Australian democracy

The High Court of Australiathe nation's highest court Section 1 of the Australian Constitution creates a democratic legislature, the bicameral Parliament of Australia which consists of the Queen of Australiaand two houses of parliament, the Senate and the House of Representatives. Section 51 of the Constitution provides for the Commonwealth Government's legislative powers and allocates certain powers and responsibilities known as "heads of power" to the Commonwealth government.

Australian democracy

All remaining responsibilities are retained by the six States previously separate colonies.

Australian democracy

Further, each State has its own constitution, so that Australia has seven sovereign Parliaments, none of which can encroach on the functions of any other. The High Court of Australia arbitrates on any disputes which arise between the Commonwealth and the States, or among the States, concerning their respective functions.

The Commonwealth Parliament can propose changes to the Constitution. To become effective, the proposals must be put to a referendum of all Australians of voting age, and must receive a "double majority": The Commonwealth Constitution also provides that the States can agree to refer any of their powers to the Commonwealth.

This may be achieved by way of an amendment to the Constitution via referendum a vote on whether the proposed transfer of power from the States to the Commonwealth, or vice versa, should be implemented.

More commonly powers may be transferred by passing other acts of legislation which authorise the transfer and such acts require the legislative agreement of all the state governments involved.

This "transfer" legislation may have a "sunset clause", a legislative provision that nullifies the transfer of power after a specified period, at which point the original division of power is restored.

In addition, Australia has several "territories", two of which are self-governing: Australian citizens in these territories are represented by members of both houses of the Commonwealth Parliament. The territory of Norfolk Island was self-governing from untilalthough it was never represented as such in the Commonwealth Parliament.

The other territories that are regularly inhabited— Jervis BayChristmas Island and the Cocos Keeling Islands —have never been self-governing. The federal nature of the Commonwealth and the structure of the Parliament of Australia were the subject of protracted negotiations among the colonies during the drafting of the Constitution.

The House of Representatives is elected on a basis that reflects the differing populations of the States. Thus New South Wales has 48 members while Tasmania has only five. But the Senate is elected on a basis of equality among the States: This was intended to allow the Senators of the smaller States to form a majority and thus be able to amend or reject bills originating in the House of Representatives.

The Councils of these areas are composed of elected representatives known as either councillor or aldermandepending on the Stateusually serving part-time. Their powers are devolved to them by the State or Territory in which they are located.

The Commonwealth Parliament Executive: The High Court of Australia and subsidiary Federal courts. The Separation of powers is the principle whereby the three arms of government undertake their activities largely separately from each other: With this act, Australian law was made unequivocally sovereign, and the High Court of Australia was confirmed as the highest court of appeal.

The theoretical possibility of the British Parliament enacting laws to override the Australian Constitution was also removed.Democracy is an ideal many people have struggled for. Yet, different forms of democracy attract different forms of corrupting influences and challenges.

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