The Governor-General is the Queen’s representative in Australia.
As such, the Governor-General represents the Head of State in Australia.
Australia’s first female Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, has held office since 2008.
There have been 25 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.
- Full List of Governors-General since 1901
- Letters Patent – the official instructions given to the Governor-General by the Queen, last modified in 1984.
- The Queen’s Role in Australia – an official statement from Buckingham Palace, setting out the Queen’s place in the Australian constitutional structure.
Roles and Powers of the Governor-General
- The Role of the Governor-General – an official statement from Buckingham Palace.
- Powers – a complete list of all the constitutional references to the Governor-General.
- The Executive Council and the Governor-General
- Royal Assent to Legislation – the role of the Queen and the Governor-General in the passage of legislation by the Australian Parliament.
- Whitlam Dismissal – detailed coverage of the controversy over the powers of the Governor-General in dismissing Gough Whitlam on November 11, 1975.
- Apr 4, 2001: Defence Minister Peter Reith Discusses Governor-General’s Role
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.
- Nov 16, 2004: Michael Jeffery’s Address Opening The 41st Parliament (Text & Audio) – election of the fourth Howard coalition government
- Nov 16, 2004: Governor-General Michael Jeffery’s Address Opening the 41st Parliament
- Nov 16, 2004: David Hawker is nominated by Stewart MacArthur for Speaker and seconded by John Forrest. Howard, Latham, Anderson, Macklin, Costello and Andren comment.
- Nov 16, 2004: Members of the House of Representatives are sworn in
- Nov 16, 2004: Chief Justice Murray Gleeson opens Parliament and summons the House of Representatives
- Feb 12, 2002: Peter Hollingworth’s Address Opening the 40th Parliament (Text & Audio) – election of the third Howard coalition government
- May 08, 1990: Bill Hayden’s Address Opening the 36th Parliament (Audio) – election of the fourth Hawke Labor government
- Sep 14, 1987: Sir Ninian Stephen’s Address Opening the 35th Parliament (Text) – election of the third Hawke Labor government
- Apr 21, 1983: Sir Ninian Stephen’s Address Opening the 33rd Parliament (Text) – election of the first Hawke Labor government
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.
- The Separation of Church and State – a brief explanation of this concept as it relates to the Hollingworth appointment
- Apr 22: Anglican Archbishop Hollingworth To Be Next Governor-General
- Apr 22: Official Announcement of Hollingworth appointment
- Apr 22: Buckingham Palace Announcement
- Apr 22: John Howard’s Press Conference Announcing Hollingworth’s Appointment
- Apr 23: Hollingworth’s Media Conference
- May 01: Hollingworth A Radical Choice – an article by Senator Natasha Stott-Despoja, from Online Opinion
- Dec 19: Toowoomba Preparatory School – Statement by the Governor-General
- Dec 21: Howard Defends Governor-General
- Dec 24: Toowoomba Preparatory School: Statement By The Governor-General
- Feb 20: Statement By The Governor-General
- Feb 20: Hollingworth Unlikely To Survive
- Feb 21: Peter Beattie’s Statement On The Governor General
- Feb 21: Simon Crean’s Statement Calling For Dismissal Of The Governor-General
- Feb 21: Constitutional Crisis Over Governor-General
- Feb 21: Text And Audio Of John Howard’s Press Conference In Support Of The Governor-General
- Feb 21: Howard Says There Are No Grounds For Sacking Hollingworth
- Feb 21: Constitutional Earthquake To Sack A Governor-General: Howard
- Feb 21: Hollingworth Issues Another Statement Responding To Allegations
- Feb 25: Howard Continues To Back Hollingworth
- Feb 26: Hollingworth Issues Third Statement
- Dec 25: Christmas Messages From Howard, Crean And Hollingworth
- Apr 30: Full Text Of Anglican Church Report On Sex Abuse
- May 01: ALP Calls For Hollingworth To Resign
- May 01: Democrats Call On Hollingworth To Step Down
- May 01: No Regrets About Hollingworth: Howard
- May 02: Howard In USA; Fields Questions On Hollingworth
- May 04: No Grounds For Terminating Hollingworth: Howard
- May 08: Governor-General Denies Rape Allegations
- May 08: Crean Reiterates Call For Hollingworth To Resign
- May 11: Governor-General Stands Aside
- May 11: Howard Announces Decision On Hollingworth
- May 11: Step Out Not Down: Bob Brown
- May 23: Greens Condemn Howard Over Hollingworth
- May 23: Democrats Renew Call For Royal Commission On Child Abuse
- May 25: Hollingworth Resigns
- May 28: Governor-General Peter Hollingworth’s Farewell Address
- Feb 23, 2013: Gareth Evans Maintains The Rage
- Dec 18, 2012: Rupert Murdoch Eulogises His Mother At Memorial Service In Melbourne
- Aug 30, 2012: Five Australian Soldiers Killed In Afghanistan
- Apr 25, 2012: Governor-General Quentin Bryce’s ANZAC Day Address
- Dec 13, 2011: Sir Zelman Cowen Eulogised By Josh Frydenberg
- Dec 09, 2011: Sir Zelman Cowen, Governor-General After Kerr, Dies, 92
- Nov 02, 2010: Americain: Governor-General Presents 2010 Melbourne Cup
- Jul 19, 2010: Dissolutions, Prorogations and a Mea Culpa
- Feb 05, 2008: Governor-General Attacked And Defended
- Jan 20, 2008: Rudd Rules Out Beazley As Governor-General
- Dec 03, 2007: Kevin Rudd Sworn In As Australia’s 26th Prime Minister
- Apr 25, 2007: Governor-General Michael Jeffery’s ANZAC Day Address
- Dec 26, 2005: Governor-General Visits Troops In Iraq, Afghanistan And Persian Gulf
- Jun 13, 2005: Queen’s Birthday Honours Released
- Nov 16, 2004: Governor-General’s Address Opening The 41st Parliament
- Apr 14, 2004: Jeffery (You Know, The G-G) Finally Gets Something To Do
- Jun 22, 2003: Official Biography Of Major-General Michael Jeffery
- Jun 22, 2003: John Howard’s Press Conference Announcing Major-General Michael Jeffery As Next Governor-General
- Jun 22, 2003: Howard Announces Appointment of Major-General Michael Jeffery As New Governor-General
- May 28, 2003: Governor-General Peter Hollingworth’s Farewell Address
- May 01, 2003: Democrats Call On Hollingworth To Step Down
- Dec 25, 2002: 2002 Christmas Messages: Howard, Crean And Hollingworth
- Feb 21, 2002: Crean: Howard Should Advise The Queen To Terminate Hollingworth’s Appointment
- Feb 19, 2002: Howard Grilled At Lively Press Conference; Tense Mood In Question Time
- Feb 12, 2002: Governor-General’s Speech Opening The 40th Parliament
- Apr 22, 2001: Archbishop Peter Hollingworth Appointed Governor-General
- Jan 01, 2001: Sir William Deane: Centenary Of Federation Speech
- Jan 01, 2001: Sir William Deane: Centenary Of Federation Speech
- Jan 01, 2001: Federation Commemoration Underway In Sydney
- May 27, 2000: Governor-General Sir William Deane’s Address To Corroboree 2000
- Nov 10, 1999: Queen’s Representative To Open Olympic Games
- Nov 03, 1999: John Howard’s 2UE Radio Interview with John Laws
- Sep 14, 1987: Governor-General’s Speech Opening Parliament: 1987
- Apr 21, 1983: Governor-General’s Speech Opening Parliament: 1983
- Feb 03, 1983: Fraser Calls Early Election As Hawke Replaces Hayden
- Apr 11, 1974: Sir Paul Hasluck’s 1974 Proclamation Dissolving Parliament