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Formally, executive authority in Australia is vested in the governor-general, who is appointed by the British monarch in consultation with the Australian prime minister. The British monarch is also the royal head of Australia, but has no real power in the government and serves as a symbolic head of state. The governor-general acts only on the advice of the Executive Council, or cabinet, comprising all ministers of state. Federal policy in practice is determined by the cabinet, which is chaired by the prime minister, who is the head of the majority party in parliament. The ministers are responsible for the individual departments of the federal government, and these departments are administered by permanent civil servants.