Introducing ... the Australian Constitution

Begin your exploration of the Australian Constitution with this short introduction. Learn how the Constitution came into effect and what it takes to change it.

Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act, 1900: Original Public Record Copy (1900).

Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act, 1900: Original Public Record Copy (1900).

Parliament House Art Collection, Art Services Parliament House

Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act, 1900: Original Public Record Copy (1900).

Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act, 1900: Original Public Record Copy (1900).

Parliament House Art Collection, Art Services Parliament House

Description

This image shows the front page of the original public record copy of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900. There is a a red ribbon tied in a bow on the left hand side of the document. The paper looks faded from age.

The Australian Constitution is the set of rules by which Australia is run. It came into effect on 1 January 1901.

It is the foundation of Australia’s system of government and includes rules about the make-up of the Australian Parliament, what it can make laws about and how power is shared.

Things you need to know

  • The Australian Constitution created Australia as a nation. Before this, Australia was 6 separate colonies/states.
  • The Constitution defines Australia as a constitutional monarchy. This means the Queen of England is also the Queen of Australia and is our head of state
  • The Constitution states that members of parliament must be elected. By doing so, the Constitution creates Australia as a representative democracy.
  • Some of our rights are protected by the Constitution. Other rights are protected by laws which have been passed by either the Australian Parliament, or state and territory parliaments.
  • The Constitution gives the power to make and manage laws to 3 groups:
    • Legislative—the Australian Parliament
    • Executive—the Australian Government
    • Judiciary—the High Court and other federal courts.
  • The Australian Constitution can only be changed with the approval of the Australian people through a special vote called a referendum.

 

The sections of the Australian Constitution.

The sections of the Australian Constitution.

PARLIAMENTARY EDUCATION OFFICE (PEO.GOV.AU)

The sections of the Australian Constitution.

The sections of the Australian Constitution.

PARLIAMENTARY EDUCATION OFFICE (PEO.GOV.AU)

Description

Chapter 1 - The Parliament
Chapter 2 - The Executive Government
Chapter 3 - The Judicature
Chapter 4 - Finance and trade
Chapter 5 - The States
Chapter 6 - New states
Chapter 7 - Miscellaneous
Chapter 8 - Alternation of the Constitution

 

 

Did you know?

The Australian Constitution says New Zealand can join Australia! This means New Zealand would become an Australian state just like Victoria or New South Wales. While this offer still exists, it doesn’t seem as though New Zealand will join Australia anytime soon!