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The Australian Parliamentary System
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The Australian Parliamentary System

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  • 1. Principles of the Australian Parliamentary system
  • 2.
    • In England from the 14 th century through to the 16 th century much debate took place and the Kings and Queens were forced to give over much of their absolute power to the parliament.
  • 3.
    • The Australian system is based on the WESTMINISTER SYSTEM. (named after the British Parl)
    • This basic system was adopted by Australia via the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 (UK).
    • The basic element is that we have a Parl and the Monarch is the Head of State.
  • 4.
    • Representative Government: this refers to??
    • Govt that represents the views of the majority of people.
    • The govt is chosen by the people
    • Regular election are held, so people can vote.
    • It the govt does not represent the people it will be voted out at the next election
  • 5.
    • Responsible Government: this refer to??
    • This refers to the govt responsibility to the people.
    • They are answerable and accountable to the people
    • Ministers are appointed and are answerable for their actions.
  • 6.
    • Ministers are responsible and must explain actions in Parl ( ministerial accountability)
    • Ministers responsible for actions of their dept
    • Other MP’s can question the Minister and depts. actions
    • Minister must have integrity etc or resign
    • If the Minister loses support of lower house then must resign- therefore responsible to the people.
  • 7.
    • Separation of Powers refers to ???
    • This principle underpins our parliamentary system.
    • It refers to 3 separate powers, each power is to be held by a separate body, to ensure no body has absolute power.
  • 8.
    • 3 aspects of the separation of powers:
    • 1. Legislative Power: the power to make laws, this power is held by the parl.
    • 2. Executive Power : the power given to the govt ( they use this to administer laws and go about the business of governing the country / state).
  • 9.
    • Under the constitution the executive powers are given to the Governor- General, in practice it is carried out by the government.
    • The executive is accountable to the legislative body.
    • 3. Judicial power: this power is given to the courts and tribunals to settle dispute.
    • The first 2 powers are linked but the Judicial power is separate and independent.
  • 10.
    • In 1748 Montesquieu ( a French philosopher) thought that this separation was important.
    • If one body had all the powers then abuse could occur.
  • 11.
    • The powers of the legislature and executive in theory are separate but in practice they are combined.
    • The GG is part of executive and part of the structure of Parl (legislative).
    • PM and cabinet are part of executive and also legislative ( Parl).
  • 12.
    • So in practice the cabinet has the power to administer the law (theory it is the executive)
    • PM (not the GG ) is the head of the Executive ( the theory has the GG has the Head).
    • All laws must receive Royal Assent (given by GG)
    • So the 2 powers are very closely linked. The lines are quite blurred in practice.
  • 13.
    • The Legislative and Judicial powers must be kept separate.
    • The courts must remain free from political influence to ensure corruption is not part of the system.
    • Diagram pg 13.
  • 14.
    • To ensure checks and balances.
    • Independence in the system
    • Protects stability of govt
    • Body who make the laws and enforces the law are separate
    • Checks on Parl to ensure they don’t go beyond their power
  • 15.
    • Structure of State and Commonwealth Parliaments:
    • Handout and summary notes to be completed.
  • 16.
    • Each of the Commonwealth and state (except QLD) have 2 houses of Parl.
    • Many argue that Aust is over governed, that is we have too many parliaments and there have been suggestions that we should abolish the States and have regional govts.
  • 17.
    • The role of the Crown:
    • What/ who is the Crown??
    • GG at Commonwealth level and Gov at State.
    • Queen or Monarch rep
    • Hold the Executive power
    • Appointed by Queen ( advice of PM)
    • What are their responsibilities? Take notes pg 16-17.
  • 18.
    • Royal assent and withholding Royal assent:
    • GG (Gov) give Royal Assent ( make bills into law). Normally it is just given, But sometimes
    • Royal Assent is withheld.
    • The GG has the power to withhold assent
    • The Governor's of the State’s no long have this power due to the Australia Act 1986 (Cth).
  • 19.
    • Reserve powers are powers that dated back to when the Monarch had many powers.
    • It gives them the power to dismiss a government etc, but are rarely exercised.
    • In 1975 the GG dismissed the Whitlam govt.
    • Executive council: the GG is responsible for making delegated legislation. They do this whilst acting in council with the relevant ministers.
  • 20.
    • The GG or Gov is responsible for making Delegated legislation.
    • Delegated legis ( subordinate legis) is when rules and regulations are made by govt depts and other govt bodies. EG: Vic Roads.
    • Some Acts of parl give power to other bodies to make rules and regulations to Executive council.
  • 21.
    • The role played by the Houses of Parliament.
    • Cabinet, Parliament and Government- What are the differences?
    • Prime Minister, Premier, ministers – what are the differences?
    • Cabinet – PM, senior ministers decide on govt policy. This is how proposed laws –bills are formulated.
    • Cabinet is not mentioned in the Constitution (see page 18 for other conventions)
  • 22.
    • Parliament- the law- making, all members are part of this body. This also includes the Crown.
    • Government- the political party that has the majority of members in the lower house. The party that loses the election is the Opposition.
  • 23.
    • What are the features of each?
    • What are the roles of each?
    • How effective are each?
    • Take notes on each of these. (page 19- 26)
  • 24. The roles and functions of the Upper and Lower Houses. Roles and functions of Upper and Lower houses Senate: role as States House: Senate: role as a House of Review Role of House of Reps as “ people ’ s house ” - Role of House of Reps as a law maker:
  • 25. The roles and functions of the Crown. Crown Crown ’ s Representative Executive function Royal Assent Reserve powers
  • 26.
    • Queens rep
    • Executive
    • Royal Assent
    • Reserve powers
    • Summon and dissolve Parliament
    • Non- legislative or ceremonial