Leader of the Opposition
Get to know the role of the Leader of the Opposition with this fact sheet. Learn how the Leader of the Opposition is chosen and their responsibilities.
The Leader of the Opposition is a member of parliament who leads the largest party, or coalition of parties, that is not in government.
Choosing the Leader of the Opposition
The Leader of the Opposition is chosen by a vote of the largest non-government party. The Leader of the Opposition can keep their job as long as they are a member of parliament and have the support of the opposition.
The Leader of the Opposition may become Prime Minister if their party or coalition wins the support of the majority of members in the House of Representatives.
The tasks of the Leader of the Opposition include:
- chairing meetings in which the opposition discusses policies and examines bills
- presenting alternative policies to those of the government
- selecting members of the opposition to be shadow ministers
- leading the shadow Cabinet
- acting as the chief opposition spokesperson
- leading the opposition in a federal election.
House of Representatives
When in the House of Representatives, the Leader of the Opposition sits at the central table in front of the opposition and directly opposite the Prime Minister. They take the lead in opposition debate on bills, directing questions to the government during Question Time and criticising government policy that the opposition disagrees with. If the Prime Minister makes a speech to the House, the Leader of the Opposition usually has the right of reply, which means being given equal time to speak on the issue.
The Leader of the Opposition speaking at the Despatch Box in the House of Representatives.
A photograph of the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Peter Dutton MP, standing and speaking at the Despatch Box in the House of Representatives.
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Role of the Leader of the Opposition in Australia.
Parliamentary Education Office (peo.gov.au)
This graphic shows that the Leader of the Opposition is Australia's most senior shadow minister as well as being key spokesperson for the opposition, the head of the shadow Cabinet and the leader of the largest non-government party in the House of Representatives.
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