Governor-General of Australia

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Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia
Flag of the Governor-General of Australia.svg
Badge of the Governor-General of Australia.svg
Official Emblem
Sir Peter Cosgrove.png
Incumbent
General Sir Peter Cosgrove
AK MC

since 28 March 2014
Viceroy
Style His Excellency the Honourable
Residence Government House, Canberra
Admiralty House, Sydney
Appointer Elizabeth II
Term length At Her Majesty's pleasure
Formation 1 January 1901
First holder The Earl of Hopetoun
Website www.gg.gov.au/
Coat of Arms of Australia.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Australia

The Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia is the representative in the Australian jurisdiction of the Australian monarch (currently Queen Elizabeth II),[1] according to the Constitution of Australia, which provides that a "Governor-General appointed by the Queen shall be Her Majesty's representative in the Commonwealth..." As such, the Governor-General is President of the Federal Executive Council and Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Defence Force, as well as viceregal representative in the Australian Capital Territory. The functions of the Governor-General include appointing ambassadors, ministers, and judges, giving Royal Assent to legislation, issuing writs for elections, and bestowing honours.[2] The constitution grants the Governor-General a wide range of powers, but, in practice, they follow the conventions of the Westminster system and responsible government and, with rare exceptions, act only on the advice of the Prime Minister of Australia or other ministers or, in certain cases, Parliament.

Beyond constitutional functions, the Governor-General has a ceremonial role: he or she hosts events at either of the two viceregal residences—Government House, Canberra, and Admiralty House in Sydney—and travels widely throughout Australia to open conferences, attend services and commemorations, and generally provide encouragement to individuals and groups who are contributing to their communities. When travelling abroad, the Governor-General is seen as the representative of Australia, and of the Queen of Australia, so is treated as a head of state. The Governor-General is supported by a staff headed by the Official Secretary to the Governor-General.

The current Governor-General is His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove, who has served since 28 March 2014.

During the twentieth century, six barons, three viscounts, two earls and one prince held the position.[3]

Method of appointment[edit]

The selection of a Governor-General is a responsibility for the Prime Minister of Australia, who may consult privately with staff or colleagues, or with the monarch. The candidate is approached privately to confirm whether they are willing to accept the appointment.

The Prime Minister then recommends the nomination to the monarch. The monarch may decline the prime minister's advice and ask for another nomination, or even appoint a person of his or her own choosing, but no such cases have been recorded since November 1930, when James Scullin's proposed appointment of Sir Isaac Isaacs was fiercely opposed by the British government. This was not because of any lack of regard for Isaacs personally, but because the British government considered that the choice of Governors-General was, since the 1926 Imperial Conference, a matter for the monarch's decision alone. (However, it became very clear in a conversation between Scullin and King George V's Private Secretary, the Lord Stamfordham, on 11 November 1930, that this was merely the official reason for the objection, the real reason being that an Australian, no matter how highly regarded personally, was not considered appropriate to be a Governor-General.) Scullin was equally insistent that the monarch must act on the relevant prime minister's direct advice (the practice until 1926 was that Dominion prime ministers advised the monarch indirectly, through the British government, which effectively had a veto over any proposal it did not agree with). Scullin cited the precedents of the Prime Minister of South Africa, J. B. M. Hertzog, who had recently insisted on his choice of the Earl of Clarendon as Governor-General of that country, and the selection of an Irishman as Governor-General of the Irish Free State. Both of these appointments had been agreed to despite British government objections.

Despite these precedents, George V remained reluctant to accept Scullin's recommendation of Isaacs and asked him to consider Field Marshal Sir William Birdwood. However, Scullin stood firm and, on 29 November, the King agreed to Isaacs's appointment, but made it clear that he did so only because he felt he had no option.[4] This right to not only advise the monarch directly, but also to expect that advice to be accepted, was soon taken up by all the other Dominion prime ministers. This, among other things, led to the Statute of Westminster 1931 and to the formal separation of the Crowns of the Dominions. Now, the Queen of Australia is generally bound by constitutional convention to accept the advice of the Australian Prime Minister and state premiers about Australian and state constitutional matters, respectively.

Having agreed to the appointment, the monarch then permits it to be publicly announced in advance, usually several months before the end of the current Governor-General's term. During these months, the person is referred to as the Governor-General-designate. The actual appointment is made by the monarch. After receiving his or her commission, the Governor-General takes an Oath of Allegiance and an Oath of Office to the monarch and issues a proclamation assuming office. The oaths are usually taken in a ceremony on the floor of the Senate and are administered by the Chief Justice of Australia.[5]

Styles and titles of Governors-General[edit]

Governors-General have during their tenure the style His/Her Excellency the Honourable and their spouses have the style His/Her Excellency. Since May 2013, the style used by a former Governor-General is the Honourable; it was at the same time retrospectively granted for life to all previous holders of the office.[6]

From the creation of the Order of Australia in 1975, the Governor-General was, ex officio, Chancellor and Principal Companion of the Order, and therefore became entitled to the post-nominal AC. In 1976, the Letters Patent for the Order were amended to introduce the rank of Knight and Dame to the Order, and from that time the Governor-General became, ex officio, the Chancellor and Principal Knight of the Order. In 1986 the Letters Patent were amended again, and Governors-General appointed from that time were again, ex officio, entitled to the post-nominal AC (although if they already held a knighthood in the Order that superior rank was retained).

Until 1989, all Governors-General were members of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom and thus held the additional style the Right Honourable for life. The same individuals were also usually either peers, knights, or both (the only Australian peer to be appointed as Governor-General was the Lord Casey; and Sir William McKell was knighted only in 1951, some years into his term, but he was entitled to the style "The Honourable" during his tenure as Premier of New South Wales, an office he held until almost immediately before his appointment). In 1989, Bill Hayden, a republican, declined appointment to the British Privy Council and any imperial honours. From that time until 2014, Governors-General did not receive automatic titles or honours, other than the post-nominal AC by virtue of being Chancellor and Principal Companion of the Order of Australia. Dame Quentin Bryce was the first Governor-General to have had no prior title or pre-nominal style. She was in office when, on 19 March 2014, the Queen, acting on the advice of Prime Minister Tony Abbott, amended the Letters Patent of the Order of Australia to provide, inter alia, that the Governor-General would be, ex officio, Principal Knight or Principal Dame of the Order. Since then, the Governor-General becomes a knight or dame (if he or she was not already one previously) upon being sworn in. The Governor-General's title has become "His/Her Excellency the Honourable Sir/Dame".[7]

Backgrounds of Governors-General[edit]

All the Governors-General until 1965 were British, except for Australian-born Sir Isaac Isaacs (1931–36) and Sir William McKell (1947–53). There have been only Australian occupants since then. Various Governors-General had previously served as Governors of an Australian state or colony: Lord Hopetoun (Victoria 1889–95); Lord Tennyson (South Australia 1899–1902); Lord Gowrie (South Australia 1928–34; and New South Wales 1935–36); Major General Michael Jeffery (Western Australia 1993–2000); Dame Quentin Bryce (Queensland 2003–08). Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson had been offered the governorship of South Australia in 1895 and of Victoria in 1910, but refused both appointments. Lord Northcote was Governor of Bombay. Lord Casey was Governor of Bengal in between his periods of service to the Australian Parliament.

Former leading politicians and members of the judiciary have figured prominently. Lord Dudley was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland 1902–05. Lord Stonehaven (as John Baird) was Minister for Transport in the Cabinets of Andrew Bonar Law and Stanley Baldwin; and after his return to Britain he became Chairman of the UK Conservative Party. Sir Isaac Isaacs was successively Commonwealth Attorney-General, a High Court judge, and Chief Justice. Sir William McKell was Premier of New South Wales. Lord Dunrossil (as William Morrison) was Speaker of the UK House of Commons. Lord De L'Isle was Secretary of State for Air in Winston Churchill's Cabinet 1951–55. More recent Governors-General in this category include Lord Casey, Sir Paul Hasluck, Sir John Kerr, Sir Ninian Stephen, Bill Hayden and Sir William Deane.

Significant post-retirement activities of earlier Governors-General have included: Lord Tennyson was appointed Deputy Governor of the Isle of Wight; Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson (by now Lord Novar) became Secretary of State for Scotland; and Lord Gowrie became Chairman of the Marylebone Cricket Club (Lord Forster had also held this post, before his appointment as Governor-General).

Of the ten Australians appointed Governor-General since 1965, Lord Casey, Sir Paul Hasluck and Bill Hayden were former federal parliamentarians; Sir John Kerr was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales; Sir Ninian Stephen and Sir William Deane were appointed from the bench of the High Court; Sir Zelman Cowen was a vice-chancellor of the University of Queensland and constitutional lawyer; Peter Hollingworth was the Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane; and Major-General Michael Jeffery was a retired military officer and former Governor of Western Australia. Quentin Bryce's appointment was announced during her term as Governor of Queensland; she had previously been the Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner.

Sir Isaac Isaacs and Sir Zelman Cowen were Jewish; Bill Hayden is an avowed atheist and he made an affirmation rather than swear an oath at the beginning of his commission; the remaining Governors-General have been at least nominally Christian. None have had an indigenous or non-European background.

The Honourable Dame Quentin Bryce, as Australia’s twenty-fifth Governor-General (2008-2014) was the first woman to be appointed to the office.

Tenure[edit]

The Constitution does not set a term of office, so a Governor-General may continue to hold office for any agreed length of time, however a typical term of office is five years. At the end of this period, a commission is occasionally extended by a short period.

The salary of the Governor-General is regulated by the Constitution, which fixed an annual amount of 10,000 pounds, unless the parliament decides otherwise. The Constitution states that the salary of the Governor-General may not be increased during his or her term of office. Under the Governor-General Act of 1974 each new commission has resulted in a pay increase. Today, the law ensures the salary is higher than that for the Chief Justice of the High Court, over a five-year period. The annual salary during Michael Jeffery's term was $365,000. Quentin Bryce's salary was $394,000.[8] Until 2001, Governors-General did not pay income tax on their salary; this was changed after the Queen agreed to pay tax.[8]

Three Governors-General have resigned their commission. The first Governor-General, Lord Hopetoun, asked to be recalled to Britain in 1903 over a dispute about funding for the post. Sir John Kerr resigned in 1977, with his official reason being his decision to accept the position of Australian Ambassador to UNESCO in Paris, a post which ultimately he did not take up. In 2003, Archbishop Peter Hollingworth voluntarily stood aside while controversial allegations against him were managed, and the letters patent of the office were amended to take account of this circumstance. He later resigned to "protect the vice-regal office from persistent controversy".[citation needed]

In 1961, Lord Dunrossil became the first and, to date, only Governor-General to die while holding office.

A Governor-General may be recalled or dismissed by the monarch before their term is complete. By convention, this may only be upon advice from the Prime Minister, who retains responsibility for selecting an immediate replacement or letting the vacancy provisions take effect.

No Australian Governor-General has ever been dismissed and it is unclear how quickly the monarch would act on such advice. The constitutional crisis of 1975 prominently raised the possibility of the Prime Minister and the Governor-General attempting to dismiss each other at the same time.[citation needed]

A vacancy occurs on the resignation, death or incapacity of the Governor-General. A temporary vacancy occurs when the Governor-General is overseas on official business representing Australia. A temporary vacancy also occurred in 2003 when Peter Hollingworth stood aside.

Section 4 of the Constitution allows the Queen to appoint an administrator to carry out the role of Governor-General when there is a vacancy. By convention, the longest serving state Governor holds a dormant commission, allowing an assumption of office to commence whenever a vacancy occurs. In 1975, Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam advised the Queen that Sir Colin Hannah, then Governor of Queensland, should have his dormant commission revoked for having made public political statements.

Constitutional role and functions[edit]

Flag of the Governor-General of Australia, since 1936

Sections 2, 61 and 68 of the Constitution provide that the Governor-General exercises certain powers as the Queen's "representative". The limited form of this representation was explained in a 1988 Constitutional Commission report which concluded: "the Governor-General is in no sense a delegate of the Queen. The independence of the office is highlighted by changes which have been made in recent years to the Royal Instruments relating to it".[9]

Although the Governor-General and the Queen occasionally observe certain formalities, in practice the Governor-General has constitutional responsibilities without reference to the Queen. In 1975, the Queen, through her Private Secretary, wrote that she "has no part in the decisions which the Governor-General must take in accordance with the Constitution".[10] Sir Robert Garran noted as early as 1901 that the Governor-General was distinguished from other Empire Governors-General by the fact that "the principal and most important of his powers and functions, legislative as well as executive, are expressly conferred on him by the terms of the Constitution itself. They are legislative and executive powers and functions conferred on the Governor-General, not by Royal authority, but by statutory authority,"[11] a view held also by Andrew Inglis Clark, who assisted Sir Samuel Griffith with drafts of the constitution and later became Senior Judge of the Supreme Court of Tasmania. Clark and W. Harrison Moore, who had contributed to the first draft of the constitution put before the 1897 Adelaide Convention and was Professor of Law at the University of Melbourne, postulated that the letters patent and the royal instructions issued by Queen Victoria were unnecessary "or even of doubtful legality".[12]

Sir David Smith stated in 1988 that "the Governor-General is in no sense a delegate of the Queen. The independence of the office is highlighted by changes which have been made in recent years to the Royal instruments relating to it".[9] He later opined that the Governor-General's role was more than a representative of the sovereign, explaining: "under section 2 of the Constitution the Governor-General is the Queen's representative and exercises certain royal prerogative powers and functions; under section 61 of the Constitution the Governor-General is the holder of a quite separate and independent office created, not by the Crown, but by the Constitution, and empowered to exercise, in his own right as Governor-General and not as a representative or delegate of the Queen, all the powers and functions of Australia's head of state."[13]

The Queen chose not to intervene during the 1975 Australian constitutional crisis, in which Governor-General Sir John Kerr dismissed the elected Labor government of Gough Whitlam, on the basis that such a decision is a matter "clearly placed within the jurisdiction of the Governor-General".

The Governor-General's role in Australia's Parliament[edit]

The Constitution describes the Parliament of the Commonwealth as consisting of the Queen, the Senate and the House of Representatives. Section 5 states that "the Governor-General may appoint such times for holding the sessions of the Parliament ... prorogue the Parliament [and] dissolve the House of Representatives." These provisions make it clear that the Queen's role in the parliament is in name only and the actual responsibility belongs to the Governor-General. Such decisions are usually taken on the advice of the Prime Minister, although that is not stated in the Constitution.

The Governor-General has a ceremonial role in swearing in and accepting the resignations of Members of Parliament. They appoint a deputy, to whom members make an oath of allegiance before they take their seats. On the day parliament opens, the Governor-General makes a speech, entirely written by the government, explaining the government's proposed legislative program.

The most important power is found in section 58: "When a proposed law passed by both Houses of Parliament is presented to the Governor-General for the Queen's assent, he shall declare ... that he assents in the Queen's name." The Royal Assent brings such laws into effect, as legislation, from the date of signing.

Sections 58 to 60 allow the Governor-General to withhold assent, suggest changes, refer to the Queen or proclaim that the Queen has annulled the legislation. A number of Governors-General have reserved Royal Assent for particular legislation for the Queen. Such assent has usually been given during a scheduled visit to Australia by the Queen. On other occasions Royal Assent has been given elsewhere. Examples of this have been the Flags Act (1953), the Royal Styles and Titles Acts (1953 and 1973), and the Australia Act (1986).

The Governor-General's role in executive government[edit]

At the start of Chapter 2 on executive government, the Constitution says "The executive power of the Commonwealth is vested in the Queen and is exercisable by the Governor-General as the Queen's representative". The Governor-General presides over a Federal Executive Council. By convention, the Prime Minister is appointed to this Council and advises as to which parliamentarians shall become ministers and parliamentary secretaries.

In the Constitution, the words "Governor-General-in-council" mean the Governor-General acting with the advice of the Council. Powers exercised in council, which are not reserve powers, include:

  • establishing government departments
  • appointing federal judges, and
  • appointing ambassadors and high commissioners.

All such actions are taken on the advice of ministers.

Section 68, says "command-in-chief of naval and military forces ... is vested in the Governor-General as the Queen's representative". In practice, that role is ceremonial, with actual authority in the hands of the Defence Minister and the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF).

In an administrative sense, the office of Governor-General is regulated by the Governor-General Act 1974.

Reserve powers[edit]

In the United Kingdom, the reserve powers of the monarch (which are typically referred to as the "royal prerogative")[14] are not explicitly stated in constitutional enactments, and are the province of convention and common law.[15] In Australia, however, the powers are explicitly given to the Governor-General in the Constitution; it is their use that is the subject of convention.[16]

The reserve powers are:

  • The power to dissolve (or refuse to dissolve) the House of Representatives. (Section 5 of the Constitution)
  • The power to dissolve Parliament on the occasion of a deadlock. (Section 57)
  • The power to withhold assent to Bills. (Section 58)
  • The power to appoint (or dismiss) Ministers. (Section 64)

Those powers are generally and routinely exercised on Ministerial advice, but the Governor-General retains the ability to act independently in certain circumstances, as governed by convention. It is generally held that the Governor-General may use powers without ministerial advice in the following situations:

  • if an election results in a Parliament in which no party has a majority, the Governor-General may select the Prime Minister
  • if a Prime Minister loses the support of the House of Representatives, the Governor-General may appoint a new Prime Minister
  • if a Prime Minister advises a dissolution of the House of Representatives, the Governor-General may refuse that request, or request further reasons why it should be granted. It is worth noting that convention does not give the Governor-General the ability to dissolve either the House of Representatives or the Senate without advice.

The use of the reserve powers may arise in the following circumstances:

  • if a Prime Minister advises a dissolution of Parliament on the occasion of a deadlock between the Houses, the Governor-General may refuse that request
  • if the Governor-General is not satisfied with a legislative Bill as presented, they may refuse Royal Assent
  • if a Prime Minister resigns after losing a vote of confidence, the Governor-General may select a new replacement contrary to the advice of the outgoing Prime Minister
  • if a Prime Minister is unable to obtain Supply and refuses to resign or advise a dissolution, the Governor-General may dismiss him or her and appoint a new Prime Minister.

The above is not an exhaustive list, and new situations may arise. The most notable use of the reserve powers occurred in November, 1975, in the course of the 1975 Australian constitutional crisis. On this occasion the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, dismissed the government of Gough Whitlam when the Senate withheld Supply to the government, even though Whitlam retained the confidence of the House of Representatives. Kerr determined that he had both the right and the duty to dismiss the government and commission a new government that would recommend a dissolution of the Parliament.[citation needed] Events surrounding the dismissal remain extremely controversial.

Official state car[edit]

A motorcade transporting senior members of the official party to an event in Canberra in November 2009. The black car at the left with the number plate ADF1 carried the Chief of the Defence Force, the white car behind it with the number plate C1 carried the Prime Minister and the black car second from the right carried the Governor General
Governor-General's Holden WM Caprice photographed in 2010. Instead of number plates it has the royal emblem, St. Edward's Crown.

The Governor-General travels in a Rolls-Royce Phantom VI limousine for ceremonial occasions, such as the State Opening of Parliament.[17] They more commonly use Australian-built luxury cars[citation needed] when on official business. The official cars of the Governor-General fly the Flag of the Governor-General of Australia and display St. Edward's Crown instead of number plates. A similar arrangement is used for the Governors of the six states. When the Queen is in Australia, the Queen's Personal Australian Flag is flown on the car in which she is travelling. During the Queen's 2011 visit to Australia, she and the Duke of Edinburgh were driven in a Range Rover Vogue.

Ceremonial role[edit]

In addition to the formal constitutional role, the Governor-General has a representative and ceremonial role, though the extent and nature of that role has depended on the expectations of the time, the individual in office at the time, the wishes of the incumbent government, and the individual's reputation in the wider community. Governors-General generally become patrons of various charitable institutions, present honours and awards, host functions for various groups of people including ambassadors to and from other countries, and travel widely throughout Australia. the Honourable Sir William Deane described one of his functions as being "Chief Mourner" at prominent funerals. In Commentaries on the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia, Garran noted that, since the Australian executive is national in nature (being dependent on the nationally elected House of Representatives, rather than the Senate), "the Governor-General, as the official head of the Executive, does not in the smallest degree represent any federal element; if he represents anything he is the image and embodiment of national unity and the outward and visible representation of the Imperial relationship of the Commonwealth."[18]

That role can become controversial, however, if the Governor-General becomes unpopular with sections of the community. The public role adopted by Sir John Kerr was curtailed considerably after the constitutional crisis of 1975; Sir William Deane's public statements on political issues produced some hostility towards him; and some charities disassociated themselves from Peter Hollingworth after the issue of his management of sex abuse cases during his time as Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane became a matter of controversy.

At one time, Governors-General wore the traditional Windsor uniform on formal occasions. However, that custom fell into disuse during the tenure of Sir Paul Hasluck.

History[edit]

The letters patent issued by Queen Victoria in 1900 creating the office of Governor-General
The Earl of Hopetoun, the first Governor-General, 1901–1903
Sir Isaac Isaacs, the first Australian-born Governor-General, 1931–1936

The office of Governor-General was previously used during the mid-19th century in Australia. Sir Charles FitzRoy (Governor of New South Wales from 1846–1855) and Sir William Denison (Governor of New South Wales from 1855–1861) also carried the additional title of Governor-General because their jurisdiction extended to other colonies in Australia.[19]

The office of Governor-General for the Commonwealth of Australia was conceived during the debates and conventions leading up to federation. The first Governor-General, the Earl of Hopetoun, was a previous Governor of Victoria. He was appointed in July 1900, returning to Australia shortly before the inauguration of the Commonwealth of Australia on 1 January 1901. In his first act he appointed the inaugural Prime Minister, Edmund Barton, since the first federal elections did not take place until March.

Early Governors-General were British and were appointed by the Queen or King on the recommendation of the Colonial Office. The Australian Government was merely asked, as a matter of courtesy, whether they approved of the choice or not. Governors-General were expected[by whom?] to exercise a supervisory role over the Australian Government in the manner of a colonial Governor. In a very real sense, they represented the British Government. They had the right to "reserve" legislation passed by the Parliament of Australia: in other words, to ask the Colonial Office in London for an opinion before giving the Royal Assent. They exercised this power several times.

The early Governors-General frequently sought advice on the exercise of their powers from two judges of the High Court of Australia, Sir Samuel Griffith and Sir Edmund Barton.[20] That practice has continued from time to time.

During the 1920s the importance of the position declined. As a result of decisions made at the 1926 Imperial Conference, the Governor-General ceased to represent the British Government diplomatically, and the British right of supervision over Australian affairs was abolished. However, it remained unclear just whose prerogative it now became to decide who new Governors-General would be. In 1930, King George V and the Australian Prime Minister James Scullin discussed the appointment of a new Governor-General to replace Lord Stonehaven, whose term was coming to an end. The King maintained that it was now his sole prerogative to choose a Governor-General, and he wanted Field-Marshal Sir William Birdwood for the Australian post. Scullin recommended the Australian jurist Sir Isaac Isaacs, and he insisted that George V act on the advice of his Australian Prime Minister in this matter. Scullin was partially influenced by the precedent set by the Government of the Irish Free State, which always insisted upon having an Irishman as the Governor-General of the Irish Free State.

The King approved Scullin's choice, albeit with some displeasure. The usual wording of official announcements of this nature read "The King has been pleased to appoint ...", but on this occasion the announcement said merely "The King has appointed ...", and his Private Secretary ( Lord Stamfordham) asked the Solicitor-General, Sir Robert Garran, to make sure Scullin was aware of the exact wording.[21] The opposition Nationalist Party of Australia denounced the appointment as "practically republican", but Scullin had set a precedent. The convention gradually became established throughout the Commonwealth that the Governor-General is a citizen of the country concerned, and is appointed on the advice of the government of that country.

In 1931, the transformation was concluded with the appointment of the first Australian Governor-General, Isaacs, and the first British Representative in Australia, Ernest Crutchley. 1935 saw the appointment of the first British High Commissioner to Australia, Geoffrey Whiskard (in office 1936-1941).

After Scullin's defeat in 1931, non-Labor governments continued to recommend British people for appointment as Governor-General, but such appointments remained solely a matter between the Australian government and the monarch. In 1947, Labor appointed a second Australian Governor-General, William McKell, who was in office as the Labor Premier of New South Wales. The then Leader of the Opposition, Robert Menzies, called McKell's appointment "shocking and humiliating".[citation needed]

In 1965 the Menzies conservative government appointed an Australian, Lord Casey, and thereafter only Australians have held the position. Suggestions during the early 1980s that the Prince of Wales might become the Governor-General came to nothing due to the prospective constitutional difficulty that might ensue if Prince Charles became King.[citation needed] In 2007 the media[which?] reported that Prince William might become Governor-General of Australia. Both the Prime Minister (John Howard) and Clarence House repudiated the suggestion.

Patronage[edit]

The Governor-General is generally invited to become Patron of various charitable and service organisations. Historically the Governor-General has also served as Chief Scout of Australia. The Chief Scout is nominated by the Scouting Association's National Executive Committee and is invited by the President of the Scout Association to accept the appointment.[22] Bill Hayden declined the office on the grounds of his atheism, which was incompatible with the Scout Promise.[23] He did however serve as the Association's Patron during his term of office.

Spouse[edit]

Spouses of Governors-General have no official duties but carry out the role of a Vice-Regal consort. They are entitled to the courtesy style Her Excellency or His Excellency during the office-holder's term of office. Most spouses of Governors-General have been content to be quietly supportive. Some, however, have been notable in their own right, such as Dame Alexandra Hasluck, Lady Casey and Michael Bryce.

Living former Governors-General[edit]

There are six living former Governors-General of Australia. The most recent Governor-General to pass away was Sir Zelman Cowen (1977–1982), who died on 8 December 2011.

Name Term of office Date of birth
Sir Ninian Stephen 1982–1989 (1923-06-15) 15 June 1923 (age 91)
Bill Hayden 1989–1996 (1933-01-23) 23 January 1933 (age 81)
Sir William Deane 1996–2001 (1931-01-04) 4 January 1931 (age 83)
Peter Hollingworth 2001–2003 (1935-04-10) 10 April 1935 (age 79)
Michael Jeffery 2003–2008 (1937-12-12) 12 December 1937 (age 77)
Dame Quentin Bryce 2008–2014 (1942-12-23) 23 December 1942 (age 71)

Between Jeffery's retirement on 5 September 2008 and Cowen's death on 8 December 2011, there were, for the first time in Australia's history, six former Governors-General still living. Since the retirement of Bryce on 28 March 2014, there are again six living former occupants.

Timeline of Governors-General[edit]

Peter Cosgrove Quentin Bryce Michael Jeffery Peter Hollingworth William Deane Bill Hayden Ninian Stephen Zelman Cowen John Kerr (governor-general) Paul Hasluck Richard Casey, Baron Casey William Sidney, 1st Viscount De L'Isle William Morrison, 1st Viscount Dunrossil William Slim, 1st Viscount Slim William McKell Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester Alexander Hore-Ruthven, 1st Earl of Gowrie Isaac Isaacs John Baird, 1st Viscount Stonehaven Henry Forster, 1st Baron Forster Ronald Munro Ferguson, 1st Viscount Novar Thomas Denman, 3rd Baron Denman William Humble Ward, 2nd Earl of Dudley Henry Northcote, 1st Baron Northcote Hallam Tennyson, 2nd Baron Tennyson John Hope, 1st Marquess of Linlithgow

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia
  2. ^ Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia: Governor-General's role
  3. ^ "Governor-General Quentin Bryce backs gay marriage, Australia becoming a republic in Boyer Lecture". ABC News. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  4. ^ Gavin Souter, Acts of Parliament, pp. 266–269
  5. ^ http://www.governorgeneral.gov.au/governorgeneral/content.php?id=4
  6. ^ The title ‘the Honourable’ for Governors-General, Australian Government Special Gazette S No. 54 of 2013.
  7. ^ Prime Minister's media release "A New Honour for Pre-eminent Australians", 25 March 2014 Retrieved 2 May 2014
  8. ^ a b Herald Sun, 18 June 2008, Governor-General Quentin Bryce to get pay rise
  9. ^ a b http://www.samuelgriffith.org.au/papers/html/volume8/v8chap8.htm
  10. ^ "of Representatives Practice (5th Edition)". Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 15 December 2014. 
  11. ^ The annotated constitution of the Australian Commonwealth, p 390
  12. ^ "The Governor-General is our Head of State"
  13. ^ A Mate for Head of State
  14. ^ "Royal prerogative". A Dictionary of British History, online edition. Oxford University Press. 
  15. ^ Maer, Lucinda; Oonagh, Gay (30 December 2009). "The Royal Prerogative". House of Commons Library. Retrieved 17 January 2013. 
  16. ^ Sir Garfield Barwick (17–19 November 1995). "A View of the External Affairs Power". Retrieved 17 January 2011. 
  17. ^ "USRS Australia: Blog for the U.S. Mission to Australia". Usrsaustralia.state.gov. Retrieved 2011-12-12. 
  18. ^ p700
  19. ^ http://members.ozemail.com.au/~natinfo/colony3-3.htm
  20. ^ Donald Markwell, "Griffith, Barton and the early Governor-Generals: aspects of Australia's constitutional development", Public Law Review, 1999.
  21. ^ Gavin Souter, Acts of Parliament, p. 269
  22. ^ "Chief Scout". Scouts Australia. Retrieved 2007-11-15.  >Kittel, Nicholas (1 August 2007). "A century of Scouts a reason to celebrate". 666 ABC Canberra (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved 2007-11-15. In his address the Governor-General also explained his role as Chief Scout. "Really the Chief Scout tries to go around to as many scout groups as he can and say 'well done' to all who are taking part and to encourage a strengthening of the movement." [dead link]
  23. ^ "Brief Comments". On Target from Australia (Australian League of Rights) 25 (13). 14 April 1989. Retrieved 2007-11-15. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Christopher Cunneen (1983). Kings' Men: Australia's Governors-General from Hopetoun to Isaacs. Allen and Unwin. ISBN 0-86861-238-3. 
  • Bill Hayden (1996). Hayden: An Autobiography. Angus & Robertson. ISBN 0-207-18769-X.  (pp 515, 519, 548)
  • Sir Zelman Cowen, A Public Life: The Memoirs of Zelman Cowen, Miegunyah Press, 2006.
  • Donald Markwell, The Crown and Australia, University of London 1987 -[1]
  • Donald Markwell, "Griffith, Barton and the early Governor-Generals: aspects of Australia's constitutional development", Public Law Review, 1999.

External links[edit]