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The Australian Parliamentary System. Unit 3- Outcome 1- Parliament and the Citizen. Key Terms. Bicameral Government Separation of Powers Crown. A Westminister System. Australia’s legal system is based on the British legal system, known as the Westminster system.

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key terms
Key Terms
  • Bicameral
  • Government
  • Separation of Powers
  • Crown
a westminister system
A Westminister System
  • Australia’s legal system is based on the British legal system, known as the Westminster system.
  • Parliament consists of two houses which is known as a bicameral parliament- Upper House- Known as the Senate and the Lower House , known as the House of Representatives
  • Parliament is the ultimate lawmaking authority.
  • It is a democratic body that represents and is responsible to the people.
  • The Crown retains the right to accept or refuse proposals passed by both houses. However, usually the Crown accepts laws passed by parliament.
federal system of government
Federal System of Government
  • Under this federal system, each state has its own parliament, which can exercise powers relating to certain issues, such as transport, power, water and education.
  • The states agree that specified matters that affect the entire country should be made by a national authority than a state body. Therefore, matters such as defence, currency and trade are made by —the Parliament of Australia.






separation of powers
Separation of Powers
  • There are three functions that must be performed within any legal system:

1) laws must be made (the legislative function)

2) laws must be administered (the administrative or executive function)

3) laws must be applied when disputes arise (the judicial function).

  • The distribution of these functions to different bodies is known as the separation of powers.
  • No one body holds absolute authority to perform all the functions in the legal system.
separation of powers1
Separation of Powers

Functions of Government




Cabinet and Ministers

separation of powers2
Separation of Powers
  • Legislative Function= The power to make laws, which resides with parliament.
  • Executive Function= The power to administer the laws and manage the business of government, which lies with the G.G as the Queen’s representative. However, in practice it is carried out by the ministers and Prime Minister.
  • Judicial Function= the task of applying the law. This function is given to the courts. The courts have the power to interpret the laws and to decide how these laws apply to individual cases. They enforce the law and settle disputes.
  • Judicial works independently, where as the Legislative and Executive work together.

Importing drugs—an example

Consider a person charged with the importation of heroin. Importation of an illicit drug is an offence under Commonwealth legislation.

This legislation was passed by the Commonwealth Parliament—an example of the legislative function. The offence was most likely to have been detected by police or customs officials. Surveillance by the Australian customs service is an example of the executive function. Eventually the offender would be tried and, if found guilty, convicted and sentenced by a court—an example of the judicial function.

reasons for the separation of powers
Reasons for the Separation of Powers
  • Why do you think we need a separation of powers?
reasons for the separation of powers1
Reasons for the Separation of Powers?
  • If all powers were given to a single body it would hold unlimited authority.
  • The separation of powers therefore provides a system of checks and balances against the possible abuse of power.
  • Protects the stability of government and the freedom of people.
question time
Question time 

Understanding the Separation of Powers

  • Read the article ‘Are powers really separated?’ and answer the following questions.
  • 1 What is the principle of the separation of powers? In your answer you should define the following terms:

● judicial

● legislative

● executive.

  • 2 Suggest reasons to justify why power should be separated.
  • 3 How does the Commonwealth Constitution reflect the principle of separation of powers?
  • 4 To what extent is the function of the executive separate from the function of the legislature? Explain.
  • 5 Does the principle of the separation of powers apply to state parliaments? Explain.
  • 6 What is the Australian Parliamentary System based on?
  • 7 Explain the term bicameral and how do we know Australia is based on this system?
  • 8 Under what circumstances does Federal government make laws as opposed to state government?