Administrator of the Government

Administrator of the Government

An Administrator (Administrator of the Government, Officer Administering the Government) in the constitutional practice of some countries in the Commonwealth is a person who fulfils a role similar to that of a Governor or a Governor-General.


Temporary administrators

Usually, the office of administrator is a temporary appointment, for periods during which the governor is incapacitated, outside the territory, or otherwise unable to perform his/her duties. The process for selecting Administrators varies from country to country.


The Administrator is usually the Chief Justice of Canada. In the absence of the Chief Justice the senior puisne judge of the Supreme Court of Canada is appointed. Administrators can also be appointed to the Canadian provinces to perform the duties of the Lieutenant Governor, in which case a justice of a provincial superior court is appointed.

In Yukon the position of Administrator is a political appointment corresponding roughly to that of "deputy commissioner".[1]


In the Commonwealth of Australia, the Administrator is usually called the Administrator of the Commonwealth. State Governors hold a dormant commission and by convention the longest-serving state Governor becomes Administrator.

In the states of Australia, the Administrator is usually the Chief Justice of the state's Supreme Court or the next most senior justice. In 2001, the Constitution of Queensland was amended to restore the office of Lieutenant-Governor in that state. Links:

New Zealand

Under letters patent issued in 1986, the Chief Justice of New Zealand will be Administrator, followed by the President of the Court of Appeal, and then the Senior Judge of that same court, followed by the puisne judges of that Court in order of seniority by appointment to that Court or the High Court. The Supreme Court Act 2003 specifically left the patent unchanged, even though judges of the Supreme Court are senior to those of the Court of Appeal.


Papua-New Guinea

As a former External Territory of Australia, the head of the Territory's administration was called the Administrator of Papua-New Guinea before independence in 1975. The appointment was by the Governor-General of Australia on the advice of the Australian Minister of External Territories. The Minister for External Territories consulted with the territory's Chief Minister as part of the appointment process.

Hong Kong

When Hong Kong was a British crown colony the Chief Secretary (Colonial Secretary before 1976) would be the Acting Governor, followed by the Financial Secretary and the Attorney General. The practice has remained after the transfer of sovereignty to the People's Republic of China. Rotation takes place between the Chief Secretary for Administration, the Financial Secretary and the Secretary for Justice as the Acting Chief Executive.


When the Colony of Rhodesia unilaterally declared independence from the United Kingdom in 1965, the Government of Prime Minister Ian Smith ignored the Governor of Rhodesia, Sir Humphrey Gibbs, and instead appointed Deputy Prime Minister Clifford Dupont as Officer Administrating the Government. Dupont remained administrator until 1970, when Rhodesia was declared a Republic, after which Dupont became President of Rhodesia; only later in 1980 was the country officially decolonised and renamed Zimbabwe.

Permanent Administrators

The term Administrator is also used for a permanent officer representing the Sovereign where the appointment of a Governor would be inappropriate; it is also used for the representative of a Governor.

United Kingdom overseas possessions

  • The civil Administrator Akrotiri and Dhekelia Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus is traditionally the military Commander of British Forces in the areas.
  • The Administrator of the British Indian Ocean Territory is the junior to a Commissioner (Chagos Archipelago, notably Diego Garcia. He mandates the Commander of British Naval forces on Diego Garcia as his representative and Justice of the Peace, alongside the American Commander U.S. Navy Facility Diego Garcia
  • The two dependencies of Saint Helena, both sparsely populated Atlantic islands, are responsible in the first instance to the Governor of St Helena :


There is no administrator in the Australian Capital Territory and the Chief Minister is elected by the Legislative Assembly.

New Zealand

  • Tokelau has been governed by an administrator since 1949, when it was attached to New Zealand (previously it was part of the British colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands)

Sources and references


  1. ^ "Choice of Next Commissioner Praised." Chuck Tobin, the Whitehorse Star, December 1, 2010. Accessed March 1, 2011.

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