Governor of Victoria

The Governor of Victoria is the representative of the monarch, currently King Charles III, in the Australian state of Victoria. The governor is one of seven viceregal representatives in the country, analogous to the governors of the other states and the governor-general federally.

Governor of Victoria
Badge of the governor
Flag of the governor
Linda Dessau AC, CVO
since 1 July 2015
StyleHer Excellency the Honourable
ResidenceGovernment House, Melbourne
NominatorPremier of Victoria
AppointerMonarch of Australia
(on the advice of the premier)
Term lengthAt His Majesty's pleasure
(conventionally 5 years)
Formation22 May 1855
First holderCharles Hotham
DeputyLieutenant-Governor of Victoria

The governor is appointed by the monarch on the advice of the Premier of Victoria. The governor's role is to represent the Crown in right of Victoria. This role mainly includes performing ceremonial functions, such as opening and dissolving parliament, appointing the cabinet and granting royal assent.

The governor's office and official residence is Government House next to the Royal Botanic Gardens and surrounded by Kings Domain in Melbourne.

The current Governor of Victoria is Linda Dessau, Victoria's first female governor.[1]


In accordance with the conventions of the Westminster system of parliamentary government, the governor nearly always acts solely on the advice of the head of the elected government, the Premier of Victoria. Nevertheless, the governor retains the reserve powers of the Crown, and has the right to dismiss the premier.[2]

Role of governor

The governor is appointed by the Monarch of Australia, on the advice of the premier of Victoria, to act as the monarch's representative as head of state in Victoria.[3] The governor acts "At His Majesty's pleasure", meaning that the term of the governor can be terminated at any time by the monarch acting upon the advice of the premier.

Since the Australia Acts of 1986, it is the governor and not the monarch who exercises all the powers of the head of state and the governor is not subject to the direction or supervision of the monarch but acts upon the advice of the premier. Upon appointment, the governor becomes a viceroy. The governor's main responsibilities fall into three categories – constitutional, ceremonial and community engagement.[3]

Governor's personal standard

The personal standard of the governor of Victoria is the same design as the State Flag of Victoria, but with the blue background replaced by gold, and red stars depicting the Southern Cross. Above the Southern Cross is the Royal Crown.

The current standard has been in place since 1984. Previously, the standard used by Victorian governors after 1870 had been the Union Jack with the Badge of the State of Victoria emblazoned in the centre.[4] From 1903 to 1953, the Tudor Crown was used on the state flag and governor's standard and this was changed to the present crown in 1954.

The governor's standard is flown at Government House and on vehicles conveying the governor. The standard is lowered over Government House when the governor is absent from Victoria.[4]

Past and present standards of the governor

There is also a lieutenant-governor and an administrator. The Chief Justice of Victoria is ex officio the administrator, unless the chief justice is the lieutenant-governor, in which case, the next most senior judge is the administrator. The lieutenant-governor takes on the responsibilities of the governor when that post is vacant or when the governor is out of the state or unable to act. The administrator takes on those duties if both the governor and lieutenant-governor are not able to act for the above reasons.

See Governors of the Australian states for a description and history of the office of governor.

The Official Secretary to the Governor of Victoria is the head of the Office of the Governor which supports the Governor of Victoria in carrying out his or her official constitutional and ceremonial duties and community and international engagements. The official secretary manages the office and its administrative and service staff. All staff report to their respective managers, and through them to the Deputy Official Secretary and Official Secretary. The office also is in charge of maintaining Government House and its collections as a heritage and community asset of national importance. The official secretary is the Victorian nominee on the Council for the Order of Australia.[5]

The Office of the Governor was established under the Public Administration Act 2004 (Vic) as an administrative office within the portfolio of the Department of Premier and Cabinet. The current official secretary is Joshua Puls and the current deputy official secretary (operations) is Taara Olorenshaw.[5]

Australianisation of the office

As with the other states, until the 1986 Australia Acts, the office of Governor of Victoria was an appointment of the British Foreign Office although local advice was considered and sometimes accepted.

Until the appointment of Victorian-born Sir Henry Winneke in 1974, the governors of Victoria were British. Since then, governors have been Australian although several were born overseas, namely Davis McCaughey (born in Ireland) came to Australia for work and David de Kretser (born in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka) and Alex Chernov (born in Lithuania), both of whom came to Australia while at school.

List of governors of Victoria


Prior to the separation of the colony of Victoria from New South Wales in 1851, the area was called the Port Phillip District of New South Wales. The Governor of New South Wales appointed superintendents of the district. In 1839, Charles La Trobe was appointed superintendent. La Trobe became lieutenant-governor of the new colony of Victoria on separation on 1 July 1851.

From 1850 to 1861, the Governor of New South Wales was titled Governor-general of New South Wales in an attempt to form a federal structure. Until Victoria obtained responsible government in 1855, the Governor-general of New South Wales appointed lieutenant-governors to Victoria.[6] On Victoria obtaining responsible government in May 1855, the title of the then incumbent lieutenant-governor, Captain Sir Charles Hotham, became governor.

No. Image Lieutenant-governor From To
1 Captain Charles La Trobe 1 July 1851 5 May 1854
2 Captain Sir Charles Hotham KCB RN 22 June 1854 22 May 1855


No. Image Governor From To Notes
1 Sir Charles Hotham KCB 22 May 1855 31 December 1855 Edward Macarthur was administrator from January to December 1856[7]
2 Sir Henry Barkly GCMG KCB FRS FRGS 26 December 1856 10 September 1863
3 Sir Charles Darling KCB 11 September 1863 7 May 1866 George Carey acted May to August 1866[8]
4 The Rt Hon. Viscount Canterbury GCMG KCB 15 August 1866 2 March 1873
5 The Rt Hon Sir George Bowen GCMG 30 July 1873 22 February 1879
6 The Most Hon. Marquess of Normanby GCB GCMG PC 29 April 1879 18 April 1884
7 Sir Henry Brougham Loch GCMG KCB 15 July 1884 15 November 1889
8 The Right Hon. Earl of Hopetoun KT GCMG GCVO PC 28 November 1889 12 July 1895
9 The Rt Hon. Lord Brassey GCB JP DL TD 25 October 1895 31 March 1900
10 Sir George Clarke KCMG 28 September 1901[9] 24 November 1903
11 The Hon. Major-General Sir Reginald Talbot KCB 25 April 1904 6 July 1908
12 The Rt Hon. Lord Carmichael GCSI GCIE KCMG DL 27 July 1908 19 May 1911
13 The Rt Hon. Sir John Fuller Bt KCMG 24 May 1911 24 November 1913
14 Sir Arthur Stanley KCMG 23 February 1914 30 January 1920
15 The Rt Hon. Earl of Stradbroke KCMG CB CVO CBE VD TD 24 February 1921 7 April 1926
16 The Rt Hon. Lord Somers KCMG DSO MC 28 June 1926 23 June 1931
17 The Rt Hon. Lord Huntingfield KCMG 14 May 1934 4 April 1939
18 The Rt Hon. Major General Lord Dugan GCMG CB DSO 17 July 1939 20 February 1949
19 General Sir Reginald Dallas Brooks GCMG KCB KCVO DSO 18 October 1949 7 May 1963
20 Major General Sir Rohan Delacombe KCMG KCVO KBE CB DSO 8 May 1963 31 May 1974
21 The Hon. Sir Henry Winneke AC KCMG KCVO OBE QC 1 June 1974 28 February 1982
22 Rear Admiral Sir Brian Murray KCMG AO 1 March 1982 3 October 1985
23 The Reverend Dr Davis McCaughey AC 18 February 1986 22 April 1992
24 The Hon. Richard McGarvie AC QC 23 April 1992 23 April 1997
25 The Hon. Sir James Gobbo AC CVO QC 24 April 1997 31 December 2000
26 Mr. John Landy AC CVO MBE 1 January 2001 7 April 2006
27 Professor David de Kretser AC 7 April 2006 7 April 2011
28 The Hon. Alex Chernov AC KC 8 April 2011 30 June 2015
29 The Hon. Linda Dessau AC CVO 1 July 2015 Incumbent

Line of succession

There is also a lieutenant-governor and an administrator. The lieutenant-governor takes on the responsibilities of the governor when that post is vacant or when the governor is out of the state or unable to act. The lieutenant-governor is appointed by the governor on the advice of the premier of Victoria. Appointment as lieutenant-governor does not of itself confer any powers or functions. If there is no governor or if the governor is unavailable to act for a substantial period, the lieutenant-governor assumes office as administrator and exercises all the powers and functions of the governor.

If expecting to be unavailable for a short period only, the governor, with the consent of the premier, usually commissions the lieutenant-governor to act as deputy for the governor, performing some or all of the powers and functions of the governor.[10]

The chief justice of Victoria is ex officio the administrator, unless the chief justice is the lieutenant-governor, in which case the next most senior judge is the administrator. The administrator takes on the governor's duties if both the governor and lieutenant-governor are not able to act for the above reasons.

The current lieutenant-governor is James Angus, who was appointed to the role on 12 November 2021 to succeed Ken Lay.

See also


  1. Willingham, Richard (11 February 2015). "Linda Dessau will become Victoria's first female Governor". The Age. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  2. Constitution of Victoria (1975), Part 1.
  3. Role of the governor
  4. The Governor's Standard
  5. "Office of the Governor". Governor of Victoria. Retrieved 30 July 2021.  This article incorporates text available under the CC BY 4.0 license.
  6. Twomey, Anne (2006). The chameleon Crown: The Queen and her Australian governors. Sydney: The Federation Press. ISBN 978-1-86287-629-3.
  7. Hill, A. J. (1974). "Macarthur, Sir Edward (1789–1872)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Vol. 5. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. ISSN 1833-7538. Retrieved 6 January 2013.
  8. McConville, Chris. "Carey, George Jackson (1822–1872)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. ISSN 1833-7538. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  9. "No. 27360". The London Gazette. 1 October 1901. p. 6395.
  10. Victoria Online
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