Role of the Administrator

Introduction

The Administrator of the Northern Territory resides at Government House. Government House plays an important role in hosting visiting royalty and dignitaries, including vice-regal, diplomatic and government representatives of Australia and other nations. In the Northern Territory, the Administrator is at the same time Her Majesty The Queen’s Representative, the Governor-General’s Representative and the Senior Australian Government Representative in the Northern Territory. The Administrator performs a similar constitutional role to that of a State Governor and does not participate in the political process.

Appointment

The Administrator is appointed by the Governor-General by Commission under the Seal of Australia in accordance with the provisions of the Northern Territory (Self-Government) Act. The Administrator holds office during the pleasure of the Governor-General.

The Northern Territory (Self-Government) Act is effectively the Northern Territory’s “constitution”. The Administrator is the representative of the Crown in right of the Northern Territory and, therefore, has the executive authority to administer the government of the Northern Territory of Australia.

Statutory Powers

It is the duty of the Administrator to sign all the Bills that have been passed by the Legislative Assembly in order to make them part of the law of the Northern Territory. The Administrator regularly presides over a meeting of the Executive Council (comprising the Chief Minister and Ministers). The Administrator has a duty to ensure that the processes of the Executive Council are conducted lawfully and regularly, and accordingly may ask questions and seek further information from Ministers.

The Administrator has other statutory powers, including the power to:

  • Dissolve the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory and issue writs for a general election
  • Appoint Ministers of the Northern Territory Government
  • Issue regulations and proclamations under existing laws
  • Appoint judges and senior public servants on the advice of Executive Council
  • Exercise the Prerogative of Mercy.

Ceremonial Duties

The Administrator officiates at many important ceremonies, including the formal Opening of Parliament; national commemorations such as Australia Day and ANZAC Day activities in the Northern Territory; and the opening of major conferences or substantial new buildings and facilities.

The Administrator also receives Ambassadors, High Commissioners and Heads of State at Government House, and conducts investitures for recipients of Australian Honours and Awards (bestowed on people for their service to the community, or for bravery).

Civic Duties

A special and important role of the Administrator is to engage with the community and emphasise issues that promote community cohesion and progression in the Northern Territory. It is also part of the Administrator’s role to encourage a high level of engagement and achievement in the arts, industry, education, health and sport, and connect with people from all walks of life.

The Administrator achieves this by:

  • Recognising and valuing Territorians who serve the community, especially in a voluntary capacity
  • Encouraging and acknowledging the achievements of individuals and organisations
  • Fostering the work of community groups
  • Travelling to regional centres in the Northern Territory, and visiting many organisations
  • Granting of patronage to many community not-for-profit organisations.