The Australian continent is composed
of six self-governing British colonies that were united
under one government through an agreement in 1901. The
agreement was later embodied in the Australian Constitution
and formed what is now known as the Commonwealth of
Australia. Australia government is that of a federal
constitutional monarchy, which operates under the principles
of a democratic parliament.
The government recognizes the
Queen’s authority above all, but mostly as a last resort to
resolve complicated disputes and cases with vague or
overlapping of jurisdictions and responsibilities.
Otherwise, the Queen is more of a
symbolic status rather than an authority that
meddles in each and every state.
She is represented by the
Governor-General, who acts in her behalf as the head
of the state. Australia government practices federalism wherein
authority and powers are divided and distributed
accordingly between and the federal government and
among the six colonies.
Each of the colonies, which
are now referred to as states, essentially retained
their self-governing powers to a certain degree.
Separation of powers is also defined and distributed
among three branches of the government namely, the
executive, the legislative and the judiciary.
The executive body is composed
of the Queen of Australia (who is also the Queen of
other Commonwealth realms) and her representative,
the Governor-General. They hold imperative
constitutional powers that are vested to them under
the Australian Constitution.
The legislative body, on the other hand, is composed
of the House of Representatives and the Senate,
headed by the Queen. There are a total of 76
senators, twelve from each state, two from the
Northern Territory, and another two from the ACT
(Australian Capital Territory); while the House of
Representatives has 150 members selected by
These are the people
responsible for making laws and changing them as
they deem appropriate. Meanwhile, the judiciary body consists
of the High Court of Australia and several Federal Courts
such as the Federal Magistrates Court, the Federal Court of
Australia, and the Family Court of Australia. These are the
offices that interpret and implement the laws.
These three main government branches are further broken down
into separate chapters for further distribution of powers.
This detailed distribution of powers ensures that each of
the state will maintain their freedom and control over their
respective assets and sources of income, which was their
primary concern and worry during the initial discussions of
uniting under one government.
Each of these states has their own
separate constitutions resulting to a total of seven
parliaments in Australia. These constitutions function
individually over their respective area of jurisdiction.
Each constitution is unique and especially customized to the
needs of the constituents and the kind of place they live
in. Should there be any dispute or conflict with the other
states or with the Commonwealth, the High Court of Australia
shall intervene and decide over the issue. Any of the state
can also transfer a particular authority or power to the
Commonwealth if it chooses. On the other hand, the states
can also request for the transfer of a certain power the
Commonwealth hold to their own.
These transfers, however, requires the
amendment of the constitution, which in turn requires a
referendum that must result to “double majority”. This means
that the result should be a majority of the votes as a
whole, and a majority of the states approves the proposed