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Role of the Governor

The constitutional laws of Western Australia provide for a Governor to represent the Sovereign (currently Queen Elizabeth II) as the Head of State. Each Australian State has a Governor, with a Governor-General overseeing the Commonwealth of Australia.

The Governor is appointed on the advice of the Premier and may be dismissed only by the Sovereign on the advice of the Premier. The Governor acts on the advice of the Premier, Ministers and Executive Council.

Before the granting of self-government to Western Australia, Governors were appointed by the Sovereign on the advice of the United Kingdom Government.

The Governor is now no longer subject to the control, supervision or veto of the Sovereign or the United Kingdom Government, since the Australia Acts were passed in 1986 by the Commonwealth Parliament and the Parliament of the United Kingdom, at the request of all State Parliaments.

The Governor’s role is apolitical and includes important constitutional, ceremonial, representational and community functions. The Governor advocates for the State’s strategic interests and capabilities.

Constitutional

The Governor’s powers and functions are set out in the Letters Patent, under which the Governor is appointed, and the Constitution Act 1889.

These powers and functions include:

  • presiding over Executive Council
  • appointing Ministers, Judges, Magistrates and Justices of the Peace
  • fixing the time and place for each session of the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council; and the proroguing and dissolving of the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council
  • accepting the resignation of members of the Legislative Council
  • appointing the President of the Legislative Council
  • issuing writs for general elections
  • taking, or authorising some person to take, the oath or affirmation of allegiance from members of the Houses of Parliament.

The Governor signs and approves Treasury authorities for the appropriation of funds for the running of the State. A vote, resolution or Bill for the spending of public money cannot be passed by the Western Australian Parliament unless the Governor sends a message to the Legislative Assembly recommending it. In each of these things the Governor acts on the advice of the Premier.

All Bills passed by the Western Australian Parliament require the Governor’s signature before they become law (i.e. an Act). The appointment of senior officials in the public sector require the formal approval of the Governor in Executive Council.

Source: Dynamics in Government: A guide to the workings of government in Western Australia (May 2000, Constitutional Centre of Western Australia); edited by Jolly Read.

Ceremonial

The Governor officiates at a range of important ceremonial and celebratory occasions and commemorations.

The Governor’s main ceremonial duties include:

  • Anzac Day
  • investiture ceremonies (mainly for recipients of the Order of Australia, Bravery, and some Defence decorations)
  • the opening of Parliament
  • Australia Day
  • memorial, commemorative, or wreath-laying services where the Governor represents the people of Western Australia.

Representational

As Western Australia’s Head of State, the Governor receives courtesy ‘calls’ and offers official hospitality to visiting Heads of State, Royalty, Spiritual Leaders and Ambassadors, as well as incoming and outgoing members of the Consular Corps of Western Australia.

Advocacy

The Governor advocates for and promotes the State’s strategic interests and capabilities.

This is pursued through a variety of opportunities within the House, State, interstate and internationally.

Within the House, this includes meetings with, and entertainment of, visiting diplomats, business, political, scientific and community figures. This can also include the organisation of specific purpose conferences and seminars.

Around the State, this includes participation in conferences, advancing aspects of the WA cause and visiting and directing attention to public capacities and achievements of broad value and State assets critical to State objectives.

Interstate and internationally, this includes, pursuit of opportunities for WA business, discussion with potential investors and those who influence them, and presentations on WA’s strategic and economic significance.

The Governor is always seeking to interact with local people who champion WA’s interest.

Community

Community functions are an important arm of the Governor’s duties.

The Governor is Patron of many worthy organisations in Western Australia and demonstrates support in various ways, including attending events throughout the year. Read more about the Governor’s Patronage organisations

The Governor also receives courtesy “calls” from Heads of State, Royalty, Spiritual Leaders, Ambassadors, as well as incoming and outgoing members of the Consular Corps of Western Australia.

The Governor also engages with a number of regional Western Australians through the Regional Visit Program. Read more information about the Governor’s Program.