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The Australian Government, also known as the Commonwealth Government, is the national government of
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, sma ...

Australia
, a
federal Federal or foederal (archaic) may refer to: Politics General *Federal monarchy, a federation of monarchies *Federation, or ''Federal state'' (federal system), a type of government characterized by both a central (federal) government and states or ...
parliamentary A parliamentary system or parliamentary democracy is a system of democratic Democrat, Democrats, or Democratic may refer to: *A proponent of democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' and ...
constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy, parliamentary monarchy, or democratic monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exercises his authority in accordance with a constitution and is not alone in deciding. Constitutional monarchies differ from a ...
. Like other Westminster-style systems of government, the Australian Government is made up of three branches: the executive (the
prime minister A prime minister or a premier is the head of the cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transpar ...
, the ministers, and government departments), the legislative (the
Parliament of Australia The Parliament of Australia (officially the Federal Parliament, also called the Commonwealth Parliament) is the legislative branch A legislature is a deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind ...

Parliament of Australia
), and the
judicial The judiciary (also known as the judicial system, judicature, judicial branch, judiciative branch, and court or judiciary system) is the system of court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authori ...
. The legislative branch, the federal Parliament, is made up of two chambers: the
House of Representatives House of Representatives is the name of legislative bodies A legislature is a deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure is ...
(lower house) and
Senate The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum ">Roman_Forum.html" ;"title="Curia Julia in the Roman Forum">Curia Julia in the Roman Forum A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicameral legislatu ...
(upper house). The House of Representatives has 151
members Member may refer to: * Military jury, referred to as "Members" in military jargon * Element (mathematics), an object that belongs to a mathematical set * In object-oriented programming, a member of a class ** Field (computer science), entries in a ...
, each representing an individual electoral district of about 165,000 people. The Senate has 76 members: twelve from each of the six states and two each from Australia's internal territories, the
Australian Capital Territory The Australian Capital Territory (ACT), known as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) until 1938, is a of containing the Australian capital city of and some surrounding s. It is located in the south-east of the country and is an within the s ...
and
Northern Territory The Northern Territory (NT; formally the Northern Territory of Australia) is an Australian territory in the central and central northern regions of Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, ...
. The Australian monarch, currently
Queen Elizabeth II Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; born 21 April 1926) is Queen of the United Kingdom The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy A constitutional mon ...

Queen Elizabeth II
, is represented by the governor-general. The Australian Government in its executive capacity is formed by the party or coalition with a majority in the House of Representatives, with the prime minister being the
parliamentary leader A parliamentary leader is a political title or a descriptive term used in various countries to the person leading a caucus A caucus is a meeting of supporters or members of a specific political party A political party is an organization that ...
who has the support of a majority of members in the House of Representatives. The prime minister is formally appointed to the role by the governor-general. The government is based in the nation's capital,
Canberra Canberra ( ) is the capital city of Australia. Founded following the Federation of Australia, federation of the colonies of Australia as the seat of government for the new nation, it is Australia's largest inland city and the List of citie ...

Canberra
, in the
Australian Capital Territory The Australian Capital Territory (ACT), known as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) until 1938, is a of containing the Australian capital city of and some surrounding s. It is located in the south-east of the country and is an within the s ...
. The head offices of all
fourteen federal departments
fourteen federal departments
lie in Canberra, along with
Parliament House
Parliament House
and the
High Court High court usually refers to the superior court In common law systems, a superior court is a court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes between ...

High Court
. The judicial branch of government, headed by the High Court of Australia, is independent of the legislative and executive branch, and ensures that government acts according to the constitution and law. As a founding member of
the Commonwealth ''The'' () is a grammatical Article (grammar), article in English language, English, denoting persons or things already mentioned, under discussion, implied or otherwise presumed familiar to listeners, readers or speakers. It is the definite art ...

the Commonwealth
and a former British colony before
Federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized ...
in 1901,
Australia's Constitution
Australia's Constitution
is influenced heavily by the British Westminster system of government, as well as the
United States Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the legal basis of a polity, organisation An organization, or organ ...
.


Structure

Section 1 of the
Australian Constitution The Constitution of Australia (or Australian Constitution) is a written constitution A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it i ...

Australian Constitution
creates a democratic legislature, the
bicameral Bicameralism is a type of legislature A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interac ...
Parliament of Australia The Parliament of Australia (officially the Federal Parliament, also called the Commonwealth Parliament) is the legislative branch A legislature is a deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind ...

Parliament of Australia
which consists of the
monarch A monarch is a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foakes, Foakes, pp. 110–11 "he head of state He or HE may refer to: Language * He (pronoun) In Mod ...
and two chambers of parliament, the
Senate The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum ">Roman_Forum.html" ;"title="Curia Julia in the Roman Forum">Curia Julia in the Roman Forum A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicameral legislatu ...
and the
House of Representatives House of Representatives is the name of legislative bodies A legislature is a deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure is ...
. Section 51 of the Constitution provides for the Australian Government's legislative powers and allocates certain powers and responsibilities (known as "heads of power") to the Federal Government. All remaining responsibilities are retained by the six
states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, Un ...
(previously separate colonies). Further, each state has its own constitution, so that Australia has seven devolved Parliaments, none of which can encroach on the functions of any other. The
High Court of Australia The High Court of Australia is Australia's . It exercises and on matters specified within . The High Court was established following passage of the '. It derives its authority from Chapter III of the Australian Constitution, which vests it ...

High Court of Australia
arbitrates on any disputes which arise between the Federal Government and the states and territories, or among the states and territories themselves. The Parliament of Australia can propose changes to the Constitution. To become effective, the proposals must be put to a
referendum A referendum (plural: referendums or less commonly referenda) is a direct DIRECT was a late-2000s proposed alternative super heavy lift launch vehicle A super heavy-lift launch vehicle (SHLLV) is a launch vehicle capable of lifting more than ...

referendum
of all Australians of voting age and must receive a 'double majority': a majority of all votes, and a majority of votes in a majority of States. The Australian Constitution also provides that the states can agree to refer any of their powers to the Federal Government. 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 federation, 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: the
Australian Capital Territory The Australian Capital Territory (ACT), known as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) until 1938, is a of containing the Australian capital city of and some surrounding s. It is located in the south-east of the country and is an within the s ...
and the
Northern Territory The Northern Territory (NT; formally the Northern Territory of Australia) is an Australian territory in the central and central northern regions of Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, ...
. While these territories' legislatures exercise powers devolved to them by the Australian Government, the Parliament of Australia has the authority to override their legislation and to alter their powers. Australian citizens in these territories are represented by members of both houses of the Parliament of Australia, abiet with less representation in the Senate.
Norfolk Island Norfolk Island (, ; Norfuk Norfuk ( pih, Norfuk) (increasingly spelt Norfolk) or Norf'k is the language spoken on Norfolk Island (in the Pacific Ocean) by the local residents. It is a blend of 18th-century English and Tahitian language, Ta ...
was self-governing from 1979 until 2015, although it was never represented as such in the Parliament of Australia. The other inhabited territories:
Jervis Bay Jervis Bay () is a oceanic bay and village on the south coast of New South Wales New South Wales (abbreviated as NSW) is a States and territories of Australia, state on the Eastern states of Australia, east coast of :Australia. It borders Q ...
,
Christmas Island Christmas Island, officially known as the Territory of Christmas Island, is an Australian external territory comprising the island of the same name. It is located in the Indian Ocean, around south of Java Java ( id, Jawa, ; jv, ꦗ ...

Christmas Island
and the
Cocos (Keeling) Islands ) , anthem = , song_type = , song = , image_map = Australia on the globe (Cocos (Keeling) Islands special) (Southeast Asia centered).svg , map_alt = Location of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands , map_caption = Location of the Cocos (Keeli ...
, have never been self-governing. The federal nature and the structure of the
Parliament of Australia The Parliament of Australia (officially the Federal Parliament, also called the Commonwealth Parliament) is the legislative branch A legislature is a deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind ...

Parliament of Australia
were the subject of protracted negotiations among the colonies during the drafting of the Constitution. The
House of Representatives House of Representatives is the name of legislative bodies A legislature is a deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure is ...

House of Representatives
is elected on a basis that reflects the differing populations of the states. Thus
New South Wales New South Wales (abbreviated as NSW) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspape ...
has 48 members while
Tasmania Tasmania (), abbreviated as TAS, is an island An island (or isle) is an isolated piece of habitat that is surrounded by a dramatically different habitat, such as water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atol ...
has only five. But the
Senate The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum ">Roman_Forum.html" ;"title="Curia Julia in the Roman Forum">Curia Julia in the Roman Forum A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicameral legislatu ...
is elected on a basis of equality among the states: all states elect 12 Senators, regardless of population. 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 Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, the only territories represented in Senate, each elect only two. The third level of governance is
local government Local government is a generic term for the lowest tiers of public administration Public administration is the implementation of government policy Public policy is a course of action created and/or enacted, typically by a government ...
, in the form of
shire Shire is a traditional term for an administrative division of land in Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of , it is the largest of the Britis ...

shire
s, towns or cities. The councils of these areas are composed of elected representatives (known as either
councillor A councillor is a member of a local government Local government is a generic term for the lowest tiers of public administration Public administration is the implementation of public policy, government policy and also an academic disciplin ...

councillor
or
alderman An alderman is a member of a municipal A municipality is usually a single administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level sub ...
, depending on the state). Their powers are devolved to them by the state or territory in which they are located.
Separation of powers Separation of powers refers to the division of a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' ...
is the principle whereby the three arms of government undertake their activities separately from each other. The legislature proposes and debates laws that the executive then administers, and the judicial arbitrates cases arising from the administration of laws and
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by courts and similar tribunal A tribunal, generally, is any person or institution with authority ...
. Only the federal High Court can seem if a law is constitutional or not.


Legislature

The Legislature makes the laws, and supervises the activities of the other two arms with a view to changing the laws when appropriate. The
Australian Parliament The Parliament of Australia (officially the Federal Parliament, also called the Commonwealth Parliament) is the legislative branch A legislature is a deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind o ...

Australian Parliament
is
bicameral Bicameralism is the practice of having a legislature A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) ...
, consisting of the
Queen of Australia The monarchy of Australia refers to the institution in which a person serves as Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent) ...
, a 76-member
Senate The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum ">Roman_Forum.html" ;"title="Curia Julia in the Roman Forum">Curia Julia in the Roman Forum A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicameral legislatu ...
and a 151-member
House of Representatives House of Representatives is the name of legislative bodies A legislature is a deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure is ...

House of Representatives
. Twelve Senators from each state are elected for six-year terms, using
proportional representation#REDIRECT Proportional representation Proportional representation (PR) characterizes electoral systems in which divisions in an electorate are reflected proportionately in the elected body. The concept applies mainly to geographical, and to ideolog ...

proportional representation
and the
single transferable vote Single transferable vote (STV) is a type of ranked preferential electoral system An electoral system or voting system is a set of rules that determine how elections and Referendum, referendums are conducted and how their results are de ...
(known in Australia as "quota-preferential voting": see
Australian electoral system The Australian electoral system comprises the laws and processes used for the election of members of the Australian Parliament The Parliament of Australia (officially the Federal Parliament, also called the Commonwealth Parliament) is the ...
), with half elected every three years. In addition to the state Senators, two senators are elected by voters from the
Northern Territory The Northern Territory (NT; formally the Northern Territory of Australia) is an Australian territory in the central and central northern regions of Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, ...
(which for this purpose includes the Indian Ocean Territories,
Christmas Island Christmas Island, officially known as the Territory of Christmas Island, is an Australian external territory comprising the island of the same name. It is located in the Indian Ocean, around south of Java Java ( id, Jawa, ; jv, ꦗ ...

Christmas Island
and the
Cocos (Keeling) Islands ) , anthem = , song_type = , song = , image_map = Australia on the globe (Cocos (Keeling) Islands special) (Southeast Asia centered).svg , map_alt = Location of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands , map_caption = Location of the Cocos (Keeli ...
), while another two senators are elected by the voters of the
Australian Capital Territory The Australian Capital Territory (ACT), known as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) until 1938, is a of containing the Australian capital city of and some surrounding s. It is located in the south-east of the country and is an within the s ...
(which for this purpose includes the
Jervis Bay Territory The Jervis Bay Territory () is an internal territory of Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continen ...
). Senators from the territories are also elected using preferential voting, but their term of office is not fixed; it starts on the day of a general election for the House of Representatives and ends on the day before the next such election. The members of the House of Representatives are elected by majority-preferential voting using the non-proportional
Instant-runoff voting Instant-runoff voting (IRV) is a type of Ranked voting, ranked preferential electoral system, vote counting method used in single-seat elections with more than two candidates. IRV is also sometimes referred to as the alternative vote (AV), pre ...
system from single-member constituencies allocated among the states and territories. In ordinary legislation, the two chambers have co-ordinate powers, but all proposals for appropriating revenue or imposing taxes must be introduced in the House of Representatives. Under the prevailing
Westminster system The Westminster system or Westminster model is a type of parliamentary A parliamentary system or parliamentary democracy is a system of democratic Democrat, Democrats, or Democratic may refer to: *A proponent of democracy Democracy ...
, the leader of the political party or coalition of parties that holds the support of a majority of the members in the House of Representatives is invited to form a government and is named
Prime Minister A prime minister or a premier is the head of the cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transpa ...
. The Prime Minister and the Cabinet are responsible to the Parliament, of which they must, in most circumstances, be members. General elections are held at least once every three years. The Prime Minister has a discretion to advise the Governor-General to call an election for the House of Representatives at any time, but Senate elections can only be held within certain periods prescribed in the Constitution. The most recent general election was on 18 May 2019. The Commonwealth Parliament and all the state and territory legislatures operate within the conventions of the
Westminster system The Westminster system or Westminster model is a type of parliamentary A parliamentary system or parliamentary democracy is a system of democratic Democrat, Democrats, or Democratic may refer to: *A proponent of democracy Democracy ...
, with a recognised
Leader of the Opposition The leader of the opposition is a title traditionally held by the leader of the Opposition (parliamentary), largest party not in government in a parliamentary democracy. The leader of the opposition is seen as the alternative prime minister, premi ...
, usually the leader of the largest party outside the government, and a
Shadow Cabinet#REDIRECT Shadow cabinet The shadow cabinet or shadow ministry is a feature of the Westminster system of government. It consists of a senior group of opposition spokespeople who, under the leadership of the parliamentary opposition, Leader of t ...

Shadow Cabinet
of Opposition members who "shadow" each member of the Ministry, asking questions on matters within the Minister's portfolio. Although the Government, by virtue of commanding a majority of members in the lower house of the legislature, can usually pass its legislation and control the workings of the house, the Opposition can considerably delay the passage of legislation and obstruct government business if it chooses. The day-to-day business of the
House of Representatives House of Representatives is the name of legislative bodies A legislature is a deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure is ...
is usually negotiated between the Leader of the House, appointed by the Prime Minister, and the Manager of Opposition Business in the House, appointed by the
Leader of the Opposition The leader of the opposition is a title traditionally held by the leader of the Opposition (parliamentary), largest party not in government in a parliamentary democracy. The leader of the opposition is seen as the alternative prime minister, premi ...
in the Commonwealth parliament, currently
Anthony Albanese Anthony Norman Albanese ( or ; born 2 March 1963) is an Australian politician serving as Leader of the Opposition The Leader of the Opposition is a title traditionally held by the leader of the largest party not in government in a parliament ...

Anthony Albanese
.


Executive


Head of state

The
Australian Constitution The Constitution of Australia (or Australian Constitution) is a written constitution A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it i ...

Australian Constitution
dates from 1901, when the
Dominions The term dominion was used to refer to one of several self-governing nations of the British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other De ...
of the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. ...

British Empire
were not sovereign states, and does not use the term "head of state". As Australia is a
constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy, parliamentary monarchy, or democratic monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exercises his authority in accordance with a constitution and is not alone in deciding. Constitutional monarchies differ from a ...
, government and academic sources describe the Queen as head of state. In practice, the role of head of state of Australia is divided between two people, the
Queen of Australia The monarchy of Australia refers to the institution in which a person serves as Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent) ...
and the
Governor-General of Australia The governor-general of Australia is the representative of the monarch A monarch is a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foakes, Foakes, pp. 110 ...
, who is appointed by the Queen on the advice of the
Prime Minister of Australia The prime minister of Australia is the head of government The head of government is either the highest or second-highest official in the Executive (government), executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a self-governing ...
. Though in many respects the Governor-General is the Queen's representative, and exercises various constitutional powers in her name, they independently exercise many important powers in their own right. The governor-general represents Australia internationally, making and receiving state visits. The
monarch of Australia The monarchy of Australia refers to the institution in which a person serves as Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent) ...
, currently
Elizabeth II Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; born 21 April 1926) is Queen of the United Kingdom The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy A constitutional mo ...

Elizabeth II
, is also the monarch of the other
Commonwealth realm A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state A sovereign state is a polity, political entity represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geographic area. International law defines sovereign states as having a perma ...
s, and the sovereign of the United Kingdom. Like the other
Dominions The term dominion was used to refer to one of several self-governing nations of the British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other De ...
, Australia gained legislative independence from the
Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kin ...
by virtue of the
Statute of Westminster 1931 The Statute of Westminster 1931 is an act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom In the United Kingdom an Act of Parliament is primary legislation In parliamentary systems and presidential systems of government, primary legislation and ...
, which was adopted in Australia in 1942 with retrospective effect from 3 September 1939. By the Royal Style and Titles Act 1953, the Australian Parliament gave the Queen the title
Queen of Australia The monarchy of Australia refers to the institution in which a person serves as Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent) ...
, and in 1973 titles with any reference to her status as
Queen of the United Kingdom The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exercises authority in accordance with a written or ...
and
Defender of the Faith Defender of the Faith ( la, Fidei defensor or, specifically feminine, '; french: Défenseur de la Foi) is a phrase that has been used as part of the full style of many English and later British monarchs since the early 16th century. It has also be ...
as well were removed, making her Queen of Australia. Section 61 of the Constitution provides that 'The executive power of the Commonwealth is vested in the Queen and is exercisable by the Governor‑General as the Queen's representative, and extends to the execution and maintenance of this Constitution, and of the laws of the Commonwealth'. Section 2 of the
Australian Constitution The Constitution of Australia (or Australian Constitution) is a written constitution A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it i ...

Australian Constitution
provides that a Governor-General shall represent the Queen in Australia. In practice, the Governor-General carries out all the functions usually performed by a head of state, without reference to the Queen. Under the conventions of the
Westminster system The Westminster system or Westminster model is a type of parliamentary A parliamentary system or parliamentary democracy is a system of democratic Democrat, Democrats, or Democratic may refer to: *A proponent of democracy Democracy ...
the Governor-General's powers are almost always exercised on the advice of the Prime Minister or other ministers. The Governor-General retains
reserve powers Reserve or reserves may refer to: Places * Reserve, Kansas Reserve is a city in Brown County, Kansas, Brown County, Kansas, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, 2010 census, the city population was 84. It is located approximate ...
similar to those possessed by the Queen in the United Kingdom. These are rarely exercised, but during the
Australian constitutional crisis of 1975 The 1975 Australian constitutional crisis, also known simply as the Dismissal, culminated on 11 November 1975 with the dismissal from office of the Prime Minister A prime minister or a premier is the head of the cabinet Cabinet or The C ...
Governor-General Sir John Kerr used them independently of the Queen and the Prime Minister. Australia has periodically experienced movements seeking to end the monarchy. In a 1999 referendum, the Australian people voted on a proposal to change the Constitution. The proposal would have removed references to the
Queen Queen may refer to: Monarchy * Queen regnant, a female monarch of a Kingdom ** List of queens regnant * Queen consort, the wife of a reigning king * Queen dowager, the widow of a king * Queen mother, a queen dowager who is the mother of a reigni ...
from the Constitution and replaced the Governor-General with a President nominated by the Prime Minister, but subject to the approval of a two-thirds majority of both Houses of the Parliament. The proposal was defeated. The
Australian Republican Movement The Australian Republic Movement (ARM) is a non-partisan member-based organisation campaigning for Australia to become an independent republic with an Australian as head of state. Australian constitutional law has provided since Federation in 1901 ...
continues to campaign for an end to the monarchy in Australia, opposed by
Australians for Constitutional Monarchy Australians for Constitutional Monarchy (ACM) is a group that aims to preserve Australia's current constitutional monarchy, with Elizabeth II as Monarchy in Australia, Queen of Australia. The group states that it is a non-partisan, not-for-profi ...
and
Australian Monarchist League The Australian Monarchist League is an incorporated nonprofit organisation A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated fo ...
.


Executive Council

The Federal Executive Council is a formal body which exists and meets to give legal effect to decisions made by the Cabinet, and to carry out various other functions. All Ministers are members of the Executive Council and are entitled to be styled "
The Honourable The prefix The Honourable (or The Honorable in the United States and the Philippines), abbreviated to The Hon., Hon., or The Hon'ble, is an honorific An honorific is a title that conveys esteem, courtesy, or respect for position or rank wh ...
", a title which they retain for life. The Governor-General usually presides at Council meetings, but in his or her absence another Minister nominated as the
Vice-President of the Executive Council In the Australian political system, at the federal level, the Vice-President of the Executive Council is the minister in the Government of Australia who acts as the presiding officer of meetings of the Federal Executive Council (Australia), Fede ...
presides at the meeting of the Council. Since 30 October 2020, the Vice-President of the Federal Executive Council has been Senator
Simon Birmingham Simon John Birmingham (born 14 June 1974) is an Australian politician who has been a Senator for South Australia South Australia (abbreviated as SA) is a States and territories of Australia, state in the southern central part of Australia. I ...

Simon Birmingham
. There are times when the government acts in a "caretaker" capacity, principally in the period prior to and immediately following a general election.


Cabinet

The Cabinet of Australia is the council of senior Ministers of the Crown, responsible to the Federal Parliament. The ministers are appointed by the Governor-General, on the advice of the Prime Minister, who serve at the former's pleasure. Cabinet meetings are strictly private and occur once a week where vital issues are discussed and policy formulated. Outside the cabinet there is an outer ministry and also a number of junior ministers, called Parliamentary secretaries, responsible for a specific policy area and reporting directly to a senior Cabinet minister. The Constitution of Australia does not recognise the Cabinet as a legal entity; it exists solely by convention. Its decisions do not in and of themselves have legal force. However, it serves as the practical expression of the Federal Executive Council, which is Australia's highest formal governmental body. In practice, the Federal Executive Council meets solely to endorse and give legal force to decisions already made by the Cabinet. All members of the Cabinet are members of the Executive Council. While the Governor-General is nominal presiding officer, he almost never attends Executive Council meetings. A senior member of the Cabinet holds the office of Vice-President of the Executive Council and acts as presiding officer of the Executive Council in the absence of the Governor-General. Until 1956 all members of the ministry were members of the Cabinet. The growth of the ministry in the 1940s and 1950s made this increasingly impractical, and in 1956
Robert Menzies Sir Robert Gordon Menzies, (; 20 December 189415 May 1978), was an Australian politician who served as the 12th prime minister of Australia, in office from 1939 to 1941 and again from 1949 to 1966. He played a central role in the creation of ...
created a two-tier ministry, with only senior ministers holding Cabinet rank, also known within parliament as the
front bench In many parliament In modern politics and history, a parliament is a legislature, legislative body of government. Generally, a modern parliament has three functions: Representation (politics), representing the Election#Suffrage, electora ...
. This practice has been continued by all governments except the Whitlam Government. When the non-Labor parties are in power, the Prime Minister makes all Cabinet and ministerial appointments at their own discretion, although in practice they consult with senior colleagues in making appointments. When the
Liberal Party The Liberal Party is any of many political parties A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold similar ideas about politics, ...
and its predecessors (the
Nationalist PartyNationalist Party may refer to: Current parties * Bangladesh Nationalist Party * Basque Nationalist Party * Cornish Nationalist Party * Nacionalista Party (Philippines) * Nationalist Movement Party (Turkey) * Nationalist Party of Canada * Nationalist ...
and the
United Australia Party The United Australia Party (UAP) was an Australian political party that was founded in 1931 and dissolved in 1945. The party won four federal elections in that time, usually governing in coalition with the Country Party. It provided two Pri ...
) have been in coalition with the National Party or its predecessor the Country Party, the leader of the junior Coalition party has had the right to nominate their party's members of the Coalition ministry, and to be consulted by the Prime Minister on the allocation of their portfolios. When
Labor Labour or labor may refer to: * , the delivery of a baby * , or work ** , physical work ** , a socioeconomic relationship between a worker and an employer Literature * , an American quarterly on the history of the labor movement * ', an academic ...
first held office under
Chris Watson John Christian Watson (born Johan Cristian Tanck; 9 April 186718 November 1941), commonly known as Chris Watson, was an Australian politician who served as the third Prime Minister of Australia. He was the first Prime Minister from the Australian ...

Chris Watson
, Watson assumed the right to choose members of his Cabinet. In 1907, however, the party decided that future Labor Cabinets would be elected by the members of the Parliamentary Labor Party, the
Caucus A caucus is a meeting of supporters or members of a specific political party A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold si ...
, and the Prime Minister would retain the right to allocate portfolios. This practice was followed until 2007. Between 1907 and 2007, Labor Prime Ministers exercised a predominant influence over who was elected to Labor ministries, although the leaders of the party factions also exercised considerable influence. Prior to the 2007 general election, the then Leader of the Opposition,
Kevin Rudd Kevin Michael Rudd (born 21 September 1957) is an Australian former politician and diplomat who served as the 26th prime minister of Australia The prime minister of Australia is the head of government The head of government is eithe ...

Kevin Rudd
, said that he and he alone would choose the ministry should he become Prime Minister. His party won the election and he chose the ministry, as he said he would. The cabinet meets not only in Canberra but also in state capitals, most frequently Sydney and Melbourne. Kevin Rudd was in favour of the Cabinet meeting in other places, such as major regional cities. There are Commonwealth Parliament Offices in each State Capital, with those in Sydney located in Phillip Street, Sydney, Phillip Street.


Departments

, there are 14 departments of the Australian Government. * Attorney-General's Department (Australia), Attorney-General's Department * Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment * Department of Defence (Australia), Department of Defence * Department of Education, Skills and Employment * Department of Finance (Australia), Department of Finance * Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Australia), Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade * Department of Health (Australia), Department of Health * Department of Home Affairs (Australia), Department of Home Affairs * Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources * Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications * Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (Australia), Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet * Department of Social Services (Australia), Department of Social Services * Department of the Treasury (Australia), Department of the Treasury * Department of Veterans' Affairs (Australia), Department of Veterans' Affairs


Judiciary

As a federation, in Australia judicial power is exercised by both federal and state courts. Federal judicial power is vested in the
High Court of Australia The High Court of Australia is Australia's . It exercises and on matters specified within . The High Court was established following passage of the '. It derives its authority from Chapter III of the Australian Constitution, which vests it ...

High Court of Australia
and such other federal courts created by the Federal Parliament, including the Federal Court of Australia, the Family Court of Australia, and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. Additionally, the federal legislature has the power to enact laws which vest federal authority in State courts. Since the Australian Constitution requires a separation of powers at the federal level, only courts may exercise federal judicial power; and conversely, non-judicial functions cannot be vested in courts. State judicial power is exercised by each State's Supreme Court, and such other courts and tribunals created by the State Parliaments of Australia. The High Court is the final court of appeal in Australia and has the jurisdiction to hear appeals on matters of both federal and state law. It has both original and appellate jurisdiction, the power of judicial review over laws passed by federal and State parliaments, and has jurisdiction to interpret the Constitution of Australia. Unlike in the United States, there is only one common law of Australia, rather than separate common laws for each State. Until the passage of the Australia Act 1986, and associated legislation in the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, some Australian cases could be referred to the British Judicial Committee of the Privy Council for final appeal. With this act, Australian law was made unequivocally sovereign, and the
High Court of Australia The High Court of Australia is Australia's . It exercises and on matters specified within . The High Court was established following passage of the '. It derives its authority from Chapter III of the Australian Constitution, which vests it ...

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.


Publicly owned entities


Corporations prescribed by acts of parliament

The following corporations are prescribed by Acts of Parliament: * Australian Broadcasting Corporation (''Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act 1983'') * Clean Energy Finance Corporation (''Clean Energy Finance Corporation Act 2012'') * Special Broadcasting Service (''Special Broadcasting Service Act 1991'')


Government Business Enterprises

, the following Corporate Commonwealth entities are prescribed as Government Business Enterprises (GBEs) by section 5(1) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability (PGPA) Rule: * Australian Postal Corporation ("Australia Post") * Defence Housing Australia The following Commonwealth companies are prescribed as GBEs by section 5(2) of the PGPA Rule: * ASC Pty Ltd * Australian Naval Infrastructure * Australian Rail Track Corporation Limited * Moorebank Intermodal Terminal, Moorebank Intermodal Company Limited (ACN 161 635 105) * NBN Co Limited (ACN 136 533 741) * Snowy Hydro Limited * Western Sydney Airport, WSA Co Ltd


Other public non-financial corporations

* Airservices Australia


See also

*
Prime Minister of Australia The prime minister of Australia is the head of government The head of government is either the highest or second-highest official in the Executive (government), executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a self-governing ...
* Australian Public Service * Referendums in Australia * States and territories of Australia


Notes


References


External links


Australian Federal Government official website
{{DEFAULTSORT:Australian Government Government of Australia Westminster system governments, Australia