Is it the duty of the Governor-General to dissolve Parliament where there is evidence of violations of the Constitution and/or International law?

The Governor-General sits in the President of the Senate's chair in the Senate for the opening of Parliament.

The Governor-General delivers his opening of Parliament address.

DPS Auspic

The Governor-General delivers his opening of Parliament address.

The Governor-General sits in the President of the Senate's chair in the Senate for the opening of Parliament.

DPS Auspic

Description

The end of a T-shaped table is shown with a number of people in suits sitting around it. There is a raised platform with a man sitting in a large wooden chair speaking into a microphone. A man is sitting in a high backed chair to the left of the man speaking. Three people stand behind the men on chairs under a wood and metal representation of the Australian coat of arms.

Thank you, James, for your question about the role of the Governor-General.

The Australian Constitution provides information about the roles and responsibilities of the Governor-General. Section 2 broadly describes the role of the Governor-General and section 61 describes the power of the Governor-General extending to the ‘execution and maintenance of this Constitution, and of the laws of the Commonwealth’.

While section 5 of the Constitution outlines the Governor-General’s power to dissolve the Parliament, it does not say the Governor-General has to dissolve the Parliament if there is evidence that the Constitution or international law has been violated. This means that while the Governor-General would have to act in such circumstances, there is no particular requirement to dissolve the Parliament.

Additionally, by convention, the Governor-General acts on the advice of the Executive (in practice, the Prime Minister), so it would be an unusual situation for the Governor-General to dissolve Parliament without consulting the Prime Minister.