Puneet Varma

Vice President of the Executive Council

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Style  The Honourable
Inaugural holder  Richard O'Connor
Vice-President of the Executive Council
Appointer  Governor-General on the recommendation of the Prime Minister of Australia
Formation  1 January 1901 (1901-01-01)

The Vice-President of the Federal Executive Council is a position in the Government of Australia, whose holder acts as presiding officer of the Federal Executive Council in the absence of the Governor-General.


The Vice-President of the Federal Executive Council is appointed by the Governor-General on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Vice-President is usually a senior minister and may summon executive councillors and preside at Council meetings when the Governor-General is not present. However, the Vice-President cannot sign Executive Council documents on behalf of the Governor-General.

Since 19 September 2013, the Vice-President of the Federal Executive Council has been the Honourable George Brandis QC.

Duties and history

As the duties of the post are not rigorous, it is usually given to a Member of the Cabinet, and no additional salary or allowance is paid. In this sense, it is usually not a 'Minister without portfolio' such as the equivalent position, Lord President of the Council, is in the United Kingdom, although it has sometimes been used thus in the past (many of the earlier Vice-Presidents, and some of the later ones, such as Dame Enid Lyons in the First Menzies Ministry and Sir James Killen in the Third Fraser Ministry, served in the post without holding another portfolio simultaneously).

A small Department of the Vice-President of the Executive Council existed from 22 March to 31 May 1971, during the premiership of William McMahon. It was administered by Sir Alan Hulme, who was also Postmaster-General. James Killen was controversially appointed to this office in 1982. He held no Ministerial portfolio, but was nevertheless considered a member of the Fraser Ministry by virtue only of this office. A small Department of the Vice-President of the Executive Council was recreated, which was administered by him. The appointment was controversial because it was seen as a sinecure given that he held no Ministerial portfolio, as the cabinet appointment entitled him to receive a ministerial salary. The Department was abolished in 1983 by the incoming prime minister Bob Hawke.

Colonial and state governments

Prior to the creation of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, colonial and state governments, including the Colony of New South Wales also appointed a Vice-President of the Executive Council. The first New South Wales appointment was made on 3 October 1856 in the Parker ministry of the first elected colonial government. The New South Wales government currently retains the title for a senior government minister, presently held by the Honourable Michael Gallacher MP.

List of Vice-Presidents of the Executive Council

The following individuals have been appointed as Vice-President of the Executive Council:


Vice-President of the Executive Council Wikipedia

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