The Governor-General is the representative of the Sovereign, appointed by the Sovereign on the advice of the Australian Prime Minister.
Powers and functions
The Governor-General exercises the executive power of the Commonwealth of Australia on the advice of the Prime Minister. Certain other powers and functions conferred by the Constitution include the powers to:
- appoint times for holding the sessions of the Parliament
- dissolve the House of Representatives
- cause writs to be issued for general elections of members of the House of Representatives
- assent in the Queen's name to a proposed law passed by both houses of the Parliament
- choose and summon executive councillors, who hold office during the Governor-General's pleasure
In addition, the Governor-General, as the Queen's representative, is Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces. Many Acts of the Commonwealth Parliament provide that the Governor-General may make regulations to give effect to such Acts. The Governor-General may also be authorised by statute to issue proclamations, for example, to declare an Act in force. The Governor-General has been given power by statute to legislate for certain of the Australian territories.
The Governor-General also has what are referred to as 'reserve powers'. These may be used without the advice of the Prime Minister, but are used only in times of political uncertainty.
Holders of office
The present Governor-General is His Excellency the Right Reverend Dr Peter John Hollingworth, AO, OBE.
Those persons who have held the office of Governor-General from the inception of the Commonwealth of Australia are pictured below.
- appoint ministers of state for the Commonwealth of Australia.
Rt Hon. John Adrian Louis,
Rt Hon. Hallam,
Rt Hon. Henry Stafford,
Rt Hon. William Humble,
Earl of Hopetoun,
Earl of Dudley,
P.C., K.T., G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O.
P.C., G.C.M.G., G.C.I.E., C.B.
P.C., G.C.B., G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O.
Rt Hon. Thomas,
Rt Hon. Sir Ronald
Rt Hon. Henry William,
Rt Hon. John Lawrence,
Baron Forster of Lepe,
P.C., G.C.M.G., K.C.V.O.
P.C., G.C.M.G., D.S.O.
Rt Hon. Sir Isaac Alfred Isaacs,
Brigadier-General the Rt Hon. Alexander Gore Arkwright,
His Royal Highness Prince Henry William Frederick Albert, Duke of Gloucester,
Rt Hon. Sir William John McKell,
G.C.B., G.C.M.G., K.C.
V.C., P.C.,G.C.M.G., C.B., D.S.O., K.G.St.J.
K.G., P.C., K.T., K.P., G.C.B., G.C.M.G.,G.C.V.O.
Field Marshal Sir William
Rt Hon. William Shepherd,
Rt Hon. William Phillip,
Rt Hon. Richard Gardiner,
Viscount De Lisle,
K.G., G.C.B., G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O., G.B.E., D.S.O., M.C., K.St.J.
P.C., G.C.M.G., M.C., K.St.J., Q.C.
V.C., P.C., G.C.M.G.,G.C.V.O., K.St.J.
K.G., P.C., G.C.M.G., C.H., D.S.O., M.C., K.St.J.
Rt Hon. Sir Paul Hasluck,
Rt Hon. Sir John Robert Kerr,
Rt Hon. Sir Zelman Cowan,
Rt Hon. Sir Ninian Stephen,
G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O., K.St.J.
A.K., G.C.M.G., K.St.J., Q.C.
A.K., G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O., K.St.J., Q.C.
A.K., G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O., K.B.E.
His Excellency, Hon. William
Sir William Patrick Deane,
His Excellency the Right Reverend Dr Peter John Hollingworth,
This page last updated 23 January 2006