Leader of the Opposition
The Leader of the Opposition is a member of parliament who leads the largest party, or coalition of parties, that is not in government.
Choosing the Leader of the Opposition
The Leader of the Opposition is chosen by a vote of the largest non-government party. The Leader of the Opposition can keep their job as long as they are a member of parliament and retain the support of the opposition.
The Leader of the Opposition is sometimes called the alternative Prime Minister, as they may become Prime Minister if their party (or coalition) wins the support of the majority of members in the House of Representatives.
The tasks of the Leader of the Opposition include:
- chairing meetings in which the opposition discusses policies and examines bills (proposed laws)
- presenting alternative policies to those of the government
- selecting members of the opposition to be shadow ministers
- leading the Shadow Cabinet (Leader of the Opposition and shadow ministers)
- acting as the chief opposition spokesperson
- leading the opposition in a federal election.
House of Representatives
When in the House of Representatives, the Leader of the Opposition sits at the central table in front of the opposition and directly opposite the Prime Minister. They take the lead in opposition debate on bills, directing questions to the government during Question Time and criticising government policy that the opposition disagrees with. If the Prime Minister makes a speech to the chamber, the Leader of the Opposition usually receives the right of reply, which means being given equal time to speak on the issue.
The current Leader of the Opposition is the Hon Bill Shorten MP.
Australia has had 31 Leaders of the Opposition.
|Sir George Reid||Free Trade||09.05.1901 – 18.08.1904|
|John Watson||Australian Labor Party||18.08.1904 – 05.07.1905|
|Sir George Reid||Free Trade||07.07.1905 – 16.11.1908|
|Sir Joseph Cook||ANTI-SOCIALIST||17.11.1908 – 26.05.1909|
|Alfred Deakin||FUSION||26.05.1909 – 02.06.1909|
|Andrew Fisher||Australian Labor Party||02.06.1909 – 29.04.1910|
|Alfred Deakin||The Liberal Party||01.07.1910 – 20.01.1913|
|Sir Joseph Cook||The Liberal Party||20.01.1913 – 24.06.1913|
|Andrew Fisher||Australian Labor Party||08.07.1913 – 17.09.1914|
|Sir Joseph Cook||The Liberal Party||08.10.1914 – 17.02.1917|
|Frank Tudor||Australian Labor Party||17.02.1917 – 10.01.1922|
|Matthew Charlton||Australian Labor Party||16.05.1922 – 29.03.1928|
|James Scullin||Australian Labor Party||26.04.1928 – 22.10.1929|
|John Latham||Nationalist||20.11.1929 – 07.05.1931|
|Joseph Lyons||United Australia Party||07.05.1931 – 06.01.1932|
|James Scullin||Australian Labor Party||07.01.1932 – 01.10.1935|
|John Curtin||Australian Labor Party||01.10.1935 – 07.10.1941|
|Sir Arthur Fadden||Country Party||08.10.1941 – 23.09.1943|
|Sir Robert Menzies||United Australia Party/The Liberal Party of Australia*||23.09.1943 – 19.12.1949|
|Joseph (Ben) Chifley||Australian Labor Party||21.02.1950 – 13.06.1951|
|Herbert Evatt||Australian Labor Party||20.06.1951 – 09.02.1960|
|Arthur Calwell||Australian Labor Party||07.03.1960 – 08.02.1967|
|Edward (Gough) Whitlam||Australian Labor Party||08.02.1967 – 05.12.1972|
|Billy Snedden||Liberal Party of Australia||20.12.1972 – 21.03.1975|
|John (Malcolm) Fraser||Liberal Party of Australia||21.03.1975 – 11.11.1975|
|Edward (Gough) Whitlam||Australian Labor Party||27.01.1976 – 22.12.1977|
|William (Bill) Hayden||Australian Labor Party||22.12.1977 – 03.02.1983|
|Robert (Bob) Hawke||Australian Labor Party||03.02.1983 – 11.03.1983|
|Andrew Peacock||Liberal Party of Australia||11.03.1983 – 05.09.1985|
|John Howard||Liberal Party of Australia||05.09.1985 – 09.05.1989|
|Andrew Peacock||Liberal Party of Australia||09.05.1989 – 03.04.1990|
|John Hewson||Liberal Party of Australia||03.04.1990 – 23.05.1994|
|Alexander Downer||Liberal Party of Australia||23.05.1994 – 30.01.1995|
|John Howard||Liberal Party of Australia||30.01.1995 – 11.03.1996|
|Kim Beazley||Australian Labor Party||19.03.1996 – 22.11.2001|
|Simon Crean||Australian Labor Party||22.11.2001 – 02.12.2003|
|Mark Latham||Australian Labor Party||02.12.2003 – 18.01.2005|
|Kim Beazley||Australian Labor Party||28.01.2005 – 04.12.2006|
|Kevin Rudd||Australian Labor Party||04.12.2006 – 03.12.2007|
|Brendan Nelson||Liberal Party of Australia||03.12.2007 – 16.09.2008|
|Malcolm Turnbull||Liberal Party of Australia||16.09.2008 – 01.12.2009|
|Tony Abbott||Liberal Party of Australia||01.12.2009 – 07.09.2013|
|Bill Shorten||Australian Labor Party||13.10.2013 – Present|
*Liberal Party of Australia from 16.10.1944
Note: The Liberal Party is a different party to the Liberal Party of Australia.