The Prime Minister is the leader of the Australian Government and the leader of the nation. By convention, the Prime Minister is a member of the House of Representatives who leads the parliamentary party, or coalition of parties, with the support of the majority of members in the House.
Choosing the Prime Minister
The Prime Minister is chosen by a vote of the members of the government. The Prime Minister can keep their job as long as they are a member of parliament and retain the support of the government.
Australia has no maximum period of service for a Prime Minister, unlike countries such as the United States, where the President can only serve for two four-year terms.
The Prime Minister is the most powerful person in Parliament. They have many tasks, including:
- chairing meetings in which the government discusses policies and examines bills (proposed laws)
- selecting members of the government to be ministers
- leading Cabinet (Prime Minister and ministers) in deciding government policy
- acting as the chief government spokesperson
- representing the Australian Government overseas
- advising the Governor-General about important issues such as the appointment of ambassadors and heads of government departments
- advising the Governor-General about constitutional matters
- deciding when to call a federal election and leading the government in the election.
House of Representatives
When in the House of Representatives, the Prime Minister sits at the central table in front of the government and directly opposite the Leader of the Opposition. As the head of the Australian Government, they take the lead in presenting major speeches to Parliament about government policy and answering many questions directed to the government during Question Time (see Question Time).
The Australian Constitution
Although the Prime Minister is often seen as the most important person in the Parliament, the role is not mentioned in the Australian Constitution. The Prime Minister works according to practices and customs that developed over hundreds of years in the British Parliament and were then adopted by the Australian Parliament.
The Prime Minister's residences
There are two official residences that can be used by the Prime Minister and their family:
- The Lodge, in Canberra
- Kirribilli House, in Sydney.
The Hon Tony Abbott MP is the current Prime Minister.
|Sir Edmund Barton||Protectionist||01.01.1901 – 24.09.1903|
|Alfred Deakin (1st time)||Protectionist||24.09.1903 – 27.04.1904|
|John Watson||Australian Labor Party||27.04.1904 – 17.08.1904|
|Sir George Reid||Free Trade*||18.08.1904 – 05.07.1905|
|Alfred Deakin (2nd time)||Protectionist*||05.07.1905 – 13.11.1908|
|Andrew Fisher (1st time)||Australian Labor Party||13.11.1908 – 02.06.1909|
|Alfred Deakin (3rd time)||Protectionist||02.06.1909 – 29.04.1910|
|Andrew Fisher (2nd time)||Australian Labor Party||29.04.1910 – 24.06.1913|
|Sir Joseph Cook||The Liberal Party||24.06.1913 – 17.09.1914|
|Andrew Fisher (3rd time)||Australian Labor Party||17.09.1914 – 27.10.1915|
|William (Billy) Hughes||Australian Labor Party
|27.10.1915 – 14.11.1916
14.11.1916 – 17.02.1917
17.02.1917 – 09.02.1923
|Stanley Bruce||Nationalist Party*||09.02.1923 – 22.10.1929|
|James Scullin||Australian Labor Party||22.10.1929 – 06.01.1932|
|Joseph Lyons||United Australia Party
United Australia Party *
|06.01.1932 – 09.11.1934
09.11.1934 – 07.04.1939
|Earle Page||Country Party*||07.04.1939 – 26.04.1939|
|Sir Robert Menzies (1st time)||United Australia Party
United Australia Party *
|26.04.1939 – 14.03.1940
14.03.1940 – 29.08.1941
|Sir Arthur Fadden||Country Party*||29.08.1941 – 07.10.1941|
|John Curtin||Australian Labor Party||07.10.1941 – 05.07.1945|
|Francis (Frank) Forde||Australian Labor Party||06.07.1945 – 13.07.1945|
|Joseph (Ben) Chifley||Australian Labor Party||13.07.1945 – 19.12.1949|
|Sir Robert Menzies (2nd time)||Liberal Party of Australia*||19.12.1949 – 26.01.1966|
|Harold Holt||Liberal Party of Australia*||26.01.1966 – 19.12.1967|
|John McEwen||Country Party*||19.12.1967 – 10.01.1968|
|John Gorton||Liberal Party of Australia*||10.01.1968 – 10.03.1971|
|Sir William (Billy) McMahon||Liberal Party of Australia*||10.03.1971 – 05.12.1972|
|Edward (Gough) Whitlam||Australian Labor Party||05.12.1972 – 11.11.1975|
|John (Malcolm) Fraser||Liberal Party of Australia*||11.11.1975 – 11.03.1983|
|Robert (Bob) Hawke||Australian Labor Party||11.03.1983 – 20.12.1991|
|Paul Keating||Australian Labor Party||20.12.1991 – 11.03.1996|
|John Howard||Liberal Party of Australia*||11.03.1996 – 3.12.2007|
|Kevin Rudd (1st time)||Australian Labor Party||03.12.2007 – 24.06.2010|
|Julia Gillard||Australian Labor Party||24.06.2010 – 27.06.2013|
|Kevin Rudd (2nd time)||Australian Labor Party||27.06.2013 – 18.09.2013|
|Tony Abbott||Liberal Party of Australia*||18.09.2013 – Present|
Note: The Liberal Party is a different party to the Liberal Party of Australia.