22 May 1855
Sir Charles Hotham
Government House, Melbourne
At Her Majesty's pleasure
The Governor of Victoria is the representative in the Australian state of Victoria of its monarch, Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia and is one of the Governors of the Australian states. The governor performs the same constitutional and ceremonial functions at the state level as does the Governor-General of Australia at the federal level. The governor's office and official residence is Government House next to the Royal Botanic Gardens and surrounded by Kings Domain in Melbourne.
- Role of governor
- Governors Personal Standard
- Related offices
- Australianisation of the office
- Lieutenant governors
- Living former governors
- Lieutenant governor
The Governor of Victoria is appointed by the Queen of Australia on the advice of the Premier of Victoria. The current Governor of Victoria is former judge Linda Dessau, Victoria's first female governor.
In accordance with the conventions of the Westminster system of parliamentary government, the governor nearly always acts solely on the advice of the head of the elected government, the Premier of Victoria. Nevertheless, the governor retains the reserve powers of the Crown, and has the right to dismiss the premier.
Role of governor
The governor of Victoria is appointed by the queen of Australia, on the advice of the premier of Victoria, to act as her representative as head of state in Victoria. The governor acts "at the queen's pleasure", meaning that the term of the governor can be terminated at any time by the queen acting upon the advice of the premier.
Since the Australia Acts of 1986, it is the governor, and not the queen, who exercises all the powers of the head of state, and the governor is not subject to the direction or supervision of the monarch, but acts upon the advice of the premier. Upon appointment, he or she becomes a viceroy. The governor's main responsibilities fall into three categories – constitutional, ceremonial and community engagement.
Governor's Personal Standard
In 1984, the Personal Standard of the Governor of Victoria was changed to the State Flag of Victoria, with the blue background replaced by gold, and red stars depicting the Southern Cross. Above the Southern Cross is the Royal Crown. Previously, the standard used by Victorian governors after 1870 had been the Union Jack with the Badge of the State of Victoria emblazoned in the centre. Between 1903 and 1953, the Tudor Crown was used on the State Flag and Governor's Standard, and this was changed to the present crown in 1954.
The Governor’s Standard is flown at Government House and on vehicles conveying the governor. The Standard is lowered over Government House when the governor is absent from Victoria.
There is also a lieutenant-governor and an administrator. The Chief Justice of Victoria is ex officio the Administrator, unless he or she is the lieutenant-governor, in which case, the next most senior judge is the administrator. The lieutenant-governor takes on the responsibilities of the governor when that post is vacant or when the governor is out of the state or unable to act. The administrator takes on those duties if both the governor and lieutenant-governor are not able to act for the above reasons.
See Governors of the Australian states for a description and history of the office of governor.
Australianisation of the office
As with the other states, until the 1986 Australia Acts, the office of Governor of Victoria was an appointment of the British Foreign Office although local advice was considered and sometimes rejected.
Until the appointment of Victorian-born Sir Henry Winneke in 1974, the Governors of Victoria were British. Since then, governors have been Australian although several were born overseas, namely Dr Davis McCaughey, born in Ireland, came to Australia for work; and Professor David de Kretser, born in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), and Alex Chernov, born in Lithuania, both of whom came to Australia while at school.
Prior to the separation of the colony of Victoria from New South Wales in 1851, the area was called the Port Phillip District of New South Wales. The Governor of New South Wales appointed superintendents of the District. In 1839 Charles La Trobe was appointed superintendent. La Trobe became Lieutenant-Governor of Victoria on separation on 1 July 1851.
Between 1850 and 1861, the Governor of New South Wales was titled Governor-General of New South Wales, in an attempt to form a federal structure. Until Victoria obtained responsible government in 1855, the Governor-General of New South Wales appointed lieutenant-governors to Victoria. On Victoria obtaining responsible government in May 1855, the title of the then incumbent lieutenant-governor, Captain Sir Charles Hotham, became governor.
Living former governors
As of July 2015, four former governors are alive, the oldest being John Landy (2001–06, born 1930). The most recent governor to die was Davis McCaughey (1986–92), on 25 March 2005. The most recently serving governor to die was Richard McGarvie (1992–1997), on 24 May 2003.
There is also a lieutenant-governor and an administrator. The Chief Justice of Victoria is ex officio the administrator, unless he or she is the lieutenant-governor, in which case, the next most senior judge is the administrator. The lieutenant-governor takes on the responsibilities of the governor when that post is vacant or when the governor is out of the state or unable to act. The administrator takes on those duties if both the governor and lieutenant-governor are not able to act for the above reasons.
The lieutenant-governor is appointed by the governor on the advice of the Premier of Victoria. Appointment as lieutenant-governor of itself confers no powers or functions. If there is no governor or if the governor is unavailable to act for a substantial period, the lieutenant-governor assumes office as administrator and exercises all the powers and functions of a governor. If expecting to be unavailable for a short period only, the governor with the consent of the premier, usually commissions the lieutenant-governor to act as deputy for the governor, performing some or all of the powers and functions of the governor.
Marilyn Warren, AC, the Chief Justice of Victoria, is the current lieutenant-governor.