Who is Australia's Head of State?

Australia’s Head of State is the Queen of Australia, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

The Queen of Australia appoints the Governor-General as her representative in Australia, on advice from the Australian Prime Minister. The Governor-General acts independently of all political parties. The Queen does not have a day-to-day role in government.

In each of the states there is a governor who represents the Queen in a role that is similar to the Governor-General.

Constitutional monarchy

Australia is a constitutional monarchy, which means that the Queen is Australia’s Head of State, but has to act in accordance with the Constitution. As the Queen does not live in Australia, her powers are delegated to the Governor-General in Australia.

The Australian system of parliamentary democracy reflects British and North American traditions combined in a way that is uniquely Australian. In the Australian system, the leader of the Australian Government is the Prime Minister.

The role of the Governor-General

The Governor-General is not part of the government and must remain neutral.

The Governor-General’s role includes:

• signing all Bills passed by the Australian Parliament into law (this is called Royal Assent)

• performing ceremonial duties

• approving the appointment of the Australian Government and its ministers, federal judges and other officials

• starting the process for a federal election

• acting as Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Defence Force.

The Governor-General also has special powers known as ‘reserve powers’ that can only be used in specific circumstances.

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Part 1 - Australia and its people

» Australia's states and territories
» Important days for Australians
» Australia's flags and symbols

Part 2 - Australia's democratic beliefs, rights and liberties

» Our democratic beliefs
» Our freedoms
» Our equalities
» Responsibilities and privileges of Australian citizenship
» Participating in Australian society

Part 3 - Government and the law in Australia

» How do I have my say?
» How did we establish our system of government?
» How is the power of government controlled?
» Who is Australia's Head of State?
» Who are some of Australia's leaders?
» How is Australia Governed?
» What do the three levels of government do?
» What role do political parties play in the way Australia is governed?
» How is the Australian Government formed?
» How are laws made?
» How are laws enforced?
» Criminal offences in Australia

Part 4 - Australian values

» Our values
» Our community

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