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The Division Of Law Making Powers In Australia

1266 words - 5 pages

Australia's Federal System is dynamic and the division of lawmaking power between the Commonwealth and State since 1901 has changed dramatically; Critically discuss, focussing on the major reasons for those changes.On the first of January 1901 Australia became a federation when the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act came into force. Since this time, Australia has been a federated country, consisting of a Commonwealth Parliament and six State Parliaments these being Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia. The Division of law-making power has changed considerably since 1901.The Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act (commonly known as the Constitution) gives the Commonwealth Parliament (also known as the Federal Parliament) specific power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth.One of the main reasons for federating was for the purpose of defence, as an invasion from the French or Germans was a very real risk. Australia would be able to protect itself from evasion much more effectively with one unified strong defence force, rather than six weaker defence forces. There were two other major reasons, these being currency and immigration. The gold rushes had already occurred, and there were many Chinese families in Australia. The majority of the public was very racist, and the States felt they needed a Commonwealth Government to restrict immigration. One of the first pieces of legislation passed by the Commonwealth Government was the White Australia Act.The process of federating Australia was a long and tenuous one. And for many years the states (or colonies as they were known prior to federation) objected to federation, as they could see no reason or purpose. But finally, all states agreed. The states believed it was in their best interest to establish a Federal Parliament, to undertake federal roles, (such as defense, currency and immigration) but at the same time still retain as much law making power as possible.The Constitution divides lawmaking powers into three, these being exclusive, residual and concurrent powers. Exclusive powers are powers which can only be decided upon only by the Commonwealth Parliament. Concurrent powers are powers which can be decided upon by both the Commonwealth and State Parliaments and residual powers were lawmaking powers which were not mentioned in the Constitution, and were left to the State Parliaments these areas included crime, education, health, environment.At the time of Federation there were a few major ways in which the States ensured that they would keep sovereign law making power. One way was to make most law making powers (listed under Section 51 of the Constitution) concurrent powers, that is, only a few were exclusive to the Commonwealth Parliament. The Commonwealth Parliament would only prevail if it was valid under Section 51 of the Constitution, and this decision was made by the High Court of Australia. By...

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