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Under the Commonwealth Constitution, ultimate executive power is vested in the Crown and is exercised by the Governor-General as the direct representative of the Queen. The Queen’s status is set out by the Australia Act 1986.
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.
His Excellency, Major General Michael Jeffery, AC, CVO, MC (Retd) was sworn in as Australia's 24th Governor-General on 11 August 2003 at Parliament House, Canberra.
More information about the Governor-General can be found at the Governor-General web site: http://www.gg.gov.au
More information about Government terminology can be found at the Tasmanian Government Parliamentary Library web site http://www.parliament.tas.gov.au/TPL/Backg/Terminology.htm.