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Governor and Executive Council

The Executive Council was established under s87 of the Constitution Act 1975 and it exercises the chief executive authority in the State. The Executive Council advises the Governor when he or she is required by law or convention to act in accordance with, and when he or she is permitted or required by statute or other instrument to act in Council. The Premier tenders advice to the Governor about the appropriate exercise of his or her powers and functions.

The Governor's legal status means that, acting on the advice of the Executive Council, he or she exercises the chief executive authority in the State. The term "Governor in Council" reflects the fact that the Governor acts formally with the advice of the Executive Council.

Parliament usually gives the Governor in Council the power to take action on such matters as orders, proclamations, regulations and appointments to public offices. On important issues of policy or matters affecting the Government as a whole, Ministers consider the recommendations collectively in Cabinet before the responsible Minister submits a recommendation to the Executive Council.

The Executive Council consists of all Ministers but requires only a quorum of the Governor and two Ministers for a meeting. Meetings are usually held weekly with the Governor and four Ministers in attendance.

Governor's Powers

Under the Victorian Constitution ultimate executive power is vested in the Crown and is exercised by the Governor as the Queen's representative. The Queen, on the advice of the Premier, appoints the Governor of Victoria.

The powers of the Governor are extensive, but laws and conventions ensure that they are exercised consistently with the will of the Victorian community as expressed in elections. The laws and conventions achieve this result by requiring the Governor to exercise the powers in accordance with the advice of Ministers - who are elected and are thereby accountable to Parliament and to the electorate.

The Governor also has a limited effective power of last resort that is to be used solely to protect the democratic system from stalling or being abused. This is called the reserve power. It is described as an effective power because the Governor can exercise it without ministerial advice to do so.

The Governor's authority is derived from the Australia Act 1986, the Constitution Act 1975 and the Commission of appointment from the Queen.