Leader of the Government in the Senate (Australia)

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Leader of the Government in the Senate
Incumbent
Penny Wong
since 23 May 2022 (2022-05-23)
Australian Government
Australian Senate
StyleThe Honourable
Inaugural holderRichard O'Connor

The Leader of the Government in the Senate (historically also known as the Leader of the Senate) is the government's most senior cabinet minister in the Australian Senate and the main government spokesperson in the Senate.[1][2] His or her Opposition counterpart is the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.[3]

The current Leader of the Government in the Senate is Penny Wong, elected unanimously to the position on 23 May 2022, replacing Simon Birmingham. The current Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate is Don Farrell.

Role and history[edit]

According to constitutional convention, the government is formed in the House of Representatives and the Prime Minister is a member of that chamber and the Prime Minister is the leader of the Government in the House of Representatives. The Leader of the Government in the Senate has duties and privileges that parallel those of the Prime Minister, in that he or she has overarching responsibility for all policy areas and acts as the government's principal spokesperson in the upper house. He or she is also entitled to sit at the table of the Senate, and has priority in gaining recognition from the President of the Senate during debate.[3] Another similarity is that the leader typically announces changes to government officeholders in the Senate, including ministers, leadership and whips. The leader also has some responsibility for appointing government senators to committees, a role filled in the House of Representatives by the Leader of the House.[4]

The position of Leader of the Government in the Senate does not have a constitutional basis, but has existed since the first parliament in 1901 through longstanding parliamentary convention. Although it has similarities to the Senate Majority Leader in the United States and the Leader of the House of Lords in the United Kingdom, it was not based on either of those, but rather on the position of Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council found in Australia's colonial parliaments. Because government is formed in the House rather than the Senate, there is no guarantee that the Leader of the Government will be drawn from the largest party in the Senate. Unlike the Prime Minister, there is no requirement for the Leader of the Government to command the confidence of the chamber. It is not a cabinet post in its own right, and the holder of the office has always held at least one ministerial portfolio (though sometimes only the mostly honorific Vice-Presidency of the Executive Council).

The longest-serving Leader of the Government in the Senate was George Pearce, who held the position for a cumulative total of 15 years in three separate terms between 1914 and 1937. Uniquely, from 10 January to 1 February 1968, the positions of Prime Minister and Leader of the Government in the Senate were held by the same person, John Gorton. After the disappearance of Harold Holt, Gorton – a senator – was elected leader of the Liberal Party and thus ascended to the prime ministership. In line with constitutional convention, he resigned from the Senate to contest a by-election to the House of Representatives.

List of Leaders of the Government in the Senate[edit]

Leader Term began Term ended Portfolio[5] Party Prime Minister Term in office Deputy
  Richard O'Connor 9 May 1901[6][7] 24 September 1903 V-P Exec. Council Protectionist Barton 2 years, 96 days James Drake
Tom Playford 24 September 1903[8] 27 April 1904 V-P Exec. Council Protectionist Deakin 216 days
Gregor McGregor 27 April 1904[9] 18 August 1904 V-P Exec. Council Labor Watson 113 days Anderson Dawson
Josiah Symon 18 August 1904[10] 5 July 1905 Attorney-General Free Trade Reid 321 days James Drake
Tom Playford 5 July 1905[11][12] 31 December 1906[n 1] Defence Protectionist Deakin 1 year, 179 days John Keating
Robert Best 20 February 1907[5][14] 13 November 1908 V-P Exec. Council Protectionist 1 year, 267 days
Gregor McGregor 13 November 1908[15][16] 2 June 1909 V-P Exec. Council Labor Fisher 201 days George Pearce
Edward Millen 2 June 1909[17] 29 April 1910 V-P Exec. Council Commonwealth
Liberal
Deakin 331 days Robert Best
Gregor McGregor 29 April 1910[18][19] 24 June 1913 V-P Exec. Council Labor Fisher 3 years, 56 days George Pearce
Edward Millen 24 June 1913[20] 17 September 1914 Defence Commonwealth
Liberal
Cook 1 year, 85 days James McColl
George Pearce 17 September 1914[21][22] 17 February 1917 Defence Labor Fisher 2 years, 153 days Albert Gardiner
Hughes
National Labor Patrick Lynch
Edward Millen 17 February 1917[23] 9 February 1923 Nationalist 5 years, 357 days George Pearce
George Pearce 9 February 1923[24][25] 19 October 1929
Nationalist Bruce 6 years, 252 days Victor Wilson
John Daly 22 October 1929[26] 3 March 1931
Labor Scullin 1 year, 132 days
John Barnes 3 March 1931[27] 6 January 1932 V-P Exec. Council Labor 309 days
George Pearce 6 January 1932[28] 29 November 1937
United
Australia
Lyons 5 years, 327 days
Alexander McLachlan 29 November 1937[29] 7 November 1938 Postmaster-General United
Australia
343 days
George McLeay 8 November 1938[30] 7 October 1941
United
Australia
2 years, 333 days
Page
Menzies
Fadden
  Joe Collings 7 October 1941[31][32] 20 September 1943 Interior Labor Curtin 1 year, 348 days
Richard Keane 20 September 1943[33] 26 April 1946 Trade and Customs Labor 2 years, 218 days
Forde
Chifley
Bill Ashley 17 June 1946[34] 19 December 1949 Labor 3 years, 185 days
Neil O'Sullivan 21 February 1950[35] 8 December 1958
Liberal Menzies 8 years, 290 days
Bill Spooner 8 December 1958[36] 2 June 1964[37] Liberal 5 years, 178 days Shane Paltridge
Shane Paltridge 10 June 1964[38] 19 January 1966[39] Defence Liberal 1 year, 230 days Denham Henty
Denham Henty 26 January 1966[40] 16 October 1967 Supply Liberal Holt 1 year, 263 days John Gorton
John Gorton 16 October 1967 1 February 1968 Liberal 108 days Denham Henty
McEwen
Himself
Ken Anderson 28 February 1968[n 2] 5 December 1972
Liberal Gorton 4 years, 281 days
Annabelle Rankin
McMahon
Reg Wright
Lionel Murphy 19 December 1972[42] 9 February 1975 Labor Whitlam 2 years, 52 days
Ken Wriedt 10 February 1975[43] 11 November 1975
Labor 274 days
Reg Withers 12 November 1975[44] 7 August 1978[45] Liberal Fraser 2 years, 268 days
John Carrick 7 August 1978[46] 11 March 1983
Liberal 4 years, 216 days
John Button 11 March 1983[47] 24 March 1993 Industry, Technology and Commerce[n 4] Labor Hawke 10 years, 13 days
Keating
Gareth Evans 24 March 1993[48] 6 February 1996[n 5] Foreign Affairs Labor 2 years, 319 days
Robert Hill 11 March 1996[49] 20 January 2006 Liberal Howard 9 years, 315 days Nick Minchin
Nick Minchin 27 January 2006[50] 3 December 2007 Liberal 1 year, 310 days Helen Coonan
Chris Evans 12 December 2007[51][52] 4 February 2013 Labor Rudd 5 years, 54 days Stephen Conroy
Gillard
Stephen Conroy 4 February 2013[53][54] 26 June 2013 Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Labor 142 days Penny Wong
Penny Wong 26 June 2013[55][56] 18 September 2013 Finance and Deregulation Labor Rudd 84 days Jacinta Collins
Eric Abetz 18 September 2013[57][58] 21 September 2015 Employment Liberal Abbott 2 years, 2 days George Brandis
George Brandis 21 September 2015 20 December 2017 Attorney-General
V-P Exec. Council
Liberal Turnbull 2 years, 90 days Mathias Cormann
Mathias Cormann 20 December 2017 30 October 2020 Finance and the Public Service
V-P Exec. Council
Liberal 6 years, 66 days Mitch Fifield
Simon Birmingham
Liberal Morrison
Simon Birmingham 30 October 2020 23 May 2022 Finance
Trade, Tourism and Investment (to Dec 2020)
V-P Exec. Council
Liberal 3 years, 117 days Michaelia Cash
Penny Wong 1 June 2022 Incumbent Foreign Affairs Labor Albanese 1 year, 268 days Don Farrell

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Playford lost his seat at the federal election on 12 December. The year 1906 was the last in which terms ended in on the last day of December rather than June.[13]
  2. ^ Anderson was appointed Leader of the Government before the second session of the 26th Parliament,[41] and Gorton made his appointments on 28 February 1968.[5]
  3. ^ Withers was appointed Vice-President of the Executive Council the day after the Dismissal as part of Fraser's Caretaker Cabinet, but he continued in that office for his entire tenure as Leader of the Government. On the same date, he was appointed caretaker the Capital Territory, Special Minister of State, Minister for the Media, and Tourism and Recreation. He served in those offices until 22 December, when Fraser's first full Cabinet was sworn in. The Senate did not meet during the period 12 November to 22 December 1975 (indeed it was dissolved for most of that time). Withers gained the Administrative Services portfolio as part of 22 December reshuffle.
  4. ^ Minister for Industry and Commerce 1983–1984.
  5. ^ Resigned to contest (successfully) the lower house seat of Holt.
  6. ^ Minister for Environment 1996–98.
  7. ^ Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research 2011–13.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Senate Office Holders". www.aph.gov.au. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
  2. ^ "Who's who in the current Parliament - Parliamentary Education Office". peo.gov.au. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Leadership in Parliament". Fact Sheets. Parliamentary Education Office. Archived from the original on 17 September 2013. Retrieved 24 August 2013.
  4. ^ "6. Senators: Parties and party leaders". Odger's Australian Senate Practice (13th ed.). Retrieved 23 August 2013.
  5. ^ a b c Australian Parliamentary Library. "Ministries and Cabinets". Parliamentary Handbook (32nd ed.). Retrieved 6 September 2013.
  6. ^ "The Commonwealth". The Register. 29 May 1901. p. 6. Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  7. ^ Richard O'Connor, Leader of the Senate (13 August 1903). "Standing Orders". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). Commonwealth of Australia: Senate. p. 3512.
  8. ^ "Political Notes". Western Star and Roma Advertiser. 2 September 1903. p. 3. Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  9. ^ "Federal Politics: Mr. Watson Forms a Cabinet". The West Australian. 27 April 1904. p. 7. Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  10. ^ "Latest Messages—Federal Parliament: The New Ministry". Western Star and Roma Advertiser. 20 August 1904. p. 2. Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  11. ^ Henry Dobson (7 July 1905). "New Administration: special adjournment". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). Commonwealth of Australia: Senate. p. 142.
  12. ^ "Senator Keating and Other Ministers". The Examiner. 11 July 1905. p. 5. Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  13. ^ Constitution Alteration (Senate Elections Act) 1906.
  14. ^ "The Commonwealth Parliament: First Day's Proceedings". The Register. 21 February 1907. p. 6. Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  15. ^ "Members of New Cabinet: Representation of States". Kalgoorlie Miner. 13 November 1908. p. 5. Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  16. ^ "Federal Labor Ministry Sworn in Today". The Daily News. 13 November 1908. p. 3. Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  17. ^ "Formation of the Cabinet: The New Ministers". Kalgoorlie Western Argus. 8 June 1909. p. 36. Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  18. ^ "New Labor Ministry: Mr Fisher's Team Sworn In". The North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times. 30 April 1910. p. 5. Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  19. ^ "Federal Land Tax: The Property Owners". Daily Herald. 17 October 1910. p. 6. Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  20. ^ "The Cook Cabinet: Personnel of the New Team". Forbes Advocate. 18 September 1913. p. 3. Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  21. ^ "The New Ministry: Result of the Ballot". The Examiner. 18 September 1914. p. 6. Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  22. ^ "Fourth Commonwealth Labour Government". The Worker. 24 September 1914. p. 6. Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  23. ^ ""Win-the-War" Ministry: Portfolios Allotted". The Argus. 19 February 1917. p. 6. Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  24. ^ "Federal Ministry Sworn In". The Register. 10 February 1923. p. 9. Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  25. ^ "The Federal Government". The West Australian. 12 February 1923. p. 6. Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  26. ^ "The Federal Ministry: Members Sworn In". Advertiser. 25 October 1929. p. 2. Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  27. ^ "Allocation of Federal Portfolios". The Advocate. 4 May 1931. p. 7. Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  28. ^ "The Federal Sphere: New Ministry Sworn In". The Longreach Leader. 8 January 1932. p. 16. Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  29. ^ "Federal Cabinet: The New Ministers—Surprise Changes". The West Australian. 30 November 1937. p. 17. Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  30. ^ "Health Portfolio—Senator Foll". The Mercury. 8 November 1938. p. 7. Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  31. ^ "Election of Cabinet: Labor Party to Assemble in Canberra Today". The Mercury. 6 October 1941. p. 2. Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  32. ^ "New Ministers Sworn In, Canberra Ceremony". The Sydney Morning Herald. 8 October 1941. p. 8. Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  33. ^ "Ballot for Labor Cabinet: Fourteen Ministers Elected in First Count". The Advertiser. 21 September 1943. p. 3. Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  34. ^ "Sen. McKenna Appointed to Fedl. Cabinet". The Courier-Mail. 18 June 1946. p. 1. Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  35. ^ "Dr. Evatt Survives a Challenge, Mr. E. J. Ward Beaten For Labour Party Post". The West Australian. 22 February 1950. p. 2. Retrieved 6 September 2014 – via Trove.
  36. ^ "5 New Men in Federal Ministry, Dr. Allen Fairhall Omitted". The Canberra Times. 9 December 1958. p. 1. Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  37. ^ "Spooner Resigns from Cabinet: Government Solves One Problem, Finds Another". The Canberra Times. 3 June 1964. p. 1. Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  38. ^ "P.M. Fills Vacancies in Cabinet Reshuffle: Anderson and Howson New Ministers". The Canberra Times. 11 June 1964. p. 1. Retrieved 1 August 2013 – via Trove.
  39. ^ "Paltridge Resigns Defence Portfoliio". The Canberra Times. 20 January 1966. p. 1. Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  40. ^ "Bury in Cabinet: Holt chooses woman Minister in reshuffle". The Canberra Times. 26 January 1966. p. 1. Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  41. ^ Ken Anderson, Leader of the Government in the Senate (12 March 1968). "Ministerial Arrangement". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). Commonwealth of Australia: Senate. p. 12.
  42. ^ "Full Labor Ministry sworn in". The Canberra Times. 20 December 1972. p. 1. Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  43. ^ "Mr Enderby Made Attorney-General". The Canberra Times. 11 February 1975. p. 1. Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  44. ^ "Fraser Caretaker Cabinet". The Canberra Times. 13 November 1975. p. 1. Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  45. ^ "PM sacks Withers, Durack gets post". The Canberra Times. 8 August 1978. p. 1. Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  46. ^ "Person Details: Hon Sir John Leslie Carrick KCMG, AC". National Archives of Australia. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  47. ^ Australian Parliamentary Library. "Button, John (1933–2008)". Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  48. ^ Australian Parliamentary Library. "Evans, Gareth (1944–)". Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  49. ^ Australian Parliamentary Library. "Hill, Robert (1946–)". Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  50. ^ Australian Parliamentary Library. "Minchin, Nick (1953–)". Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  51. ^ Australian Parliamentary Library. "Evans, Chris, (Christopher Vaughan) (1958–)". Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  52. ^ "Former Senator Christopher Evans". Senators and Members of the Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 6 November 2021.
  53. ^ Australian Parliamentary Library. "Conroy, Stephen Michael, (the Hon) (1963–)". Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  54. ^ "Former Senator Stephen Conroy". Senators and Members of the Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 6 November 2021.
  55. ^ Australian Parliamentary Library. "Wong, Penelope Ying-Yen". Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via Trove.
  56. ^ "Senator the Hon. Penny Wong". Senators and Members of the Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 6 November 2021.
  57. ^ Australian Parliamentary Library. "Abetz, Eric". Retrieved 8 September 2013 – via Trove.
  58. ^ "Senator the Hon Eric Abetz". Senators and Members of the Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 6 November 2021.