World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Governor of New South Wales

Article Id: WHEBN0000012850
Reproduction Date:

Title: Governor of New South Wales  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: History of Australia, David Hurley, History of New South Wales, Executive Council of New South Wales, John Young, 1st Baron Lisgar
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Governor of New South Wales

Governor of New South Wales
Badge of the Governor
David Hurley

since 2 October 2014
Style His Excellency
Residence Government House, Sydney
Appointer Queen Elizabeth II
Term length At Her Majesty's pleasure
Formation 7 February 1788
First holder Arthur Phillip
Website Office of the Governor

The Governor of New South Wales is the viceregal representative of the Australian monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, in the state of New South Wales. In an analogous way to the Governor-General of Australia at the national level, the Governors of the Australian states perform constitutional and ceremonial functions at the state level. The Governor is appointed on the advice of the Premier of New South Wales,[1] for an unfixed period of time—known as serving At Her Majesty's pleasure—though five years is the norm. The current Governor is General David Hurley, who succeeded Dame Marie Bashir on 2 October 2014.

The office has its origin in the 18th century colonial governors of New South Wales upon its settlement in 1788, and thus is the oldest continuous institution in Australia. The present incarnation of the position emerged with the Federation of Australia and the New South Wales Constitution Act 1902, which defined the viceregal office as the Governor acting by and with the Advice of the Executive Council of New South Wales.[2] However, the post still ultimately represented the government of the United Kingdom until, after continually decreasing involvement by the British government, the passage in 1942 of the Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 1942 (see Statute of Westminster) and the Australia Act 1986, whereafter the governor became the direct, personal representative of the uniquely Australian sovereign.


Sir John Northcott, the first Australian-born person appointed as Governor (1946–1957).
The governor is required by the Constitution Act, 1902. As such, the Australian monarch approves with commission issued under the royal sign-manual and Public Seal of the State her New South Wales Premier's recommendation for viceroy, who is from then until being sworn-in referred to as the governor-designate.

Besides the administration of the oaths of office, there is no set formula for the swearing-in of a governor-designate. The constitution act stipulates that: "Before assuming office, a person appointed to be Governor shall take the Oath or Affirmation of Allegiance and the Oath or Affirmation of Office in the presence of the Chief Justice or another Judge of the Supreme Court."[2] The sovereign will also hold an audience with the appointee and will at that time induct the governor-designate into the Order of Australia as Companion (AC).

Sir Eric Woodward, the first New South Wales-born person appointed as Governor (1957–65)

The incumbent will generally serve for at least five years, though this is only a developed convention, and the governor still technically acts at Her Majesty's pleasure (or the Royal Pleasure). The premier may therefore recommend to the Queen that the viceroy remain in her service for a longer period of time, sometimes upwards of more than seven years. A governor may also resign[n 1] and three have died in office.[n 2] In such a circumstance, or if the governor leaves the country for longer than one month, the Lieutenant Governor of New South Wales, concurrently held by the Chief Justice of New South Wales since 1872, serves as Administrator of the Government and exercises all powers of the governor.[n 3] Furthermore, if the Lieutenant Governor becomes incapacitated while serving in the office of Governor, the next most senior judge of the Supreme Court is sworn in as the Administrator.[n 4]


Between 1788 and 1957, all governors were born outside of New South Wales and were often members of the Peerage. Historian A.J.P. Taylor once noted that "going out and governing New South Wales became the British aristocracy's 'abiding consolation'".[3] However, even though the implementation of the Australian Citizenship Act in 1948 established the concept of an independent Australian citizenship, the idea of Australian-born persons being appointed governor of New South Wales was much earlier. Coincidentally the first Australian-born Governor, Sir John Northcott on 1 August 1946, was also the first Australian-born Governor of any state. However, as Northcott was born in Victoria, it was not until Sir Eric Woodward's appointment by Queen Elizabeth II in 1957 that the position was filled by a New South Wales-born individual; this practice continued until 1996, when Queen Elizabeth II commissioned as her representative Gordon Samuels, a London-born immigrant to Australia.

Although required by the tenets of constitutional monarchy to be non-partisan while in office, governors were frequently former politicians, many being members of the House of Lords by virtue of their peerage. The first Governors were all military officers and the majority of governors since have come from a military background, numbering 19. Samuels was the first governor in New South Wales history without either a political, public service or military background, being a former Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. The first woman to hold this position is also the first Lebanese-Australian governor, Dame Marie Bashir.


As Australia shares its monarch equally with fifteen other countries in the Commonwealth of Nations and the sovereign lives predominantly outside New South Wales' borders, the governor's primary task is to perform the sovereign's constitutional duties on his or her behalf, acting within the principles of parliamentary democracy and responsible government as a guarantor of continuous and stable governance and as a nonpartisan safeguard against the abuse of power. For the most part, however, the powers of the Crown are exercised on a day-to-day basis by elected and appointed individuals, leaving the governor to perform the various ceremonial duties the sovereign otherwise carries out when in the country; at such a moment, the governor removes him or herself from public, though the presence of the monarch does not affect the governor's ability to perform governmental roles.

The Lord Wakehurst takes the oath of office upon his arrival in Sydney in 1937.

It is the governor who is required by the Constitution Act 1902, to appoint persons to the Government of New South Wales, who are all theoretically tasked with tendering to the monarch and viceroy guidance on the exercise of the Royal Prerogative. Convention dictates, that the governor must draw from the Parliament an individual to act as Premier, who is also capable of forming government—in almost all cases the Member of Parliament who commands the confidence of the Legislative Assembly. The Premier then directs the Governor to appoint other members of parliament to the Executive Council of New South Wales known as the Cabinet, and it is in practice only from this group of ministers of the Crown that the Queen and governor will take direction on the use of executive power, an arrangement called the Queen-in-Council or, more specifically, the Governor-in-Council. In this capacity, the governor will issue royal proclamations and sign orders in council. The Governor-in-Council is also required to appoint in the Queen's name the President of the Legislative Council, the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Supreme Court and District Court justices, and local court magistrates in the state, though all of these are made on the advice of either the Premier and cabinet or the majority of elected members of each house in the case of the Speaker or President. The advice given by the Cabinet is, in order to ensure the stability of government, typically binding; both the Queen and her viceroy, however, may in exceptional circumstances invoke the reserve powers, which remain the Crown's final check against a ministry's abuse of power, this was last fully exercised in 1932, when Sir Philip Game dismissed Premier Jack Lang.

The Governor alone is constitutionally mandated to summon parliament. Beyond that, the viceroy carries out the other conventional parliamentary duties in the sovereign's absence, including reading the Speech from the throne and the proroguing and dissolving of parliament. The governor grants Royal Assent in the Queen's name; legally, he or she has three options: grant Royal Assent (making the bill law), withhold Royal Assent (vetoing the bill), or reserve the bill for the Queen's pleasure (allowing the sovereign to personally grant or withhold assent). If the governor withholds the Queen's assent, the sovereign may within two years disallow the bill, thereby annulling the law in question. No modern viceroy has denied Royal Assent to a bill. With most constitutional functions delegated to Cabinet, the governor acts in a primarily ceremonial fashion. He or she will host members of Australia's royal family, as well as foreign royalty and heads of state. Also as part of international relations, the governor receives letters of credence and of recall from foreign consul-generals appointed to Sydney. When they are the longest serving State Governor, the Governor of New South Wales holds a dormant commission to act as the Administrator of the Commonwealth when the Governor-General of Australia is absent from Australia, a role held by the current Governor.[4]

The governor is also tasked with fostering unity and pride. He or she will also induct individuals into the various national orders and present national medals and decorations, however the most senior awards such as ACs or the Victoria Cross are the sole prerogative of the Governor General. The governor also traditionally serves as Honorary and Regimental Colonel in the Royal New South Wales Regiment and as Honorary Air Commodore of No. 22 (City of Sydney) Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force. Since 1946, the governor has also always been made the Chief Scout of New South Wales.

Symbols and protocol

The present Standard of the Governor of New South Wales, adopted on 15 January 1981
Standard of the Governor, 1876–1981

As the personal representative of the monarch, the governor follows only the sovereign in the NSW order of precedence. The incumbent governor is entitled to the use the style of His or Her Excellency, while in office. On 28 November 2013 the Premier of NSW announced that the Queen had given approval for the title of "The Honourable" to be accorded to the governors and former governors of New South Wales.[5] He or she also upon installation serves as a Deputy Prior of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem in Australia and is also traditionally invested as either a Knight or Dame of Justice or Grace of the Order. It is also customary that the Governor is made a Companion of the Order of Australia, though this is not necessarily automatic.

The Viceregal Salute—composed of the first and last four bars of the National Anthem ("Advance Australia Fair")—is the salute used to greet the governor upon arrival at, and mark his or her departure from most official events, although "God Save The Queen", as the Royal Anthem, is also used. To mark the viceroy's presence at any building, ship, aeroplane, or car in Australia, the governor's flag is employed. The present form was adopted on 15 January 1981. The shield of the Royal Arms of New South Wales crowned with the St Edward's Crown is employed as the badge of the governor, appearing on the viceroy's flag and on other objects associated with the person or the office.


An engraving of the First Fleet in Botany Bay at voyage's end in 1788, from The Voyage of Governor Phillip to Botany Bay.[6] The arrival of the First Fleet marked the establishment of the colony of New South Wales, and the office of the Governor.

Aside from the Crown itself, the office of Governor of New South Wales is the oldest constitutional office in Australia. Captain Arthur Phillip assumed office as Governor of New South Wales on 7 February 1788, when the Colony of New South Wales, the first British settlement in Australia, was formally proclaimed. The early colonial governors held an almost autocratic power due to the distance from and poor communications with Great Britain, until 1824 when the New South Wales Legislative Council, Australia's first legislative body, was appointed to advise the governor.[7]

Between 1850 and 1861, the Governor of New South Wales was titled Governor-General, in an early attempt at federalism imposed by Earl Grey. All communication between the Australian colonies and the British Government was meant to go through the Governor-General, and the other colonies had Lieutenant-Governors. As South Australia (1836), Tasmania (January 1855) and Victoria (May 1855) obtained responsible government, their Lieutenant-Governors were replaced by Governors. Although he had ceased acting as a Governor-General, Sir William Denison retained the title until his retirement.[8]

Federation Pavillion in Sydney on 1 January 1901: the Lieutenant Governor and Chief Justice of New South Wales administered the oath of office to the first Governor-General of the new Commonwealth.

The British colonies in Australia joined together to form the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901. New South Wales changed form a colony to a federal state. In 1902, the New South Wales Constitution Act 1902 confirmed the modern system of government of New South Wales as a state, including defining that the Governor, as the monarch's representative, acts by and with the advice of the Executive Council. However, despite the constitutional change, the nature of the Governor's office as the representative of the British monarch remained unchanged. Like the new federal Governor-General and the other state governors, in the first years after federation the Governor of New South Wales continued to act both as a constitutional head of the state, and as a liaison between the government and the imperial government in London. However, the British government's involvement in Australian affairs gradually reduced in the next few years.

The copy of the Australia Act 1986 (UK) bearing the Queen's signature, now displayed in Canberra.

In 1942, via the Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 1942, the Commonwealth of Australia accepted the dominion status granted by the Statute of Westminster, and while Australia and Britain share the same person as monarch, that person acts in a distinct capacity when acting as the monarch of each dominion. The convention that the monarch acts in respect of Australian affairs on the advice of his or her Australian ministers, rather than his or her British ministers, became enshrined in law. For New South Wales however, because the Statute of Westminster did not disturb the constitutional arrangements of the Australian states, the Governor remained (at least formally) a representative of the British monarch. This arrangement seemed incongruous with the Commonwealth of Australia's independent dominion status conferred by the Statute of Westminster, and with the federal structure set up by the Constitution of Australia. After much negotiation between the federal and state governments of Australia, the British government and Buckingham Palace, the Australia Act 1986 removed any remaining constitutional roles of the British monarch and British government in the Australian states, and established that the Governor of New South Wales (along with the other state governors) was the direct, personal representative of the Australian monarch, and not the British monarch or the British government, nor the Governor-General of Australia or the Australian federal government.

Residences and household

Government House, Sydney, the official residence of the governor

Government House, Sydney, as the residence of the monarch, is the traditional official residence of the governor. The Governor's present day office is the historic Chief Secretary’s Building nearby, at 121 Macquarie Street.

On 16 January 1996, Premier Bob Carr announced that the next Governor would be Gordon Samuels, that he would not live or work at Government House and that he would retain his appointment as Chairman of the New South Wales Law Reform Commission. On these changes, Carr said: "The Office of the Governor should be less associated with pomp and ceremony, less encumbered by anachronistic protocol, more in tune with the character of the people."[9] The State's longest serving Governor, Sir Roden Cutler, was also reported as saying: "It's a political push to make way in New South Wales to lead the push for a republic. If they decide not to have a Governor and the public agrees with that, and Parliament agrees, and the Queen agrees to it, that is a different matter, but while there is a Governor you have got to give him some respectability and credibility, because he is the host for the whole of New South Wales. For the life of me I cannot understand the logic of having a Governor who is part-time and doesn’t live at Government House. It is such a degrading of the office and of the Governor."[9]

In October 2011, the new Premier Barry O'Farrell announced that the Governor, now Dame Marie Bashir, had agreed with O'Farrell's offer to move back into Government House: "A lot of people believe the Governor should live at Government House. That's what it was built for ... [A]t some stage a rural or regional governor will be appointed and we will need to provide accommodation at Government House so it makes sense to provide appropriate living areas". However, because Government House has not been a residence for fifteen years, O'Farrell also announced that the Governor will initially move into a smaller adjacent building, called the chalet, while refurbishments of the main wing occur, with a proposed move into the main house "before Christmas".[10]

The Governors also previously had a summer residence, "Hillview", in Sutton Forest from 1885 to 1957. Hillview was put up for sale and purchased from the State Government by Edwin Klein in 1957. Hillview was returned to the people of NSW in 1985 and is currently occupied by the Department of Planning through the Heritage Office.[11]

The viceregal household aids the governor in the execution of the royal constitutional and ceremonial duties and is managed by the Office of the Governor, whose current Official Secretary and Chief of Staff is Brian Davies LVO.[12] These organised offices and support systems include Government House. These departments are funded through the annual budget, as is the governor's salary of A$181,555.[13]

List of Governors of New South Wales

No. Portrait Governor From To
Governors under King George III (1760–1820):
1 Captain Arthur Phillip RN 7 February 1788 10 December 1792
2 Captain John Hunter RN 11 September 1795 27 September 1800
3 Captain Philip Gidley King RN 28 September 1800 12 August 1806
4 Captain William Bligh RN 13 August 1806 26 January 1808
5 Major-General Lachlan Macquarie CB 1 January 1810 1 December 1821
Governors under King George IV (1820–1830):
6 Major-General Sir Thomas Brisbane BtGCHGCB 1 December 1821 1 December 1825
7 Lieutenant-General Sir Ralph Darling GCH 19 December 1825 21 October 1831
Governors under King William IV (1830–1837):
8 Major-General Sir Richard Bourke KCB 3 December 1831 5 December 1837
Governors under Queen Victoria (1837–1901):
9 Major Sir George Gipps 24 February 1838 11 July 1846
10 Lieutenant Colonel Sir Charles Augustus FitzRoy KCBKCB 3 August 1846 28 January 1855
11 Sir William Denison KCB 20 January 1855 22 January 1861
12 GCMGKCB 16 May 1861 24 December 1867
13 GCMGPC 8 January 1868 21 February 1872
14 GCMG 3 June 1872 19 March 1879
15 The Rt Hon. Lord Augustus Loftus GCB 4 August 1879 9 November 1885
16 GCMGPC 12 December 1885 3 November 1890
17 GCMGPC 15 January 1891 2 March 1893
18 GCMG 29 May 1893 15 March 1895
19 GCMG 21 November 1895 5 March 1899
20 KCMGPC 18 May 1899 30 April 1901
Governors under King Edward VII (1901–1910):
21 GCMGRN 27 May 1902 27 May 1909
22 GCMG 28 May 1909 11 March 1913
Governors under King George V (1910–1936):
23 GCMG 14 March 1913 27 October 1917
24 KCMG 18 February 1918 4 September 1923
25 Admiral Sir Dudley de Chair KCBKBEMVO 28 February 1924 7 April 1930
26 Air Vice-Marshal Sir Philip Game GBEKCBDSO 29 May 1930 15 January 1935
27 GCMGCBDSO 21 February 1935 22 January 1936
Governors under King Edward VIII (1936):
28 KCMGMVO 6 August 1936 30 October 1936
Governors under King George VI (1936–1952):
29 KCMG 8 April 1937 8 January 1946
30 KCMGKCVOCB 1 August 1946 31 July 1957
Governors under Queen Elizabeth II (since 1952):
31 KCMGKCVOCBCBEDSO 1 August 1957 31 July 1965
32 KCMGKCVOCBE 20 January 1966 19 January 1981
33 Air Marshal Sir James Rowland ACKBEDFCAFC 20 January 1981 20 January 1989
34 KCMGAORAN 20 January 1989 7 August 1990
35 Rear Admiral Peter Sinclair ACRAN 8 August 1990 29 February 1996
36 The Hon. Gordon Samuels ACCVOQC 1 March 1996 28 February 2001
37 Professor The Hon. Dame Marie Bashir ADCVO 1 March 2001 1 October 2014
38 General The Hon. David Hurley ACDSC 2 October 2014 Present

Living former governors

Currently, two former governors are alive. The most recent governor to die was Gordon Samuels (1996–2001), on 10 December 2007.

Name Term as governor Date of birth
Peter Sinclair 1990–96 (1934-11-16) 16 November 1934
Dame Marie Bashir 2001–14 (1930-12-01) 1 December 1930

See also


  1. ^ Sir David Martin resigned the viceregal post in 1990 due to health concerns.
  2. ^ Sir Robert Duff died on 15 March 1895, Sir Walter Davidson died on 15 September 1923 and Sir David Anderson on 31 October 1936.
  3. ^ When Sir David Anderson died in office on 30 October 1936, the Lieutenant Governor, Sir Philip Street, served as Administrator until Lord Wakehurst was sworn in on 8 April 1937.
  4. ^ This occurred in May 1973 when Sir Leslie Herron died suddenly while the Governor, Sir Roden Cutler was overseas. Sir John Kerr became the Administrator until Cutler was able to return.



  1. ^ The Royal Household. "The Queen and the Commonwealth > Queen and Australia > The Queen's role in Australia". Queen's Printer. Retrieved 19 August 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Constitution Act, 1902, Sydney: Queen's Printer, retrieved 19 August 2010 
  3. ^ A.J.P. Taylor, English History, 1914-1945 (1965), pp. 172-3 in Cannadine, David. Aspects of Aristocracy (Yale University Press, 1994).
  4. ^ Commonwealth of Australia Gazette S205 dated 17 June 2003
  5. ^ "The title 'The Honourable' for Governors of New South Wales". New South Wales Government Gazette. 6 December 2013. p. 5716. Retrieved 9 December 2013. 
  6. ^ The Voyage of Governor Phillip to Botany Bay (1789)
  7. ^ NSW Parliament. History of the Legislative Council. Retrieved 10 August 2007.
  8. ^ Twomey, Anne (2006). The chameleon Crown: The Queen and her Australian governors. Sydney: The Federation Press.  
  9. ^ a b
  10. ^ "Governor Marie Bashir makes a grand return home to Government House". The Daily Telegraph. 7 October 2011. 
  11. ^ "Heritage dispute over Sutton Forest mansion Hillview". Southern highland News. Retrieved 19 August 2010. 
  12. ^ "Governor of New South Wales Official Website". Retrieved 26 November 2012. 
  13. ^ "Constitution (Governor's Salary) Regulation 1990 (NSW)". Retrieved 5 June 2011. 

External links

  • Governor of New South Wales official website
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.