Get to know the role of the Prime Minister with this fact sheet. Learn how the Prime Minister is chosen, their responsibilities, and about their official residences.
The Prime Minister is the leader of the Australian Government. By convention - tradition - the Prime Minister is a member of the House of Representatives and leads the parliamentary party, or coalition of parties, with the support of the majority of members in the House.
Choosing the Prime Minister
The Prime Minister is chosen by a vote of the members of the government. The Prime Minister can keep their job as long as they are a member of parliament and have the support of the government.
Australia has no maximum period of service for a Prime Minister, unlike countries such as the United States, where the President can only serve for two 4-year terms.
The Prime Minister is the most powerful person in the Australian Parliament and has many tasks, including:
- chairing meetings in which the government discusses policies and examines bills
- selecting members of the government to be ministers
- leading Cabinet in deciding government policy
- acting as the chief government spokesperson
- representing the Australian Government overseas
- advising the Governor-General about important issues such as the appointment of ambassadors and heads of government departments
- advising the Governor-General about constitutional matters
- deciding when to call a federal election and leading the government in the election.
House of Representatives
When in the House of Representatives, the Prime Minister sits at the central table in front of the government and directly opposite the Leader of the Opposition. As the head of the Australian Government, they take the lead in presenting major speeches to Parliament about government policy and answering many questions directed to the government during Question Time.
The Australian Constitution
Although the Prime Minister is often seen as the most important person in Parliament, the role is not mentioned in the Australian Constitution. The Prime Minister works according to practices and customs that developed over hundreds of years in the British Parliament and were then adopted by the Australian Parliament.
The Prime Minister's residences
There are 2 official residences that can be used by the Prime Minister and their family:
- The Lodge, in Canberra.
- Kirribilli House, in Sydney.
Role of the Prime Minister in Australia.
Parliamentary Education Office (peo.gov.au)
This graphic shows that the Prime Minister is the most senior minister in the Australian Government as well as being key spokesperson for Australia, the head of Cabinet and the leader of the government.
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The former Prime Minister speaking from the Despatch Box in the House of Representatives.
David Foote/DPS Auspic
The former Prime Minister stands and speaks at a box with a microphone in the House of Representatives. There are books on the table in front of him and people sitting on green benches in the background.
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