President of the New South Wales Legislative Council
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President of the New South Wales Legislative Council

President of the
New South Wales Legislative Council
John Ajaka

since 21 February 2017
StyleThe Honourable
Mr / Madam President
(in the Council)
AppointerThe Monarch's representative at the behest of the Legislative Council
Term lengthElected at start of each Parliament
Inaugural holderSir Alfred Stephen
Formation20 May 1856
DeputyThe Hon. Trevor Khan, MLC

The President of the New South Wales Legislative Council is the presiding officer of the upper house of the Parliament of New South Wales, the Legislative Council. The presiding officer of the lower house is the speaker of the Legislative Assembly. The role of President has generally been a partisan office, filled by the governing party of the time. As of May 2017 the president is John Ajaka.


The president is elected by the Council in a secret ballot. The Clerk of the Council conducts the election. The Presidency has always been a partisan office and the nominee of the government party has nearly always been elected--although this cannot be guaranteed since the government of the day does not necessarily have a majority in the Council. The president is assisted by an elected deputy president. The traditional practice has been that the government nominates an MLC to be elected as President, and the Opposition nominates an MLC to be Deputy President. However, as with now, this is not always the case.


The president has a casting vote (in the event of an equality of votes). Like the speaker, the president continues to attend party meetings, and at general elections stands as a party candidate. On the other hand, the president does not usually take part in debates in the Council and does not speak in public on party-political issues. He or she is expected to conduct the business of the Council in an impartial and dignified manner.

Section 22I of the NSW Constitution states that "All questions arising in the Legislative Council shall be decided by a majority of the votes of the Members present other than the President or other Member presiding and when the votes are equal the President or other Member presiding shall have a casting vote."


The president's principal duty is to preside over the Council, although he or she is assisted in this by the deputy president and a panel of acting deputy presidents, who usually preside during routine debates. The occupant of the chair must maintain order in the Council, uphold the Standing Orders (rules of procedure) and protect the rights of backbench councillors. The president, in conjunction with the speaker of the Legislative Assembly, also administers Parliament House, Sydney, with the assistance of administrative staff.

Although the president does not have the same degree of disciplinary power as the speaker does, the Council is not as rowdy as most Australian legislative chambers, and thus his or her disciplinary powers are seldom exercised.

Perquisites and ceremony

Sir John Peden (1929-1946) in the full traditional dress presiding over the State Opening of Parliament, 18 September 1929.

Following the Westminster tradition inherited from the House of Lords of the United Kingdom, the traditional dress of the speaker includes components of Court dress such as the black silk lay-type gown (similar to a Queen's Counsel gown), a wing collar and a lace jabot or bands (another variation included a white bow tie with a lace jabot), bar jacket, and a full-bottomed wig.

The dress of speakers has often variated according to the party in power, but is determinate on the personal choice of the speaker. Most Labor party presidents eschewed the wig while retaining the court dress, while conservative and independent speakers tended to wear the full dress.

The president, currently, no longer wears the full traditional court dress outfit. Max Willis (1991-1998) was the last president to do so. From 1998 to 2011, all the presidents opted not to wear any dress at all, preferring normal business attire. However, upon his election, President Harwin returned to tradition by wearing the gown during question time and on significant occasions such as the Opening of Parliament. However, there is nothing stopping any given speaker, if they choose to do so, from assuming traditional court dress or anything they deem appropriate.

List of presidents of the Legislative Council

# President Party affiliation Term start Term end Time in office
1 The Hon. Sir Alfred Stephen None 20 May 1856 28 January 1857 253 days
2 The Hon. John Plunkett None 29 January 1857 6 February 1858 1 year, 8 days
3 The Hon. Sir William Burton None 9 February 1858 10 March 1861 3 years, 29 days
4 The Hon. William Wentworth None 24 June 1861 10 October 1862 1 year, 108 days
5 The Hon. Sir Terence Murray None 14 October 1862 22 June 1873 10 years, 251 days
6 The Hon. Sir John Hay None 8 July 1873 10 January 1892 18 years, 186 days
7 The Hon. Sir John Lackey None 26 January 1892 23 May 1903 11 years, 117 days
8 The Hon. Sir Francis Suttor Progressive 23 May 1903 4 April 1915 11 years, 316 days
Liberal Reform
9 The Hon. Frederick Flowers Labor 27 April 1915 14 December 1928 13 years, 231 days
10 The Hon. Sir John Peden Nationalist 5 February 1929 22 April 1946 17 years, 76 days
United Australia
11 The Hon. Ernest Farrar Liberal 30 April 1946 16 June 1952 6 years, 47 days
12 The Hon. William Dickson Labor 18 August 1952 22 May 1966 13 years, 277 days
13 The Hon. Sir Harry Budd Country 9 August 1966 5 November 1978 12 years, 88 days
14 The Hon. Johno Johnson Labor 7 November 1978 3 July 1991 12 years, 238 days
15 The Hon. Max Willis Liberal 3 July 1991 29 June 1998 6 years, 361 days
16 The Hon. Virginia Chadwick Liberal 29 June 1998 5 March 1999 249 days
17 The Hon. Dr Meredith Burgmann Labor 11 May 1999 2 March 2007 7 years, 295 days
18 The Hon. Peter Primrose Labor 8 May 2007 17 November 2009 2 years, 193 days
19 The Hon. Amanda Fazio Labor 24 November 2009 3 May 2011 1 year, 160 days
20 The Hon. Don Harwin Liberal 3 May 2011 30 January 2017 (2017-01-30) 5 years, 272 days
21 The Hon. John Ajaka Liberal 21 February 2017 Incumbent 3 years, 86 days

Deputy President and Chair of Committees

Originally titled Chairman of Committees, the current style was adopted on 5 May 2004 during the term of the first female holder of the office. Various legal and constitutional amendments to follow this change were made in the Constitution Amendment (Parliamentary Presiding Officers) Act 2014.[1]

Chairman of Committees Party affiliation Term start Term end
Hon. George Allen None 4 June 1856 15 January 1873
Hon. Joseph Docker None 15 January 1873 9 February 1875
Hon. Sir Joseph Innes None 9 February 1875 16 December 1880
Hon. Joseph Docker None 16 December 1880 11 December 1884
Hon. William Piddington None 17 March 1885 25 November 1887
Hon. Archibald Jacob None 1 December 1887 28 May 1900
Hon. William Trickett None 13 June 1900 23 July 1912
Hon. Broughton O'Conor Liberal Reform 24 July 1912 22 April 1934
United Australia
Hon. Ernest Farrar United Australia 2 May 1934 22 April 1946
Hon. Thomas Steele Country 30 April 1946 11 March 1953
Hon. Ernest Gerard Wright Labor 11 March 1953 22 April 1967
Hon. Stanley Eskell Liberal 2 August 1967 6 March 1969
Hon. Thomas McKay Liberal 12 March 1969 5 November 1978
Hon. Clive Healey Labor 8 November 1978 22 February 1988
Hon. Sir Adrian Solomons National 28 April 1988 2 July 1991
Hon. Duncan Gay National 3 July 1991 10 May 1999
Hon. Tony Kelly Labor 11 May 1999 29 April 2003
Hon. Amanda Fazio Labor 30 April 2003 5 May 2004
Deputy President Party affiliation Term start Term end
Hon. Amanda Fazio Labor 5 May 2004 24 November 2009
Hon. Kayee Griffin Labor 24 November 2009 4 March 2011
Hon. Jenny Gardiner National 3 May 2011 5 May 2015
Hon. Trevor Khan National 5 May 2015 Incumbent

Assistant President

Assistant President[1] Party affiliation Term start Term end
Hon. Fred Nile Christian Democrats 28 June 2007 7 May 2019
Hon. Shaoquett Moselmane Labor 7 May 2019 6 April 2020


  1. ^ a b "Part Ten - Officers of Parliament" (PDF). NSW Parliamentary Record. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 2020.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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