- 1834-01-17 - (Creation)
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The Governor of Western Australia is the personal representative of the sovereign in the State and exercises the powers of the Crown in State Matters. He is the titular head of the Government and performs the official and ceremonial functions attached to the Crown.
The first Governor of Western Australia took office as Lieutenant-Governor, his only authority being a letter of appointment from the Colonial Office dated 30 December 1828. On 14 May 1829, "An Act to provide until the thirty-first day of December 1834 for the Government of His Majesty's Settlement in Western Australia, on the Western coast of New Holland" (10 Geo.IV. No. XXII) received the Royal Assent, but Stirling's Commission as Governor and Commander-in-Chief, with the accompanying Royal Instructions, was not issued until 4 March 1831 and only reached him in Australia at the end of that year.
Although Executive and Legislative Councils were formed at the beginning of 1832 to assist the Governor in the administration of the Colony, the powers of those Councils were restricted. The Governor was subject to the instructions of the Colonial Office and had to report continually, however he was all powerful within the Colony itself. He presided at meetings of both the Executive and Legislative Councils until 1870.
After 1870, by virtue of 33 Vict. No. 13, the Legislative Council became partly elective, and it was presided over by a Speaker. Finally in 1890, Western Australia was granted Responsible Government, and the first Ministry was sworn in on 29 December, 1890.
The last Governor of Western Australia as a Colony was Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Gerard Smith KCMG, whose term of office expired on 29 June 1900 and the first Governor of the State was Captain Sir Arthur Lawley, KCMG, who was sworn in on 1 May 1901.
The first regulations with regard to the conduct of the official business of the Governor's Office were published, with similar regulations for other sections of the Civil Establishment, in August 1834 following the Governor's return from Great Britain.
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The series was maintained from 1834 - 1870. Subsequently it was the practice to file only the original despatch and forward the duplicate to the appropriate department for action.
The despatches have been arranged chronologically and bound into volumes.
For original despatches from the Colonial Office see WAS 1182.