Who is more powerful the Governor-General or the High Court? Can the Governor-General over rule the High Court?
Thank you for a very interesting question.
It is not possible to say whether the Governor-General or the High Court of Australia is more powerful as they have different powers and roles.
The Australian Constitution divides the power to make and manage laws between 3 largely separate groups:
- The Parliament (the Legislature)
- The Executive
- The Judiciary (the courts)
The separation of powers is intended to prevent any one group from having unlimited power. Power is shared between the Parliament, the Executive and the Judiciary and each provides checks and balances on each other.
However, Australia does not have a complete separation of powers because some of the roles of the 3 groups overlap. For example, the Prime Minister and ministers are part of the Executive as well as the Parliament.
Significantly, the Governor-General is part of or has a role in all 3 groups:
- The Governor-General is part of the Parliament with the Senate and the House of Representatives.
- The Executive is made up of the Governor-General, Prime Minister and ministers.
- The Judiciary includes justices of the High Court who have been appointed by the Governor-General on the advice of the Executive.
The Governor-General is also the only person who can dismiss a justice of the High Court (section 72(ii) of the Constitution). A justice can only be removed in a case of 'proved misbehaviour or incapacity' by the Governor-General acting on the advice of the Executive and the Australian Parliament.
The High Court of Australia.
The image shows a large semi circular desk atop a small raise at the end of the room. Seven figures in black (High Court judges) with papers in front of them sit at this long desk. In front of them on the floor is an opposite curved desk with many figures in black with many papers in front of them. Smaller desks sit in rows behind.
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