The Administrator

The Administrator is a symbol of the Northern Territory’s unity and leadership, with the holder of this office fulfilling important statutory, ceremonial, diplomatic, and community roles.


The Administrator is appointed by the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia on the recommendation of the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory and the Federal Executive Council.


The Administrator serves as the representative of the Governor-General in accordance with the provisions of the Northern Territory (Self Government) Act 1978.

In the Northern Territory, the Administrator performs a similar role to that of a State Governor.

The Administrator is non-partisan and is not involved in the 'business' of government, which is the responsibility of the Chief Minister and the Cabinet.

The Northern Territory adheres to the Westminster system of parliamentary government and neither the Administrator nor the Governor-General takes an active or initiating role in the executive functions of government.


By convention the Administrator acts on the advice of government ministers, except on rare occasions such as when appointing a Chief Minister after an election.

In a very few instances the Administrator may exercise a degree of personal discretion under what are known as the reserve powers.

The most important of these is the appointment of a Chief Minister following an election, or accepting the resignation of an incumbent Chief Minister.

By convention, the Administrator will always appoint as Chief Minister the person who has been identified through the government formation process as the person who will lead the party or group of parties that appears able to command the confidence of the Legislative Assembly.

The Administrator abides by the outcome of the government formation process.

Other reserve powers are to dismiss a Chief Minister, to force a dissolution of Parliament and call new elections, to refuse a Chief Minister's request for an election, and to refuse assent to legislation.

These powers to act without or even against ministerial advice are reserved for the most extreme situations and with the exception of the appointment of a Chief Minister following an election, no Administrator of the Northern Territory has ever needed to use them.

More information

To find out more about the Administrator visit the Government House website.

Last updated: 28 November 2017

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