Section 3 of the Constitution of Australia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Section 3 of the Constitution of Australia deals with the salary of Governor General. The salary of Governor-General is paid from the Consolidated Revenue Fund and is regulated by the Constitution, which fixed the initial salary at £10,000, an amount that would not increase until 1974.[1]

The Constitution[edit]

Section 3 of the Constitution states :

There shall be payable to the Queen out of the Consolidated Revenue fund of the Commonwealth, for the salary of the Governor General, an annual sum which, until the Parliament otherwise provides, shall be ten thousand pounds. The salary of a Governor General shall not be altered during his continuance in office.[2]


The salary remained unchanged at £10,000 until the introduction of decimal currency in Australia in 1966 when it became A$20,000 and remained unchanged until 1974. The 1st Governor-General, Lord Hopetoun, received no allowance for maintaining Government Houses in Melbourne and Sydney nor for staff, travel or other expenses. Instead the Governor-General was required to meet these from the fixed salary.[1] The 2nd Governor-General, Baron Tennyson fared slightly better, with an allowance for the operation of Government House in Melbourne and Sydney,[1][3] and the Official Secretary to the Governor-General was paid by the Australian government.[1] The Governor-General was required to meet staff salaries and some household expenses from their salary. The requirement to meet staff salaries continued until the retirement of the 12th Governor-General, Sir William McKell, with half his salary going on "staff sustenance". The contribution to household expenses continued until the retirement of the 17th Governor General, Sir Paul Hasluck.[1] Before the appointment of Sir John Kerr as the 18th Governor-General in 1974, the salary was increased to $30,000,[4] and the government covered all expenses.[1] Today, the salary is set to be slightly higher than that of the Chief Justice of the High Court, over a five-year period.[5] Until 2001, Governors-General did not pay income tax on their salary; this was changed after the Queen agreed to pay tax.[6]

No. Years of office Name Salary Ref.
18 1974–1977 The Right Hon. Sir John Kerr, AK GCMG GCVO QC $30,000 [4]
19 1977–1982 The Right Hon. Sir Zelman Cowen, AK GCMG GCVO QC $37,000 [7]
20 1982–1989 The Right Hon. Sir Ninian Stephen, KG AK GCMG GCVO KBE QC $70,000 [8]
21 1989–1996 The Hon. William Hayden, AC $95,000 [9]
22 1996–2001 The Hon. Sir William Deane, AC KBE QC $58,000 [10][11]
23 2001–2003 The Right Rev. and Hon. Peter Hollingworth, AC OBE $310,000 [6]
24 2003–2008 Major General The Hon. Michael Jeffery, AC CVO MC $365,000 [12][13]
25 2008–2014 The Hon. Dame Quentin Bryce, AD CVO $394,000 [14]
26 2014–present His Excellency General The Hon. Sir Peter Cosgrove, AK MC $425,000 [15]

A question of currency[edit]

The ten thousand pounds specified by the Constitution referred to the currency in use in Australia in 1901, pound sterling. This was replaced by the Australian pound in 1910,[16][17] which was linked to the gold standard at parity to £ sterling until 1931.[18] When the United Kingdom abandoned the gold standard in 1931, the Australian pound was devalued and traded at a discount to pound sterling of around 25%.[19] The Australian pound was replaced by the Australian dollar on 14 February 1966, where £1 Australian equalled A$2.[20]

It has been argued unsuccessfully that that legislation passed in Australia since 1966 is unconstitutional because it has been signed by Governors-General who were paid in dollars, not pounds as specified by section 3 of the Constitution.[21][22]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Sir David Smith (2001). "Chapter Ten: What shall we do with ex-Governors-General?". Proceedings of the Thirteenth Conference of The Samuel Griffith Society.
  2. ^ Constitution (Cth) s3 Salary of Governor-General s3 Salary of Governor-General
  3. ^ Governor-General's Residences Act 1906 (Cth).
  4. ^ a b Governor-General Act 1974 (Cth) s3 Salary of Governor-General.
  5. ^ a b c Manthorpe, L (2003). "Governors-General—Salary and Pension" (PDF). Parliamentary Library of Australia.
  6. ^ a b Governor‑General Legislation Amendment Act 2001 (Cth).
  7. ^ Governor-General Amendment Act 1977 (Cth) s3 Salary of Governor-General.
  8. ^ Governor-General Amendment Act 1982 (Cth) s3 Salary of Governor-General.
  9. ^ Governor-General Amendment Act 1988 (Cth) s3 Salary of Governor-General.
  10. ^ Sir William Deane's salary was reduced at his request to take into account his judicial pension.[5]
  11. ^ Governor-General Amendment Act 1995 (Cth) schedule 1.
  12. ^ General Jeffrey donated his military pension to charity whilst Governor-General.[5]
  13. ^ Governor-General Amendment Act 2003 (Cth) schedule 1.
  14. ^ Governor-General Amendment (Salary and Superannuation) Act 2008 (Cth) schedule 1.
  15. ^ Governor-General Amendment (Salary) Act 2014 (Cth) schedule 1.
  16. ^ Australian Notes Act 1910 (Cth).
  17. ^ "A New Currency: 1900–1920". Reserve Bank of Australia Museum. Reserve Bank of Australia. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  18. ^ "Banknotes of the 1930s". Reserve Bank of Australia Museum. Reserve Bank of Australia. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  19. ^ George Knowles, Solicitor-General (Cth) (31 August 1934). "Currency: Australian Pound". Australian Government Solicitor, Opinion No. 1564.
  20. ^ "Introducing the New Decimal Banknotes". Reserve Bank of Australia Museum. Reserve Bank of Australia. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  21. ^ Walter v Mackay Regional Council [2015] FCCA 351 at [5] per Judge Vasta.
  22. ^ Robinson, J (24 November 2016). "Rod Culleton and the associates who claim 50 years of Australian laws are invalid". Guardian Australia. Retrieved 1 March 2017.