Principles Of The Australian Parliamentary System

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UNIT 3
Area of Study 1: Parliament and the citizen
• [principles of the Australian parliamentary system: representative government, responsible government, and the separation of powers]
Representative government
Outlined in the C/W Constitution and is vital to Australia's parliamentary system. It ensures that there is a government made up of representatives who are chosen by the people.
In order to ensure a representative government exists, regular elections are held e.g. elections for H/Reps are every 3 years.
If a govt. is no longer representative, it will not be re-elected come on the next election (it will be voted out of office).
The structure of parliament also relates to this principle; the Lower House represents the wishes of the majority of people when legislating.
Responsible government
This principle refers to the government being accountable/answerable (responsible) for its actions. The government is answerable to parliament, and parliament to the people. It relates to the idea of taking responsibility for actions.
To ensure accountability, there is public scrutiny of the legislative process (proceedings transcribed in Hansard; Question time; parliamentary sessions are open to the public).
NB: Also applies to individual MPs.
If a government loses the confidence of the people, then it must resign.
A minister must carry out his duties with integrity and propriety, or he must resign.
Separation of powers
At a Commonwealth level, no one body has the power to perform the three functions of the legal system. Each function is carried out by a distinct body.
The first function is the legislative function. This involves the creation of law, and belongs to parliament (established in Chapter I of the Constitution).
The second function is the executive function. It involves the administering of the law (e.g. federal police, customs) – established in Chapter II of the Constitution. Theoretically, it belongs to the Queen's representative (Governor-General). However, in practice, the Governor-General acts on the advice of the current government. This function is therefore carried out by the government in actuality.
The third function is the judicial function. This relates to the application of law when a dispute arises. This function belongs to the courts – established in Chapter III of the Constitution and is given to the High Court.
The principle of a separation of powers means that a system of checks and balances exists. It stops the corruption of power by separating the functions of the legal system into distinct bodies, ergo protecting individual's freedom.
• [the structure of the Victorian Parliament and the Commonwealth Parliament and the roles played by the Crown and the Houses of Parliament in law-making]
Parliament is the ultimate, supreme law-making body in Australia. Its members are representative of society.
Parliament is distinct from government and cabinet. It has four main roles: the formation of government creation of laws act as a forum for debate to provide a check on government
Commonwealth Parliament consists of multiple components – the Crown, the Upper House, and the Lower House. [Commonwealth]
Crown
Australia is a constitutional monarchy. Its head of state is the Queen of England and there is an elected parliament. At a C/W level, the Crown is represented by the Governor-General (currently Sir Peter Cosgrove).
Roles include granting royal assent to bills, establishing sitting times for parliament, dissolving the House of Representatives at election time, and appointing ministers.
Upper House (Senate)
The Upper House at a Commonwealth level is known as the Senate. It consists of 76 members overall – 12 per state and 2 per territory.
This ensures equal representation for the states and therefore equal representation when laws are being considered. It is thus known as the States' House.
It reviews bills from the Lower House, meaning it is also referred to as the House…