What is the Executive?

The Executive consists of the Governor General (in the CTH) or the Governor (in the States and Territories), the Prime Minister (or Premier), Ministers and some other Government groups such as the Cabinet.

Powers of the Governor General

Under Chapter II of the Commonwealth Constitution 1901, power to assent to Acts is given to the Monarch or their representative. This is a replication of the Westminster Model of government from English Law.

The Executive power (Section 61) in the Constitution provides for:

  • giving Royal Assent (approval) to a bill passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Governor-General (or Governor) may recommend changes to a bill; however, no Governor-General (or Governor) has ever refused to give Royal Assent;
  • starting the process for an election;
  • appointing times for sessions of Parliament to be held;
  • convening a joint sitting of Parliament; and
  • acting as Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Defence Force (Governor-General only).

The Governor General or Governor and their ministry is responsible for officiating in making a law (as introduced into Parliament as a Bill) into an Act by assenting to the law. As such, the Executive is normally tasked with putting the law into action.

Once an Act receives Royal Assent, it is in force and is generally accompanied by a commencement date, or a date at which all the provisions of the act start.

The Cabinet

Cabinet is a group within the Executive consisting of the Prime Minister and top-level ministers. It typically includes about 17 ministers and is the main decision-making group within the Executive.

Although Cabinet is not mentioned in the Australian Constitution and is not defined by law, it exists in the Australian system of government based on tradition and past practice. This usually means each successive Government determines how the Cabinet will operate.

Speak to a human

To speak to a TimeBase team member, freecall 1800 077 088 (Mon-Fri, 8am-4:30pm)

Request support