The Essay
Written -  late 9th grade         Earned - B+ (can you believe that!?!? grrrrrr...)

    When asked why the political party The Australian Democrats was formed, Senator Don Chipp replied, “ ‘To keep the bastards [other political parties] honest’ ” (Rajendra).  It is rather humorous to imagine President Clinton uttering these words.  This is just one example of how radically, appealingly, and refreshingly different the Australian government can be.   This particular government demands a more pure form of democracy, forcing all citizens over the age of 18 to vote or face penalties, and even passing constitutional amendment proposals to the public’s voting booth.  Though the common rejection of these proposals suggests a certain stability, revolutionary governmental changes may be about to occur in Australia’s government.  Of the many pieces of this complex government, a few are more significant than others; these include the figurehead ruler, the federal government, the state and local governments, and the major political parties.
    The Australian government is led by a specific chain of command.  On the bottom of the system is the Prime Minister, usually the leader of the largest political party in Parliament.  This Prime Minister is appointed by the governor-general, who represents the leader of the chain.  This leader is whomever is the leader of Great Britain at the time; this position is currently held by Queen Elizabeth II.  However, it appears that none of these leaders possess any real power.  The network has been in place since 1901 when Australia unified under a single constitution which provides the people with full democratic rights.  The chain of command heading the government is comparable to that currently in place in Canada.  There is, however, a strong desire among the Australian people to distinguish themselves from both Canada and the United States; this is especially true due to the great similarities between all three governments.  More currently, the Australian public is soon to vote on a possible change in the chain of command heading their government.  It is proposed that Australia “cut the royal ties,” and elect an “American Style” president.  A “deal was hammered out” in 1998; it states that the public would nominate a list of candidates, which would then be narrowed to a smaller list by a committee.  Next, the Prime Minister and the opposition leader would narrow the list further to one candidate who would then have to be approved by 2/3 of Parliament.  This process would, if approved, begin on  Jan. 1, 2001.  Though the Prime Minister in 1998 obviously had objections to such a process, he demonstrated Australia’s passion for a more pure form of democracy by stating, “It would be a travesty to democracy for the proposition not to be put to the Australian people” (Fennell).  Yet, currently the government remains headed by the afore mentioned chain of command.  Thus, the real power lies with Parliament and the federal government.
    The Queen and her representatives form the executive branch of the federal government in Australia, this leaves only the legislative and judicial branches.  The legislative branch of the federal government consists of Parliament, 2 houses, the Senate, and the House of Representatives.  The judicial branch of the federal government is the High Court of Australia.  These operate much like the Congress and Supreme Court in the U.S. (Dolce).  In Parliament, most bills are introduced into the lower house, the House of Representatives, which has 148 members; seats are delegated according to population and each state has at least 5 seats to be held for three years.  Bills are then passed to the upper house, the Senate, which consists of 76 members, 12 from each of the six states and one or two from each territory; half of these seats are vacated and re-designated every three years (six year terms).  However, the bills must be passed by both houses to become a law.  Constitutional amendment proposals are passed to the public and are decided by referendum.  The High Court of Australia acts as the head of the Judicial branch, the Constitutional Interpreter, and the final court of appeals.  It includes one Chief Justice, and six “fellow justices.”  The federal government is responsible for most decisions in the government; along with instituting laws, it is responsible for foreign affairs, telegraphs, coinage, taxes, customs, and economic policies.  Power over health, education, and transportation is shared with the local and state governments.
     “The states and the two territories have exclusive power to legislate in matters not specifically delegated to the federal government and shared power[s]” (Collier’s).  In fact, the power given to the state and local governments is surprisingly small (Dolce).  In addition to the shared powers, the states and territories also control state police, hospitals, roads, and social services.  Each state government also has a Parliament, which presides over state affairs, consisting of two houses, the Legislative Assembly (House of Representatives) and a Legislative Council (Senate). A “premier” represents the executive branch of each state government.  Cases of felonies, murder, and other serious offenses, are sent to a magistrate’s court, county court, children’s court, or a higher state court, these also deal with less serious crimes, before going to the state’s supreme court.  Local governments are in charge of town planning, waste management, zoning, libraries, local roads, and local public schools.  Each county or town is headed by a council.  All the levels of government are controlled by representatives who are sorted into political parties.
    The political parties may very well be one of the most interesting and different aspects of the government in it’s entirety.  “Australia has three main political parties - the Australian Labor Party (ALP), the Liberal Party of Australia, and the National Party of Australia” (World Book).
More recently, the Australian Democratic Party has emerged (Rajendra).  Each party, like any other nation’s party, is driven by specific platforms.  One objective of the ALP is betterment for the laborers; it is the “working people’s party.”  The ALP seeks union, working condition, and compensation reforms.  The Liberal Party endeavors toward free enterprise; they work for tax reduction, the limitation of government control in business, and to limit restrictions on trade and commerce.  The National Party works for the improvement of  “primary industry,” this includes agriculture, mining etc.  This party benefits mainly the rural population.  The Australian Democrats are really quite the miscellaneous party in Australia; they formed mainly to keep the other parties in check.  The ALP makes the majority in the government and, thus, holds the most power.  To counter, the National and the Liberal Parties formed a coalition.  So, lastly, the Democrats formed to balance both.  This political system is yet another example of the simplicity and integrity of the Australian government.
    The government in Australia seems to have achieved a pleasant balance.  This balance exists in many instances, between tradition and change, between political parties, between honesty and cooperation, and between the different levels of government.  This type of balance  is hard or even impossible for some of today’s governments to achieve.  One who lives in another country might even think that Australia will soon become the new destination for immigrants from around the world, as Australia is a relatively young and incredibly open country.  With all the possibilities and “perks,” such as more power to the people, Australia may even go so far as to become “Like America, only better.”  From it’s present standing as peaceful, open, and well run, Australia’s future looks amazingly bright.