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Prime Minister of Australia facts for kids

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Scott Morrison 2014 crop
Scott Morrison is the current Prime Minister

The Prime Minister of Australia is the leader of the Australian government. He or she has the most powerful political office in the Commonwealth of Australia.

The current Prime Minister of Australia, since August 2018, is Scott Morrison.

Powers and role

The first Prime Minister of Australia, Edmund Barton (sitting second from left), with his Cabinet, 1901.

Most of the Prime Minister's powers derive from being head of Government. In practice, the Federal Executive Council will act to ratify all decisions made by the cabinet and decisions of the cabinet will always require the support of the Prime Minister. The powers of the governor-general to grant Royal Assent to legislation, to dissolve and prorogue parliament, to call elections and to make appointments are exercised on the advice of the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister is also the responsible minister for the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, which is tasked with supporting the policy agendas of the Prime Minister and Cabinet through policy advice and the coordination of the implementation of key government programs, to manage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander policy and programs and to promote reconciliation, to provide leadership for the Australian Public Service alongside the Australian Public Service Commission, to oversee the honours and symbols of the Commonwealth, to provide support to ceremonies and official visits, to set whole of government service delivery policy, and to coordinate national security, cyber, counterterrorism, regulatory reform, cities, population, data, and women's policy.

The formal power to appoint the Governor-General lies with the Queen of Australia, but this appointment is done on the formal advice of the Prime Minister. By convention, this advice is provided by the Prime Minister alone, and thus the appointment is effectively the Prime Minister's personal choice. The Prime Minister may also advise the monarch to dismiss the Governor-General, though it remains unclear how quickly the monarch would act on such advice in a constitutional crisis. This uncertainty, and the possibility of a "race" between the Governor-General and Prime Minister to sack the other, was a key question in the 1975 constitutional crisis.

The power of the Prime Minister is subject to a number of limitations. Prime Ministers removed as leader of their party, or whose government loses a vote of no-confidence in the House of Representatives, are expected to advise an election of the lower house or resign the office. If they fail to do this they will be dismissed by the Governor-General.

The Prime Minister's party will normally have a majority in the House of Representatives and party discipline is exceptionally strong in Australian politics, so passage of the government's legislation through the House of Representatives is mostly a formality. Attaining the support of the Senate can be more difficult as government usually lacks an absolute majority because the Senate's representation is based on the overall proportion of votes and often includes minor parties.

Privileges of office


Prime Ministerial salary history
Effective date Salary
2 June 1999 $289,270
6 September 2006 $309,270
1 July 2007 $330,356
1 October 2009 $340,704
1 August 2010 $354,671
1 July 2011 $366,366
1 December 2011 $440,000
15 March 2012 $481,000
1 July 2012 $495,430
1 July 2013 $507,338
1 January 2016 $517,504
1 July 2017 $527,852

On 1 July 2017, the Australian Government's Remuneration Tribunal adjusted the Prime Ministerial salary, raising it to its current amount of $527,852, which was equivalent then to ten times the wage of the average Australian. As of May 2018, this made the Australian Prime Minister the highest paid leader in the OECD.


Curtin GGPrinceHenry Fadden Hughes Menzies
Prime Ministers Curtin, Fadden, Hughes, Menzies and Governor-General The Duke of Gloucester 2nd from left, in 1945.

Whilst in office, the Prime Minister has two official residences. The primary official residence is The Lodge in Canberra. Most Prime Ministers have chosen The Lodge as their primary residence because of its security facilities and close proximity to Parliament House. There have been some exceptions, however. James Scullin preferred to live at the Hotel Canberra (now the Hyatt Hotel) and Ben Chifley lived in the Hotel Kurrajong. More recently, John Howard used the Sydney Prime Ministerial residence, Kirribilli House, as his primary accommodation. On her appointment on 24 June 2010, Julia Gillard said she would not be living in The Lodge until such time as she was returned to office by popular vote at the next general election. (She became Prime Minister mid-term after replacing the incumbent, Kevin Rudd, who resigned in the face of an unwinnable party-room ballot.) Tony Abbott was never able to occupy The Lodge during his term (2013–15) as it was undergoing extensive renovations, which continued into the early part of his successor Malcolm Turnbull's term. Instead, Abbott resided in dedicated rooms at the Australian Federal Police College when in Canberra.

During his first term, Rudd had a staff at The Lodge consisting of a senior chef and an assistant chef, a child carer, one senior house attendant, and two junior house attendants. At Kirribilli House in Sydney, there is one full-time chef and one full-time house attendant. The official residences are fully staffed and catered for both the Prime Minister and their family. In addition, both have extensive security facilities. These residences are regularly used for official entertaining, such as receptions for Australian of the Year finalists.

The Prime Minister receives a number of transport amenities for official business. The Royal Australian Air Force's No. 34 Squadron transports the Prime Minister within Australia and overseas by specially converted Boeing Business Jets and smaller Challenger aircraft. The aircraft contain secure communications equipment as well as an office, conference room and sleeping compartments. The call-sign for the aircraft is "Envoy". For ground travel, the Prime Minister is transported in an armoured BMW 7 Series model. It is referred to as "C-1", or Commonwealth One, because of its licence plate. It is escorted by police vehicles from state and federal authorities.

List of Prime Ministers

No. Name Party Assumed office Left office
1 Edmund Barton Protectionist 1 January 1901 24 September 1903
2 Alfred Deakin Protectionist 24 September 1903 27 April 1904
3 Chris Watson Labor 27 April 1904 18 August 1904
4 Sir George Reid Free Trade 18 August 1904 5 July 1905
- Alfred Deakin (2nd time) Comwlth. Liberal 5 July 1905 13 November 1908
5 Andrew Fisher Labor 13 November 1908 2 June 1909
- Alfred Deakin (3rd time) Comwlth. Liberal 2 June 1909 29 April 1910
- Andrew Fisher (2nd time) Labor 29 April 1910 24 June 1913
6 Joseph Cook Comwlth. Liberal 24 June 1913 17 September 1914
- Andrew Fisher (3rd time) Labor 17 September 1914 27 October 1915
7 Billy Hughes Labor 27 October 1915 14 November 1916
- Billy Hughes (2nd time) National Labor 14 November 1916 17 February 1917
- Billy Hughes (3rd time) Nationalist 17 February 1917 9 February 1923
8 Stanley Bruce Nationalist 9 February 1923 22 October 1929
9 James Scullin Labor 22 October 1929 6 January 1932
10 Joseph Lyons United Australia 6 January 1932 7 April 1939
11 Sir Earle Page Country 7 April 1939 26 April 1939
12 Robert Menzies United Australia 26 April 1939 28 August 1941
13 Arthur Fadden Country 28 August 1941 7 October 1941
14 John Curtin Labor 7 October 1941 5 July 1945
15 Frank Forde Labor 6 July 1945 13 July 1945
16 Ben Chifley Labor 13 July 1945 19 December 1949
- Sir Robert Menzies (2nd time) Liberal 19 December 1949 26 January 1966
17 Harold Holt Liberal 26 January 1966 19 December 1967
18 John McEwen Country 19 December 1967 10 January 1968
19 John Gorton Liberal 10 January 1968 10 March 1971
20 William McMahon Liberal 10 March 1971 5 December 1972
21 Gough Whitlam Labor 5 December 1972 11 November 1975
22 Malcolm Fraser Liberal 11 November 1975 11 March 1983
23 Bob Hawke Labor 11 March 1983 20 December 1991
24 Paul Keating Labor 20 December 1991 11 March 1996
25 John Howard Liberal 11 March 1996 3 December 2007
26 Kevin Rudd Labor 3 December 2007 24 June 2010
27 Julia Gillard Labor 24 June 2010 27 June 2013
- Kevin Rudd (2nd time) Labor 27 June 2013 18 September 2013
28 Tony Abbott Liberal (coalition) 18 September 2013 15 September 2015
29 Malcolm Turnbull Liberal (coalition) 15 September 2015 24 August 2018
30 Scott Morrison Liberal (coalition) 24 August 2018 current

Former prime ministers

As of January 2022, there are six living former Australian Prime Ministers.

Paul Keating 1985
Paul Keating
In office: 1991–1996
Age: 78
John Howard
In office: 1996–2007
Age: 82
Kevin Rudd official portrait
Kevin Rudd
In office: 2007–2010; 2013
Age: 64
Julia Gillard 2010
Julia Gillard
In office: 2010–2013
Age: 60
Tony Abbott official photo
Tony Abbott,
In office: 2013–2015
Age: 64
Malcolm Turnbull PEO (cropped)
Malcolm Turnbull,
In office: 2015-2018
Age: 67

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