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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2002  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/01/2002   
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Contents >> Government >> The Governor-General

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;
  • prorogue 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; and
  • appoint Ministers of State for the Commonwealth of Australia.

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.

Rt Hon. John Adrian Louis,
Rt Hon. Hallam,
Rt Hon. Henry Stafford,
Rt Hon. William Humble,
Earl of Hopetoun,
Baron Tennyson,
Baron Northcote,
Earl of Dudley,
P.C., K.T., G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O.
P.C., G.C.M.G.
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.
1901-1903
1903-1904
1904-1908
1908-1911

Rt Hon. Thomas,
Rt Hon. Sir Ronald
Rt Hon. Henry William,
Rt Hon. John Lawrence,
Baron Denman,
Craufurd Munro-Ferguson,
Baron Forster of Lepe,
Baron Stonehaven,
P.C., G.C.M.G., K.C.V.O.
G.C.M.G.
P.C., G.C.M.G.
P.C., G.C.M.G., D.S.O.
1911-1914
1914-1920
1920-1925
1925-1931

Rt Hon. Sir Isaac Alfred Isaacs,
Brigadier-General the Rt Hon. Alexander Gore Arkwright,
Baron Gowrie,
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.
G.C.M.G., Q.C.
1931-1936
1936-1945
1945-1947
1947-1953

Field Marshal Sir William
Rt Hon. William Shepherd,
Rt Hon. William Phillip,
Rt Hon. Richard Gardiner,
Joseph Slim,
Viscount Dunrossil,
Viscount De Lisle,
Baron Casey,
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.
1953-1960
1960-1961
1961-1965
1965-1969

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.
1969-1974
1974-1977
1977-1982
1982-1989

His Excellency, Hon. William
George Hayden
Sir William Patrick Deane,
A.C.
A.C., K.B.E
1989-96
1996-2001

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