What is democracy?Democracy is a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.”The most common form of democracy is representative democracy, in which citizens elect officials to make political decisions, formulate laws, and administer programs for the public good.
Australia’s system of GovernmentAustralia’s formal name is the Commonwealth of Australia. The form of government used in Australia is a constitutional monarchy – ‘constitutional’ because the powers and procedures of the Australian Government are defined by a written constitution, and ‘monarchy’ because Australia’s head of state is Queen Elizabeth II.
Federal GovernmentRoles & Responsibilities:There are three ‘arms’ of the Australian Government: The parliament is responsible for debating and voting on new laws to be introduced. The executive is responsible for enacting and upholding the laws established by the parliament. The judiciary is the legal arm of the Australian Government. It is independent of the other two arms, and is responsible for enforcing the laws and deciding whether the other two arms are acting within their powers.
State GovernmentRoles & Responsibilities: Each state has its own state Constitution, which divides the states government into the same divisions of legislature (parliament), executive, and judiciary as the Australian Government. The six state parliaments are permitted to pass laws related to any matter that is not controlled by the Commonwealth. The monarchs powers over state matters are exercised by a Governor in each state. The head of each state government is known as the Premier.
Local GovernmentRoles & Responsibilities: The six states and the Northern Territory have established one further level of government. Local governments (also known as local councils) handle community needs like: waste collection public recreation facilities town planning
How are Australian laws made? The parliaments in Australia are responsible for making laws. The Australian system is based on the process developed in England within what is called the Westminster System. Westminster Parliaments are divided into a lower house and an upper house. At a federal level, the lower house is known as the House of Representatives and the upper house is known as the Senate Before an item of legislation becomes a law, it exists as a bill proposed to parliament. A bill is a proposal for a new law, or a proposal to change an existing law. In most cases, bills are introduced into the lower house of parliament. Bills are then discussed and either rejected or passed to the upper house. In the upper house the bill is discussed again and is either made a new law or thrown out.
How does the Australian voting system work? Australia uses a voting system called preferential voting. Under this system, voters rank each candidate in order of their preference. When votes are tallied, if no candidate has a majority of votes, the candidate with the fewest first preferences is eliminated from the count, and his or her votes are re-allocated according to the preferences on the ballot papers. After this has occurred, the process is repeated until one candidate receives a majority of all votes cast, at which point they are declared elected.
How does the Australian voting system support democracy?In Australia everyone who is over 18 votes when we have an election. This means that everyone has the opportunity to make a difference in who is elected. Australian’s are very lucky because they get to vote for our leaders.