The Australian Constitution

The Constitution

The Purpose of the Australian Constitution:
The Australian Constitution serves many purposes but its most important purpose is to distribute power within the Australian political system. It unifies the Australian colonies as a single nation, and creates laws under which the Australian Commonwealth Government operates.

Main Features of the Australian Constitution:
    • Chapter 1 establishes the Commonwealth Parliament as the Legislative Branch of government.
    • Chapter 2 deals with the Executive Government, the branch of government which carries out and enforces the laws.
    • Chapter 3 provides for the establishment of the Judicature, the branch of government dealing with the courts of law.
    • Chapter 4 deals with finance and trade.
    • Chapter 5 deals with the States, providing for the continuance of their constitutions, parliamentary powers and laws.
    • Chapter 6 deals with the procedures for the establishment of new States and provides for the surrender of territories to the Commonwealth by States.
    • Chapter 7 has two sections, one dealing with the establishment of the seat of government, the other providing for the appointment of deputies of the Governor-General.
    • Chapter 8 deals with Alteration of the Constitution. It provides that proposals for constitutional alteration be initiated by the Parliament and approved in a referendum by a majority of voters Australia-wide and a majority of voters in a majority of States.

The High Court

The Role of the High Court of Australia:
The High Court is the highest court in the Australian legal system. It was established in 1901 under Section 71 of the Constitution. Its functions are:
    • To interpret and apply the law of Australia
    • To decide cases of special federal significance
    • To hear appeals from Federal, State and Territory courts.

Operation of the High Court:
The High Court of Australia is able to deal with cases which come to it on...