Archbishop
Peter Hollingworth Peter John Hollingworth (born 10 April 1935) is an Australian retired Anglican Anglicanism is a Western Christian tradition that has developed from the practices, liturgy, and identity of the Church of England The Church of E ...
voluntarily stood aside while controversial allegations against him were managed, and the
letters patent Letters patent ( la, litterae patentes) (plurale tantum, always in the plural) are a type of legal instrument in the form of a published written order issued by a monarch, President (government title), president or other head of state, genera ...
of the office were amended to take account of this circumstance. He later "stepped down over the church's handling" of "allegations" of sexual abuse of boys, for which he apologised before the
Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was a royal commission announced in November 2012 and established in 2013 by the Government of Australia, Australian government pursuant to the Royal Commissions Act 1902 t ...
in 2016. In 1961, Lord Dunrossil became the first and, to date, only governor-general to die while holding office. A vacancy occurs on the resignation, death, or incapacity of the governor-general. A temporary vacancy occurs when the governor-general is overseas on official business representing Australia. A temporary vacancy also occurred in 2003 when Peter Hollingworth stood aside. Section 4 of the constitution allows the Monarch to appoint an administrator to carry out the role of governor-general when there is a vacancy. By convention, the longest-serving state governor holds a
dormant commission A dormant commission is a commission in a Commonwealth realm A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state in the Commonwealth of Nations whose monarch and head of state is shared among the other realms. Each realm functions as an independent ...
, allowing an assumption of office to commence whenever a vacancy occurs. In 1975, Labor Prime Minister
Gough Whitlam Edward Gough Whitlam (11 July 191621 October 2014) was the 21st prime minister of Australia, serving from 1972 to 1975. The longest-serving federal leader of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) from 1967 to 1977, he was notable for being the he ...
advised the Queen that Sir Colin Hannah, then
Governor of Queensland The governor of Queensland is the representative in the state of Queensland of the monarch of Australia. In an analogous way to the governor-general of Australia at the national level, the governor Governors of the Australian states, performs c ...
, should have his dormant commission revoked for having made public political statements.


Dismissal

A governor-general may be recalled or dismissed by the monarch before their term is complete. By convention, this may only be upon advice from the prime minister, who retains responsibility for selecting an immediate replacement or letting the vacancy provisions take effect. The constitutional crisis of 1975 raised the possibility of the prime minister and the governor-general attempting to dismiss each other at the same time. According to
William McMahon Sir William McMahon (23 February 190831 March 1988) was an Australian politician who served as the 20th Prime Minister of Australia The prime minister of Australia is the head of government of the Commonwealth of Australia. The prime m ...
,
Harold Holt Harold Edward Holt (5 August 190817 December 1967) was an Australian politician who served as the 17th prime minister of Australia from 1966 until his Disappearance of Harold Holt, presumed death in 1967. He held office as leader of the Liber ...
considered having Lord Casey dismissed from the governor-generalship, and went as far as to have the necessary documents drawn up. Casey had twice called McMahon into Yarralumla to give him a "dressing down" over his poor relationship with Deputy Prime Minister
John McEwen Sir John McEwen, (29 March 1900 – 20 November 1980) was an Australian politician who served as the 18th prime minister of Australia The prime minister of Australia is the head of government of the Commonwealth of Australia. The prime ...
, which he believed was affecting the government. Holt believed that this was an improper use of his authority, but no further action was taken.


Functions


Constitutional role

The
Constitution of Australia The Constitution of Australia (or Australian Constitution) is a written constitution, constitutional document that is Constitution, supreme law in Australia. It establishes Australia as a Federation of Australia, federation under a constitutio ...
, section 2, provides:
A Governor-General appointed by the Queen shall be Her Majesty's representative in the Commonwealth, and shall have and may exercise in the Commonwealth during the Queen's pleasure, but subject to this Constitution, such powers and functions of the Queen as Her Majesty may be pleased to assign to him.
Such further powers are currently set out in
letters patent Letters patent ( la, litterae patentes) (plurale tantum, always in the plural) are a type of legal instrument in the form of a published written order issued by a monarch, President (government title), president or other head of state, genera ...
of 2008 from Queen Elizabeth II; these contain no substantive powers, but provide for the case of a governor-general's absence or incapacity. The constitution also provides that the governor-general is the monarch's "representative" in exercising the executive power of the Commonwealth (section 61) and as commander-in-chief of the armed forces (section 68). Australian Solicitor-General Maurice Byers stated in 1974: "The constitutional prescription is that executive power is exercisable by the governor-general although vested in the Queen. What is exercisable is original executive power: that is, the very thing vested in the Queen by section 61. And it is exercisable by the Queen's representative, not her delegate or agent." The 1988 Constitutional Commission report explained: "the governor-general is in no sense a delegate of the Queen. The independence of the office is highlighted by changes which have been made in recent years to the Royal Instruments relating to it." The changes occurred in 1984 when Queen Victoria's letters patent and instructions were revoked and replaced with new letters patent, on Prime Minister
Bob Hawke Robert James Lee Hawke (9 December 1929 – 16 May 2019) was an Australian politician and union organiser who served as the 23rd prime minister of Australia from 1983 to 1991, holding office as the leader of the Australian Labor Party (AL ...
's advice, who stated that this would clarify the governor-general's position under the constitution. This remains the case even when the sovereign is in the country: Solicitor-General Kenneth Bailey, prior to the first tour of Australia by its reigning monarch in 1954, explained the position by saying:
the Constitution expressly vests in the Governor-General the power or duty to perform a number of the Crown's functions in the Legislature and the Executive Government of the Commonwealth... The executive power of the Commonwealth, by section 61 of the Constitution, is declared to be vested in the Queen. It is also, in the same section, declared to be "exercisable" by the Governor-General as the Queen's representative. In the face of this provision, I feel it is difficult to contend that the Queen, even though present in Australia, may exercise in person functions of executive government which are specifically assigned by the constitution to the Governor-General."
As early as 1901, the authoritative commentary by Quick and Garran had noted that the governor-general of Australia was distinguished from other Empire governors-general by the fact that " e principal and most important of his powers and functions, legislative as well as executive, are expressly conferred on him by the terms of the Constitution itself ... not by Royal authority, but by statutory authority". This view was also held by Senior Judge of the
Supreme Court of Tasmania The Supreme Court of Tasmania is the highest State court in the Australian States and territories of Australia, State of Tasmania. In the Australian court hierarchy, the Supreme Court of Tasmania is in the middle level, with both an appellate j ...
Andrew Inglis Clark Andrew Inglis Clark (24 February 1848 – 14 November 1907) was an Australian founding father and co-author of the Australian Constitution; he was also an engineer, barrister, politician, electoral reformer and jurist. He initially qualified as a ...
, who, with W. Harrison Moore (a contributor to the first draft of the constitution put before the 1897 Adelaide Convention and professor of law at the
University of Melbourne The University of Melbourne is a public university, public research university located in Melbourne, Australia. Founded in 1853, it is Australia's second oldest university and the oldest in Victoria (Australia), Victoria. Its Parkville Campus ...
), postulated that the
letters patent Letters patent ( la, litterae patentes) (plurale tantum, always in the plural) are a type of legal instrument in the form of a published written order issued by a monarch, President (government title), president or other head of state, genera ...
and the royal instructions issued by Queen Victoria were unnecessary "or even of doubtful legality". The monarch chose not to intervene during the
1975 Australian constitutional crisis The 1975 Australian constitutional crisis, also known simply as the Dismissal, culminated on 11 November 1975 with the dismissal from office of the Prime Minister of Australia, prime minister, Gough Whitlam of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) ...
, in which Governor-General Sir John Kerr dismissed the Labor government of
Gough Whitlam Edward Gough Whitlam (11 July 191621 October 2014) was the 21st prime minister of Australia, serving from 1972 to 1975. The longest-serving federal leader of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) from 1967 to 1977, he was notable for being the he ...
, on the basis that such a decision is a matter "clearly placed within the jurisdiction of the Governor-General". Through her private secretary, she wrote that she "has no part in the decisions which the Governor-General must take in accordance with the Constitution". In an address to the Sydney Institute, January 2007, in connection with that event, Sir David Smith, a retired official secretary to the governor-general of Australia who had been Kerr's official secretary in 1975, described the constitution as conferring the powers and functions of Australia's head of state on the governor-general in "his own right". He stated that the governor-general was more than a representative of the sovereign, explaining: "under section 2 of the Constitution the Governor-General is the Queen's representative and exercises certain royal prerogative powers and functions; under section 61 of the Constitution the Governor-General is the holder of a quite separate and independent office created, not by the Crown, but by the Constitution, and empowered to exercise, in his own right as Governor-General... all the powers and functions of Australia's head of state."


Role in the Australian Parliament

The constitution describes the parliament of the commonwealth as consisting of the Monarch, the
Senate A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house An upper house is one of two Debate chamber, chambers of a bicameralism, bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the lower house.''Bicameralism'' (1997) by George Tseb ...
and the
House of Representatives House of Representatives is the name of legislative bodies in many countries and sub-national entitles. In many countries, the House of Representatives is the lower house of a bicameral Bicameralism is a type of legislature, one divided ...
. Section 5 states that "the Governor-General may appoint such times for holding the sessions of the Parliament .. prorogue the Parliament nddissolve the House of Representatives." These provisions make it clear that the Monarch's role in the parliament is in name only and the actual responsibility belongs to the governor-general. Such decisions are usually taken on the advice of the prime minister, although that is not stated in the constitution. The governor-general has a ceremonial role in swearing in and accepting the resignations of members of Parliament. They appoint a deputy, to whom members make an
oath of allegiance An oath of allegiance is an oath whereby a nationality, subject or citizen acknowledges a duty of allegiance and swears loyalty to a monarch or a country. In modern republics, oaths are sworn to the country in general, or to the country's consti ...
before they take their seats. On the day parliament opens, the governor-general makes a speech, entirely written by the government, explaining the government's proposed legislative program. The most important power is found in section 58: "When a proposed law passed by both Houses of Parliament is presented to the Governor-General for the Queen's assent, he shall declare ... that he assents in the Queen's name." The
royal assent Royal assent is the method by which a monarch formally approves an act of the legislature, either directly or through an official acting on the monarch's behalf. In some jurisdictions, royal assent is equivalent to promulgation, while in other ...
brings such laws into effect, as legislation, from the date of signing. Sections 58 to 60 allow the governor-general to withhold assent, suggest changes, refer to the Monarch or proclaim that the Monarch has annulled the legislation. A number of governors-general have reserved royal assent for particular legislation for the Monarch. Such assent has usually been given during a scheduled visit to Australia by Queen Elizabeth II. On other occasions royal assent has been given elsewhere. Examples of this have been the Flags Act (1953), the Royal Styles and Titles Acts (1953 and 1973), and the Australia Act (1986).


Role in executive government

At the start of Chapter 2 on executive government, the constitution says "The executive power of the Commonwealth is vested in the Queen and is exercisable by the Governor-General as the Queen's representative". The governor-general presides over a Federal Executive Council. By convention, the prime minister is appointed to this council and advises as to which parliamentarians shall become ministers and parliamentary secretaries. In the constitution, the words "Governor-General-in-council" mean the governor-general acting with the advice of the Council. Powers exercised in council, which are not reserve powers, include: * establishing government departments * appointing federal judges, and * appointing ambassadors and high commissioners All such actions are taken on the advice of ministers.


Reserve powers

In the United Kingdom, the reserve powers of the monarch (which are typically referred to as the "
royal prerogative The royal prerogative is a body of customary authority, privilege and immunity, recognized in common law and, sometimes, in Civil law (legal system), civil law jurisdictions possessing a monarchy, as belonging to the monarch, sovereign and whic ...
") are not explicitly stated in constitutional enactments, and are the province of convention and common law. In Australia, however, the powers are explicitly given to the governor-general in the constitution; it is their use that is the subject of convention. The reserve powers are, according to the Constitution of Australia: * The power to dissolve (or refuse to dissolve) the House of Representatives (section 5) * The power to dissolve Parliament on the occasion of a deadlock (section 57) * The power to withhold assent to bills (section 58) * The power to appoint (or dismiss) ministers (section 64) Those powers are generally and routinely exercised on ministerial advice, but the governor-general retains the ability to act independently in certain circumstances, as governed by convention. It is generally held that the governor-general may use powers without ministerial advice in the following situations: * if an election results in a parliament in which no party has a majority, the governor-general may select the prime minister * if a prime minister loses the support of the House of Representatives, the governor-general may appoint a new prime minister * if a prime minister advises a dissolution of the House of Representatives, the governor-general may refuse that request, or request further reasons why it should be granted; it is worth noting that convention does not give the governor-general the ability to dissolve either the House of Representatives or the Senate without advice The use of the reserve powers may arise in the following circumstances: * if a prime minister advises a dissolution of Parliament on the occasion of a deadlock between the Houses, the governor-general may refuse that request * if the governor-general is not satisfied with a legislative bill as presented, they may refuse royal assent * if a prime minister resigns after losing a vote of confidence, the governor-general may select a new replacement contrary to the advice of the outgoing prime minister * if a prime minister is unable to obtain supply and refuses to resign or advise a dissolution, the governor-general may dismiss him or her and appoint a new prime minister The above is not an exhaustive list, and new situations may arise. The most notable use of the reserve powers occurred in November 1975, in the course of the
1975 Australian constitutional crisis The 1975 Australian constitutional crisis, also known simply as the Dismissal, culminated on 11 November 1975 with the dismissal from office of the Prime Minister of Australia, prime minister, Gough Whitlam of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) ...
. On this occasion the governor-general, Sir John Kerr, dismissed the government of
Gough Whitlam Edward Gough Whitlam (11 July 191621 October 2014) was the 21st prime minister of Australia, serving from 1972 to 1975. The longest-serving federal leader of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) from 1967 to 1977, he was notable for being the he ...
when the
Senate A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house An upper house is one of two Debate chamber, chambers of a bicameralism, bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the lower house.''Bicameralism'' (1997) by George Tseb ...
withheld Supply to the government, even though Whitlam retained the confidence of the
House of Representatives House of Representatives is the name of legislative bodies in many countries and sub-national entitles. In many countries, the House of Representatives is the lower house of a bicameral Bicameralism is a type of legislature, one divided ...
. Kerr determined that he had both the right and the duty to dismiss the government and commission a new government that would recommend a dissolution of the Parliament. Events surrounding the dismissal remain extremely controversial.


Biosecurity emergencies

On 18 March 2020, a human biosecurity emergency was declared in Australia owing to the risks to human health posed by the
COVID-19 pandemic in Australia The COVID-19 pandemic in Australia is part of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, worldwide pandemic of the coronavirus disease 2019 () caused by SARS-CoV-2, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (). The first confirmed case in Australia ...
, after the National Security Committee met the previous day. The ''
Biosecurity Act 2015 The ''Biosecurity Act 2015'' is an Act of the Parliament of Australia The Parliament of Australia (officially the Federal Parliament, also called the Commonwealth Parliament) is the legislature, legislative branch of the government ...
'' specifies that the governor-general may declare such an emergency exists if the health minister (
Greg Hunt Gregory Andrew Hunt (born 18 November 1965) is a former Australian politician who was the Minister for Health (Australia), Minister for Health between January 2017 and May 2022. He was a Liberal Party of Australia, Liberal Party member of the A ...
at the time) is satisfied that "a listed human disease is posing a severe and immediate threat, or is causing harm, to human health on a nationally significant scale". This gives the minister sweeping powers, including imposing restrictions or preventing the movement of people and goods between specified places, and evacuations. The ''Biosecurity (Human Biosecurity Emergency) (Human Coronavirus with Pandemic Potential) Declaration 2020'' was declared by Governor-General
David Hurley General (Australia), General David John Hurley, (born 26 August 1953) is an Australian former senior officer in the Australian Army who has served as the 27th governor-general of Australia since 1 July 2019. He was previously the 38th governo ...
under Section 475 of the Act.


Ceremonial role

In addition to the formal constitutional role, the governor-general has a representative and ceremonial role, though the extent and nature of that role has depended on the expectations of the time, the individual in office at the time, the wishes of the incumbent government, and the individual's reputation in the wider community. Governors-general generally become patrons of various charitable institutions, present honours and awards, host functions for various groups of people including ambassadors to and from other countries, and travel widely throughout Australia. Sir William Deane (governor-general 1996–2001) described one of his functions as being "Chief Mourner" at prominent funerals. In ''Commentaries on the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia'', Garran noted that, since the Australian executive is national in nature (being dependent on the nationally elected House of Representatives, rather than the Senate), "the Governor-General, as the official head of the Executive, does not in the smallest degree represent any federal element; if he represents anything he is the image and embodiment of national unity and the outward and visible representation of the Imperial relationship of the Commonwealth". That role can become controversial, however, if the governor-general becomes unpopular with sections of the community. The public role adopted by Sir John Kerr was curtailed considerably after the constitutional crisis of 1975; Sir William Deane's public statements on political issues produced some hostility towards him; and some charities disassociated themselves from
Peter Hollingworth Peter John Hollingworth (born 10 April 1935) is an Australian retired Anglican Anglicanism is a Western Christian tradition that has developed from the practices, liturgy, and identity of the Church of England The Church of E ...
after the issue of his management of sex abuse cases during his time as Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane became a matter of controversy.


Diplomatic role

The governor-general makes
state visit A state visit is a formal visit by a head of state to a foreign country, at the invitation of the head of state of that foreign country, with the latter also acting as the Hospitality, official host for the duration of the state visit. Speaking ...
s overseas on behalf of Australia, during which an
administrator of the government An administrator (administrator of the government or officer administering the government) in the constitutional practice of some countries in the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth is a person who fulfils a role similar to that of a governo ...
is appointed. The right of governors-general to make state visits was confirmed at the
1926 Imperial Conference The 1926 Imperial Conference was the fifth Imperial Conference bringing together the prime ministers of the Dominions of the British Empire. It was held in London from 19 October to 22 November 1926. The conference was notable for producing the ...
, as it was deemed not feasible for the sovereign to pay state visits on behalf of countries other than the United Kingdom. However, an Australian governor-general did not exercise that right until 1971, when
Paul Hasluck Sir Paul Meernaa Caedwalla Hasluck, (1 April 1905 – 9 January 1993) was an Australian statesman who served as the 17th Governor-General of Australia, in office from 1969 to 1974. Prior to that, he was a Liberal Party politician, holding mi ...
visited New Zealand. Hasluck's successor John Kerr made state visits to eight countries, but Kerr's successor
Zelman Cowen Sir Zelman Cowen, (7 October 1919 – 8 December 2011) was an Australian legal scholar and university administrator who served as the 19th Governor-General of Australia, in office from 1977 to 1982. Cowen was born in Melbourne Melbourne ...
made only a single state visit – to Papua New Guinea – as he wished to concentrate on travelling within Australia. All subsequent governors-general have travelled widely while in office and made multiple state visits. Occasionally governors-general have made extended tours visiting multiple countries, notably in 2009 when
Quentin Bryce Dame Quentin Alice Louise Bryce, (née Strachan; born 23 December 1942) is an Australian academic who served as the 25th governor-general of Australia from 2008 to 2014. She is the List of elected and appointed female heads of state, first woma ...
visited nine African countries in 19 days.


Military role

Under section 68 of the constitution, "the command in chief of the naval and military forces of the Commonwealth is vested in the Governor‑General". In practice, the associated powers over the
Australian Defence Force The Australian Defence Force (ADF) is the Armed forces, military organisation responsible for the defence of the Australia, Commonwealth of Australia and its national interests. It consists of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), Australian Army, ...
are only exercised on the advice of the prime minister or minister for defence, on behalf of cabinet. The actual powers of the governor-general as commander-in-chief are not defined in the constitution, but rather in the ''Defence Act 1903'' and other legislation. They include appointing the chief of the Defence Force and authorising the deployment of troops. There is some ambiguity with regard to the role of the governor-general in declarations of war. In 1941 and 1942, the Curtin Government advised the governor-general to declare war on several
Axis powers The Axis powers, ; it, Potenze dell'Asse ; ja, 枢軸国 ''Sūjikukoku'', group=nb originally called the Rome–Berlin Axis, was a military coalition that initiated World War II and fought against the Allies of World War II, Allies. Its p ...
, but then had
King George VI George VI (Albert Frederick Arthur George; 14 December 1895 – 6 February 1952) was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth from 11 December 1936 until Death and state funeral of George VI, his death in 1952. ...
make identical proclamations on Australia's behalf. No formal declarations of war have been made since World War II, although in 1973 the Whitlam Government advised the governor-general to proclaim the end of Australia's involvement in Vietnam, despite the lack of an initiating proclamation. The powers of command-in-chief are vested in the governor-general rather than the "Governor-General in Council", meaning there is an element of personal discretion in their exercise. For instance, in 1970 Governor-General
Paul Hasluck Sir Paul Meernaa Caedwalla Hasluck, (1 April 1905 – 9 January 1993) was an Australian statesman who served as the 17th Governor-General of Australia, in office from 1969 to 1974. Prior to that, he was a Liberal Party politician, holding mi ...
refused Prime Minister
John Gorton Sir John Grey Gorton (9 September 1911 – 19 May 2002) was an Australian politician who served as the List of Prime Ministers of Australia, nineteenth Prime Minister of Australia, in office from 1968 to 1971. He led the Liberal Party of Austr ...
's request to authorise a
Pacific Islands Regiment The Royal Pacific Islands Regiment (RPIR) is an infantry Infantry is a military specialization which engages in ground combat on foot. Infantry generally consists of light infantry, mountain infantry, motorized infantry & mechanized in ...
peacekeeping mission in the
Territory of Papua and New Guinea The Territory of Papua and New Guinea, officially the Administrative Union of the Territory of Papua and the Territory of New Guinea, was established by an administrative union between the Australian-administered territories of Papua and New G ...
, on the grounds that cabinet had not been consulted. Gorton agreed to put the matter to his ministers, and a cabinet meeting agreed that troops should only be called out if requested by the territory's administrator; this did not occur. Defence Minister
Malcolm Fraser John Malcolm Fraser (; 21 May 1930 – 20 March 2015) was an Australian politician who served as the 22nd prime minister of Australia from 1975 to 1983, holding office as the leader of the Liberal Party of Australia. Fraser was raised on hi ...
, who opposed the call out, was responsible for informing Hasluck of the prime minister's lack of consultation. The incident contributed to Fraser's resignation from cabinet in 1971 and Gorton's subsequent loss of the prime ministership.


Community role

The governor-general is generally invited to become patron of various charitable and service organisations. Historically the governor-general has also served as Chief Scout of Australia. The chief scout is nominated by the Scouting Association's National Executive Committee and is invited by the president of the Scout Association to accept the appointment.
Bill Hayden William George Hayden (born 23 January 1933) is an Australian politician who served as the 21st governor-general of Australia from 1989 to 1996. He was Leader of the Labor Party and Leader of the Opposition from 1977 to 1983, and served a ...
declined the office on the grounds of his
atheism Atheism, in the broadest sense, is an absence of belief in the existence of Deity, deities. Less broadly, atheism is a rejection of the belief that any deities exist. In an even narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that ther ...
, which was incompatible with the Scout Promise. He did however serve as the association's patron during his term of office.


Salary and privileges


Residence

By convention, the governor-general and any family occupy an official residence in Canberra, Government House (commonly referred to as Yarralumla).


Salary

The salary of the governor-general was initially set by the constitution, which fixed an annual amount of 10,000 until the parliament decided otherwise. The constitution also provides that the salary of the governor-general cannot be "altered" during his or her term of office. Under the ''Governor-General Act 1974'', each new commission has resulted in a pay increase. Today, the law ensures the salary is higher than that for the Chief Justice of the High Court, over a five-year period. The annual salary during Michael Jeffery's term was $365,000. Quentin Bryce's salary was $394,000. The current salary is $425,000 and there is a generous pension. Until 2001, Governors-General did not pay income tax on their salary; this was changed after Elizabeth II agreed to pay tax.


Symbols

The official cars of the governor-general fly the Flag of the Governor-General of Australia and display St. Edward's Crown instead of number plates. A similar arrangement is used for the governors of the six states. When the late Queen Elizabeth II was in Australia, the Queen's Personal Australian Flag was flown on the car in which she was travelling.


Transport

The governor-general travels in a
Rolls-Royce Phantom VI The Rolls-Royce Phantom VI is a British limousine made from 1968 to 1990 by Rolls-Royce Rolls-Royce (always hyphenated) may refer to: * Rolls-Royce Limited, a British manufacturer of cars and later aero engines, founded in 1906, now defunct ...
limousine for ceremonial occasions, such as the
State Opening of Parliament The State Opening of Parliament is a ceremonial event which formally marks the beginning of a Legislative session, session of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It includes a speech from the throne known as the King's (or Queen's) Speech. T ...
. However, for official business, the current choice of car is an armoured
BMW 7 Series The BMW 7 Series is a full-size luxury car, luxury sedan manufactured and marketed by the German automaker BMW since 1977. It is the successor to the BMW E3 "New Six" sedan and is now in its seventh generation. The 7 Series is BMW's flagship car ...
. During Elizabeth II's 2011 visit to Australia, she and the
Duke of Edinburgh Duke of Edinburgh, named after the city of Edinburgh in Scotland, was a substantive title that has been created three times since 1726 for members of the British royal family. It does not include any territorial landholdings and does not produc ...
were driven in a
Range Rover Range may refer to: Geography * Range (geographic), a chain of hills or mountains; a somewhat linear, complex mountainous or hilly area (cordillera, sierra) ** Mountain range, a group of mountains bordered by lowlands * Range, a term used to i ...
Vogue.


Official dress

At one time, governors-general wore the traditional
court uniform Court uniform and dress were required to be worn by those in attendance at the royal court in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Specifically, ''court uniform'' was worn by those holding particular offices associated with the government, the C ...
, consisting of a dark navy wool double-breasted coatee with silver oak leaf and fern embroidery on the collar and cuffs trimmed with silver buttons embossed with the Royal Arms and with bullion edged epaulettes on the shoulders, dark navy trousers with a wide band of silver oak-leaf braid down the outside seam, silver sword belt with ceremonial sword, bicorne cocked hat with plume of ostrich feathers, black patent leather Wellington boots with spurs, etc., that is worn on ceremonial occasions. There is also a tropical version made of white tropical wool cut in a typical military fashion worn with a plumed helmet. However, that custom fell into disuse during the tenure of Sir
Paul Hasluck Sir Paul Meernaa Caedwalla Hasluck, (1 April 1905 – 9 January 1993) was an Australian statesman who served as the 17th Governor-General of Australia, in office from 1969 to 1974. Prior to that, he was a Liberal Party politician, holding mi ...
. The governor-general now wears an ordinary lounge suit if a man or day dress if a woman.


Titles and honours

Governors-general have during their tenure the style ''His/Her
Excellency Excellency is an honorific style (manner of address), style given to certain high-level officers of a sovereign state, officials of an international organization, or members of an aristocracy. Once entitled to the title "Excellency", the holder ...
the Honourable ''The Honourable'' (British English) or ''The Honorable'' (American English; American and British English spelling differences#-our, -or, see spelling differences) (abbreviation: ''Hon.'', ''Hon'ble'', or variations) is an honorific Style (ma ...
'' and their spouses have the style ''His/Her Excellency''. Since May 2013, the style used by a former governor-general is ''the Honourable''; it was at the same time retrospectively granted for life to all previous holders of the office.The title 'the Honourable' for Governors-General
, ''Australian Government Special Gazette'' S No. 54 of 2013.
From the creation of the
Order of Australia The Order of Australia is an Order (distinction), honour that recognises Australian citizens and other persons for outstanding achievement and service. It was established on 14 February 1975 by Elizabeth II, Monarchy of Australia, Queen of Aus ...
in 1975, the governor-general was, ''
ex officio An ''ex officio'' member is a member of a body (notably a board, committee, council) who is part of it by virtue of holding another office. The term '' ex officio'' is Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic la ...
'', Chancellor and Principal Companion of the order, and therefore became entitled to the post-nominal AC. In 1976, the
letters patent Letters patent ( la, litterae patentes) (plurale tantum, always in the plural) are a type of legal instrument in the form of a published written order issued by a monarch, President (government title), president or other head of state, genera ...
for the order were amended to introduce the rank of Knight and Dame to the order, and from that time the governor-general became, ex officio, the Chancellor and Principal Knight of the order. In 1986 the letters patent were amended again, and governors-general appointed from that time were again, ex officio, entitled to the post-nominal AC (although if they already held a knighthood in the order that superior rank was retained). Until 1989, all governors-general were members of the
Privy Council of the United Kingdom The Privy Council (PC), officially His Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, is a formal body of advisers to the sovereign of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the Uni ...
and thus held the additional style ''
The Right Honourable ''The Right Honourable'' (abbreviation: ''Rt Hon.'' or variations) is an honorific Style (form of address), style traditionally applied to certain persons and collective bodies in the United Kingdom, the former British Empire and the Commonwealth ...
'' for life. The same individuals were also usually either peers, knights, or both (the only Australian peer to be appointed as governor-general was the Lord Casey; and Sir William McKell was knighted only in 1951, some years into his term, but he was entitled to the style "The Honourable" during his tenure as premier of New South Wales, an office he held until almost immediately before his appointment). In 1989,
Bill Hayden William George Hayden (born 23 January 1933) is an Australian politician who served as the 21st governor-general of Australia from 1989 to 1996. He was Leader of the Labor Party and Leader of the Opposition from 1977 to 1983, and served a ...
, a republican, declined appointment to the British Privy Council and any imperial honours. From that time until 2014, governors-general did not receive automatic titles or honours, other than the post-nominal AC by virtue of being Chancellor and Principal Companion of the Order of Australia. Dame
Quentin Bryce Dame Quentin Alice Louise Bryce, (née Strachan; born 23 December 1942) is an Australian academic who served as the 25th governor-general of Australia from 2008 to 2014. She is the List of elected and appointed female heads of state, first woma ...
was the first governor-general to have had no prior title or pre-nominal style. She was in office when, on 19 March 2014, Elizabeth II, acting on the advice of Prime Minister
Tony Abbott Anthony John Abbott (; born 4 November 1957) is a former Australian politician who served as the 28th prime minister of Australia from 2013 to 2015. He held office as the leader of the Liberal Party of Australia. Abbott was born in Londo ...
, amended the letters patent of the Order of Australia to provide, inter alia, that the governor-general would be, ex officio, Principal Knight or Principal Dame of the order. Until 2015, the honour continued after the retirement from office of the governor-general. Formerly, all governors-general automatically became a knight upon being sworn in. Spouses of governors-general have no official duties but carry out the role of a vice-regal consort. They are entitled to the courtesy style ''Her Excellency'' or ''His Excellency'' during the office-holder's term of office. Most spouses of governors-general have been content to be quietly supportive. Some, however, have been notable in their own right, such as Dame Alexandra Hasluck, Lady Casey and Michael Bryce.


History

The office of "governor-general" was previously used in Australia in the mid-19th century. Sir Charles FitzRoy (Governor of New South Wales from 1846–1855) and Sir William Denison (Governor of New South Wales from 1855–1861) also carried the additional title of Governor-General because their jurisdiction extended to other colonies in Australia. The office of governor-general for the Commonwealth of Australia was conceived during the debates and conventions leading up to
federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity characterized by a union of partially self-governing provinces, states, or other regions under a central federal government (federalism). In a federation, the self-govern ...
. The first Governor-General, the Earl of Hopetoun, was a previous
governor of Victoria The governor of Victoria is the representative of the monarchy of Australia, monarch, King Charles III, in the Australian state of Victoria (Australia), Victoria. The governor is one of seven viceregal representatives in the country, analogous t ...
. He was appointed in July 1900, returning to Australia shortly before the inauguration of the Commonwealth of Australia on 1 January 1901. After the initial confusion of the Hopetoun Blunder, he appointed the first
prime minister of Australia The prime minister of Australia is the head of government of the Commonwealth of Australia. The prime minister heads the executive branch of the Australian Government, federal government of Australia and is also accountable to Parliament of A ...
,
Edmund Barton Sir Edmund "Toby" Barton, (18 January 18497 January 1920) was an Australian politician and judge who served as the first Prime Minister of Australia, prime minister of Australia from 1901 to 1903, holding office as the leader of the Protecti ...
, to a caretaker government, with the inaugural 1901 federal election not occurring until March. Early governors-general were British and were appointed by the queen or king on the recommendation of the
Colonial Office The Colonial Office was a Ministry (government department), government department of the Kingdom of Great Britain and later of the Departments of the United Kingdom Government, United Kingdom, first created to deal with the colonial affairs of ...
. The Australian Government was merely asked, as a matter of courtesy, whether they approved of the choice or not. Governors-general were expected to exercise a supervisory role over the Australian Government in the manner of a colonial governor. In a very real sense, they represented the British Government. They had the right to "reserve" legislation passed by the
Parliament of Australia The Parliament of Australia (officially the Federal Parliament, also called the Commonwealth Parliament) is the legislature, legislative branch of the government of Australia. It consists of three elements: the monarch (represented by the ...
: in effect, to ask the
Colonial Office The Colonial Office was a Ministry (government department), government department of the Kingdom of Great Britain and later of the Departments of the United Kingdom Government, United Kingdom, first created to deal with the colonial affairs of ...
in London for an opinion before giving the
royal assent Royal assent is the method by which a monarch formally approves an act of the legislature, either directly or through an official acting on the monarch's behalf. In some jurisdictions, royal assent is equivalent to promulgation, while in other ...
. They exercised this power several times. The monarch, acting upon advice of the British Government, could also disallow any Australian legislation up to a year after the governor-general had given it the assent; although this power has never been used. These powers remain in section 59 of the
Constitution of Australia The Constitution of Australia (or Australian Constitution) is a written constitution, constitutional document that is Constitution, supreme law in Australia. It establishes Australia as a Federation of Australia, federation under a constitutio ...
, but today are regarded as dead letters. The early governors-general frequently sought advice on the exercise of their powers from judges of the
High Court of Australia The High Court of Australia is Australia's apex court. It exercises Original jurisdiction, original and appellate jurisdiction on matters specified within Constitution of Australia, Australia's Constitution. The High Court was established fol ...
, Sir Samuel Griffith and
Sir Edmund Barton Sir Edmund "Toby" Barton, (18 January 18497 January 1920) was an Australian politician and judge who served as the first Prime Minister of Australia, prime minister of Australia from 1901 to 1903, holding office as the leader of the Protecti ...
. In 1919, Prime Minister
Billy Hughes William Morris Hughes (25 September 1862 – 28 October 1952) was an Australian politician who served as the seventh prime minister of Australia The prime minister of Australia is the head of government of the Commonwealth of Australia ...
sent a memorandum to the Colonial Office in which he requested "a real and effective voice in the selection of the King's representative". He further proposed that the
Dominion The term ''Dominion'' is used to refer to one of several self-governing nations of the British Empire. "Dominion status" was first accorded to Canada, Australia, Dominion of New Zealand, New Zealand, Dominion of Newfoundland, Newfoundland, Un ...
s be able to nominate their own candidates and that "the field of selection should not exclude citizens of the Dominion itself". The memorandum met with strong opposition within the Colonial Office and was dismissed by Lord Milner, the Colonial Secretary; no response was given. The following year, as
Ronald Munro Ferguson Ronald Craufurd Munro Ferguson, 1st Viscount Novar, (6 March 1860 – 30 March 1934) was a British politician who served as the sixth Governor-General of Australia, in office from 1914 to 1920. Munro Ferguson was born in Kirkcaldy Kir ...
's term was about to expire, Hughes cabled the Colonial Office and asked that the appointment be made in accordance with the memorandum. To mollify Hughes, Milner offered him a choice between three candidates. After consulting his cabinet he chose Henry Forster, 1st Baron Forster. In 1925, under Prime Minister
Stanley Bruce Stanley Melbourne Bruce, 1st Viscount Bruce of Melbourne, (15 April 1883 – 25 August 1967) was an Australians, Australian Politician, politician who served as the eighth prime minister of Australia from 1923 to 1929, as leader of the N ...
, the same practice was followed for the appointment of Forster's successor Lord Stonehaven, with the Australian government publicly stating that his name "had been submitted, with others, to the Commonwealth ministry, who had selected him". During the 1920s, the importance of the position declined. As a result of decisions made at the
1926 Imperial Conference The 1926 Imperial Conference was the fifth Imperial Conference bringing together the prime ministers of the Dominions of the British Empire. It was held in London from 19 October to 22 November 1926. The conference was notable for producing the ...
, the governor-general ceased to represent the British Government diplomatically, and the British right of supervision over Australian affairs was abolished. As the
Balfour Declaration of 1926 The Balfour Declaration of 1926, issued by the 1926 Imperial Conference of British Empire leaders in London, was named after Arthur Balfour, who was Lord President of the Council. It declared the United Kingdom and the Dominions to be: The ...
, later implemented as the
Statute of Westminster 1931 The Statute of Westminster 1931 is an act of Parliament (UK), act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that sets the basis for the relationship between the Commonwealth realms and the Crown. Passed on 11 December 1931, the statute increase ...
, put it:
It is desirable formally to place on record a definition of the position held by the Governor-General as His Majesty's representative in the Dominions. That position, though now generally well recognised, undoubtedly represents a development from an earlier stage when the Governor-General was appointed solely on the advice of His Majesty's Ministers in London and acted also as their representative. In our opinion it is an essential consequence of the equality of status existing among the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations that the Governor-General of a Dominion is the representative of
the Crown The Crown is the state (polity), state in all its aspects within the jurisprudence of the Commonwealth realms and their subdivisions (such as the Crown Dependencies, British Overseas Territories, overseas territories, Provinces and territorie ...
, holding in all essential respects the same position in relation to the administration of public affairs in the Dominion as is held by His Majesty the King in Great Britain, and that he is not the representative or agent of His Majesty's Government in Great Britain or of any Department of that Government.
However, it remained unclear just whose prerogative it now became to decide who new governors-general would be. In 1930,
King George V George V (George Frederick Ernest Albert; 3 June 1865 – 20 January 1936) was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 6 May 1910 until Death and state funeral of George V, his death in 1936. Born duri ...
and the Australian Prime Minister
James Scullin James Henry Scullin (18 September 1876 – 28 January 1953) was an Australian Labor Party politician and the ninth Prime Minister of Australia. Scullin led Labor to government at the 1929 Australian federal election. He was the first Cathol ...
discussed the appointment of a new Governor-General to replace Lord Stonehaven, whose term was coming to an end. The King maintained that it was now his sole prerogative to choose a governor-general, and he wanted Field-Marshal Sir William Birdwood for the Australian post. Scullin recommended the Australian jurist Sir Isaac Isaacs, and he insisted that George V act on the advice of his Australian prime minister in this matter. Scullin was partially influenced by the precedent set by the
Government of the Irish Free State A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Departme ...
, which always insisted upon having an Irishman as the
governor-general of the Irish Free State The Governor-General of the Irish Free State ( ga, Seanascal Shaorstát Éireann) was the official representative of the sovereign ''Sovereign'' is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowe ...
. Scullin's proposed appointment of Sir
Isaac Isaacs Sir Isaac Alfred Isaacs (6 August 1855 – 11 February 1948) was an Australian lawyer, politician, and judge who served as the List of Governors-General of Australia, ninth Governor-General of Australia, in office from 1931 to 1936. He had pr ...
was fiercely opposed by the British government. This was not because of any lack of regard for Isaacs personally, but because the British government considered that the choice of Governors-General was, since the
1926 Imperial Conference The 1926 Imperial Conference was the fifth Imperial Conference bringing together the prime ministers of the Dominions of the British Empire. It was held in London from 19 October to 22 November 1926. The conference was notable for producing the ...
, a matter for the monarch's decision alone. (However, it became very clear in a conversation between Scullin and King
George V George V (George Frederick Ernest Albert; 3 June 1865 – 20 January 1936) was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 6 May 1910 until his death in 1936. Born during the reign of his grandmother Q ...
's private secretary, Lord Stamfordham, on 11 November 1930, that this was merely the official reason for the objection, with the real reason being that an Australian, no matter how highly regarded personally, was not considered appropriate to be a governor-general.) Scullin was equally insistent that the monarch must act on the relevant prime minister's direct advice (the practice until 1926 was that
Dominion The term ''Dominion'' is used to refer to one of several self-governing nations of the British Empire. "Dominion status" was first accorded to Canada, Australia, Dominion of New Zealand, New Zealand, Dominion of Newfoundland, Newfoundland, Un ...
prime ministers advised the monarch indirectly, through the British government, which effectively had a veto over any proposal it did not agree with). Scullin cited the precedents of the
prime minister of South Africa The prime minister of South Africa ( af, Eerste Minister van Suid-Afrika) was the head of government The head of government is the highest or the second-highest official in the Executive (government), executive branch of a sovereign sta ...
, J. B. M. Hertzog, who had recently insisted on his choice of the Earl of Clarendon as governor-general of that country, and the selection of an Irishman as
governor-general of the Irish Free State The Governor-General of the Irish Free State ( ga, Seanascal Shaorstát Éireann) was the official representative of the sovereign ''Sovereign'' is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowe ...
. Both of these appointments had been agreed to despite British government objections. Despite these precedents, George V remained reluctant to accept Scullin's recommendation of Isaacs and asked him to consider Field Marshal Sir William Birdwood. However, Scullin stood firm, saying he would be prepared to fight a general election on the issue of whether an Australian should be prevented from becoming governor-general because he was Australian. On 29 November, the King agreed to Isaacs's appointment, but made it clear that he did so only because he felt he had no option. (Lord Stamfordham had complained that Scullin had "put a gun to the King's head".) The usual wording of official announcements of this nature read "The King has been pleased to appoint ...", but on this occasion the announcement said merely "The King has appointed ...", and his
private secretary A private secretary (PS) is a civil servant The civil service is a collective term for a sector of government composed mainly of career civil servants hired on professional merit rather than appointed or elected, whose institutional tenure typi ...
( Lord Stamfordham) asked the Australian solicitor-general, Sir Robert Garran, to make sure that Scullin was aware of the exact wording. The opposition
Nationalist Party of Australia The Nationalist Party, also known as the National Party, was an Australian political party. It was formed on 17 February 1917 from a merger between the Commonwealth Liberal Party and the National Labor Party, the latter formed by Prime Mini ...
denounced the appointment as "practically republican", but Scullin had set a precedent. The convention gradually became established throughout the Commonwealth that the Governor-General is a citizen of the country concerned, and is appointed on the advice of the government of that country. At the same time as the appointment of Isaacs as the first Australian-born governor-general, a separate role of British Representative in Australia (as the representative of the British government) was established, with Ernest Crutchley the first appointee. 1935 saw the appointment of the first British high commissioner to Australia,
Geoffrey Whiskard Sir Geoffrey Granville Whiskard (19 August 1886 – 19 May 1957) was a British civil servant and diplomat. Early life and education Whiskard was born at 3 Hartington Villas, Penge Road, Beckenham Beckenham () is a town in Greater Londo ...
(in office 1936–1941). This right not only to advise the monarch directly, but also to expect that advice to be accepted, was soon taken up by all the other Dominion prime ministers. This, among other things, led to the
Statute of Westminster 1931 The Statute of Westminster 1931 is an act of Parliament (UK), act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that sets the basis for the relationship between the Commonwealth realms and the Crown. Passed on 11 December 1931, the statute increase ...
and to the formal separation of the Crowns of the Dominions. After Scullin's defeat in
1931 Events January * January 2 – South Dakota native Ernest Lawrence invents the cyclotron, used to accelerate particles to study nuclear physics. * January 4 – German pilot Elly Beinhorn begins her flight to Africa. * January 22 – Sir I ...
, non- Labor governments continued to recommend British people for appointment as governor-general, but such appointments remained solely a matter between the Australian government and the monarch. In 1947, Labor appointed a second Australian Governor-General, William McKell, who was in office as the Labor
premier of New South Wales The premier of New South Wales is the head of government in the state of New South Wales, Australia. The Government of New South Wales follows the Westminster system, Westminster Parliamentary System, with a Parliament of New South Wales acting ...
. The then leader of the Opposition,
Robert Menzies The name Robert is an ancient Germanic given name, from Proto-Germanic "fame" and "bright" (''Hrōþiberhtaz''). Compare Old Dutch ''Robrecht'' and Old High German ''Hrodebert'' (a compound of '' Hruod'' ( non, Hróðr) "fame, glory, h ...
, called McKell's appointment "shocking and humiliating". In 1965 the Menzies conservative government appointed an Australian, Lord Casey, and thereafter only Australians have held the position. In 2007, media outlets reported that
Prince William William, Prince of Wales, (William Arthur Philip Louis; born 21 June 1982) is the heir apparent to the British throne. He is the elder son of King Charles III and his first wife Diana, Princess of Wales. Born in London, William was educat ...
might become governor-general of Australia. Both the prime minister,
John Howard John Winston Howard (born 26 July 1939) is an Australian former politician who served as the 25th prime minister of Australia from 1996 to 2007, holding office as leader of the Liberal Party of Australia, Liberal Party. His eleven-year tenur ...
, and
Clarence House Clarence House is a List of British royal residences, royal residence on The Mall, London, The Mall in the City of Westminster, London. It was built in 1825–1827, adjacent to St James's Palace, for the Duke of Clarence, the future king Willia ...
repudiated the suggestion. Now, the King of Australia is generally bound by constitutional convention to accept the advice of the Australian prime minister and state premiers about Australian and state constitutional matters, respectively.


Backgrounds of governors-general

All the governors-general until 1965 were British-born, except for Australian-born Sir Isaac Isaacs (1931–1936) and Sir William McKell (1947–1953). There have been only Australian occupants since then, although Sir Ninian Stephen (1982–1989) had been born in Britain.
Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, (Henry William Frederick Albert; 31 March 1900 – 10 June 1974) was the third son and fourth child of King George V and Mary of Teck, Queen Mary. He served as Governor-General of Australia from 1945 to 1947, ...
, was a senior member of the royal family. Dame Quentin Bryce (2008–2014) was the first woman to be appointed to the office. Sir Isaac Isaacs and Sir Zelman Cowen were
Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים, , ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis of a combination of shared features such as language, history, ethnicity, culture and/or ...
;
Bill Hayden William George Hayden (born 23 January 1933) is an Australian politician who served as the 21st governor-general of Australia from 1989 to 1996. He was Leader of the Labor Party and Leader of the Opposition from 1977 to 1983, and served a ...
was an avowed
atheist Atheism, in the broadest sense, is an absence of belief in the existence of Deity, deities. Less broadly, atheism is a rejection of the belief that any deities exist. In an even narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that ther ...
He became a
Catholic The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptized Catholics worldwide . It is among the world's oldest and largest international institutions, and has played a ...
in 2018: See also
during his term and he made an affirmation rather than swear an oath at the beginning of his commission; the remaining Governors-General have been at least nominally Christian. Various governors-general had previously served as governors of an Australian state or colony: Lord Hopetoun (Victoria 1889–1895);
Lord Tennyson Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson (6 August 1809 – 6 October 1892) was an English poet. He was the Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom, Poet Laureate during much of Queen Victoria's reign. In 1829, Tennyson was awarded the Chancellor's Go ...
(South Australia 1899–1902); Lord Gowrie (South Australia 1928–34; and New South Wales 1935–1936); Major General
Michael Jeffery Major general (Australia), Major General Philip Michael Jeffery, (12 December 1937 – 18 December 2020) was a senior Australian Army officer and vice-regal representative. He was the 28th governor of Western Australia from 1993 to 2000, and t ...
(Western Australia 1993–2000); Dame Quentin Bryce (Queensland 2003–2008); General
David Hurley General (Australia), General David John Hurley, (born 26 August 1953) is an Australian former senior officer in the Australian Army who has served as the 27th governor-general of Australia since 1 July 2019. He was previously the 38th governo ...
(New South Wales 2014–2019). Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson had been offered the governorship of South Australia in 1895 and of Victoria in 1910, but refused both appointments. Lord Northcote was
Governor of Bombay Until the 18th century, Bombay Mumbai (, ; also known as Bombay — List of renamed Indian cities and states#Maharashtra, the official name until 1995) is the capital city of the Indian States and union territories of India, state of M ...
. Lord Casey was
Governor of Bengal The Governor was the chief colonial administrator in the Bengal presidency, originally the "Presidency of Fort William" and later "Bengal province". In 1644, Gabriel Boughton procured privileges for the East India Company which permitted them to ...
in between his periods of service to the
Australian Parliament The Parliament of Australia (officially the Federal Parliament, also called the Commonwealth Parliament) is the legislature, legislative branch of the government of Australia. It consists of three elements: the monarch (represented by the ...
. Former leading politicians and members of the judiciary have figured prominently. Lord Dudley was
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (), or more formally Lieutenant General and General Governor of Ireland, was the title of the chief governor of Ireland from the Williamite Wars of 1690 in Ireland, 1690 until the Partition of Ireland in 1922. This sp ...
(1902–1905). Lord Stonehaven (as John Baird) was Minister for Transport in the Cabinets of
Bonar Law Andrew Bonar Law ( ; 16 September 1858 – 30 October 1923) was a British Conservative Party (UK), Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from October 1922 to May 1923. Law was born in the British colon ...
and
Stanley Baldwin Stanley Baldwin, 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, (3 August 186714 December 1947) was a British Conservative Party (UK), Conservative Party politician who dominated the government of the Interwar Britain, United Kingdom between the world wars, serv ...
; and after his return to Britain he became Chairman of the UK Conservative Party. Sir Isaac Isaacs was successively Commonwealth Attorney-General, a High Court judge, and Chief Justice. Sir William McKell was Premier of New South Wales. Lord Dunrossil (as William Morrison) was Speaker of the UK House of Commons. Lord De L'Isle was
Secretary of State for Air The Secretary of State for Air was a Secretary of State (United Kingdom), secretary of state position in the British government, which existed from 1919 to 1964. The person holding this position was in charge of the Air Ministry. The Secretar ...
in
Winston Churchill Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (30 November 187424 January 1965) was a British statesman, soldier, and writer who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom twice, from 1940 to 1945 Winston Churchill in the Second World War, dur ...
's cabinet from 1951 to 1955. More recent governors-general in this category include Lord Casey, Sir Paul Hasluck, Sir John Kerr, Sir Ninian Stephen,
Bill Hayden William George Hayden (born 23 January 1933) is an Australian politician who served as the 21st governor-general of Australia from 1989 to 1996. He was Leader of the Labor Party and Leader of the Opposition from 1977 to 1983, and served a ...
and Sir William Deane. Of the eleven Australians appointed governor-general since 1965, Lord Casey, Sir Paul Hasluck and
Bill Hayden William George Hayden (born 23 January 1933) is an Australian politician who served as the 21st governor-general of Australia from 1989 to 1996. He was Leader of the Labor Party and Leader of the Opposition from 1977 to 1983, and served a ...
were former federal parliamentarians; Sir John Kerr was the Chief Justice of the
Supreme Court of New South Wales The Supreme Court of New South Wales is the highest state court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes between Party (law), parties and carry ...
; Sir Ninian Stephen and Sir William Deane were appointed from the bench of the High Court; Sir Zelman Cowen was a
vice-chancellor A chancellor is a leader of a college or university, usually either the executive or ceremonial head of the university or of a university campus within a university system. In most Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth and former Commonwealth n ...
of the
University of Queensland The University of Queensland (UQ, or Queensland University) is a public research university located primarily in Brisbane, the capital city of the Australian state of Queensland. Founded in 1909 by the Queensland parliament, UQ is one of the six s ...
and constitutional lawyer;
Peter Hollingworth Peter John Hollingworth (born 10 April 1935) is an Australian retired Anglican Anglicanism is a Western Christian tradition that has developed from the practices, liturgy, and identity of the Church of England The Church of E ...
was the
Anglican Anglicanism is a Western Christian tradition that has developed from the practices, liturgy, and identity of the Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is the State religion, established List of Christian denominations, ...
Archbishop In Christian denominations, an archbishop is a bishop of higher rank or office. In most cases, such as the Catholic Church, there are many archbishops who either have jurisdiction over an ecclesiastical province in addition to their own arc ...
of
Brisbane Brisbane ( ) is the capital and most populous city of the states and territories of Australia, Australian state of Queensland, and the list of cities in Australia by population, third-most populous city in Australia and Oceania, with a populati ...
; and Major-General Michael Jeffery was a retired
military officer An officer is a person who holds a position of authority as a member of an Military, armed force or Uniformed services, uniformed service. Broadly speaking, "officer" means a commissioned officer, a non-commissioned officer, or a warrant off ...
and former
Governor of Western Australia The governor of Western Australia is the representative in Western Australia of the monarch of Australia, currently King Charles III. As with the other governors of the Australian states, the governor of Western Australia performs constitutional ...
. Quentin Bryce's appointment was announced during her term as
Governor of Queensland The governor of Queensland is the representative in the state of Queensland of the monarch of Australia. In an analogous way to the governor-general of Australia at the national level, the governor Governors of the Australian states, performs c ...
; she had previously been the Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner. General David Hurley was a retired Chief of Defence Force and former Governor of New South Wales. Significant post-retirement activities of earlier Governors-General have included: Lord Tennyson was appointed Deputy Governor of the
Isle of Wight The Isle of Wight ( ) is a Counties of England, county in the English Channel, off the coast of Hampshire, from which it is separated by the Solent. It is the List of islands of England#Largest islands, largest and List of islands of England#Mo ...
; Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson (by now Lord Novar) became
Secretary of State for Scotland The secretary of state for Scotland ( gd, Rùnaire Stàite na h-Alba; sco, Secretar o State fir Scotland), also referred to as the Scottish secretary, is a Secretary of State (United Kingdom), secretary of state in the Government of the Unit ...
; and Lord Gowrie became Chairman of the
Marylebone Cricket Club Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) is a cricket club founded in 1787 and based since 1814 at Lord's, Lord's Cricket Ground, which it owns, in St John's Wood, NW postcode area, London. The club was formerly the governing body of cricket retaining cons ...
( Lord Forster had also held this post, before his appointment as governor-general).


List of governors-general of Australia


Timeline of governors-general


See also

*
History of Australia The history of Australia is the story of the land and peoples of the continent of Australia. Aboriginal Australians, People first arrived on the Australian mainland by sea from Maritime Southeast Asia between 50,000 and 65,000 years ago, and ...
* Constitutional history of Australia * Chapter II of the Constitution of Australia *
Governors of the Australian states The governors of the Australian states are the representatives of monarchy of Australia, Australia's monarch in each of Australia's six States of Australia, states. The governors are the nominal chief executives of the states, performing the s ...
* Armorial of the governors-general of Australia *
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. I ...
*
Royal Australian Air Force VIP aircraft The Royal Australian Air Force "Through Adversity to the Stars" , colours = , colours_label = , march = , mascot = , anniversaries ...
*
Governor-general Governor-general (plural ''governors-general''), or governor general (plural ''governors general''), is the title of an office-holder. In the context of governors-general and former British colonies, governors-general are appointed as viceroy t ...
(links to other countries which have Governors-General) * Australian VIP transport * Musical compositio
Earl's March
written by Australian author Walter J. Turner in 1889 dedicated to Adrian Hope, whilst in office.


References


Further reading

* * * * (pp 515, 519, 548) * * *


External links

* * * * * "The Constitution as in force on 1 June 2003 together with proclamation declaring the establishment of the Commonwealth, letters patent relating to the Office of Governor-General, Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 1942, Australia Act 1986."
A Mirror to the People
a 58-minute documentary film on the Office of Governor-General of Australia 1999. Dir: Daryl Dellora. Features Sir William Deane, Sir Zelman Cowen, Sir Ninian Stephen. Special Commendation ATOM Awards. {{DEFAULTSORT:Governor-General Of Australia Governors-General of Australia Westminster system Monarchy in Australia Parliament of Australia 1975 Australian constitutional crisis 1901 establishments in Australia