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Australia Politics

State and politics

Australia is one a federal state consisting of six non-sovereign states. The state power is divided into three divisions: the Legislative Assembly, the Executive Assembly and the Judicial Assembly.

Political System of Australia

GOVERNMENT

The six states have far-reaching internal self-government with their own legislative assemblies and governments, but with some historically contested differences. The two territories are directly governed by the federal government, but since 1978 the Northern Territory has gradually gained self-government. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how AU can stand for Australia.

Political System of AustraliaThe head of state is Elizabeth II, who is also formally Queen of Australia and represented by a Governor General. Support for the establishment of a republic in Australia steadily increased during the 1990s, but when the issue became the subject of a referendum in 1999, the monarchists nevertheless barely won.

The legislative power lies with the Federal Parliament with two chambers: the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Senate has 76 members (twelve from each state, two from each of the territories) elected for six years (the three territories) in direct, proportional elections; however, half of the sites are renewed every three years.

The number of members of the House of Representatives is proportional to the population. The 150 members are elected by direct majority elections held at least every three years. The party that has a majority in the House of Representatives appoints the government.

Voting is compulsory and voting age is 18 years. Women have been voting since 1902. The indigenous people, Aborigines, gained voting rights in 1967.

Political history

The two major bourgeois parties ruled Australia 1949-72, until 1966 with Robert Menzies as prime minister. In the election to the House of Representatives in 1972, they were seen defeated by Labor under the leadership of Gough Whitlam. This initiated a comprehensive policy of reform. Inflation and unemployment rose and after Labor lost a majority in the Senate in 1974, it refused to approve the government's budget. In the deadlock that occurred, the Governor-General intervened. He dismissed Whitlam in 1975 and appointed Liberal Malcolm Fraserto lead a transitional government. In a recent election, Fraser clearly won, and a new conservative coalition was formed. The move to dismiss the prime minister was something unique in Australia's history. It led to a constitutional crisis and a protracted, intense debate about the Constitution and the powers of the Governor General.

The deep crisis in the world economy hampered the economic recovery, while cracks arose in the government coalition. In 1983, Labor regained power under Bob Hawke, former chairman of the Australian trade union movement.

Hawke reintroduced parts of Whitlam's reforms but otherwise brought politics to the right. When Hawke won his third straight victory in the parliamentary elections in 1987, partly with the help of a divided opposition, he was accused both by the opposition and by the left within his party of having taken over the politics of the Conservative parties.

The deteriorating economy led to the Labor government losing in popularity. In 1991 Paul Keating (born 1944) took over as Prime Minister. Under his leadership, contacts with the Asian countries were emphasized and greater emphasis was placed on the rights of indigenous peoples. The 1996 election led the Liberals and the National Party to take over the government under the leadership of Liberal leader John Howard. The bourgeois coalition was re-elected in 1998, 2001 and 2004.

Labor, which has long dominated politics at the state level, assumed government power after the 2007 parliamentary elections. New Prime Minister became Labor leader Kevin Rudd. He began his reign with, for example, signing the Kyoto Protocol, easing the country's increasingly criticized asylum policy and officially acknowledging the country's debt to the indigenous people, Aborigines. When Rudd was hit by a crisis of confidence, Labor appointed Julia Gillard, former Deputy Prime Minister, as a new party leader. Gillard managed to form a new government by a marginal margin after the parliamentary elections in August 2010.

Policy

Of the Conservative coalition parties, the Liberal Party (LP) is the largest and traditional trustee of British heritage. It has its strongest support in the cities and the business community. The smaller, bourgeois National Party (NP) was formed during the interwar period under the name of Country Party to protect farmers' interests. NP still attracts mainly voters in the countryside. The two bourgeois parties work closely together and have for a long time ruled Australia together.

The third major party, the Labor Party Australian Labor Party (ALP), has the most supporters among the working class, but in recent years has raised competition with the liberals over middle-class voters. There are also several smaller parties that have been able to gain influence through the role of wave master in the Senate.

Since 2013, Australia has been ruled by the bourgeois coalition, which, under Tony Abbott's leadership, prioritized work on climate change and reintroduced a more restrictive immigration policy. Refugee boats from Asia have been forced to turn around before reaching Australia and a controversial detention camp for asylum seekers was put into operation in neighboring Nauru.

LP has been characterized by internal power struggles. Abbott was challenged in 2015 by Malcolm Turnbull (born 1954), who in turn had to resign in 2016 in favor of former Migration Minister Scott Morrison (born 1968).

In the 2019 elections, support for the bourgeois coalition was established. In the House of Representatives, the government parties received barely a majority.

Judiciary

Constitutionally, Australia is usually described as a democratic monarchy within the Commonwealth. The monarch is represented at the federal level by the governor general, at the state level by the governors. Apart from the formal affiliation of the commonwealth symbolized by the common monarch, there are only a few legal links between Australia and the United Kingdom.

Certain cases from the supreme courts of the states can be brought by appeal to the Supreme Court of the Commonwealth, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. However, the Australian judiciary bears great resemblance to English. The judicial system is richly developed state-wide and not developed federally.

The legislative power has long been exercised essentially by Parliament, but the content of public, private and criminal law rules, like the judicial process, is strongly influenced by English common law, and precedents from the English supreme courts are still considered authority in Australia.

The death penalty was abolished in 1985; the last execution took place in 1967.

Human Rights

A distinctive feature of modern Australian society is the wide representation of different cultures that originate from immigration to the continent. Consequently, minority rights, multiculturalism and ethnicity-related issues have long played a major role in Australian politics.

Civil and political rights have traditionally had strong protection, even though deviations are documented.

The main problems reported are domestic violence against women and children, discrimination against indigenous people and the situation of asylum seekers. Australia's foreign residents are often stigmatized in society and discriminated against in working life while being over-represented in the country's prisons.

Prolonged processing times of up to several years and harsh internment conditions mainly affect immigrants arriving in Australia by boat. The number of asylum seekers who came to Australia by sea increased sharply in the 2010s, which has put enormous pressure on the asylum repository's capacity and processing times. From the United Nations Refugee Commission, criticism has been directed at the country regarding the conditions for asylum-seeking boat refugees. The repositories are overcrowded and many times unsanitary. The fact that asylum applications are not always treated fairly, openly or within a reasonable time affects the physical and mental health of those detained. Several deaths during detention have been reported and in many of the cases the cause has been determined for suicide.

Prime Ministers

1901-03 Edmund Barton
1903-04 Alfred Deakin
1904 John Christian Watson
1904-05 George Houston Reid
1905-08 Alfred Deakin
1908-09 Andrew Fisher
1909-10 Alfred Deakin
1910-13 Andrew Fisher
1913-14 Joseph Cook
1914-15 Andrew Fisher
1915-23 William Morris Hughes
1923-29 Stanley Melbourne Bruce
1929-32 James Henry Scullin
1932-39 Joseph Aloysius Lyons
1939 Earle Page
1939-41 Robert Menzies
1941 Arthur William Fadden
1941-45 John Curtin
1945 Francis Michael Forde
1945-49 Joseph Benedict Chifley
1949-66 Robert Menzies
1966-67 Harold Edward Holt
1967-68 John McEwen
1968-71 John Gray Gorton
1971-72 William McMahon
1972-75 Gough Whitlam
1975-83 Malcolm Fraser
1983-91 Robert Hawke
1991-96 Paul Keating
1996-07 John Howard
2007-10 Kevin Rudd
2010-13 Julia Gillard
2013 Kevin Rudd
2013-15 Tony Abbott
2015-18 Malcolm Turnbull
2018- Scott Morrison
Other Countries in Oceania

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