Governors of the Australian states

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The governors of the Australian states are the representatives of Australia's monarch in each of Australia's six states. The governors are the nominal chief executives of the states, performing the same constitutional and ceremonial functions at the state level as does the Governor-General of Australia at the national or federal level. The state governors are not subject to the constitutional authority of the governor-general, but are directly responsible to the monarch. In practice, with notable exceptions the governors are generally required by convention to act on the advice of the state premiers or the other members of a state's cabinet.

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Origins

The office of governor ("governor in chief" was an early title) is the oldest constitutional office in Australia. The title was first used with the Governor of New South Wales, and dates back to 1788 to the day on which the area (which is now the city of Sydney) became the first British settlement in Australia. Each of the subsequent five states in Australia was also founded as a British colony, and a governor was appointed by the British government to exercise executive authority over the colony. The first governors of the colonies, and their dates of appointment, are as follows:

Only in New South Wales and South Australia was the date of the appointment of the first governor the actual date of the colony's foundation. The settlement which became Queensland was founded in 1824, but was not separated from New South Wales until 1859. In Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia executive authority was exercised by a Lieutenant-Governor for some years before the first Governor was appointed; Tasmania was founded in 1804, Western Australia in 1828 and Victoria in 1835.

New South Wales and Tasmania (which was known as Van Diemen's Land until 1855) were founded as penal colonies, and their governors (lieutenant-governors in Tasmania) exercised more or less absolute authority. Tasmania in particular was run as a virtual prison camp in its early years. The Governors were also commanders-in-chief, and the troops under their command were the real basis of their authority.

From the 1820s, however, the increasing number of free settlers in the colonies led to a process of constitutional reform which gradually reduced the powers of the governors. New South Wales was given its first legislative body, the New South Wales Legislative Council, in 1825. Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, which were not founded as penal settlements, moved rapidly towards constitutional government after their establishment.

Federation

When the six colonies federated to form the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, there were some suggestions that the position of state governor should be abolished or that its appointment be made by the Governor-General as was (and still is) done in Canada. However, the states insisted on retaining their separate links to the Crown, a concept that can be compared to the American system of separate sovereignty for state and federal governments. The states were concerned that Commonwealth-appointed governors might be used to do the federal government's bidding, up to and including use of a Governor's reserve powers to dismiss a recalcitrant state government. To ensure that state governments would be free from such extra-constitutional intervention or coercion, state governors continued to be appointed by the monarch on the advice of the Colonial Secretary in London, usually after an informal consultation with the state government.

The post of governor was again called into question during the Depression of the 1930s, when the cost of maintaining six vice-regal establishments (as well as a governor-general in Canberra) drew criticism from the labour movement and others. During this period some states (notably Western Australia) left the position unfilled as an economy measure for some years, and the vice-regal functions were filled by the state chief justices with the title of administrator. But no state attempted to abolish the post of governor, and this could not have been done at this time without the consent of the Crown (acting on the advice of the British government).

The political role of the governor became a matter of controversy in 1932 when the Governor of New South Wales, Sir Philip Game, used his reserve power to dismiss the premier, Jack Lang, on the grounds that Lang was acting illegally. All governors at this time were British, and most were from the upper classes and political conservatives, and Labor governments always suspected that they had an enemy in Government House. Most governors, however, tried to act impartially, and some were genuinely popular.

From the 1940s the states, particularly those with Labor governments, began to appoint Australians to the post of governor. The first Australian governors of each of the states, and their dates of appointment, were:

The first colonies were penal settlements and the early colonial governors were military officers who ruled under martial law. Once the governors' role moved from the executive to the ceremonial, most governors were drawn from the ranks of retired officers. Although a few members of the peerage served as governors (the most prominent being Earl Beauchamp in New South Wales), the Australian colonial capitals were small towns and considered not grand enough to attract senior members of the British aristocracy. Even when Australians replaced Britons as governors, most continued to be retired Army, Navy or Air Force officers until the 1970s. The last British-born governor of an Australian state was Rear Admiral Sir Richard Trowbridge, who was Governor of Western Australia from 1980 to 1983.

From the 1960s onward the governors were appointed by the Queen of the United Kingdom, technically acting on the advice of the British Foreign Secretary, but effectively acting on the advice of the state premiers. It was not until 1986, with the passage of the Australia Acts through the state, Australian and British parliaments, that governors became appointed by the Queen of Australia on the direct advice of the relevant premier.

The Australia Acts 1986

Although the Commonwealth of Australia legally became a sovereign nation when it adopted the Statute of Westminster in 1942, the states had been established separately from (and prior to) the Commonwealth and retained their separate subordination to the British Government. [2] The British Government retained the authority to intervene in the governments of the individual states under the Colonial Laws Validity Act 1865 . As a result, the state governors continued to be formally appointed by the Queen on the advice of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, as had been the case prior to 1942. In practice, however, the premier of each state recommended a prospective governor to the foreign secretary, who almost always acted in accordance with that recommendation. However, in 1976 the Foreign Secretary refused to transmit to the Queen the advice of the Premier of Queensland, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, to extend the term of Sir Colin Hannah as governor, on the grounds of the Governor's partisanship against the previous Commonwealth Government.[ citation needed ]

In 1978, the Parliament of New South Wales passed the Constitutional Powers (New South Wales) Act, requesting that the Commonwealth Parliament legislate to address the constitutional anomaly of the United Kingdom Government's role in the constitutional affairs of the state. Eventually, identical Australia Acts were passed by the Commonwealth Parliament and the Parliament of the United Kingdom in 1986, thus removing what remaining authority London had over affairs in Canberra. Under section 7 of these Acts, the Queen now receives advice on the appointment and termination of appointments of state governors from the relevant state premier.

Role of the governors

The role of state governor in modern times is broken down into constitutional, ceremonial and social responsibilities. Regarding constitutional practices, in most cases the governor observes the convention to act on the advice of the state's cabinet (and/or premier). Nevertheless, the state governors, like the governor-general, retain the full panoply of the reserve powers of the Crown. This has been shown on two recent occasions.

In 1987 the Governor of Queensland, Sir Walter Campbell, refused to accept the advice of the National Party premier, Joh Bjelke-Petersen, to dismiss five of his ministers and call fresh elections. Campbell believed that Bjelke-Petersen had lost the confidence of his own party and was behaving irrationally. He was also reluctant to call an election for a legislature that was barely a year old, and felt that the situation was a political rather than a constitutional matter. Bjelke-Petersen subsequently resigned.

In 1989 the Governor of Tasmania, Sir Phillip Bennett, refused to grant a fresh dissolution to the Liberal premier, Robin Gray, after Gray lost his majority in the recent election. Although no one party had a majority in the new House of Assembly, Bennett had already been assured that the Tasmanian Greens would support a minority Labor government under Michael Field. Bennett thus took the view that Gray no longer had enough support to govern and could not advise him to call a second election. Gray then resigned, and Bennett commissioned Field as premier.

In the event of a Governor-General's death, incapacity, removal, resignation or absence overseas, each of the state governors has a dormant commission to become the Administrator of the Commonwealth, that is, to take on the Governor-General's duties until he returns from overseas or a new appointment is made. The convention has been that the longest-serving state governor is appointed administrator. When Peter Hollingworth resigned in May 2003, Sir Guy Green, Governor of Tasmania, took on that role, serving until Major-General Michael Jeffery took office in August 2003.

Lieutenant-governors and administrators

A lieutenant-governor takes on the responsibilities of a governor when that post is vacant or when the governor is out of the state or unable to act. An administrator takes on those duties if both the governor and lieutenant-governor are not able to act for the above reasons.

Backgrounds of governors

In 1976 South Australia appointed Sir Douglas Nicholls as the first (and, to date, the only) Aboriginal governor of an Australian state. Governors of non-Anglo-Australian background have been appointed in recent years. These include Ken Michael (Greek; Western Australia), Sir James Gobbo (Italian; Victoria), David de Kretser (Sri Lankan/Ceylonese; Victoria), Dame Marie Bashir (Lebanese; New South Wales), Alex Chernov (Russian: Victoria), and Hieu Van Le (Vietnamese; South Australia). Sir Matthew Nathan, Governor of Queensland from 1920 to 1925, was Australia's only Jewish governor until the appointment of Linda Dessau as Governor of Victoria in 2015.

South Australia was also the first state to appoint a woman as governor, when Dame Roma Mitchell took office in 1991. With the appointment of Penelope Wensley in July 2008, Queensland has had three female governors, more than any other state. Queensland is also the only state to have had two female governors in succession (Wensley succeeded Quentin Bryce). New South Wales and South Australia have had two female governors, and Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia one each. The Northern Territory, the only mainland territory to have an administrator, has had two female administrators (Sally Thomas and the incumbent, Vicki O'Halloran).

John Landy, a former governor of Victoria, and Marjorie Jackson-Nelson, a former governor of South Australia, are former Australian Olympic medallists.

Contemporary changes and prospects

The Northern Territory received self-government on 1 July 1978 under its own administrator appointed by the governor-general. The Commonwealth prime minister, not the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, advises the governor-general on the appointment of the administrator.

Recent proposals for an Australian Republic have indirectly involved the office of state governor.[ citation needed ] In the lead up to the 1999 republican referendum, state governments were required to consider state links to the Crown and thus the validity of appointing the governor through the Queen. At a constitutional convention in Gladstone, Queensland, the states indicated that, if the referendum was successful, governors should be appointed by the parliament,[ citation needed ] although agreement on the exact method of appointment was not reached. As the referendum failed, no state altered the appointment method.

Current state governors

NameImageTitleTerm
Paul de Jersey US Navy 110507-N-1X994-001 Members of the U.S. 7th Fleet Band are inspected by acting Governor and Chief Justice of Queensland the Honorable Paul d (cropped).jpg Governor of Queensland 29 July 2014
(5 years, 164 days)
Hieu Van Le Hieu Van Le 2015.jpg Governor of South Australia 1 September 2014
(5 years, 130 days)
Kate Warner Memorial-unveilings-Burnie-20150331-005-crop.jpg Governor of Tasmania 10 December 2014
(5 years, 30 days)
Linda Dessau Linda Dessau.jpg Governor of Victoria 1 July 2015
(4 years, 192 days)
Kim Beazley Kim Beazley crop.jpg Governor of Western Australia 1 May 2018
(1 year, 253 days)
Margaret Beazley Governor of New South Wales 2 May 2019
(252 days)

Current administrators of the territories

NameImageRegionTermTitle
Eric Hutchinson Flag of Norfolk Island.svg Norfolk Island1 April 2017
(2 years, 283 days)
Administrator of Norfolk Island
Natasha Griggs Natasha Griggs Portrait 2014.png Flag of Christmas Island.svg Christmas Island
Flag of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.svg Cocos (Keeling) Islands
5 October 2017
(2 years, 96 days)
Administrator of Australian Indian Ocean Territories
Vicki O'Halloran Flag of the Northern Territory.svg Northern Territory31 October 2017
(2 years, 70 days)
Administrator of the Northern Territory

See also

Related Research Articles

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The following lists events that happened during 1982 in Australia.

The following lists events that happened during 1970 in Australia.

The following lists events that happened during 1971 in Australia.

The following lists events that happened during 1973 in Australia.

The following lists events that happened during 1976 in Australia.

The following lists events that happened during 1975 in Australia.

The following is the Australian Table of Precedence.

  1. The Queen of Australia: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
  2. The Governor-General of Australia: His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley
  3. Governors of states in order of appointment:
    1. Governor of Queensland His Excellency The Honourable Paul de Jersey
    2. Governor of South Australia His Excellency The Honourable Hieu Van Le
    3. Governor of Tasmania Her Excellency Professor The Honourable Kate Warner
    4. Governor of Victoria Her Excellency The Honourable Linda Dessau
    5. Governor of Western Australia His Excellency The Honourable Kim Beazley
    6. Governor of New South Wales Her Excellency The Honourable Margaret Beazley
  4. The Prime Minister The Honourable Scott Morrison MP
  5. The President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives in order of election:
    1. Speaker of the House of Representatives The Honourable Tony Smith
    2. President of the Senate Senator The Honourable Scott Ryan
  6. The Chief Justice of Australia The Honourable Susan Kiefel
  7. Senior diplomatic posts:
    1. Ambassadors and High Commissioners in order of date of presentation of the Letters of Credence or Commission
    2. Chargés d'affaires en pied or en titre in order of date of presentation of the Letters of Credence or Commission
    3. Chargés d'affaires and Acting High Commissioners in order of date of assumption of duties
  8. Members of the Federal Executive Council:
    1. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport
    2. Treasurer
    3. Minister for Regional Services, Sport, Local Government and Decentralisation
    4. Minister for Finance and the Public Sector and Vice President of the Executive Council
    5. Minister for Indigenous Affairs
    6. Minister for Defence
    7. Minister for Defence Industry
    8. Minister for Foreign Affairs
    9. Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment
    10. Attorney-General
    11. Minister for Home Affairs
    12. Minister for Communications and Minister for the Arts
    13. Minister for Jobs and Industrial Relations and Minister for Women
    14. Minister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education
    15. Minister for Resources and Northern Australia
    16. Minister for Industry, Science and Technology
    17. Minister for Education
    18. Minister for Health
    19. Minister for Families and Social Services
    20. Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources
    21. Minister for the Environment
    22. Minister for Energy
    23. Minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population
    24. Assistant Treasurer
    25. Special Minister of State
    26. Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Minister for Defence Personnel and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC
    27. Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs
    28. Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health
    29. Minister for Human Services and Digital Transformation
    30. Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister
    31. Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories
    32. Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister
    33. Assistant Minister for Roads and Transport
    34. Assistant Minister for Treasury and Finance
    35. Assistant Minister for Defence
    36. Assistant Minister for International Development and the Pacific
    37. Assistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment
    38. Assistant Minister for Home Affairs
    39. Assistant Minister for Social Services, Housing and Disability Services
    40. Assistant Minister for Children and Families
    41. Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources
  9. Administrators of Territories in order of appointment:
    1. Administrator of Norfolk Island
    2. Administrator of the Australian Indian Ocean Territories
    3. Administrator of the Northern Territory
  10. The Leader of the Opposition The Honourable Anthony Albanese MP
  11. Former holders of high offices:
    1. Former Governors-General in order of leaving office:
      1. Bill Hayden (1989–1996)
      2. Sir William Deane (1996–2001)
      3. Dr Peter Hollingworth (2001–2003)
      4. Major General Michael Jeffery (2003–2008)
      5. Dame Quentin Bryce (2008–2014)
      6. General Sir Peter Cosgrove (2014-2019)
    2. Former Prime Ministers in order of leaving office:
      1. Paul Keating (1991–1996)
      2. John Howard (1996–2007)
      3. Kevin Rudd
      4. Julia Gillard (2010–2013)
      5. Tony Abbott (2013–2015)
      6. Malcolm Turnbull (2015–2018)
    3. Former Chief Justices in order of leaving office:
      1. Sir Anthony Mason (1987–1995)
      2. Sir Gerard Brennan (1995–1998)
      3. Murray Gleeson (1998–2008)
      4. Robert French (2008–2017)
  12. Premiers of states in order of state populations, then the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory:
    1. Premier of New South Wales
    2. Premier of Victoria
    3. Premier of Queensland
    4. Premier of Western Australia
    5. Premier of South Australia
    6. Premier of Tasmania
    7. Chief Minister of the Northern Territory
  13. Justices of the High Court in order of appointment:
    1. Virginia Bell
    2. Stephen Gageler
    3. Patrick Keane
    4. Geoffrey Nettle
    5. Michelle Gordon
    6. James Edelman
  14. Senior judges:
    1. Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Australia
    2. President of the Fair Work Commission
  15. Chief Justices of States in order of appointment:
    1. Chief Justice of New South Wales
    2. Chief Justice of South Australia
    3. Chief Justice of Tasmania
    4. Chief Justice of Queensland
    5. Chief Justice of Victoria
    6. Chief Justice of Western Australia
  16. Australian members of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom in order of appointment:
    1. Doug Anthony
    2. Ian Sinclair
    3. Sir William Heseltine
  17. The Chief of the Defence Force
  18. Chief Judges of Federal and Territory Courts in order of appointment
    1. Chief Justice of the Australian Capital Territory
    2. Chief Justice of the Northern Territory
    3. Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia
  19. Members of Parliament
  20. Judges of the Federal Court of Australia and Family Court of Australia, and Deputy presidents of the Fair Work Commission in order of appointment
  21. Lord Mayors of capital cities in order of city populations:
    1. Lord Mayor of Sydney
    2. Lord Mayor of Melbourne
    3. Lord Mayor of Brisbane
    4. Lord Mayor of Perth
    5. Lord Mayor of Adelaide
    6. Lord Mayor of Hobart
    7. Lord Mayor of Darwin
  22. Heads of religious communities according to the date of assuming office in Australia
  23. Presiding officers of State Legislatures in order of appointment, then Presiding Officer of the Northern Territory legislature:
    1. Speaker of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly
    2. President of the New South Wales Legislative Council
    3. Speaker of the Victorian Legislative Assembly
    4. Speaker of the Western Australian Legislative Assembly
    5. President of the Western Australian Legislative Council
    6. Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Queensland
    7. Speaker of the Tasmanian House of Assembly
    8. President of the South Australian Legislative Council
    9. Speaker of the South Australian House of Assembly
    10. President of the Victorian Legislative Council
    11. President of the Tasmanian Legislative Council
    12. Speaker of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly
  24. Members of State Executive Councils in order of state populations, and then members of the Northern Territory Executive Council:
    1. Executive Council of New South Wales
    2. Executive Council of Victoria
    3. Executive Council of Queensland
    4. Executive Council of Western Australia
    5. Executive Council of South Australia
    6. Executive Council of Tasmania
    7. Executive Council of the Northern Territory
  25. Leaders of the Opposition of State Legislatures in order of state populations, then in the Northern Territory:
    1. Leader of the Opposition of New South Wales (acting)
    2. Leader of the Opposition of Victoria
    3. Leader of the Opposition of Queensland
    4. Leader of the Opposition of Western Australia
    5. Leader of the Opposition of South Australia
    6. Leader of the Opposition of Tasmania
    7. Leader of the Opposition of the Northern Territory
  26. Judges of State and Territory Supreme Courts in order of appointment:
    1. Supreme Court of New South Wales
    2. Supreme Court of Victoria
    3. Supreme Court of Queensland
    4. Supreme Court of Western Australia
    5. Supreme Court of South Australia
    6. Supreme Court of Tasmania
    7. Supreme Court of the Northern Territory
  27. Members of State Legislatures in order of state populations:
    1. New South Wales Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council
    2. Victorian Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council
    3. Queensland Legislative Assembly
    4. Western Australian Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council
    5. South Australian House of Assembly and Legislative Council
    6. Tasmanian House of Assembly and Legislative Council
    7. Northern Territory Legislative Assembly
  28. The Secretaries of Departments of the Australian Public Service and their peers and the Chiefs of the Air Force, Army, and Navy and Vice Chief of the Defence Force in order of first appointment to this group:
    1. Vice Chief of the Defence Force
    2. Chief of Navy
    3. Chief of Army
    4. Chief of Air Force
  29. Consuls-General, Consuls and Vice-Consuls according to the date on which recognition was granted
  30. Members of the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly
  31. Recipients of Decorations or Honours from the Sovereign
  32. Citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia
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Womens suffrage in Australia

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References

  1. Australian Dictionary of Biography: Huntingfield, fifth Baron (1883–1969). Retrieved 4 September 2015
  2. Twomey, Anne (1 March 2018). "Chapter 4: Independence". In Saunders, C; Stone, A (eds.). The Oxford Handbook of the Australian Constitution. New York, USA: Oxford University Press. pp. 167–168. ISBN   9780191058318.