The Senate is the upper house of the bicameral Parliament of Australia, the lower house being the House of Representatives. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Chapter I of the Constitution of Australia. There are a total of 76 Senators: 12 are elected from each of the six states regardless of population and 2 from each of the two autonomous internal territories. Senators are popularly elected under the single transferable vote system of proportional representation. Unlike upper houses in other Westminster-style parliamentary systems, the Senate is vested with significant powers, including the capacity to reject all bills, including budget and appropriation bills, initiated by the government in the House of Representatives, making it a distinctive hybrid of British Westminster bicameralism and United States-style bicameralism; as a result of proportional representation, the chamber features a multitude of parties vying for power. The governing party or coalition, which has to maintain the confidence of the lower house, has not held a majority in the Senate since 2005–2008 and needs to negotiate with other parties and Independents to get legislation passed.
The Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act of 1900 established the Senate as part of the new system of dominion government in newly federated Australia. From a comparative governmental perspective, the Australian Senate exhibits distinctive characteristics. Unlike upper Houses in other Westminster system governments, the Senate is not a vestigial body with limited legislative power. Rather it was intended to play – and does play – an active role in legislation. Rather than being modelled after the House of Lords, as the Canadian Senate was, the Australian Senate was in part modelled after the United States Senate, by giving equal representation to each state and equal powers; the Constitution intended to give less populous states added voice in a Federal legislature, while providing for the revising role of an upper house in the Westminster system. Although the Prime Minister and Treasurer, by convention, are members of the House of Representatives, other members of the Cabinet may come from either house, the two Houses have equal legislative power.
As with most upper chambers in bicameral parliaments, the Senate cannot introduce or amend appropriation bills or bills that impose taxation, that role being reserved for the lower house. That degree of equality between the Senate and House of Representatives reflects the desire of the Constitution's authors to address smaller states' desire for strong powers for the Senate as a way of ensuring that the interests of more populous states as represented in the House of Representatives did not dominate the government; this situation was partly due to the age of the Australian constitution – it was enacted before the confrontation in 1909 in Britain between the House of Commons and the House of Lords, which resulted in the restrictions placed on the powers of the House of Lords by the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949. In practice, most legislation in the Australian Parliament is initiated by the Government, which has control over the lower house, it is passed to the Senate, which has the opportunity to amend the bill, pass or reject it.
In the majority of cases, voting takes place along party lines, although there are occasional conscience votes. The system for electing senators has changed several times since Federation; the original arrangement involved a first-past-the-post block voting or "winner takes all" system, on a state-by-state basis. This was replaced in 1919 by preferential block voting. Block voting tended to produce landslide majorities and "wipe-outs". For instance, from 1920 to 1923 the Nationalist Party held all but one of the 36 seats, from 1947 to 1950, the Labor Party held all but three. In 1948, single transferable vote proportional representation on a state-by-state basis became the method for electing Senators; this had the effect of limiting the government's ability to control the chamber, has helped the rise of Australian minor parties. From the 1984 election, group ticket voting was introduced, in order to reduce a high rate of informal voting that arose from the requirement that each candidate be given a preference, to allow small parties and independent candidates a reasonable chance of winning a seat.
This allowed voters to select a single party "Above the Line" to distribute their preferences on their behalf, but voters were still able to vote directly for individual candidates and distribute their own preferences if they wished "Below the Line" by numbering every box. In 2016, group tickets were abolished to avoid undue influence of preference deals amongst parties that were seen as distorting election results and a form of optional preferential voting was introduced; as a result of the changes, voters may assign their preferences for parties above the line, or individual candidates below the line, are not required to fill all of the boxes. Both above and below the line voting now use optional preferential voting. For above the line, voters are instructed to number at least their first six preferences. For below the line, voters are required to number at least their first 12 preferences. Voters are free to continue numbering as many preferences as
Anthony Norman Albanese is an Australian Labor Party politician serving as Member of Parliament for Grayndler since 1996. Albanese served as Deputy Prime Minister of Australia in the Second Rudd Ministry from 27 June 2013 to 18 September 2013 and Deputy Leader of the Labor Party from 26 June 2013 to 14 October 2013, he served as a Cabinet Minister in the Rudd and Gillard Governments from 2007 and 2013. Albanese was born in Sydney, attended St Mary's Cathedral College before going on to the University of Sydney to study economics, he joined the Labor Party as a student, before entering politics himself worked as a party official and research officer. Albanese was elected to parliament at the 1996 federal election, he was appointed to the shadow cabinet in 2001. When Labor won the 2007 election, Albanese became Minister for Infrastructure, Regional Development, Local Government under Kevin Rudd, was appointed Leader of the House; when Julia Gillard replaced Rudd as prime minister in 2010, Albanese lost the regional development and local government portfolios, becoming Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.
In 2012, he publicly announced. After two previous contests, Rudd won back the party leadership in June 2013. Albanese was elected as his deputy, he was made Minister for Broadband and the Digital Economy. Following Labor's defeat at the 2013 election, Albanese stood against Bill Shorten for the party leadership, but was defeated, he is considered one of the leaders of the Labor Left faction. Albanese was born in the inner Sydney suburb of Camperdown, the son of Carlo Albanese and Maryanne Ellery, his mother was of Irish descent, while his father was from Italy. His parents met on a cruise ship, but went their separate ways. Growing up, Albanese was told, he did not learn the truth. He did not meet his father until 2009, tracking him down with the assistance of the Australian embassy in Italy, he subsequently discovered. Albanese was educated at St Joseph's Primary School in Camperdown and St Mary's Cathedral College in Sydney, he was raised by a single mother in public housing, said she raised him with "three great faiths: the Catholic Church, the South Sydney Football Club and Labor", adding that he had always remained faithful to the latter two.
After finishing school, he worked for the Commonwealth Bank for two years before studying economics at the University of Sydney. There he became involved in student politics and was elected to the Students' Representative Council, it was where he started his rise as a key player in the left faction of the Labor Party. Albanese completed his degree and took on the role of research officer to the Minister for Local Government and Administrative Services, Tom Uren, to become something of a mentor to him. In 1989, the position of Assistant General Secretary of the New South Wales branch of the Australian Labor Party became vacant when John Faulkner was chosen for a Senate seat and Albanese took on the role for the next six years. In 1995, he returned to policy work as a senior adviser to the Premier of Bob Carr; when Jeannette McHugh announced she would not recontest her seat of Grayndler at the 1996 election, Albanese won preselection for the seat. The campaign was a difficult one, with aircraft noise a big political issue following the opening of the third runway at Sydney Airport, the newly established No Aircraft Noise party having polled in the local area at the 1995 NSW election.
Veteran political pundit Malcolm Mackerras predicted. However, NAN's candidate ran third, with less than 14% of the vote. Despite suffering a six-point swing, Albanese was elected with a comfortable 16-point margin. In his maiden speech to parliament, he spoke at length about aircraft noise and the need to build a second Sydney Airport, as well as his support for funding public infrastructure in general, native title, the social wage and childcare, he concluded by saying, "For myself, I will be satisfied if I can be remembered as someone who will stand up for the interests of my electorate, for working class people, for the labour movement, for our progressive advancement as a nation into the next century." In his first year in parliament he continued this theme speaking up on behalf of the Northern Territory's euthanasia legislation, indigenous people in the Hindmarsh Island bridge controversy and entitlement to superannuation for same-sex couples. This latter issue became something of a crusade for Albanese.
In 1998 he unsuccessfully moved a private member's bill that would have given same-sex couples the same rights to superannuation as de facto heterosexual couples. Over the next nine years, he tried three more times without success, until the election of the Rudd Labor Government in 2007 saw the legislation passed. Albanese has since turned his attention to same-sex marriage. In 1998, Albanese was appointed a Parliamentary Secretary, a position which assists ministers and shadow ministers and is a stepping stone to a full ministerial position. In 2001 he was promoted to the opposition shadow ministry with the portfolio of Seniors. A 2002 reshuffle saw him become Shadow Minister for Employment Services and Training and in 2004 he became Shadow Minister for Environment and Heritage, it was during this latter role that prime minister John Howard and science minister Brendan Nelson started raising the idea of nuclear power for Australia. Albanese campaigned against them and elem
Parliament of Australia
The Parliament of Australia is the legislative branch of the government of Australia. It consists of three elements: the Senate and the House of Representatives; the combination of two elected chambers, in which the members of the Senate represent the states and territories while the members of the House represent electoral divisions according to population, is modelled on the United States Congress. Through both chambers, there is a fused executive, drawn from the Westminster system; the upper house, the Senate, consists of 76 members: twelve for each state, two each for the territories, Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. Senators are elected using the single transferable vote proportional representation system and as a result, the chamber features a multitude of parties vying for power; the governing party or coalition has not held a majority in the Senate since 1981 and needs to negotiate with other parties and Independents to get legislation passed. The lower house, the House of Representatives consists of 150 members, each elected using full-preference instant-runoff voting from single-member constituencies known as electoral divisions.
This tends to lead to the chamber being dominated by two major political groups, the centre-right Coalition and the centre-left Labor Party. The government of the day must achieve the confidence of this House in order to gain and remain in power. Although elections can be called early, every three years the full House of Representatives and half of the Senate is dissolved and goes up for reelection. A deadlock-breaking mechanism known as a double dissolution can be used to dissolve the full Senate as well as the House in the event that the Upper House twice refuses to pass a piece of legislation passed by the Lower House; the two Houses meet in separate chambers of Parliament House on Capital Hill in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory. The Commonwealth of Australia came into being on 1 January 1901 with the federation of the six Australian colonies; the inaugural election took place on 29 and 30 March and the first Australian Parliament was opened on 9 May 1901 in Melbourne by Prince George, Duke of Cornwall and York King George V.
The only building in Melbourne, large enough to accommodate the 14,000 guests was the western annexe of the Royal Exhibition Building. After the official opening, from 1901 to 1927 the Parliament met in Parliament House, which it borrowed from the Parliament of Victoria, it had always been intended. This was a compromise at Federation due to the rivalry between the two largest Australian cities and Melbourne, which both wished to become the new capital; the site of Canberra was selected for the location of the nation's capital city in 1908. A competition was announced on 30 June 1914 to design Parliament House, with prize money of £7,000. However, due to the start of World War I the next month, the competition was cancelled, it was re-announced in August 1916, but again postponed indefinitely on 24 November 1916. In the meantime, John Smith Murdoch, the Commonwealth's Chief Architect, worked on the design as part of his official duties, he had little personal enthusiasm for the project, as he felt it was a waste of money and expenditure on it could not be justified at the time.
He designed the building by default. The construction of Old Parliament House, as it is called today, commenced on 28 August 1923 and was completed in early 1927, it was built by the Commonwealth Department of Works, using tradesmen and materials from all over Australia. The final cost was about £600,000, more than three times the original estimate, it was designed to house the parliament for a maximum of 50 years until a permanent facility could be built, but was so used for more than 60 years. The building was opened on 9 May 1927 by the Duchess of York; the opening ceremonies were both splendid and incongruous, given the sparsely built nature of Canberra of the time and its small population. The building was extensively decorated with British Empire and Australian flags and bunting. Temporary stands were erected bordering the lawns in front of the Parliament and these were filled with crowds. A Wiradjuri elder, Jimmy Clements, was one of only two aboriginal Australians present, having walked for about a week from Brungle Station to be at the event.
Dame Nellie Melba sang the National anthem. The Duke of York unlocked the front doors with a golden key, led the official party into King's Hall where he unveiled the statue of his father, King George V; the Duke opened the first parliamentary session in the new Senate Chamber. In 1978 the Fraser Government decided to proceed with a new building on Capital Hill, the Parliament House Construction Authority was created. A two-stage competition was announced, for which the Authority consulted the Royal Australian Institute of Architects and, together with the National Capital Development Commission, made available to competitors a brief and competition documents; the design competition drew 329 entries from 29 countries. The competition winner was the Philadelphia-based architectural firm of Mitchell/Giurgola, with the on-site wor
Governor-General of Australia
The Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia is the representative of the Australian monarch Queen Elizabeth II. As the Queen is shared with the 15 other Commonwealth realms, resides in the United Kingdom, she, on the advice of her prime minister, appoints a governor-general to carry out constitutional duties within the Commonwealth of Australia; the governor-general has formal presidency over the Federal Executive Council and is commander-in-chief of the Australian Defence Force. The functions of the governor-general include appointing ministers and ambassadors. In general, the governor-general observes the conventions of the Westminster system and responsible government, maintaining a political neutrality, has always acted only on the advice of the prime minister or other ministers or, in certain cases, parliament; the governor-general has a ceremonial role: hosting events at either of the two official residences—Government House in the capital and Admiralty House in Sydney—and travelling throughout Australia to open conferences, attend services and commemorations, provide encouragement to individuals and groups who are contributing to their communities.
When travelling abroad, the governor-general is seen as the representative of Australia, the Queen of Australia. The governor-general is supported by a staff headed by the official secretary to the governor-general. A governor-general is not appointed for a specific term, but is expected to serve for five years subject to a possible short extension. Since 28 March 2014, the Governor-General has been General Sir Peter Cosgrove. From Federation in 1901 until 1965, 11 out of the 15 governors-general were British aristocrats. Since all but one of the governors-general have been Australian-born. Only one Governor-General, Dame Quentin Bryce, has been a woman. On 16 December 2018 it was announced that General Sir Peter Cosgrove would be replaced with General David Hurley the Governor of New South Wales. To provide continuity through general elections both federally and in New South Wales, Hurley would succeed Cosgrove, who had planned to retire in March 2019, on 28 June 2019; the selection of a Governor-General is a responsibility for the Prime Minister of Australia, who may consult with staff or colleagues, or with the monarch.
The candidate is approached to confirm whether they are willing to accept the appointment. Having agreed to the appointment, the monarch permits it to be publicly announced in advance several months before the end of the current Governor-General's term. During these months, the person is referred to as the Governor-General-designate; the actual appointment is made by the monarch. After receiving his or her commission, the Governor-General takes an Oath of Allegiance to the Australian monarch, an Oath of Office, undertaking to serve Australia's monarch "according to law, in the office of Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia", issues a proclamation assuming office; the oaths are taken in a ceremony on the floor of the Senate and are administered by the Chief Justice of Australia in the presence of the Prime Minister of Australia, the Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives, the President of the Australian Senate. In 1919, Prime Minister Billy Hughes sent a memorandum to the Colonial Office in which he requested "a real and effective voice in the selection of the King's representative".
He further proposed that the Dominions be able to nominate their own candidates and that "the field of selection should not exclude citizens of the Dominion itself". The memorandum met with strong opposition within the Colonial Office and was dismissed by Lord Milner, the Colonial Secretary; the following year, as Ronald Munro Ferguson's term was about to expire, Hughes cabled the Colonial Office and asked that the appointment be made in accordance with the memorandum. To mollify Hughes, Milner offered him a choice between three candidates. After consulting his cabinet he chose 1st Baron Forster. In 1925, under Prime Minister Stanley Bruce, the same practice was followed for the appointment of Forster's successor Lord Stonehaven, with the Australian government publicly stating that his name "had been submitted, with others, to the Commonwealth ministry, who had selected him"; the Prime Minister now advises the monarch to appoint their nominee. This has been the procedure since November 1930, when James Scullin's proposed appointment of Sir Isaac Isaacs was fiercely opposed by the British government.
This was not because of any lack of regard for Isaacs but because the British government considered that the choice of Governors-General was, since the 1926 Imperial Conference, a matter for the monarch's decision alone. Scullin was insistent that the monarch must act on the relevant prime minister's direct advice. Scullin cited the precedents of the Prime Minister of South Africa, J
Deputy Prime Minister of Australia
The Deputy Prime Minister of Australia is the second-most senior officer in the Government of Australia. The office of Deputy Prime Minister was created as a ministerial portfolio in 1968, although the title had been used informally for many years previously; the Deputy Prime Minister is appointed by the Governor-General on the advice of the Prime Minister. When Australia has a Labor Government, the deputy leader of the parliamentary party holds the position of Deputy Prime Minister; when Australia has a Coalition Government, the Coalition Agreement mandates that all Coalition members support the leader of the Liberal Party becoming Prime Minister and mandates that the leader of the National Party be selected as Deputy Prime Minister. The present office-holder, Michael McCormack, was elected Leader of the National Party on Monday 26 February 2018 at a meeting at which the resignations of his predecessor, Barnaby Joyce, became effective. Joyce returned to the back bench. McCormack was sworn in as Deputy Prime Minister the same day.
The 2017 Australian constitutional crisis resulted in the position being made vacant for the first time since its official creation. Barnaby Joyce, the then-incumbent, was ruled ineligible to be a member of parliament by the High Court of Australia sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns on 27 October 2017, as he held New Zealand citizenship at the time of his election in contravention of Section 44 of the Constitution of Australia. Joyce regained the position on 6 December 2017 after he won the by-election for the seat of New England several days earlier; the position of deputy Prime Minister was an unofficial or honorary position. The unofficial position acquired more significance following the 1922 federal election, which saw the governing Nationalist Party lose its parliamentary majority; the Nationalists reached a coalition agreement with the Country Party, which called for Country Party leader Earle Page to take the second rank in the Nationalist-led ministry of Stanley Bruce. While Page's only official title was Treasurer, he was considered as a deputy to Bruce.
Until 1968 the term was used unofficially for the second-highest ranking minister in the government while the Coalition was in government. Under the Coalition agreement between the Liberals and Country Party, when in government, the position was held by the leader of the Country Party; that continues to be case. In the case of Labor governments, the party's deputy leader was and continues to be the Deputy Prime Minister. On 19 December 1967, John McEwen, the long-serving leader of the Country Party in the Coalition government, was sworn in as interim Prime Minister following the sudden death in office of Prime Minister Harold Holt. McEwen was sworn in as Prime Minister on the understanding that his commission would continue only so long as it took for the Liberals to elect a new leader; the Liberal leadership ballot was rescheduled for 9 January 1968. As it turned out, McMahon did not stand, Senator John Gorton was elected, replacing McEwen as Prime Minister on 10 January 1968. McEwen reverted to his previous status as the second-ranking member of the government, as per the Coalition agreement.
He had unofficially been Deputy Prime Minister since becoming Country Party leader in 1958, since 1966 had exercised an effective veto over government policy by virtue of being the longest-serving member of the government. To acknowledge McEwen's long service and his status as the second-ranking member of the government, Gorton formally created the post of Deputy Prime Minister, with McEwen as the first holder of the post. Governor-General Lord Casey accepted the view put to him by McEwen that to commission a Liberal temporarily as Prime Minister would give that person an unfair advantage in the forthcoming party room ballot for the permanent leader. McEwen's appointment was in keeping with the previous occasion when the main non-Labor party was without a leader. Since 1968 only two Deputy Prime Ministers have gone on to become Prime Minister: Paul Keating and Julia Gillard. In both cases, they succeeded incumbent Prime Ministers who lost the support of their party caucus mid-term and their election as party leader preceded their predecessor's resignations and their subsequent appointments as Prime Minister.
Frank Forde, deputy Labor leader when John Curtin died, was interim Prime Minister between 6 and 13 July 1945, when a leadership ballot took place that elected Ben Chifley as Curtin's successor. In November 2007, when the Australian Labor Party won government, Julia Gillard became Australia's first female, first foreign-born, Deputy Prime Minister. In 2017, the position became vacant for a period of 40 days, the only time in its history when it has been unoccupied; as part of the 2017–18 Australian parliamentary eligibility crisis, it emerged that the then-incumbent Barnaby Joyce was a citizen of New Zealand by descent at the time of the 2016 federal election. Joyce told t
Australian passports are travel documents issued to Australian citizens under Australian Passports Act 2005 by the Australian Passport Office of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, both in Australia and overseas, which enable the passport bearer to travel internationally. Australian citizens are allowed to hold passports from other countries. Since 1988 over a million Australian passports have been issued annually, it reached 1.4 million in 2007, increasing towards a projected 3 million annually by 2021. Since 24 October 2005 Australia has issued only biometric passports, called ePassports, which have an embedded microchip that contains the same personal information, on the color photo page of the passport, including a digitized photograph; as all previous passports have now expired, all Australian passports are now biometric. SmartGates have been installed in Australian airports to allow Australian ePassport holders and ePassport holders of several other countries to clear immigration controls more and facial recognition technology has been installed at immigration gates.
Before 1901, Australia consisted of six separate British colonies. Passports usage was not common, if required British or other national passports were used. In 1901, the six colonies joined to form the Commonwealth of Australia, but Australian passports did not exist. During World War I, the monitoring and identifying of those crossing international borders was regarded as critical to the security of Australia and its allies, the War Precautions Act 1914 required all persons over 16 years of age, on leaving Australia, to possess some passport. Passports issued by Australia were issued only to "British subjects" and were described as "British Passports". Australian nationality came into existence on 26 January 1949 when the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948 came into force, the words British Passport on the cover of Australian passports were replaced by Australian Passport. British subjects, who were not Australian citizens, continued to be entitled to an Australian passport; the term "British subject" had a particular meaning in Australian nationality law.
The term encompassed all citizens of countries included in the list contained in the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948. The list of countries was based on, but was not identical with, those countries which were members of the Commonwealth from time to time; the list was amended from time to time as various former colonies became independent countries, but the list in the Act was not up-to-date as far as to constitute a list of countries in the Commonwealth at any given time. This definition of "British subject" meant that, for the purposes of Australian nationality law, citizens of countries which had become republics, such as India, were classified as "British subjects". In 1981, the Commonwealth, New South Wales and Victorian governments set up the Stewart Royal Commission to inquire into various drug trafficking and related criminal activities, but which spent much of its time examining how criminals were using and abusing the passport system for criminal purposes; the Commission published its final report in 1983, making recommendations on how to prevent such abuses, most of which were acted upon by the federal government.
The report's recommendations included that applicants for a passport attend a Passport Office and that mailed applications cease. The legal category of British subject was abolished in 1984 by the Australian Citizenship Act 1984, Australian passports began to be issued to Australian citizens, though existing passports held by non-citizen British subjects continued to be valid until each expired. In 1980, large bound book registers were replaced by a computerised processing and registration system, called the Passport Issue and Control System. Since 1984, to speed up processing of incoming and outgoing passengers and data entry, Australia has been issuing passports with machine readable lines, to ICAO Document 9303 standard. Since 24 October 2005, Australia has issued only biometric passports, called ePassports, which have an embedded RFID microchip that contains the same personal information, on the colour photo page of the passport, including a digitised photograph. Australia was only the fourth country in the world to introduce biometric passports.
All Australian passports are now biometric, all pre-2006 passports having now expired. SmartGates have been installed in Australian airports to allow Australian ePassport holders, ePassport holders of several other countries, to clear immigration controls more and facial recognition technology has been installed at immigration gates to capture and save a biometric profile of passport holders as well as to compare against the immigration database and watchlist. Australia does not use fingerprinting of incoming passengers. In 1917,'X' series passports issued. In 1937,'A' series passports issued. Passport cover included the Commonwealth Coat of Arms and the words ‘British Passport Commonwealth of Australia’. In 1949, after Australian nationality was created, the words Australian Passport replaced British Passport on the cover of Australian passports; the passports contained manually inserted photos with wet seals and raised embossed seals over th
Government of Australia
The Government of Australia is the government of the Commonwealth of Australia, a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy. It is commonly referred to as the Australian Government, the Commonwealth Government, Her Majesty's Government, or the Federal Government; the Commonwealth of Australia was formed in 1901 as a result of an agreement among six self-governing British colonies, which became the six states. The terms of this contract are embodied in the Australian Constitution, drawn up at a Constitutional Convention and ratified by the people of the colonies at referendums; the Australian head of state is the Queen of Australia, represented by the Governor-General of Australia, with executive powers delegated by constitutional convention to the Australian head of government, the Prime Minister of Australia. The Government of the Commonwealth of Australia is divided into three branches: the executive branch, composed of the Federal Executive Council, presided by the Governor-General, which delegates powers to the Cabinet of Australia, led by the Prime Minister.
Separation of powers is implied by the structure of the Constitution, the three branches of government being set out in separate chapters. The Australian system of government combines elements of the Westminster and Washington systems with unique Australian characteristics, has been characterised as a "Washminster mutation". Section 1 of the Australian Constitution creates a democratic legislature, the bicameral Parliament of Australia which consists of the Queen of Australia, two houses of parliament, the Senate and the House of Representatives. Section 51 of the Constitution provides for the Commonwealth Government's legislative powers and allocates certain powers and responsibilities to the Commonwealth government. All remaining responsibilities are retained by the six States. Further, each State has its own constitution, so that Australia has seven sovereign Parliaments, none of which can encroach on the functions of any other; the High Court of Australia arbitrates on any disputes which arise between the Commonwealth and the States, or among the States, concerning their respective functions.
The Commonwealth Parliament can propose changes to the Constitution. To become effective, the proposals must be put to a referendum of all Australians of voting age, must receive a "double majority": a majority of all votes, a majority of votes in a majority of States; the Commonwealth Constitution provides that the States can agree to refer any of their powers to the Commonwealth. This may be achieved by way of an amendment to the Constitution via referendum. More powers may be transferred by passing other acts of legislation which authorise the transfer and such acts require the legislative agreement of all the state governments involved; this "transfer" legislation may have a "sunset clause", a legislative provision that nullifies the transfer of power after a specified period, at which point the original division of power is restored. In addition, Australia has several "territories", two of which are self-governing: the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory; these territories' legislatures, their Assemblies, exercise powers devolved to them by the Commonwealth.
Australian citizens in these territories are represented by members of both houses of the Commonwealth Parliament. The territory of Norfolk Island was self-governing from 1979 until 2016, although it was never represented as such in the Commonwealth Parliament; the other territories that are inhabited—Jervis Bay, Christmas Island and the Cocos Islands—have never been self-governing. The federal nature of the Commonwealth and the structure of the Parliament of Australia were the subject of protracted negotiations among the colonies during the drafting of the Constitution; the House of Representatives is elected on a basis that reflects the differing populations of the States. Thus New South Wales has 48 members, but the Senate is elected on a basis of equality among the States: all States elect 12 Senators, regardless of population. This was intended to allow the Senators of the smaller States to form a majority and thus be able to amend or reject bills originating in the House of Representatives.
The ACT and the NT each elect two Senators. The third level of government after Commonwealth and State/Territory is Local government, in the form of shires and cities; the Councils of these areas are composed of elected representatives serving part-time. Their powers are devolved to them by the Territory in which they are located. Government at the Commonwealth level and the State/Territory level is undertaken by three inter-connected arms of government: Legislature: The Commonwealth Parliament Executive: The Sovereign of Australia, whose executive power is exercisable by the Governor-General, the Prime Minister and their Departments Judiciary: The High Court of Australia and subsidiary Federal courts. Separation of powers is the principle whereby the three arms of government undertake their activities separately from each other: the Legislature proposes laws in the form of Bills, provides a legislative framework for the operations of the other two a