Politics of Australia

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Politics of Australia From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia John Howard MP, Prime Minister of Australia and leader of the Liberal Party Kevin Rudd MP, Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Australian Labor Party The politics of Australia take place within the framework of parliamentary democracy. The government of Australia is a federation in the context of a constitutional monarchy, and Australians elect state and territory legislatures as well as a bicameral Parliament of Australia bas
Politics of Australia From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia The politics of Australia take place within the framework of parliamentary democracy. The government of Australia is a federation in the context of a constitutional monarchy, and Australians elect state and territory legislatures as well as a bicameral Parliament of Australia based on the Westminster System. At the national level, elections are held at least once every three years. The Prime Minister can advise the Governor-General to call an election for the House of Representatives at any time, but Senate elections can only be held within certain periods prescribed in the Constitution. The last general election was in October 2004. The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia consists of two chambers:  The House of Representatives has 150 members, elected for a three year term in single-seat constituencies with a system of alternative vote known as preferential voting.  The Senate has 76 members, elected through a preferential system in 12-seat state constituencies and two-seat territorial constituencies with a system of single non- transferable vote. Electors choose territorial senators for a three-year term. The state senators serve for a six-year term, with half of the seats renewed every three years. John Howard MP, Prime Minister of Australia and leader of the Liberal Party Kevin Rudd MP, Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Australian Labor PartyPolitical parties and elections For other political parties see List of political parties in Australia. An overview on elections and election results is included in Elections in Australia. Summary of the 9 October 2004 Parliament of Australia election results Parties Primary Votes House % House Seats House Votes Senate % Senate Seats Senate Liberal Party of Australia 4,741,458 40.5 74 17.7 National Party of Australia 690,275 5.9 12 1.4 Combined lists of LPA- NPA in New South Wales and Victoria - - - 25.7 Country Liberal Party- The Territory Party 39,855 0.3 1 5,390,114 0.4 39 Australian Labor Party 4,409,117 37.6 60 4,186,715 35.0 28 Australian Greens 841,734 7.2 - 916,431 7.7 4 Family First Party 235,315 2.0 - 210,567 1.8 1 Australian Democrats 144,832 1.2 - 250,373 2.1 4 One Nation Party 139,956 1.2 - 206,455 1.7 - Christian Democratic Party 72,241 0.6 - 140,674 1.2 - Independents 288,206 2.4 3 - - - Total (turnout 90 %) 11,715,132 100.0 150 11,953,649 100.0 76 Informal votes 639,851 Total votes 12,354,983 Registered voters 13,021,230 Source: Australian Electoral Commission. More info: Australian legislative election, 2004 Three political parties dominate Australian politics. Of these, two govern together in a Coalition:  The Liberal Party is a party of the centre-right which broadly represents business, the suburban middle classes and many rural people.  Its junior coalition partner is the National Party of Australia, formerly the Country Party and now known for electoral purposes as The Nationals , a conservative party which represents rural interests.  The Australian Labor Party (ALP) is a social democratic party founded by the trade union movement and broadly represents the urban working class, although it increasingly has a base of middle class support. Minor parties include:  The Australian Democrats, a party of middle-class liberals  The Australian Greens, a left-wing and environmentalist party  The Country Liberal Party, a party which only represents the Northern Territory. It is part of the Liberal/National Coalition  The Family First Party, a party centred on conservative Christians. The proportional representation system allows these minor parties to win seats in the Australian Senate and in the state upper houses, but they have usually been unable to win seats in the House of Representatives (the Greens won a House seat at a 2002 by-election, but lost it in the 2004 general election).The Liberal/National coalition came to power in the March 1996 election, ending 13 years of Labor government and making John Howard Prime Minister. He was subsequently re-elected in October 1998, November 2001 and October 2004. The coalition now holds a comfortable majority in the House of Representatives. In the Senate, the Liberal/National coalition was in a minority until the 2004 election, but from July 2005 it has a working majority there. Until 2004, lacking a majority in the Senate, the Liberal/National coalition relied on negotiations with the smaller parties and independents to secure the passage of legislation. Since its election, Howard's conservative coalition has moved to reduce the government's fiscal deficit and the influence of organised labour, placing more emphasis on workplace- based collective bargaining for wages. The Howard government also accelerated the pace of privatisation of government-owned enterprises that began with the Hawke Labor government. During its first two terms, the government's most sweeping change was the introduction of a goods and services tax (despite a pledge by Howard as opposition leader that there would never ever be a GST under a Howard Liberal government) which also saw reductions in personal income tax and company tax. With the re-election of the Howard government in 2004, several significant and controversial bills have been passed, due to the government's newly-acquired Senate majority that became effective on July 1, 2005. These major changes have included a radical revamp of industrial relations laws, an introduction of voluntary student unionism, and the full privatisation of telecommunications company Telstra. Recently, the Government has also announced plans to privatise Medibank Private, a private health insurance provider. These changes have sparked significant debate within Australia. The Howard government has reversed the foreign policy of its predecessor, placing renewed emphasis on relations with Australia's traditional allies, the United States and the United Kingdom and downgrading support for the United Nations in favour of bilateralism. Both major parties support maintaining good relations with regional powers such as the People's Republic of China, Japan, and Indonesia, although issues such as the independence of East Timor have sometimes made this difficult. Australia has become increasingly involved in the internal difficulties of its smaller neighbours, such as Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji and Nauru. The list of political parties in Australia comprises the names and federal leaders of significant political parties as well as the names of other parties, including formerly significant parties. Administrative divisions In the states and territories, elections are held at least once every four years (except in Queensland, which has three-year terms). In New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory, election dates are fixed by legislation. However, the other state premiers and territory Chief Ministers have the same discretion in calling elections as the Prime Minister at the national level. (SeeMain articles: Australian electoral system , Electoral systems of the Australian states and territories). Regional or local government within each state is handled by Local Government Areas and unlike other equivalent forms of local government such as those of the United States, have relatively little power compared to the state governments (SeeMain article: Local government in Australia).
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