Governor-General centre stage
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Monday, 24 June 2013
No date has been set for the election which must be held by 30 November 2013. Ms. Gillard has indicated she will advise the Governor-General to dissolve the House of Representatives and issue writs, on 12 August, for an election on 14 September.

This is not binding on her or indeed any other Prime Minister.
Indeed, an election could be held earlier. The minimum time is 33 days after the issue of the writs for an election. The earliest day a joint house and Senate election could be held would be on 3 August. It could even be delayed until 30 November.

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..  Kevin Rudd...


If the Labor caucus were to remove Ms Gillard as leader during this week, the new leader , perhaps Kevin Rudd, would not  automatically become the Prime Minister.

 Ms. Gillard would no doubt advise the Governor-General of this. She could advise the Governor-General to call the new leader to form a government. The decision would be the Governor-General’s.

Her Excellency  might seek an assurance that there would be sufficient support from the cross bench.

 

..confidence...



Or she could call the new leader and ask him to form a government, leaving the question of support to be tested in the Parliament. This could be done by a member moving a vote of no confidence. If this were carried he would be obliged to offer his resignation to the Governor-General.

Alternatively Ms. Gillard could advise the Governor-General that the new leader  would be unlikely to enjoy the support of the House. She could advise an early election to resolve this. This might cause a split in the Labor Party. Ms. Gillard could even advise the Governor-General to call Mr. Abbott,

 

...parliament not sitting...


Parliament is due to rise at the end of the week. If a caucus meeting removed Ms. Gillard after this week, Ms. Gillard would no doubt see the Governor-General.  Again Ms. Gillard could either advise the new leader be called to form a government, or an early election of even that Mr. Abbott be called.

...Lord Gowrie...

The difficulty in calling anyone else would be whether the new leader enjoyed the support of Parliament. If it has not been prorogued it could be recalled. In 1941, Lord Gowrie sensibly required  the two independents who had brought down the Coalition government to promise that, if he commissioned Labor leader  John Curtin as Prime Minister, they would support him and end the instability in government. But this was because the Parliament was only one year old and we were at war.

In this case the Governor-General would probably incline to an early election with Ms. Gillard being caretaker prime minister. That is just my view; it would of of course be the Governor- General‘s decision.

This demonstrates the importance of the Crown in our constitutional system, and the danger of having a political head of state. The Governor- General's allegiance is to the Australian Crown and thus to the people as the constitutional guardian.