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Structure and Dynamics of the Australian Political System

Discuss about the Australian political system.

State or governmental affairs, better known as politics has always been one of the key subject of debate. It is a general opinion of almost all that the society that has a faulty political system is bound to failure. According to Dinar et al. (2015), politics is related to the phenomenon of cooperation and conflict. However, the Australian political system is a very interesting version of democracy and the reason behind it would be described in this paper further. This paper is going to elaborate on the structure and dynamics of the Australian political system and would apply various theoretical models to the analysis of the political behaviour in Australia. It would further evaluate the different perspective on the issues and problems.

Structure and dynamics of the Australian political system- Australia is a federation of six states which have their own governments, constitutions, laws and parliaments. The political system of Australia has taken its elements from political systems of Great Britain and from the United States. Liberal democracy of the country has been built around the constitutional monarchy and British Westminster system along within various features from the United States’ Federal structure (Keane 2018). The politics of Australia conducts and operates its government as the two party system that has compulsory voting and at the same time, the constitutional monarchy of Australia recognised Queen Elizabeth II as the head or chief of the state (Fraenkel 2016). She is a formal, ceremonial and symbolic position holder and possess the administrative power for governing the country. Queen Elizabeth II is also the queen of United Kingdom and many other nations that used to be the parts of the earlier British Empire. However, it is also to note that role of her as the queen of Australia and that of the queen of United States are both different. The government of United Kingdom plays no part in the role of the queen as that is played in the queen of Australia. Australia is one of the countries that has introduced the printed secret ballet system for the voting procedure in the year 1855 when the local elections in the Victorian colony took place by means of this system. The Australian government is constructed on the basis of democratic liberal tradition. The Australians with the democracy have the right to elect the members of the federal parliament of the nation that is a bicameral body which assimilates the elements such as the federalist senate and fused executive.

Australian Political Hierarchy


The Australian political hierarchy is composed of three different levels and they are executive level, legislative level and judicial level. The executive level is the highest most level in the Australian political hierarchy, which is headed by the monarch. The monarch is politically represented as the Governor General of Australia (Dowding and Martin 2017). His major responsibilities include- issuing writs to bestow elections and honour, providing a royal assent to the legislation and appointing ministers, judges and ambassadors. The monarch of the system also plays the role of commander of the armed and defence forces of Australia and is also the president of the federal executive council. After him, the main power lies with the Australia’s prime minister. He heads the cabinet and the government as the highest level government minister. He is also considered as one of the strongest political figure of the nation. The prime minister of the country achieves his position through getting elected as the leader of the part in Australian government.

Secondly, the legislative level of the Australian political hierarchy deals with the development and creation of flaws. Australia’s legislative branch is the parliament that is also considered to be the commonwealth or federal parliament (Cabrera 2018). The legislative branch of the country has been impacted by two individual systems and they are Westminster system and the federalism system. The three key elements of the parliament are the Monarch, House of Representatives and Senate. The House of Representatives is a group of 15 members who are elected in democratic manner (by the people of the country) for a term of 3 consecutive years. Such kind of voting an instant run off system is generally used for preferential voting and it is also to note that this kind of voting system has been derived from Australia. Furthermore, the senate of Australia comprise of 76 members who are elected on a single transferrable voting system.


Lastly, the judicial level of the Australian political hierarchy concerns with the courts and judiciary of the nation. The high court has been established by the Australian constitution. It is the topmost and Supreme Court in the Australian court hierarchy and it also holds the power of the judicial review on the regulations and laws that are passed by the parliaments of the state and that of the Australian country. The High court also possesses the original jurisdiction and appellate. There are a total of 7 justices that serve the high court as jury and that consists of six justices as well as one chief justice of Australia (Conrad and Clements 2018). The judges of the high court are appointed by the governor general who is acting on the advice of the cabinet and the prime minister and they can only be removed from their position and from the office by the Governor general following a request for the removal from both the houses of the Australian parliament based on the ground of proved incapacity. The primary function of the high court is to explain the constitution. While the parliament might disallow an interpretation of any court of any ordinary law trough amending any of the Act of the Parliament, the parliament is then subjected to the constitution. The Australian constitution could not be changed by an Act of the Parliament alone. Referendum of the citizen is very important.

Political Behaviour in Australia

Political behaviour in Australia- Since its inception the Australian political establishment has followed diverse behaviour in terms of vote seeking and policy seeking models. There are long terms and short terms behaviour models among the Australian society that is stippled with the political mechanism existed in the country. In this regards, it can be argued that the long term influences in political behaviour are identified as important factors. Long term behaviour models are associated with the influence of the families and the impact of the parents’ ideological values upon the children. For an instance, it can be seen in case of the political orientation in Australia. The Australian people have a keen interest and support to their minor parties like Democratic Labour Party (DLP), the Australian democrats and the Australian Greens. These regional parties has a prolonged support from the local communities and subsequently this support transformed into a long term effect that the Australian people have perceived long back. In this context, the manor parties hold the majority in election since 1949. In fact, from 1941 to 1998, only seven of the 703 members of the elected House of Representatives were belonged to the minor parties (Stojanovic 2014). With an exception in Queensland, the Australian Labour Party (ALP) has got victory.


Moreover, there are short term influences in the Australian political behaviour in the form of voting behaviour, the impact of the media and the influence of the individual election issues. Most of the studies and scholarly articles have opined that media play a pivotal role in influencing the political behaviour of the citizen. For an example, it can be articulated that the Sky News became a protagonist to change the mind-set of the Australian people in a great deal and influence profoundly during the election of 2007. As a matter of fact, the Australian Press Council expressed in 2008 that there was a growing trend among the Australians to access online newspapers on a daily basis (McLennan, Becken and Moyle 2017). However, the Research School of Social Science at the Australian National University, assisted by the Australian Survey of Social Attitudes and the Australian Election Studies had ventilated their concern about the participation of Australian people in politics and how far the Australian media are responsible to make an impression among the people. The report revealed that only 10 percent of the Australian population takes an active interest in politics and less than 5 percent of the Australian is attending political campaigns and rallies.  Despite of those statistics it cannot be undermined that during the election of 2009 the Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull sought the help of media to popularize his political policies regarding climate, indigenous issues and the immigration problem.

Different Perspectives on Issues and Problems

Social and ethnic groups are also considered to be an imperative factor in influencing the political behaviour of Australia. Lobbying politics is identified as a key feature of Australian politics. In this regards, the social groups like Refugee Action Group, Avaaz and Safe Climate Australia have a strong impact on the Australian society as well as politics.

Different perspectives on issues and problems- It has been stated by Moffitt (2015), that there is a crisis of confidence in the Australian political system. He has described the crisis prevailing in the modern Australian politics as a combination of the interlocking factors such as the sharply reduced political agenda, convergence on the major issues such as national security and taxation, refusal to the analysis and explanation of the complex problems such as climate change and refugees, toxicity on the trivial issues in Australia and that of the convergence. However, despite of the frequently expressed low opinions of the Australian politicians and the politics as well as the toxicity and vacuity of the political discourse, the Australian voters still overwhelmingly supports the two major political grouping of the country.   The maximum variation in the combined vote for the key parties in Australia over five different sets of elections there in the period in between 2013 to 2015 is only 2.1 percent. It has shown a slight long lasting decline from the year 1960. However, apart from this, it has also been argued that the Australian political system is stumped by several wicked problems. The present iteration of the democratic system portrays a striking incapacity in addressing the sets of the major problems. Ganghof, Eppner and Porschke (2018) in this context have stated that the political system of the country is complex, aggressive and circular. Some of the current issues include the climate change paralysis, the policy abyss, the clash of the civilisations that are been updated, the security and terrorism related issue, the dumbing down of the political debate, the telling the truth and winning of the elections, the information or the entertainment and the speeding up by means of media, recruitment procedure of the political elites, the failures of institutes such as the welfare groups, churches, sporting clubs, armed forces and political parties and the very known problem of corruption (Maughan and Berry 2015). All these falls under the long list of the various issues prevailing in the country.


Hence, from the above discussion it can be concluded that the voting system, the federal elections and the culture of Australian political system are the main aspects of the country’s politics that is making it an interesting version of democracy. Australia is a liberal welfare and democratic country. The politics in this country is all about promoting and protecting the social and economic well-being of the Australian citizens and in return, the citizens of the country should bestow to their society and must respect all the rule of the law. The liberal democratic system of Australia has been proved to be one of the highly steady in the last few decades. Even though it is true that the political parties in Australia might have many dissimilarity and there are several posing opinions that might take place, the Australian citizen rest persuaded that the laws that are passed by their parliament and the decisions that are been made are all within the best interest of the citizen.

References:

Cabrera, L., 2018. The Case for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly as a Means of Promoting Just Security. Just Security in an Undergoverned World, p.413.

Conrad Jr, R.J. and Clements, K.L., 2018. The Vanishing Criminal Jury Trial: From Trial Judges to Sentencing Judges. Geo. Wash. L. Rev., 86, p.99.

Dinar, S., Katz, D., De Stefano, L. and Blankespoor, B., 2015. Climate change, conflict, and cooperation: Global analysis of the effectiveness of international river treaties in addressing water variability. Political geography, 45, pp.55-66.

Dowding, K. and Martin, A., 2017. Political Institutions and Policy in Australia. In Policy Agendas in Australia (pp. 59-83). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Fraenkel, J., 2016. Governors-General during Pacific Island constitutional crises and the role of the Crown. Commonwealth & Comparative Politics, 54(1), pp.1-22.

Ganghof, S., Eppner, S. and Pörschke, A., 2018. Australian bicameralism as semi-parliamentarism: patterns of majority formation in 29 democracies. Australian Journal of Political Science, 53(2), pp.211-233.

Keane, J., 2018. Structural transformations of the public sphere. In The Media, Journalism and Democracy (pp. 53-74). Routledge.

Maughan, D.L. and Berry, H.L., 2015. Mind games: standing by while the world ignores climate change. BJPsych international, 12(2), pp.29-30.

McLennan, C.L.J., Becken, S. and Moyle, B.D., 2017. Framing in a contested space: Media reporting on tourism and mining in Australia. Current Issues in Tourism, 20(9), pp.960-980.

Moffitt, B., 2015. How to perform crisis: A model for understanding the key role of crisis in contemporary populism. Government and Opposition, 50(2), pp.189-217.

Stojanovi?, N., 2014. When non-nationalist voters support ethno-nationalist parties: the 1990 elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a prisoner’s dilemma game. Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, 14(4), pp.607-625.

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