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The Governor-General is the representative of the Sovereign, appointed by the Sovereign on the advice of the Australian Prime Minister.
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.