How Australia's Political System Works


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This slide was created to help a bunch of my friends get better informed for the 2013 Australian Federal Election. To understand the roles of our leaders and how exactly they get there. Hence the hashtag #electionprep101.

All of my information was adapted and synthesised from the Australian Parliamentary Education Office (PEO) website and their informative lesson plans for teachers.

More of which can be found here:

Published in: News & Politics
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How Australia's Political System Works

  1. 1. #electionprep101 AUSTRALIA: A NEW FEDERATION
  2. 2. i. Australia was not a nation ii. Was just a mere six British colonies, subject to their law-making powers iii. Partly self-governing - by which each colony had its own government and laws, including its own railway system, postage stamps and taxes (DA COOL SHIT) BEFORE 1901:
  3. 3. BUT… …this was all highly problematic and people began to think about the benefits of uniting as one nation.
  4. 4. i. During the 1890s, each colony sent representatives to conventions ii. Delegates agreed and made a draft constitution iii. The people of the colonies voted in a series of referendums to accept this new Australian Constitution AND THEREFORE:
  5. 5. i. Passed as a British Act of Parliament in 1900 ii. Called the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act i. Came into effect on 1 January 1901 ii. AND IS: the written set of rules by which our fine nation is governed.
  6. 6. 8 chapters 128 sections KEY FEATURES i. Sets up a federal Parliament and government i. A bicameral Parliament i. Six state governments i. The power-sharing arrangements between the federal and state parliaments
  7. 7. What’s not in it? The Prime Minister: While central to the way government works, the Prime Minister operates by convention Rights of the Australian people: Unlike the United States’ Constitution, Australia’s does not include a bill of rights, such as the right to free speech
  8. 8. A proposed change must be approved by the Parliament and then be put to Aussies in a referendum, for their approval HOW DA FUCK WE CHANGE IT?
  9. 9. Each level of government has its own responsibilities, although in some cases these responsibilities overlap. FEDERALISM
  10. 10. over 560 local councils—make local laws, called by- laws, for their region or district LOCAL COUNCILS
  11. 11. STATES six state and two mainland territory parliaments— make laws for their state or territory
  13. 13. POWER ROLE COMPOSITION PARLIAMENT Makes and amends the law Parliament is made up of the Queen, the Senate and the House of Representatives EXECUTIVE Puts the law into action The Executive is made up of the Prime Minister and ministers JUDICIARY Makes judgments about and interprets the law The Judiciary is made up of the High Court and other federal courts
  14. 14. PARLIAMENT
  15. 15. i. In Australia the term 'parliament' refers to an assembly of elected representatives i. makes laws for the country or state/territory
  16. 16. Our parl has a h stat Queen, represented Governor-G
  17. 17. BICAMERALISM 226 members in total This means it consists of two houses: the Senate and the House of Representatives
  18. 18. i. Has 150 members i. Each member represents one of the 150 electorates in Australia. ii. On average, 94 000 voters live in each electorate. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
  19. 19. i. Made up of 76 senators i. Twelve senators represent each state and two senators represent each territory SENATE
  20. 20. Responsible government means that at an election, the party (or coalition of parties) with the the majority of members elected to the House of Representatives becomes the government. EXECUTIVE GOVERNMENT The separation of powers works together with another principle known as responsible government. And that party must maintain the support of the majority of members of the House of Representatives in order to remain in government.
  21. 21. i. The leader of the Australian Government and the leader of the nation. ii. By convention, the Prime Minister is a member of the House of Representatives who leads the parliamentary party with the support of the majority of members in the House. PRIME MINISTER
  22. 22. i. The Prime Minister is chosen by a vote of the members of the government (their colleagues) ii. The Prime Minister can keep their job as long as they are a member of parliament and retain the support of the government. i. Australia has no maximum period of service for a Prime Minister CHOOSING THE PRIME MINISTER?
  23. 23. KEY ROLES: - chairing meetings where the government discusses policies and examines bills - selecting members of the government to be ministers - leading Cabinet (Prime Minister and ministers) in deciding government policy The Prime Minister is the most powerful person in Parliament.
  24. 24. - acting as the chief government spokesperson (here and abroad) - advising the Governor-General about important issues such as the appointment of ambassadors and heads of government department - deciding when to call a federal election and leading the government in the election. The PM, continued
  25. 25.  Ministers are members of the government who have been allocated an area of responsibility for how Australia is run; a portfolio.  The Prime Minister and ministers make up executive government. The executive is responsible for developing government policy and putting government decisions into action. MINISTERS
  26. 26. “WHY?!” I HEAR YOU ASK GLEEFULLY Well, they could form government if it they were to win the support of the majority of members in the House of Representatives. THE OPPOSITION These guys are basically the alternative government.
  27. 27. i. scrutinizing the work of the government i. debating bills (proposed laws) in the Parliament i. working on committees that examine bills and important national issues i. providing alternatives to government policies. OPPOSITION RESPONSIBILITIES
  28. 28.  The minister responsible for economic and financial policy, and who prepares the government’s Budget  They are in charge of the government department known as the Treasury The Treasurer
  29. 29. i. is the federal government’s annual statement of how it plans to collect and spend money. ii. since 1994, it has been handed down on the second Tuesday of May i. I like to call the day B-DAY THE BUDGET **USELESS BUT DELICIOUS EXTRA INFORMATION: Section 81 of the Australian Constitution states that all money collected by the government must be paid into a consolidated revenue fund. According to section 83 of the Constitution, this money can only be spent with the agreement of the Parliament.
  30. 30. i. sets out the government’s priorities and policies for the coming year ii. how the government intends to raise money iii. how much money is expected to be raised iv. how the government intends to spend this money v. the allocation of money to government departments vi. The Treasurer works with other ministers to develop spending policies for each government department. The Cabinet (Prime Minister and ministers) must approve the Budget before it is introduced into the Parliament. DOES WHAT?!?!?!?!!!1111
  31. 31. The Open Budget Project
  33. 33. From Cathy Wilcox, The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 September 2013
  35. 35. is formed when two or more political parties join together. In a parliament, parties may form a coalition to create a bigger group and gain more power. Each party in a coalition usually holds separate party meetings. _________________________ The Liberal Party of Australia and the Nationals have formed the longest-running coalition in the federal Parliament. A coalition
  36. 36.  Minor parties only have a small number of members elected to Parliament. They may form part of the government or the opposition through a coalition or agreement with another party.  Sometimes minor parties can hold the balance of power. This means that their vote may decide the outcome of an issue if the government and opposition disagree. Minor parties
  37. 37. House of Representatives Section 28 of the Australian Constitution states that House of Representatives elections must be held at least every three years. The Prime Minister decides the date for an election. This could be at any time during the three-year term. Voting in the House Victorian Preferences, visualised
  38. 38. Twelve senators are elected to represent each state and two senators are elected to represent each territory. Elected for a period of six years using a system of rotation that ensures that only half the state senators end their term every three years. Territory senators are elected for a period of three years at the same time as the members of the House of Representatives and half of the Senate. Half-Senate elections are usually held at the same time as House of Representatives elections, though they do not have to be. Senate Voting in the Senate Voting below the line in Victoria
  39. 39. From David Rowe, The Australian Financial Review, 3 September 2013