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The Role of a State Governor (p5 of 5)


The states of Australia are constitutional monarchies with the Queen as Head of State, but the powers which in Britain are exercised by the Queen are, in the Australian states, exercised by the Governors. The powers which the Queen has in relation to a state are: first, the power to appoint and dismiss the Governor; second, when she is personally present in a state the powers which at all other times are exercisable by the Governor; and finally the granting of Imperial Honours to citizens of the state. In all these matters the Queen acts upon advice furnished her by the State Premier. The U.K. Government plays no role in matters arising between state governments and the Queen.

The Prime Minister is not involved in nominations for Imperial Honours; and in relation both to the appointment of state Governors and the granting of Imperial Honours the Queen receives no advice from her British ministers. No reference is made to the granting of Imperial Honours in the Australia Acts, but they are covered by arrangements which have been agreed to between the Monarch and the governments of Australia and of the states. Recommendations for the award of Imperial Honours are made by the Premier and are forwarded by him to the Governor for transmission to Her Majesty. A copy of the recommendations are sent by the Governor to the Governor-General for the information of the latter and for the purpose of co-ordinating awards and avoiding duplication. But it is the Premier who is the sole recommending authority. Of course, the Queen, in the case of certain awards such as the order of merit and her own personal awards of the Victorian Order, may act in her entire discretion.

In the case of some approaches to the Queen it is the practice to channel them, for administrative convenience, through the Governor-General, e.g. requests from organisations for the use of the style "Royal". The application is made to the Premier, or if made to the Governor forwarded by the latter to the Premier. If the application has the Government's support the Premier will transmit the recommendation to the Governor who will then forward it to the Governor-General for comment and transmission to Her Majesty. There are certain guidelines and it is desirable that there be implemented a consistent policy throughout Australia. Similarly, an application for the right to use Crown insignia on, say, letterheads or articles of clothing, is made to the Premier and, if supported, is then forwarded to the Governor who will send it to the Governor-General as the latter holds a delegation for approval in this regard.

The practice in Queensland and Tasmania regarding requests by associations for royal patronage is that such requests are submitted to the Governor who will forward them to the Queen's Private Secretary for consideration by Her Majesty. I believe that, in the other states, the practice is for the State Governors to submit them to the Governor-General asking the latter to forward them to the Queen. In relation to the retention of the title "Honourable" there are certain guidelines which have been approved by Her Majesty and which may vary from state to state. An application for the continued use of such title, if within the approved guidelines and recommended by the Premier, would be forwarded by him to the Governor who will then transmit it to Her Majesty for her consideration. Finally, the Governor, as the Queen's representative in the state, may make reports directly to the Queen from time to time either on a regular basis or by reason of constitutional or political changes occurring within the state.

I have not the time in this address to cover the many ceremonial and other public duties of a State Governor - the opening of parliament, the swearing in of ministers, the receiving of calls from ambassadors and high commissioners, the holding of investitures, visits to and inspections of troops and other military formations, the opening of, or participation in, professional conferences and functions held by charitable organisations, the attendance at and the making of speeches at seminars, meetings and so on. It has always been recognized as one of his functions that a Governor should travel widely throughout the state visiting provincial cities, towns and shires and acquainting himself with the activities and problems of people in all walks of life. These are all important, and a Governor is in a position where he can communicate his knowledge and his views, not only to ministers of state, but to a wide range of people who wield influence in the community.

Two former Governors-General, Sir Paul Hasluck and Sir Zelman Cowen, have written about these matters at some length. May I conclude by quoting some words of Sir Zelman made in an article, "The Office of Governor-General", published in the Winter 1985 issue of "Daedalus", the journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, at page 127. The references by Sir Zelman to the work of the Governor-General apply equally to that of a State Governor. Sir Zelman wrote:

"It may be well to restate what I said in my farewell speech in Canberra in 1982. I said that I believed that through such work, through travel and participation in such activities, the Governor-General offers encouragement and recognition to many of those Australians who may not be very powerful or visible in the course of everyday life, and to the efforts of those individuals and groups who work constructively to improve life in the nation and the community. My experience of the office was that much was demanded and expected of me and I sought to respond as best I could. Sir Paul Hasluck has said that Australians both expect and appreciate statements by a Governor-General on matters of current concern at a level different from that of party-political controversy, and I was intellectually stretched and tested in the preparation for speeches, meetings, and activities. Knowledge, experience, and capacity were constantly called on and tested."

Governors of Queensland 1859 to the Present
The Rt. Hon. Sir George Bowen, GCMG1859-68
Colonel Samuel Wensley Blackall1868-71
The Most Hon. The Marquess of Normanby, GCB, GCMG, PC1871-74
Sir William Cairns, KCMG1875-77
Sir Arthur Kennedy, GCMG, CB1877-83
Sir Anthony Musgrave, GCMG1883-88
General Sir Henry Norman, GCB, CIE1889-95
The Rt. Hon. The Lord Lamington, GCMG1896-1901
Major-General Sir Herbert Chermside, GCMG, CG1902-04
The Rt Hon. The Viscount Chelmsford, GCMG, GCSI, GCIE, GBE1905-09
The Rt. Hon. Sir William MacGregor, GCMG, CB1909-14
Major Sir Hamilton Goold-Adams, GCMG, CB1915-20
The Rt. Hon. Lieutenant Colonel Sir Matthew Nathan, GCMG1920-25
Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Goodwin, KCB, CMG, DSO1927-32
Colonel Sir Leslie Wilson, GCMG, GCSI, GCIE, DSO1932-46
Lieutenant-General Sir John Lavarack, KCMG, KCVO, KBE, CB, DSO1946-57
Colonel Sir Henry Abel Smith, KCMG, KCVO, DSO1958-66
The Hon. Sir Alan Mansfield, KCMG, KCVO1966-72
Air Marshal Sir Colin Hannah, KCMG, KCVO, KBE, CB1972-77
Sir James Ramsay, KCMG, KCVO, CBE, DSC1977-85
The Hon. Sir Walter Campbell, AC, QC1985

Publication Data:

Campbell, Sir Walter, 1921-

The role of a State governor, with particular reference to Queensland.

ISBN 0 909800 27 8.

1. Queensland - Governors. 2. Australia - Governors. 3. Australia - Constitutional law. I. Royal Australian Institute of Public Administration. Queensland Division. II. Title. (Series: Queensland Division monograph; no. 13). (Series: Endowed lecture (Royal Australian Institute of Public Administration. Queensland Division): 1988).


Royal Australian Institute of Public Administration, Queensland Division, 1989

This book is copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study, research or criticism as permitted under the Copyright Act, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission. Enquiries should be made to the publisher.

First published: March 1989 Typeset by: James Publishing, Phone (07) 3222 7131 or (07) 3263 5694 (A/H)

Republished: 2004 by permission of the Australian Institute of Public Administration, Queensland Division, by Australians For A Constitutional Monarchy - Toowoomba Branch.

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