all right

Occasionally adding corroborative details to add verisimilitude to otherwise bald and unconvincing,
but veridicous accounts
with careful attention, indefatigable assiduity, and nice discrimination.

05 September, 2011

May the Governor-General Dissolve the House of Representatives?

According to § 5 of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act, the Governor-General may dissolve the House of Representatives at any time:
The Governor-General may appoint such times for holding the sessions of the Parliament as he thinks fit, and may also from time to time, by Proclamation or otherwise, prorogue the Parliament, and may in like manner dissolve the House of Representatives. 
The approved website of the Governor-General provides an official acknowledgement of the Governor-General’s power both to dismiss a Prime Minister and to act contrary to a Prime Minister’s advice:
While the reserve powers are not codified as such, they are generally agreed to at least include:
  1. The power to appoint a Prime Minister if an election has resulted in a ‘hung parliament’;
  2. The power to dismiss a Prime Minister where he or she has lost the confidence of the Parliament;
  3. The power to dismiss a Prime Minister or Minister when he or she is acting unlawfully; and
  4. The power to refuse to dissolve the House of Representatives despite a request from the Prime Minister.
In addition, the Governor-General has a supervisory role to see that the processes of the Federal Executive Council are conducted lawfully and regularly.
Despite those calumniating commentators who accused participants in the “Convoy of No Confidence” of ignorance by their petitioning the Governor-General to sack the Prime Minister, dissolve the House of Representatives, and call a new election, the current Governor-General, with or without advice from the Prime Minister, may dissolve the House of Representatives immediately, if she think it right to do so.  She won’t, of course, because she supports the incompetent administration of, inter alios, her son-in-law, Bill Shorten, but she clearly has that power.

UPDATE I (6 September):  see Potemkin’s Village on Bill Shorten, the Governor-General and the Heiner Affair

UPDATE II (16 September):  I should add, perhaps, that, whilst the Governor-General has the right and power to call an election against the wishes of the Prime Minister, the Governor-General, conversely, may also reject a call for an early election.  The Governor-General  may refuse the Prime Minister’s request for an early election (as the Governors, too, in the States may refuse the request from a premier), and insist that the PM continue governing or, if that leader lost the confidence of the House of Representatives, ask the Opposition Leader to form a government.  Unfortunately, across the land, Governors and Governors-General too often meekly accede to the demands for early elections—sometimes very early, such as after only eighteen months of a four-year term—whenever premiers and prime ministers and consider it to their advantage to call them.

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