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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2004  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/02/2004   
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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
  • dissolve the House of Representatives and the Senate in the event of a double dissolution
  • 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
  • appoint and summon executive councillors, who hold office during the Governor-General's pleasure
  • 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.

In all such matters the Governor-General acts on the advice of the Prime Minister.

The Governor-General also possesses 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.

The Constitution and the Letters Patent provide for the Queen to appoint an Administrator of the Commonwealth when the Governor-General is out of the country, ill or when the position of Governor-General is vacant. By convention, the longest-serving state governor is appointed as Administrator.

Holders of office

His Excellency Major General Michael Jeffery AC CVO MC (Retd) has been Governor-General since 11 August 2003.

Those persons who have held the office of Governor-General from the inception of the Commonwealth of Australia are pictured below.




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


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


Image - Rt Hon. Sir Isaac Alfred Isaacs
Image - Brigadier-General the Rt  Hon. Alexander Gore Arkwright
Image - His Royal Highness Prince Henry William Frederick Albert
Image - Rt Hon. Sir William John McKell
Rt Hon. Sir Isaac Alfred Isaacs,
G.C.B., G.C.M.G., K.C.
Brigadier-General the Rt Hon. Alexander Gore Arkwright,
Baron Gowrie,
V.C., P.C.,G.C.M.G., C.B., D.S.O., K.G.St.J.
His Royal Highness Prince Henry William Frederick Albert, Duke of Gloucester,
K.G., P.C., K.T., K.P., G.C.B., G.C.M.G.,G.C.V.O.
Rt Hon. Sir William John McKell,
G.C.M.G., Q.C.
1931-1936
1936-1945
1945-1947
1947-1953


Image - Field Marshal Sir William Joseph Slim
Image - Rt Hon. William Shepherd
Image - Rt Hon. William Phillip
Image - Rt Hon. Richard Gardiner
Slim, Field Marshal Sir William Joseph,
K.G., G.C.B., G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O., G.B.E., D.S.O., M.C., K.St.J.
Rt Hon. William Shepherd,
Viscount Dunrossil,
P.C., G.C.M.G., M.C., K.St.J., Q.C.
Rt Hon. William Phillip,
Viscount De Lisle,
V.C., P.C., G.C.M.G.,G.C.V.O., K.St.J.
Rt Hon. Richard Gardiner,
Baron Casey,
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


Image - Rt Hon. Sir Paul Hasluck
Image - Rt Hon. Sir John Robert Kerr
Image - Rt Hon. Sir Zelman Cowan
Image - Rt Hon. Sir Ninian Stephen
Rt Hon. Sir Paul Hasluck,
G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O., K.St.J.
Rt Hon. Sir John Robert Kerr,
A.K., G.C.M.G., K.St.J., Q.C.
Rt Hon. Sir Zelman Cowan,
A.K., G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O., K.St.J., Q.C.
Rt Hon. Sir Ninian Stephen,
A.K., G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O., K.B.E.
1969-1974
1974-1977
1977-1982
1982-1989


Image - His Excellency, Hon. William George Hayden
Sir William Patrick Deane
His Excellency the Right Reverend Dr Peter John Hollingworth
Image - His Excellency, Major General Michael Jeffery
His Excellency, Hon. William
George Hayden,
A.C.
Sir William Patrick Deane,
A.C., K.B.E
His Excellency the Right Reverend Dr Peter John Hollingworth,
AO, OBE.
His Excellency, Major General
Michael Jeffery,
AC, CVO, MC (Retd)
1989-96
1996-2001
2001-2003
2003-

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