"Can the Governor-General refuse to sign a bill?"

Hi Dinky. That’s a great question!

Australia’s Governor-General can refuse to sign a bill into law, but this would be an unusual action.

The Governor-General is the Queen’s representative in Australia and has a very important role in the governing of Australia. The Australian Constitution gives the Governor-General considerable power, including the authority to provide Royal Assent to bills passed by the two houses of the Australian Parliament.

Section 1 of the Constitution states that the Parliament ‘shall consist of the Queen, a Senate, and a House of Representatives’. For any bill to become a law, it must be agreed to by all 3 parts of Parliament.

Most bills are introduced into the House of Representatives and, if that house agrees, the bill will then be considered by the Senate. If both houses agree—to the exact same wording—then the bill can be presented to the Governor-General for the assent (agreement) of the Queen.

Section 58 of the Constitution tells us that the Governor-General has 4 options available to them when they receive a proposed law. The Governor-General may:
• Assent (sign the bill) in the Queen’s name
• Withhold assent (refuse to sign the bill into law)
• Reserve the law for the Queen’s pleasure (her personal decision)
• Return the bill with amendments (recommended changes) for the houses to consider

No Governor-General has ever refused to give Royal Assent, but there have been times when the Governor-General has reserved a bill for the Queen’s (or King’s) Assent or returned a bill with suggested changes.

diagram to help explain Can the Governor-General refuse to sign a bill?