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. The Administrator is the representative of the Crown in right of 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 Bills that have been passed by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory 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 the Executive Council
  • Exercise the Prerogative of Mercy.

The Administrator of the Northern Territory acts on the advice of her Ministers and has the constitutional right to be consulted, to encourage and to warn. These rights are significant and are related to the advice given by her Ministers, the Administrator is not obliged by convention to follow the advice of others. The Administrator does not participate in politics or public policy matters.

Ceremonial Duties

The Administrator officiates and represents Territorians at a range of significant ceremonial occasions, celebrations and commemorations, including the formal Opening of Parliament; representation at military parades, special occasions of Territory and national significance such as Australia Day and ANZAC Day activities; and the opening of major conferences or substantial new buildings and facilities.

The Administrator also receives and hosts Ambassadors, High Commissioners, Heads of State and other notable visitors to the Northern Territory. At the request of the Chief Minister, the Administrator, as the highest office holder, may represent the Northern Territory overseas at significant occasions, celebrations and commemorations in this capacity.

The Administrator 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 of the Northern Territory. The Administrator is seen as a symbol of unity, who represents all Territorians and nurtures what it is to be a Territorian. Through an extensive community engagement and travel programme, the Administrator recognises and promotes Territory innovation, industry, voluntary service, education, artistic endeavours and sporting achievement.

The Administrator achieves this by:

  • Recognising and valuing Territorians who serve the community .
  • Encouraging and acknowledging the achievements of individuals and organisations, including officiating at or attending award ceremonies.
  • Fostering the work of community groups.
  • Visiting numerous organisations.
  • Travelling to regional and remote parts of the Northern Territory.
  • Granting of patronage to many community not-for-profit organisations.