59A Deputy Governor-General of Parliament - duties, rights and powers

 

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[Not in current Constitution]

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There shall be a Deputy Governor-General of Parliament, referred to as the Deputy Governor-General, who shall act as the Deputy Head of State of the Commonwealth of Australia exercising only the duties, rights and powers which are set out in this Constitution, including:
(i) The duty to convene and the right to preside over sessions of the Senate in accordance with such standing orders as are made pursuant to section 50 and the requirements of impartiality and fairness;
(ii) The duty to exercise any duty, the right to exercise any right and the power to exercise any power vested in the Governor-General, during any period in which that office is vacant, or the Governor-General is absent or otherwise unable to exercise the duty, right or power;
(iii) Powers incidental to the exercise of the above duties, rights and powers;
(iv) Such other powers in relation to the management of the Senate as are from time to time conferred on the Deputy Governor-General by the Senate’s Standing Orders; and
(v) Such other powers not inconsistent with the above as are from time to time conferred on the Deputy Governor-General by law.

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There shall be a Deputy Governor-General of Parliament, referred to as the Deputy Governor-General, who shall act as the Deputy Head of State of the Commonwealth of Australia exercising only the duties, rights and powers which are set out in this Constitution, including:
(i) The duty to convene and the right to preside over sessions of the Senate in accordance with such standing orders as are made pursuant to section 50 and the requirements of impartiality and fairness;
(ii) The duty to exercise any duty, the right to exercise any right and the power to exercise any power vested in the Governor-General, during any period in which that office is vacant, or the Governor-General is absent or otherwise unable to exercise the duty, right or power;
(iii) Powers incidental to the exercise of the above duties, rights and powers;
(iv) Such other powers in relation to the management of the Senate as are from time to time conferred on the Deputy Governor-General by the Senate’s Standing Orders; and
(v) Such other powers not inconsistent with the above as are from time to time conferred on the Deputy Governor-General by law.

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59A.1 This section establishes a new position of Deputy Governor-General of Parliament, whose principal role will be to preside in the Senate. Presently sections 4 permits the Queen to appoint any person to administer our Government, and that person is then regarded as the Governor-General, and s.126 permits the appointment of deputies. Provision is made for an Acting Governor-General in the Letters Patent Relating to the Office of Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia issued by Queen Elizabeth II on 21 August 1984, as amended on 11 May 2003. The provisions extend to 4 pages and allow the Governor-General to appoint deputies for limited purposes. With the abolition of the Crown and the Letters Patent, a formal process for appointing a deputy is advisable.
59A.2 While the Governor-General and the Deputy are to some extent interchangeable, there is a difference between their obligations. Under s.59A(ii) the Deputy Governor-General must take over the role of the Governor-General when the latter is unavailable. By contrast, the Governor-General may stand in for the Deputy: s.58A(v).
59A.3 Otherwise the section closely follows the drafting of s.58A concerning the Governor-General. Accordingly the notes under s.58A are generally applicable to s.59A.
59A.4 Under s.59A(ii), the Deputy may fill in for the Governor-General during any vacancy, absence or inability of the Governor-General. Vacancy and absence are unlikely to be matters of dispute, but ‘inability’ is a much more difficult area, bringing with it notions of competence and mental health. Rather than attempt to define what these terms mean, or have the High Court interpret them during a crisis when someone is alleging the Governor-General is “unable”, it is better to provide, as s.60B(2)(ii) does, that Parliament may pass laws defining the meaning of these terms.