Governor-General

The Governor-General is the Queen’s representative in Australia.

As such, the Governor-General represents the Head of State in Australia.

Governor-General Sir Peter CosgroveGeneral Sir Peter Cosgrove has been Australia’s Governor-General since March 28, 2014. He succeeded the first female Governor-General, Dame Quentin Bryce, who held office between 2008 and 2014.

There have been 26 Governors-General of Australian since Federation in 1901. The first Australian born holder of the office was Sir Isaac Isaacs in 1931.

Several former politicians have been appointed Governor-General: William McKell (1941, former ALP Premier of N.S.W.), Lord Casey (1965, Liberal minister under Menzies), Paul Hasluck (1969, Liberal minister under Menzies, Holt & Gorton) and Bill Hayden (1989, ALP minister under Whitlam and Hawke).

According to Section 2 of the Constitution:

A Governor-General appointed by the Queen shall be Her Majesty’s representative in the Commonwealth, and shall have and may exercise in the Commonwealth during the Queen’s pleasure, but subject to this Constitution, such powers and functions of the Queen as Her Majesty may be pleased to assign to him.

In practice, the Governor-General is appointed by the Prime Minister of the day. For example, the incumbent, Michael Jeffrey (pictured), and his predecessor, Peter Hollingworth, were appointed by John Howard. Sir William Deane was appointed by Prime Minister Keating, and his predecessor, Bill Hayden, was appointed by Prime Minister Hawke. In all cases, the appointment was made personally by the Prime Minister. In 1999, Bob Hawke admitted that he did not even consult his Cabinet before making the appointment.

Technically, the appointment is made by “advice” to the Queen. Whilst early Governors-General were appointed directly from Britain, since the 1930s appointments have been made by the government of the day. This followed a major confrontation with the British government in the early 1930s over the appointment of the first Australian-born Governor-General, Sir Isaac Isaacs.

Roles and Powers of the Governor-General

Opening Parliament

One of the main ceremonial duties of the Governor-General is to open the proceedings of the Commonwealth Parliament following each election. The Governor-General summons members of the House of Representatives to the Senate chamber and delivers a speech prepared by the government.

Archived Items

The Rise and Fall of Archbishop Hollingworth as Governor-General

Anglican Archbishop Peter Hollingworth’s appointment as Governor-General was announced by the Howard government in April 2001. Less than two years later, in May 2003, Hollingworth resigned in the wake of controversy over his role in handling sex abuse allegations in the Anglican Church.

2001

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2003

Archived Posts

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