Who protects the people from the governments over reach
The Australian Constitution divides the power to make and manage laws between the Executive – the Australian Government – the Australian Parliament, and the Judiciary – the Federal courts. This division is based on the principle of the separation of powers. Each group keeps a check on the actions of the others.
In the Australian Parliament, the opposition has an important role in closely examining the work of the government. Question Time allows the opposition, minor parties and independents to ask the Government questions, and to critically examine its work. Ministers are asked to explain their decisions and actions in the areas they are responsible for.
In the Senate, the government rarely has a majority of senators. This means the government needs to work with opposition, independent and minor party senators to get their bills – proposed laws – passed. Bills are often amended – changed – to get the support of the majority of senators. In Senate estimates hearings ministers and top public servants are interrogated by senators about government spending.
The courts make judgements about the law. Federal courts hear cases to decide if government actions have exceeded the powers given to them in a law. The High Court of Australia has the power to interpret laws made by Parliament and judge if laws are consistent – valid – with the Constitution.
The media also has a role in scrutinising and bringing attention to the actions of the government. They report on Question Time, debates in the Senate and House of Representatives, and the policies and decisions of the government.
There are also lots of government and non-government organisations that lobby Parliament on behalf of Australians. For example, the Australian Human Rights Commission, Disability Advocacy Network Australia and the Australian Law Reform Commission are all organisations who communicate directly with parliamentarians about the impact government actions have on citizens.
A parliamentary committee in action at Australian Parliament House.
This photo shows a group of people sitting at desks set up in a large rectangle. The people at desks each have a microphone and a stack of papers. There are people sitting in 2 rows of chairs set to the side of the rectangle of desks. These people appear to be watching what is happening at the desks.
Permission should be sought from DPS AUSPIC for third-party or commercial uses of this image. To contact DPS AUSPIC email: email@example.com or phone: 02 6277 3342.