Are conventions not written in the Constitution (e.g. the King appointing Governor-Generals on the Prime Minister's advice) binding/mandatory?
Hi Kyle, thanks for your question!
Conventions are unwritten rules and processes based on established practices and procedures. Many of Australia’s conventions can be traced back to the practices and traditions of the British Parliament.
While these conventions are generally followed and have an accepted role in Australia’s system of government, they are not mandatory. An example of this occurred in 1975 when the Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was dismissed by the Governor-General John Kerr. This action was directly against the established convention that the Governor-General should act on the advice of the Prime Minister.
Conventions which are recognised features of Australia’s system of government but are not written in the constitution include:
The role of the Prime Minister
- The role of the Cabinet
- The process for electing a government
- The concept of ministerial responsibility
Opening of the First Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia by H.R.H. The Duke of Cornwall and York (Later King George V), May 9, 1901.
Parliament House Art Collection, Canberra, ACT and the Royal Collection Trust.
This painting was painted by Australian artist Tom Roberts. It is known as the 'Big Picture', although its official name is 'Opening of the First Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia by H.R.H. The Duke of Cornwall and York (Later King George V), May 9, 1901.'
The ‘Big Picture’ includes 269 portraits of the people who attended the opening of the First Parliament, including the Governor-General, the members of the Senate and House of Representatives, and Australia’s first Prime Minister, Edmund Barton.
Permission for publication must be sought from Parliament House Art Collection. Contact DPS Art Services, phone: 02 62775034 or 02 62775123