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The Role of the Governor in a Hung Parliament in Australia

The Australian Constitution and individual state constitutions define how a governor and governor-general can be involved in the matter of resolving a deadlocked parliament. Under the conventions of Westminster practice, the Crown can only act on the advice of the prime minister, provided the prime minister is assured of having the majority support of the lower house.

The key Westminster principles that apply are

  • The matter of whom shall form a government is determined by the lower house.

  • The advice furnished to the Crown (that is, the governor-general or, in state politics, the governor) shall come from the prime minister (or premier), but should be good advice in that the next principle is observed.

  • All possible options for forming a government derived from the last election should be tested before a new election is called.

  • If the lower house cannot clearly resolve the question of the formation of a government, the advice that can be furnished to the Crown (the governor-general or the governor) should be that of calling fresh elections.

If the caretaker prime minister were to lose the support of the lower house, the advice that should be tended to the Crown is that the governor or governor-general should call the opposition leader to see if he can form a government.

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