Does the Prime Minister have the last say?
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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Thanks for your question, Sylvia.
Although the Prime Minister has a very important and high-profile position, only sometimes do they have the last say. It really depends upon where and in what capacity the Prime Minister is speaking.
As the leader of the Australian Government, the Prime Minister will have the last say in:
- selecting members of the government to be ministers
- leading Cabinet meetings and deciding government policy
- advising the Governor-General about important issues such as the appointment of ambassadors and heads of government departments
- deciding when to ask the Governor-General to call a federal election.
However, the Prime Minister is chosen by a vote of the members of the government and can only keep their job as long as they are a member of parliament and have the support of the government.
While the Prime Minister is often seen as the most important person in the Australian Parliament, their position is not mentioned in the Australian Constitution. Instead, the Prime Minister works according to practices and customs that developed over hundreds of years in the British Parliament and then adopted by the Australian Parliament.
The Prime Minister is a member of the House of Representatives but does not have the final say in its meetings. The Speaker of the House of Representatives manages the debates and the Prime Minister can only speak when called upon by the Speaker.
The Prime Minister doesn't have the final say in making laws either. The House of Representatives—where the Prime Minister has a single vote—has to agree to a bill—proposed law. The Senate—where the Prime Minister doesn’t have a vote at all—then has to agree to the bill. Finally the Governor-General has the final say as to whether to provide Royal Assent – sign the bill into law – or to withhold assent.
As you can see, sometimes the Prime Minister does have the last say but there are plenty of occasions where they do not!