This course will first introduce Australian political history and then discuss the constitutional arrangements against that context.

The Australian Constitutional arrangements have both elements of the English common law system and the American Federal system. As a hybrid it has similarities and differences from both.

The Commonwealth of Australia was formed in 1901 as a federation of six States, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia with a written constitution. The constitution grants specified powers to the Commonwealth and the reserve of powers still lie with the States. Executive decisions and legislation are subject to judicial review against the constitution. In these ways it is similar to the USA constitutional arrangements.

However the British influence can be seen in many ways. Australia remains a monarchy with Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain as its Head of State. Executive authority lies in cabinet, which draws its authority from having the confidence of the lower house of Parliament. With control of Parliament the Executive can pass the Supply Bill each year to provide the money to govern. The constitution is a pragmatic document to manage power sharing and does not have a Bill of Rights. Many of the constitutional arrangements depend on conventions of practice to operate successfully.

The weblinks in this site do not reflect the view of the Dr Cannon or the University and are included just for background information.  They are not required reading.

Web page design by Eleanor Cannon.  Updated March 2008.