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The Australian government is variously know as the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia or the Federal Government of Australia. The government takes the form of a parliamentary commonwealth / constitutional monarchy.
The current form of the Australian government is the result of a coalition of six self governing states that was formed in 1901. These states were actually British colonies and the formation of the government was made reality after a referendum among the various states and was ratified by the Governor General. AT the head of the Australian government is the Prime Minister who has a wide range of powers.
There are a number of divisions within the Australian government including the Federal and legislative branches as well as a Senate. The Federal Executive Council is still headed up by a Governor General, but it cedes its powers to the cabinet which is led by the Prime Minister. The Legislative branch consists of the Parliament and the Senate. The Judicial Branch consists of the High Court and the various Federal Courts.
The robustness of the Australian government is in part due to the clearly delineated separation of powers which is set out in the Constitution. This separation of powers has provided observers with the spectacle of vigorous debate in the parliament - something that the Australian government has become well known for.
Possible uniquely the Australian government system is an amalgamation between the Westminster / Washington systems with some uniquely Australian components.
The Constitution is protected by the fact that any changes must be approved by the majority of Australians through a referendum. This makes the Australian system one of the most democratic in the world. It exemplifies the ideal of 'power through the people'. The relative independence of each of the states is a further safeguard against central government abuses.
Australia's Federal Senate
Australia's federal government
consists of an Australian Federal Senate and a House of Representatives. The Senate is considered the upper house and the House of Representatives is the lower house in this bicameral Parliament. The Senate consists of 76 members. Twelve are elected by the six states and two are from the mainland territories. The Senate shares power with the House.
There are two classes of state senators: long-term and short-term. Long-term senators are in office until Jun 2022, while short-term senators have terms which end in June 2019.
Senators are elected by popular vote which is controlled by the system of a single transferable vote. This is a system of proportional representation.
The Australian senate holds significant power. The body's powers include the ability fo block legislation brought forth from the House. The Senate consists of various parties, all of which are vying for power.
Senators usually serve a six-year term that is fixed and generally runs from July 1 to June 30. If the Senate experiences a double dissolution, then one half of the state senators' terms will expire on the 3rd June after the election. This is less than three years. The rest of the senators will serve another three years. The terms of the senators from the territories expire at the same time as those of the House of Representatives.
Australia's Senate was first established in 1900 under a system of dominion government. This Senate was designed to take an active role in creating and passing legislation. It was modeled partially after the U.S. Senate in that each state has equal representation. The intent was to provide less populous states an equal voice in the Federal legislature. Generally, legislation is initiated in the House and then the Senate can amend or refuse to pass the bill.
The Australian Federal Senate serves as an equal representation for all states and the territories. It is referred to as the Upper House of the Parliament.
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