Prime Minister of Australia

From Academic Kids

The current (25th) Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard (sitting, fifth from left), with his Cabinet, 1999
The current (25th) Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard (sitting, fifth from left), with his Cabinet, 1999

The office of Prime Minister is in practice the most powerful political office in the Commonwealth of Australia. The Prime Minister is head of government for the Commonwealth and holds office on commission from the Governor-General. Barring exceptional circumstances, the Prime Minister is always the leader of the political party with majority support in the House of Representatives. The Prime Minister's official residence is the Lodge in Canberra. Since 1996 the office-holder has been John Howard of the Liberal Party.



The Prime Minister is appointed by the Governor-General under section 64 of the Australian Constitution. Section 64 of the Constitution empowers the Governor-General to appoint Ministers of State, and requires such Ministers to be members of the House of Representatives or the Senate. These Ministers are ex officio members of the Federal Executive Council and constitute the Cabinet. The Prime Minister in practice is the leader of the Cabinet. By convention, he or she will always be a Member of the House of Representatives.

The Prime Minister is, like other ministers, normally sworn in by the Governor General and then presented with the Commission (Letter patent) of office. When defeated in an election, or on resigning, the Prime Minister is said to "hand in the commission" and actually does so by returning it to the Governor General.

Despite the importance of the office of Prime Minister, the Constitution does not mention the office by name. The conventions of the Westminster system were thought to be sufficiently entrenched in Australia by the authors of the constitution that it was deemed unnecessary to detail them.

In rare circumstances, the Governor-General may appoint someone other than the leader of the majority party in the House of Representatives to be Prime Minister. At the time of Federation, no parliament had yet been established, so Edmund Barton was temporarily appointed as Prime Minister until elections were held. Following the death or resignation of the Prime Minister, the Governor-General will appoint as Prime Minister the person most likely to have majority support in the House of Representatives - in most circumstances, the Deputy Prime Minister. More controversially, during the 1975 constitutional crisis, Malcolm Fraser was appointed as caretaker Prime Minister to replace Gough Whitlam. Theoretically the Governor-General can dismiss the Prime Minister or any other Minister at any time, but his or her power to do so is heavily circumscribed by convention.


Most of the Prime Minister's powers derive from his or her position as the head of the Cabinet. In practice, the Federal Executive Council will act to ratify all decisions made by the Cabinet, and in practice, decisions of the Cabinet will always require the support of the Prime Minister. The powers of the Governor-General - to assent to legislation, to dissolve and prorogue Parliament, to call elections, and to make appointments - are exercised only on the advice of the Prime Minister.

The power of the Prime Minister is subject to a number of limitations. If the Prime Minister is removed as leader of his or her party, or if he or she loses a vote of no-confidence in the House of Representatives, he or she must resign the office or be dismissed by the Governor-General. The Prime Minister must receive the support of both houses of Parliament to pass any legislation (though secondary legislation, called Regulations, can be made by ministerial decree). While the Prime Minister normally will have a majority in the House of Representatives, attaining the support of the Senate can be more difficult, since there the Government will often be in a minority.


Missing image
The first Prime Minister of Australia, Edmund Barton (sitting second from left), with his Cabinet, 1901

Since the framers of the Australian constitution from the beginning intended it to largely follow the Westminster system, the office of Prime Minister has existed since the inauguration of the Commonwealth.

List of Prime Ministers

Main article: List of Prime Ministers of Australia by important facts

The political parties shown are those to which the Prime Ministers belonged at the time they held office. Several Prime Ministers belonged during their life times to parties other than those of which they were members while occupying the office of Prime Minister.

No.NamePartyAssumed officeLeft office
1 Edmund BartonProtectionist 1 January 190124 September 1903
2 Alfred DeakinProtectionist24 September 190327 April 1904
3 Chris WatsonLabor27 April 190418 August 1904
4 Sir George ReidFree Trade18 August 19045 July 1905
- Alfred Deakin (2nd time)Comwlth. Liberal5 July 190513 November 1908
5 Andrew FisherLabor13 November 19082 June 1909
- Alfred Deakin (3rd time)Comwlth. Liberal 2 June 1909 29 April 1910
- Andrew Fisher (2nd time)Labor29 April 191024 June 1913
6 Joseph Cook Comwlth. Liberal24 June 191317 September 1914
- Andrew Fisher (3rd time)Labor17 September 191427 October 1915
7 Billy HughesLabor27 October 191514 November 1916
- Billy Hughes (2nd time)National Labor14 November 191617 February 1917
- Billy Hughes (3rd time)Nationalist17 February 19179 February 1923
8 Stanley BruceNationalist9 February 192322 October 1929
9 James Scullin Labor22 October 19296 January 1932
10 Joseph Lyons United Australia6 January 19327 April 1939
11 Sir Earle PageCountry7 April 193926 April 1939
12 Robert MenziesUnited Australia26 April 193928 August 1941
13 Arthur FaddenCountry28 August 19417 October 1941
14 John CurtinLabor7 October 19415 July 1945
15 Frank FordeLabor6 July 194513 July 1945
16 Ben ChifleyLabor13 July 194519 December 1949
- Sir Robert Menzies (2nd time)Liberal19 December 194926 January 1966
17 Harold HoltLiberal26 January 196619 December 1967
18 John McEwenCountry19 December 196710 January 1968
19 John GortonLiberal10 January 196810 March 1971
20 William McMahonLiberal10 March 19715 December 1972
21 Gough WhitlamLabor5 December 197211 November 1975
22 Malcolm FraserLiberal11 November 197511 March 1983
23 Bob Hawke Labor11 March 198320 December 1991
24 Paul KeatingLabor20 December 199111 March 1996
25 John HowardLiberal11 March 1996(incumbent)

See also

External links

Template:AustraliaPMio:Prima ministri di Australia id:Perdana Menteri Australia zh:澳大利亚总理


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