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The politics of Australia take place within the framework of 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' an ...
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 ...
. Australia has maintained a stable
liberal democratic Liberal democracy, also referred to as Western democracy, is a political ideology An ideology () is a set of belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition about the world is tru ...
political system under its
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 is a rule Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political ...

Constitution
, one of the world's oldest, since
Federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, ...
in 1901. Australia is the world's sixth oldest continuous democracy and largely operates as a
two-party system A two-party system is a Politics, political party system in which two major party, major political parties consistently dominate the political landscape. At any point in time, one of the two parties typically holds a majority in the legislature ...
in which
voting is compulsory
voting is compulsory
. Australia is also a
federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, ...
, where power is divided between the
federal government A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, ...
and the states and territories. The federal government is separated into three branches: File:Au_gov_chart.svg, center, 640px, Structure of the Government of Australia, alt=A high level diagram of the structure of the Government of Australia, the three branches, legislative, executive, and judicial. rect 575 6 1175 56
Constitution of Australia 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 ...

Constitution of Australia
rect 575 191 1175 241
Governor General of Australia The governor-general of Australia is the representative of the Monarchy of Australia, monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II, in Australia.Legislative Branch 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 the body of ethics, Procedural law, rules, and Norm (sociology) ...
rect 725 341 1025 391
Executive Branch The executive (short for executive branch or executive power) is the part of government that enforces law, and has Moral responsibility, responsibility for the governance of a State (polity), state. In political systems based on the principle ...
rect 1325 341 1625 391
Judicial Branch 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 ...
rect 25 491 525 541
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
rect 25 542 275 642
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 ...
rect 275 542 525 642
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 ...
rect 625 491 1125 541 Federal Executive Council rect 625 542 875 642 Current Ministers rect 875 542 1125 642 Previous Ministers rect 1225 491 1725 541
High Court of Australia The High Court of Australia is Australia's apex court The supreme court is the highest court within the hierarchy of courts in many legal jurisdictions. Other descriptions for such courts include court of last resort, apex court, and hi ...

High Court of Australia
rect 623 743 873 843 Government Departments rect 1225 642 1725 692 Other federal courts
* Legislature: the bicameral
Parliament In modern politics and history, a parliament is a legislative 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 ...

Parliament
, defined in section1 of the
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 is a rule Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political ...

constitution
as comprising the monarch (represented by the governor-general), 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 ...

House of Representatives
; * Executive: the Federal Executive Council, which in practice gives legal effect to the decisions 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 transparent glass sheets or transparent polycarbonate sheets * Filing ...
, comprising 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 transpa ...
and ministers of state who advise the governor-general; * Judiciary: the
High Court of Australia The High Court of Australia is Australia's apex court The supreme court is the highest court within the hierarchy of courts in many legal jurisdictions. Other descriptions for such courts include court of last resort, apex court, and hi ...

High Court of Australia
and other federal courts, whose judges are appointed by the governor-general on advice of the Federal Executive Council. The Australian system of government combines elements derived from the political systems of the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...
( fused executive,
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 ...
) and the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...
(
federalism Federalism is a mixed or compound mode of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Maga ...
,
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 is a rule Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political ...
, strong bicameralism), along with distinctive indigenous features, and has therefore been characterised as a "Washminster mutation".


Legislative

The Parliament of Australia, also known as the Commonwealth Parliament or Federal Parliament, is the legislative branch of the government of Australia. It 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) ...
, and has been influenced both by 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 ...
and United States
federalism Federalism is a mixed or compound mode of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Maga ...
. Under Section 1 of the Constitution of Australia, Parliament consists of three components: the
Monarch A monarch is a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the context, can refer to either the public image of one's personality, or the social role tha ...
, 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 ...

House of Representatives
. The Australian House of Representatives has 151 members, each elected for a flexible term of office not exceeding 3 years, to represent a single
electoral division An electoral district, also known as an election district, legislative district, voting district, constituency, riding, ward, division, (election) precinct, electoral area, circumscription, or electorate, is a subdivision of a larger State (pol ...
, commonly referred to as an electorate or seat. Voting within each electorate utilises the instant-runoff system of preferential voting, which has its origins in Australia. The party or coalition of parties which commands the confidence of a majority of members of the House of Representatives forms government. The Australian Senate has 76 members. The six states return twelve senators each, and the two mainland territories return two senators each, elected through the single transferable voting system. Senators are elected for flexible terms not exceeding six years, with half of the senators contesting at each federal election. The Senate is afforded substantial powers by the Australian Constitution, significantly greater than those of Westminster upper houses such as those of the United Kingdom and Canada, and has the power to block legislation originating in the House as well as supply or monetary bills. As such, the Senate has the power to bring down the government, as occurred during the
1975 Australian constitutional crisis 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 ...
. Because legislation must pass through both houses to become law, it is possible for disagreements between the House of Representatives and the Senate to hold up the progress of government bills indefinitely. Such deadlocks can be resolved through section 57 of the Constitution, using a procedure called a double dissolution election. Such elections are rare, not because the conditions for holding them are seldom met, but because they can pose a significant political risk to any government that chooses to call one. Of the six double dissolution elections that have been held since
federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, ...
, half have resulted in the fall of a government. Only once, in 1974, has the full procedure for resolving a deadlock been followed, with a joint sitting of the two houses being held to deliberate upon the bills that had originally led to the deadlock. The most recent double dissolution election took place on 2 July 2016, which returned the
Turnbull Government The Turnbull Government was the federal executive government of Australia led by the 29th Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull Malcolm Bligh Turnbull (born 24 October 1954) is an Australian politician who was the List of Prime ...
with a one-seat majority in the House of Representatives. The two pieces of legislation that triggered the election did not figure prominently in the eight-week election campaign.


Executive

The role of head of state in Australia is divided between two people: the Monarch of Australia and the Governor-General of Australia. The functions and roles of the Governor-General include appointing ambassadors, ministers, and judges, giving Royal Assent to legislation (also a role of the monarch), issuing writs for elections and bestowing honours. The Governor-General is the President of the Federal Executive Council and Commander-in-Chief of the
Australian Defence Force Australians, colloquially referred to as "Aussies", are the citizens Citizenship is a relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection. Each state determine ...
. These posts are held under the authority of the Australian Constitution. In practice, barring exceptional circumstances, the Governor-General exercises these powers only on the advice of the Prime Minister. As such, the role of Governor-General is often described as a largely ceremonial position. The Prime Minister of Australia is
Scott Morrison Scott John Morrison (; born 13 May 1968) is an Australian politician serving as the 30th and current prime minister of Australia The prime minister of Australia is the head of government The head of government is either the highest ...

Scott Morrison
, leader 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 transparent glass sheets or transparent polycarbonate sheets * Filing ...
and head of
government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Departmen ...
, holding office on commission from the Governor-General of Australia. The office of Prime Minister is, in practice, the most powerful political office in Australia. Despite being at the apex of executive government in the country, the office is not mentioned in the Constitution of Australia specifically and exists through an unwritten
political convention The terms party conference (British English, UK English), political convention (American English, US and Canadian English), and party congress usually refer to a general meeting of a political party. The conference is attended by certain Delegati ...
. Barring exceptional circumstances, the prime minister is always the leader of the political party or coalition with majority support in the House of Representatives. The only case where a senator was appointed prime minister was that of
John Gorton Sir John Grey Gorton (9 September 1911 – 19 May 2002) was the nineteenth 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 officia ...

John Gorton
, who subsequently resigned his Senate position and was elected as a member of the House of Representatives (Senator
George Pearce Sir George Foster Pearce KCVO (14 January 1870 – 24 June 1952) was an Australian politician who served as a Senator The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum ">Roman_Forum.html" ;"title="Curia Julia in the Roman Forum">Curia Julia in the Roma ...
was acting prime minister for seven months in 1916 while
Billy Hughes William Morris Hughes, (25 September 1862 – 28 October 1952), was an Australian politician who served as the List of prime ministers of Australia by time in office, 7th Prime Minister of Australia, in office from 1915 to 1923. He is best kn ...

Billy Hughes
was overseas). The Cabinet of Australia is the council of senior ministers responsible to
Parliament In modern politics and history, a parliament is a legislative 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 ...

Parliament
. The Cabinet is appointed by the Governor-General, on the advice of 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 transpa ...
and serves at the former's pleasure. The strictly private Cabinet meetings occur once a week to discuss vital issues and formulate policy. Outside of the cabinet there are a number of junior ministers responsible for specific policy areas, who report directly to a senior Cabinet minister. The Constitution of Australia does not recognise the Cabinet as a legal entity, and its decisions have no legal force. All members of the ministry are also members of the Executive Council, a body which is – in theory, though rarely in practice – chaired by the Governor-General, and which meets solely to endorse and give legal force to decisions already made by the Cabinet. For this reason, there is always a member of the ministry holding the title
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 ...
. Reflecting the influence 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 ...
, and in accordance with section 64 of the Constitution, Ministers are selected from the elected members of Parliament. In keeping with the convention of Cabinet solidarity, all ministers are expected to defend the collective decisions of Cabinet regardless of their individual views. Ministers who cannot undertake the public defence of government actions are expected to resign. Such resignations are rare; and the rarity also of public disclosure of splits within cabinet reflects the seriousness with which internal party loyalty is regarded in Australian politics.


Judicial

The
High Court of Australia The High Court of Australia is Australia's apex court The supreme court is the highest court within the hierarchy of courts in many legal jurisdictions. Other descriptions for such courts include court of last resort, apex court, and hi ...

High Court of Australia
is the
supreme court A supreme court is the highest court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes between Party (law), parties and carry out the administration of just ...

supreme court
in the
Australian court hierarchy The judiciary of Australia comprises judges who sit in federal courts and courts of the States and Territories of Australia The states and territories are federated administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitA ...
and the final
court of appeal An appellate court, commonly called an ''appeals court'', ''court of appeals'' (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the Engl ...
in Australia. It has both original and appellate jurisdiction, has the power of
judicial review Judicial review is a process under which executive Executive may refer to: Role, title, or function * Executive (government), branch of government that has authority and responsibility for the administration of state bureaucracy * Executive, ...
over laws passed by 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 parliaments of the
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 ...
, and interprets the Constitution of Australia. The High Court is mandated by section 71 of the Constitution, which vests in it the
judicial power 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 ...
of the Commonwealth of Australia. The High Court was constituted by the
Judiciary Act 1903 The ''Judiciary Act 1903'' is an Act of the Australian Parliament The Parliament of Australia (officially the Federal Parliament, also called the Commonwealth Parliament) is the legislature, legislative branch of the government of Austr ...
(Cth). The High Court is composed of seven Justices: the
Chief Justice of Australia The Chief Justice of Australia is the presiding justice of the High Court of Australia The High Court of Australia is the highest court in the Judiciary of Australia#Australian court hierarchy, Australian court hierarchy and the final appell ...
, presently The Hon.
Susan Kiefel Susan Mary Kiefel (; born 17 January 1954) is the Chief Justice of Australia, in office since 30 January 2017. She has served on the High Court since 2007, having previously been a judge of the Supreme Court of Queensland and the Federal Court ...
, and six other Justices. The state supreme courts are also considered to be superior courts, those with unlimited jurisdiction to hear disputes and which are the pinnacle of the court hierarchy within their jurisdictions. They were created by means of the constitutions of their respective states or the Self Government Acts for the ACT 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, ...
. Appeals may be made from state supreme courts to the
High Court of Australia The High Court of Australia is Australia's apex court The supreme court is the highest court within the hierarchy of courts in many legal jurisdictions. Other descriptions for such courts include court of last resort, apex court, and hi ...

High Court of Australia
. Inferior Courts are secondary to Superior Courts. Their existence stems from legislation and they only have the power to decide on matters which Parliament has granted them. Decisions in inferior courts can be appealed to the Superior Court in that area, and then to the High Court of Australia.


Elections

At a national level, elections are held at least once every three years.The timing of elections is related to the dissolution or expiry of the House of Representatives, which extends for a maximum period of three years from the date of its first sitting, not the date of the election of its members. The house can be dissolved and a new election called at any time. In 12 out of 41 parliaments since Federation, more than three years have elapsed between elections. There is a complex formula for determining the date of such elections, which must satisfy section 32 of the Constitution of Australia and sections 156–8 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. These provisions do not allow an election to be held less than 33 days or more than 68 days after the dissolution of the House of Representatives. See 2010 Australian federal election for an example of how the formula applies in practice. 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 transpa ...
can 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
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 ...
. Although governments have preferred simultaneous elections of the House and the Senate, the differences in timing and constitutional requirements mean that separate elections have occurred. The most recent Australian federal election took place on 18 May 2019. The House of Representatives is elected using the Australian
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, which results in the preference flows from minor party voters to the two major parties being significant in electoral outcomes. The Senate is elected using the single transferable voting system, which has resulted in a greater presence of minor parties in the Senate. For most of the last thirty years a balance of power has existed, whereby neither government nor opposition has had overall control of the Senate. This limitation to its power has required governments to frequently seek the support of minor parties or independent Senators in order to secure their legislative agenda. The ease with which minor parties can secure representation in the Senate compared to the House of Representatives, a result of proportional representation in the Senate, has meant that minor parties have often focused their election efforts on the upper house. This is true also at state level (only the two territories and Queensland are
unicameral In government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by ...
). Minor parties have only rarely been able to win seats in the House of Representatives, though five minor party members or independents won seats at the 2016 election.


State and local government

Australia's six states and two territories are structured within a political framework similar to that of the Commonwealth. Each state has its own bicameral Parliament, with the exception of Queensland and the two territories, whose Parliaments are unicameral. Each state has a Governor, who undertakes a role equivalent to that of the Governor-General at the federal level, and a Premier, who is the head of government and is equivalent to the Prime Minister. Each state also has its own supreme court, from which appeals can be made to the High Court of Australia. Elections in the six
Australian states The States and Territories of Australia are the regional governments in Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Aust ...
and two territories are held at least once every four years. In
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 ...
, Victoria, South Australia and the
Australian Capital Territory The Australian Capital Territory (ACT), known as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) until 1938, is a federal territory A federal territory is an area under the direct and usually exclusive jurisdiction of a federation's central or national ...
, election dates are fixed by legislation. However, the other state premiers and the
Chief Minister of the Northern Territory The Chief Minister of the Northern Territory is the head of government The head of government is either the highest or second highest official in the executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a self-governing colony, autono ...
have the same discretion in calling elections as the Prime Minister at national level. Local government in Australia is the third (and lowest) tier of government, administered by the states and territories which in turn are beneath the federal tier. Unlike the United States, United Kingdom and New Zealand, there is only one level of local government in all states, with no distinction such as counties and cities. Today, most local governments have equivalent powers within a state, and styles such as "shire" or "city" refer to the nature of the settlements they are based around.


Ideology in Australian politics

The Australian party system has been described by political scientists as more ideologically driven than other similar Anglophone countries such as the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
and
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, ...

Canada
. In early Australian political history, class interests played a significant role in the division between the then-
democratic socialist Democratic socialism is a political philosophy Political philosophy is the philosophical study of government, addressing questions about the nature, scope, and legitimacy of public agents and institutions and the relationships between them. ...
Australian Labor Party The Australian Labor Party (ALP), also simply known as Labor and historically spelt Labour, is the major , one of two in , along with the . It has been in in the since the . The ALP is a federal party, with in each . They are currently i ...
and a series of anti-Labor parties drawing on the
liberal Liberal or liberalism may refer to: Politics *a supporter of liberalism, a political and moral philosophy **Liberalism by country *an adherent of a Liberal Party Arts, entertainment and media *''El Liberal'', a Spanish newspaper published betw ...
and
conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and taste (sociology), taste, as well as the philosophy of art (its own area of philosophy that comes out of aest ...
traditions (the predecessors of the modern
Coalition The term "coalition" is the denotation for a group formed when two or more people, factions, states, political parties, militaries etc. agree to work together temporarily in a partnership to achieve a common goal. The word coalition connotes a co ...
between the
Liberals Liberal or liberalism may refer to: Politics *a supporter of liberalism, a political and moral philosophy **Liberalism by country *an adherent of a Liberal Party Arts, entertainment and media *''El Liberal'', a Spanish newspaper published betw ...
and
Nationals Nationals may refer to: * People of a given nationality * A tournament or convention of national scope * Washington Nationals, a Major League Baseball team based in Washington, DC * Potomac Nationals, a former minor league baseball team in Woodbrid ...
). In contemporary Australian political culture, the Coalition (Liberal and National parties) is considered centre-right and the Australian Labor Party is considered centre-left. Australian conservatism is largely represented by the Coalition, along with Australian liberalism. The Labor Party categorises itself as
social democratic Social democracy is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between individu ...
,Australian Labor Party National Platform
. Retrieved 11 December 2014
although it has pursued a liberal economic and social policy since the prime ministership of
Bob Hawke Robert James Lee Hawke, (9 December 1929 – 16 May 2019) was an Australian politician who served as Prime Minister of Australia and Leader of the Labor Party from 1983 to 1991. He was the Member of Parliament A member of parliament ...

Bob Hawke
. Parliamentary Labor Party members such as
Andrew Leigh Andrew Keith Leigh (born 3 August 1972) is an Australian politician, author, lawyer and former professor of economics at the Australian National University The Australian National University (ANU) is a national research university located ...
have argued that the party should be reclassified as social liberal. The Labor Party still maintains its historical Socialist Objective in its constitution, however, it is seen as an ideological
anachronism An anachronism (from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population i ...
within the party. Queensland and Western Australia are regarded as comparatively
conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and taste (sociology), taste, as well as the philosophy of art (its own area of philosophy that comes out of aest ...
.George Megalogenis
"The Green and the Grey"
''Quarterly Essay'', Vol. 40, 2010, p69.
Victoria, Tasmania, and the Australian Capital Territory are regarded as comparatively left of centre. New South Wales, the largest state by population, as well as South Australia have often been regarded as a politically moderate
bellwether A bellwether is a leader or indicator of trends. The term derives from the Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) was a form of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken i ...
states. Since the 2007 elections, the voting patterns of the Australian electorate have shifted. There is more volatility in the Australian electorate than ever before. More Australian voters are swinging between the two major parties or are voting for third parties, with 23% of Australians voting for a minor party as of the 2016 federal election.


Political parties

Organised, national political parties have dominated Australia's political landscape since federation. The late 19th century saw the rise of the Australian Labor Party, which represented organised workers. Opposing interests coalesced into two main parties: a centre-right party with a base in business and the middle classes that has been predominantly conservative and moderate, now the Liberal Party of Australia; and a rural or agrarian conservative party, now the National Party of Australia. While there are a small number of other political parties that have achieved parliamentary representation, these main three dominate organised politics everywhere in Australia and only on rare occasions have any other parties or independent members of parliament played any role at all in the formation or maintenance of governments. Australian politics operates as a two-party system, as a result of the permanent coalition between the Liberal Party and National Party. Internal party discipline has historically been tight, unlike the situation in other countries such as the United States. Australia's political system has not always been a two-party system (e.g.
1901 Events January * January 1 ** The Crown colony, British colonies of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria (Australia), Victoria and Western Australia Federation of Australia, federate as the Australia, Commo ...
to
1910 Events January * January 10 Events Pre-1600 *49 BC __NOTOC__ Year 49 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Lentulus and Marcellus (or, less frequently, year 705 ...
) but nor has it always been as internally stable as in recent decades. The Australian Labor Party (ALP) is a
social democratic Social democracy is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between individu ...
party. It is a left leaning party with tendency towards social welfare and government assistance programs. It was founded by the
Australian labour movement The Australian labour movement began in the early 19th century and since the late 19th century has included industrial (Australian unions) and political wings (Australian Labor Party). Trade unions in Australia may be organised (i.e., formed) on ...
and broadly represents the urban working and middle classes. The
Liberal Party of Australia The Liberal Party of Australia is a major Centre-right politics, centre-right list of political parties in Australia, political party in Australia, one of the two Major party, major parties in politics of Australia, Australian politics, along w ...
is a party of the centre-right which broadly represents businesses, the urban middle classes and many rural people. Its permanent coalition partner at national level is the
National Party of Australia The National Party of Australia (NPA), also known as The Nationals or The Nats, is an Australian political party. Traditionally representing graziers, farmers, and regional voters generally, it began as the Australian Country Party (ACP) in 1 ...
, formerly known as the Country Party, a conservative party which represents rural interests. These two parties are collectively known as the
Coalition The term "coalition" is the denotation for a group formed when two or more people, factions, states, political parties, militaries etc. agree to work together temporarily in a partnership to achieve a common goal. The word coalition connotes a co ...
. In only Queensland, the two parties have officially merged to form the Liberal National Party, and in the Northern Territory, the National Party is known as the
Country Liberal Party The Country Liberal Party (CLP), officially the Country Liberals (Northern Territory), is a liberal conservative political party in Australia founded in 1974, which operates solely in the Northern Territory The Northern Territory (NT; for ...
. Minor parties in Australian politics include a
green Green is the color between blue and yellow on the visible spectrum. It is evoked by light which has a dominant wavelength of roughly 495570 Nanometre, nm. In subtractive color systems, used in painting and color printing, it is created by ...
party, the
Australian Greens The Australian Greens, commonly known as The Greens, are a confederation A confederation (also known as a confederacy or league) is a union of sovereign groups or states united for purposes of common action. Usually created by a treaty, ...
, the largest of the minor parties; a
centrist Centrism is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between individuals, su ...
party,
Centre Alliance Centre Alliance, formerly known as the Nick Xenophon Team (NXT), is a centrist Centrism is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or ...
; a
nationalist Nationalism is an idea and movement that promotes the interests of a particular nation (as in a in-group and out-group, group of people),Anthony D. Smith, Smith, Anthony. ''Nationalism: Theory, Ideology, History''. Polity (publisher), Polity, ...
party,
Pauline Hanson's One Nation Pauline Hanson's One Nation (PHON or ONP), also known as One Nation or One Nation Party, is an Australian far-right political party A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a country's elections. I ...
; and an anti-privatisation party,
Katter's Australian Party Katter's Australian Party (KAP) is a Conservatism in Australia, conservative List of political parties in Australia, political party in Australia. It was founded by Bob Katter, the Independent (politics), independent and former National Party of ...
. Other significant parties in recent years have included the
Palmer United Party Clive Palmer's United Australia Party (Clive Palmer's UAP), formerly known as the United Australia Party (UAP) and Palmer United Party (PUP), is an Australian political party formed by mining magnate Clive Palmer in April 2013. It was deregist ...
, the
socially conservative Social conservatism is a political philosophy Political philosophy is the philosophical study of government, addressing questions about the nature, scope, and legitimacy of public agents and institutions and the relationships between them. ...
Family First Party The Family First Party was a conservative political party in Australia from 2002 to 2017. It was founded in South Australia South Australia (abbreviated as SA) is a States and territories of Australia, state in the southern central part of A ...
, among others. Historically significant parties have included 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 ...
, the
Australian Labor Party (Anti-Communist) The Democratic Labour Party (DLP), formerly the Democratic Labor Party, is an Australian political party A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a country's elections. It is common for the members o ...
, the
Communist Party of Australia The Communist Party of Australia (CPA) was founded in 1920 and dissolved in 1991. The CPA achieved its greatest political strength in the 1940s. It was banned temporarily in 1940 and faced an attempted ban in 1951. Its youth wing worked unde ...
, the socially liberal
Australian Democrats The Australian Democrats is a centrist Centrism is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and politica ...

Australian Democrats
among others.


Timeline

Since federation, there have been 30 Prime Ministers of Australia. The longest-serving Prime Minister was Sir
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 ...
of the Liberal Party, who served for 19 years from 1939 to 1941, and again from 1949 to 1966. The only other Prime Minister to serve for longer than a decade was
John Howard John Winston Howard (born 26 July 1939) is an Australian former politician who served as the 25th prime minister of Australia The prime minister of Australia is the head of government The head of government is either the highest or s ...

John Howard
, also of the Liberal Party, who led for more than 11 years from 1996 to 2007. The Coalition and its direct predecessors have governed at the federal level for a large majority of Australia's history since federation: 30,548 days as compared to Labor's 12,252 days.


Prime ministers' parties by time in office

*
Liberal Party of Australia The Liberal Party of Australia is a major Centre-right politics, centre-right list of political parties in Australia, political party in Australia, one of the two Major party, major parties in politics of Australia, Australian politics, along w ...
– days as of . *
Australian Labor Party The Australian Labor Party (ALP), also simply known as Labor and historically spelt Labour, is the major , one of two in , along with the . It has been in in the since the . The ALP is a federal party, with in each . They are currently i ...
– days *
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 ...
– days ''(Party Deregistered)'' *
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 ...
– days ''(Party Deregistered)'' *
Protectionist Party The Protectionist Party or Liberal Protectionist Party was an Australian political party, formally organised from 1887 until 1909, with policies centred on protectionism. The party advocated protective tariffs, arguing it would allow Australia ...
– days ''(Party Deregistered)'' *
Commonwealth Liberal Party The Commonwealth Liberal Party (CLP, also known as the Deakin–Cook Party, The Fusion, or the Deakinite Liberal Party) was a political movement active in Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign sta ...
– days ''(Party Deregistered)'' *
Free Trade Party The Free Trade Party which was officially known as the Australian Free Trade and Liberal Association, also referred to as the Revenue Tariff Party in some states, was an Australian political party, formally organised in 1887 in New South Wales, i ...
– days ''(Party Deregistered)'' * Country Party – days ''(Party Renamed) ''


House of Representatives primary, two-party and seat results

A
two-party system A two-party system is a Politics, political party system in which two major party, major political parties consistently dominate the political landscape. At any point in time, one of the two parties typically holds a majority in the legislature ...
has existed in the
Australian House of Representatives The House of Representatives is the lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorporated commun ...

Australian House of Representatives
since the two non-Labor parties merged in 1909. The 1910 election was the first to elect a
majority government A majority government refers to one or multiple governing parties that hold an absolute majority of seats in legislature A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of s ...
, with the
Australian Labor Party The Australian Labor Party (ALP), also simply known as Labor and historically spelt Labour, is the major , one of two in , along with the . It has been in in the since the . The ALP is a federal party, with in each . They are currently i ...
concurrently winning the first
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 ...
majority. Prior to 1909 a three-party system existed in the chamber. A
two-party-preferred vote In Australian politics The politics of Australia take place within the framework of a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exercises authority in accord ...
(2PP) has been calculated since the 1919 change from first-past-the-post to Instant-runoff voting, preferential voting and subsequent introduction of the
Coalition The term "coalition" is the denotation for a group formed when two or more people, factions, states, political parties, militaries etc. agree to work together temporarily in a partnership to achieve a common goal. The word coalition connotes a co ...
. ALP = Australian Labor Party, L+NP = grouping of Liberal Party of Australia, Liberal/National Party of Australia, National/Liberal National Party of Queensland, LNP/Country Liberal Party, CLP Coalition parties (and predecessors), Oth = List of political parties in Australia, other parties and Independent (politics), independents.


Historical party composition of the Senate

The Senate has included representatives from a range of political parties, including several parties that have seldom or never had representation in the House of Representatives, but which have consistently secured a small but significant level of electoral support, as the table shows. Results represent the composition of the Senate after the elections. The full Senate has been contested on eight occasions; the inaugural election and seven double dissolutions. These are underlined and highlighted in puce.


See also

* Far-right politics in Australia * Politics of New South Wales * Politics of Queensland * Politics of Western Australia * Political donations in Australia * Political families of Australia


References


Further reading

* *Robert Corcoran and Jackie Dickenson (2010), ''A Dictionary of Australian Politics'', Allen and Unwin, Crows Nest, NSW *Department of the Senate, 'Electing Australia's Senators'
''Senate Briefs'' No. 1
2006, retrieved July 2007 *Rodney Smith (2001), ''Australian Political Culture'', Longman, Frenchs Forest NSW {{Authority control Politics of Australia,