1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2006  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/01/2006   
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Contents >> Chapter 2 - 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.

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


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 Queen may 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.


Those persons who have held the office of Governor-General from the inception of the Commonwealth of Australia until 1988 are pictured in Year Book Australia 1988.

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