Chief of State: Queen of Australia Elizabeth II represented by Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove
Head of Government: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull
Government Name: Commonwealth of Australia
Constitution: Formed: 1901; Constitution provides for the commonwealth government's legislative powers and allocates certain powers and responsibilities to the commonwealth government. All responsibilities remaining are retained by previously separate colonies referred to as the six states. Each state has its own constitution, so Australia itself has seven sovereign parliaments which cannot impede with the functions of another.
Government Type: Federal Parlimentary Democracy and a Commonwealth Realm
|Main Powers||Election Process||Election Cycle Source: ElectionGuide, http://www.electionguide.org/|
The queen is the figure head for the government and also appoints the governor-general and prime minister. The governor-general represents the queen, makes and receives state visits, and rarely exercises reserve powers similar to those of the queen in the UK. The prime minister has the discretion to 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 constitution.
The queen is hereditary. The governor-general is appointed by the queen. The prime minister is appointed by the governor-general having been judged by the governor-general to be capable of commanding the support of a majority of members of the house of representatives.
Governor-General: at Her Majesty's pleasure; Prime Minister: at Her Majesty's pleasure
Judicial high courts arbitrate on any disputes that arise between the commonwealth and the states or among the states in terms of their specific function. The high courts have judicial review over laws passed by both the commonwealth and states' parliaments.
The high courts vice-regal is appointment upon nomination by the prime minister who follows the advice of the attorney-general and cabinet. The chamber of deputies are elected by people of each district using proportional representation, the D'Hondt formula with a 3% of the district registered voters threshold.
Mandatory retirement age of 70
Senate powers are equal to those of the house of representatives except that it cannot introduce or amend proposed laws that authorize expenditure for the ordinary annual services of the government or that impose taxation. They may request that the house of representatives make amendments to financial legislation and it can refuse to pass any bill. The house of representatives determines the government, debates and passes laws, watches over government administration and expenditure, and provides a forum for public debate on issues of national importance.
The senate has 76 members who are elected through a single transferable vote (STV) proportional representation system. The house of representatives has 150 members who are elected through an alternative voting system.
Senate: 6 years; House of Representatives: 3 years
Foreign Policy Trends: Australia is steadfastly allied with New Zealand (ANZAC ties from early 1900's). It is committed to multilateralism and regionalism, as well as to strong bilateral relations with its allies. Its key focuses include free trade, terrorism, economic cooperation with Asia and stability in the Asia-Pacific. Australia is an active member of the United Nations and the Commonwealth of Nations.
Regional Trade Blocs: APEC
Treaties: No multilateral military treaties
International Organization Participation Source: CIA World Factbook
|OECD||OPCW||OSCE||Pacific Alliance||Paris Club||PCA|
Note: Click table to see details
Environmental Agreements Source: CIA World Factbook
|Antarctic-Environmental Protocol||Antarctic Treaty||Biodiversity||Climate Change||Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol||Antarctic Seals|
|Antarctic-Marine Living Resources||Desertification||Endangered Species||Environmental Modification||Hazardous Wastes||Law of the Sea|
|Marine Dumping||Marine Life Conservation||Ozone Layer Protection||Ship Pollution||Tropical Timber 06||Wetlands|
Note: Click table to see details
Tax Authority: Australian Taxation Office
Tax Name: GST