|Leader of the Opposition of the Commonwealth of Australia|
|Official Opposition of Australia|
Shadow Cabinet of Australia
|Term length||While leader of the largest political party not in government|
|Inaugural holder||George Reid|
The Leader of the Opposition is a politician who leads the official opposition in Australia. The Leader of the Opposition in Australian federal politics by convention, is a Member of Parliament in the House of Representatives. The position is held by the leader of the party not in government that has the most seats in the House. When in parliament, the Leader of the Opposition sits on the left-hand side of the centre table, in front of the Opposition and opposite the Prime Minister. The Opposition Leader is elected by his or her party according to its rules. A new Opposition Leader may be elected when the incumbent dies, resigns, or is challenged for the leadership.
The Commonwealth of Australia is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system and is based on the Westminster model. The term Opposition has a specific meaning in the parliamentary sense. It is an important component of the Westminster system, with the Opposition directing criticism at the Government and attempts to defeat and replace the Government. The Opposition is therefore known as the "Government in waiting" and it is a formal part of the parliamentary system. It is in opposition to the Government, but not to the Crown; hence the term "Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition".
To date there have been 34 Opposition Leaders, 18 of whom have served terms as Prime Minister. The current Leader of the Opposition is Anthony Albanese of the Australian Labor Party, following an election of the new Parliamentary Labor Leader by caucus and ALP members on 30 May 2019. The current Deputy Leader of the Opposition is Richard Marles, who was elected deputy leader of the ALP on the same date.
The opposition leader is the opposition's counterpart to the prime minister. He or she is expected to be ready to form a new government if the incumbent government is unable to continue in office. This typically occurs when the opposition wins a federal election, after which the opposition leader is appointed prime minister. However, the opposition leader may also be called upon to form government if the incumbent government loses the confidence of the House (most recently in 1941) or that of the governor-general (most recently in 1975).
The opposition leader is the head of the shadow ministry, allocating portfolios and, in the case of the Coalition, determining its membership. He or she is assisted by a deputy leader of the opposition, who is also recognised in the standing orders and entitled to an additional salary. Both the opposition leader and deputy opposition leader are entitled to a degree of special preference from the Speaker of the House.
The Leader of the Opposition has to make himself master of all the business which comes before the House (not merely that of one or two departments); he has to do this at times at short notice and under constant pressure; and he gets no help from permanent officials. At all times he is the spokesman for those who are critical of or opposed to the Government, and he must be unceasingly vigilant and active. He and the Prime Minister should be the most powerful agents in guiding and forming public opinion on issues of policy.
George Reid became the de facto leader of the opposition in the lead-up to the inaugural 1901 federal election, following the appointment of Edmund Barton to lead a caretaker government as Australia's first prime minister. His status was confirmed when the House of Representatives met for the first time after the election. The opposition leader was initially not entitled to any salary or entitlements beyond those of an ordinary member of parliament. As a result, Reid had to maintain his legal practice in Sydney to support himself and was able to attend just over one-third of the sitting days in the first session of parliament.
Although the role was firmly established, the House did not formally recognise the position of opposition leader in its records until 1920. It was recognised by statute for the first time with the passage of the Parliamentary Allowances Act 1920, which granted its holder an additional allowance. Prime Minister Andrew Fisher had previously offered Opposition Leader Alfred Deakin an allowance in 1910. Deakin declined, but did accept a paid secretary. In 1931, the office was incorporated into the House's standing orders for the first time, with the opposition leader granted the right to exceed the time limit for speeches in certain instances.
The opposition leader's salary is determined by the Remuneration Tribunal, an independent statutory body. As of 1 July 2019, the incumbent is entitled to a parliamentarian's base salary of A$211,250 plus an additional 85% loading, equating to a salary of around $390,000.
List of Leaders of the Opposition
|No.||Leader||Party||Constituency||Took office||Left office||Prime Minister|
|1||George Reid||Free Trade||East Sydney (NSW)||19 May 1901||17 August 1904||Barton 1901–03|
|2||Chris Watson||Labor||Bland (NSW)||18 August 1904||5 July 1905||Reid 1904–05|
|(1)||George Reid||Free Trade / Anti-Socialist||East Sydney (NSW)||7 July 1905||16 November 1908||Deakin 1905–08|
|3||Joseph Cook||Anti-Socialist||Parramatta (NSW)||17 November 1908||26 May 1909|
|4||Alfred Deakin||Liberal||Ballaarat (Vic)||26 May 1909||2 June 1909|
|5||Andrew Fisher||Labor||Wide Bay (Qld)||2 June 1909||29 April 1910||Deakin 1909|
|(4)||Alfred Deakin||Liberal||Ballaarat (Vic)||1 July 1910||20 January 1913||Fisher 1910–13|
|(3)||Joseph Cook||Liberal||Parramatta (NSW)||20 January 1913||24 June 1913|
|(5)||Andrew Fisher||Labor||Wide Bay (Qld)||8 July 1913||17 September 1914||Cook 1913–14|
|(3)||Joseph Cook||Liberal||Parramatta (NSW)||8 October 1914||17 February 1917||Fisher 1914–15|
|6||Frank Tudor||Labor||Yarra (Vic)||17 February 1917||10 January 1922|| |
|7||Matthew Charlton||Labor||Hunter (NSW)||25 January 1922||29 March 1928|
|8||James Scullin||Labor||Yarra (Vic)||26 April 1928||22 October 1929|
|9||John Latham||Nationalist||Kooyong (Vic)||20 November 1929||7 May 1931||Scullin 1929–32|
|10||Joseph Lyons||United Australia||Wilmot (Tas)||7 May 1931||6 January 1932|
|(8)||James Scullin||Labor||Yarra (Vic)||7 January 1932||1 October 1935||
|11||John Curtin||Labor||Fremantle (WA)||1 October 1935||7 October 1941|
|12||Arthur Fadden||Country||Darling Downs (Qld)||7 October 1941||23 September 1943||Curtin 1941–45|
|13||Robert Menzies||United Australia||Kooyong (Vic)||23 September 1943||19 December 1949|
|14||Ben Chifley||Labor||Macquarie (NSW)||19 December 1949||13 June 1951||
|15||H. V. Evatt||Labor||Barton (NSW) 1940–58
Hunter (NSW) 1958–60
|20 June 1951||9 February 1960|
|16||Arthur Calwell||Labor||Melbourne (Vic)||7 March 1960||8 February 1967|
|17||Gough Whitlam||Labor||Werriwa (NSW)||8 February 1967||2 December 1972|
|18||Billy Snedden||Liberal||Bruce (Vic)||20 December 1972||21 March 1975||Whitlam 1972–75|
|19||Malcolm Fraser||Liberal||Wannon (Vic)||21 March 1975||11 November 1975|
|(17)||Gough Whitlam||Labor||Werriwa (NSW)||11 November 1975||22 December 1977||Fraser 1975–83|
|20||Bill Hayden||Labor||Oxley (Qld)||22 December 1977||3 February 1983|
|21||Bob Hawke||Labor||Wills (Vic)||3 February 1983||11 March 1983|
|22||Andrew Peacock||Liberal||Kooyong (Vic)||11 March 1983||5 September 1985||
|23||John Howard||Liberal||Bennelong (NSW)||5 September 1985||9 May 1989|
|(22)||Andrew Peacock||Liberal||Kooyong (Vic)||9 May 1989||3 April 1990|
|24||John Hewson||Liberal||Wentworth (NSW)||3 April 1990||23 May 1994|
|25||Alexander Downer||Liberal||Mayo (SA)||23 May 1994||30 January 1995|
|(23)||John Howard||Liberal||Bennelong (NSW)||30 January 1995||11 March 1996|
|26||Kim Beazley||Labor||Brand (WA)||19 March 1996||22 November 2001||Howard 1996–07|
|27||Simon Crean||Labor||Hotham (Vic)||22 November 2001||2 December 2003|
|28||Mark Latham||Labor||Werriwa (NSW)||2 December 2003||18 January 2005|
|(26)||Kim Beazley||Labor||Brand (WA)||28 January 2005||4 December 2006|
|29||Kevin Rudd||Labor||Griffith (Qld)||4 December 2006||3 December 2007|
|30||Brendan Nelson||Liberal||Bradfield (NSW)||3 December 2007||16 September 2008||
|31||Malcolm Turnbull||Liberal||Wentworth (NSW)||16 September 2008||1 December 2009|
|32||Tony Abbott||Liberal||Warringah (NSW)||1 December 2009||18 September 2013|
|–||Chris Bowen (acting)||Labor||McMahon (NSW)||18 September 2013||13 October 2013||
|33||Bill Shorten||Labor||Maribyrnong (Vic)||13 October 2013||30 May 2019|
||Labor||Grayndler (NSW)||30 May 2019||Incumbent|
List of Deputy Leaders of the Opposition
- Denotes an Opposition Leader who had previously been Prime Minister.
- Denotes an Opposition Leader who later became Prime Minister.
- Gough Whitlam refused to use the title Leader of the Opposition between the dismissal of his government in November 1975 and the first meeting of the new parliament in February 1976. During the election campaign in December 1975 he styled himself as the Leader of the Majority in the House of Representatives.
- Jaensch, Dean (1997). The Politics of Australia. Melbourne: MacMillan Education Australia. p. 100. ISBN 0-7329-4128-8.
- "A House for the nation". Commonwealth of Australia. Archived from the original on 30 August 2007. Retrieved 14 December 2007.
- "The (official) Opposition". House of Representatives Practice (7th ed.). 2018. Retrieved 9 February 2020.
- Heriot, Dianne (12 February 2019). "Australia's first Parliament: Her Majesty's loyal opposition" (PDF). FlagPost. Australian Parliamentary Library. Retrieved 9 February 2020.
- Brett, Judith. The Enigmatic Mr Deakin. Text Publishing. p. 397. ISBN 9781925498660.
- "Salary". Department of Finance. Retrieved 9 February 2020.
- Doran, Matthew (8 June 2019). "Pay rise coming for federal politicians as they prepare to return to Canberra". ABC News. Retrieved 9 February 2020.
- "Hon Chris Bowen MP". Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 26 October 2019.
- The Mercury, Hobart (1860-1954), 18 March 1927 - THE NEWS IN BRIEF
- Gough, Whitlam. "Whitlam Speeches – 1975 Election Policy Speech". Whitlam Dismissal. Archived from the original on 16 November 2006. Retrieved 12 April 2006.