Constitution of Australia

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The Constitution of Australia is the most important law in Australia. It created the Federal Government, the states and an Independent Australian nation. It was drafted at the National Australasian constitutional convention of 1897, at which delegates of each of the British colonies in Australia and New Zealand were present. The original constitution was finally ratified by the people of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia in referendums, with New Zealand instead creating a separate country. It is based on the constitution of the United States.

Articles of the Constitution

The constitution consists of eight chapters and a preamble.

Chapter I. Parliament
This chapter establishes the Australian Parliament as being comprised of a House of Representatives, a Senate and the Queen of Australia. The queen is represented by the Governor-General. It also separates powers between the federal and state governments.

Chapter II. The Executive Government
This chapter established the power of the Governor-General, as a representative of the queen. They preside over the meetings of the cabinet, of which all members must be in either the Senate or House of Representatives. The executive is also given control of the Australian military.

Chapter III. The Judicature
This Chapter establishes the federal court system and judicial review of laws. The most senior court in Australia is the high court of Australia.

Chapter IV. Trade and Commerce
Chapter four regulates trade and commerce between states, and the commonwealth treasury. The Commonwealth under this section cannot preference on state over another.

Chapter V. The States
This chapter limits the powers of the states in Australia. It invalidates state created money and the imposition of duties on goods imported from other states. Section 116 also affirms freedom of religion in Australia.

Chapter VI. New States
This chapter stipulated the process to admit new states into Australia. It has not been used.

Chapter VII. Miscellaneous
Chapter seven allows for the governor-general to have deputies and the creation of Canberra as the seat of Australian Government. Section 127 forbade the counting of Aboriginals in censuses. This effectively barred them from voting, and was caused by racism at the time of Federation. This section was repealed in 1967.

Chapter VIII. Alteration of the Constitution
Chapter eight allows the constitution to only be altered by a majority vote in both houses of parliament, followed by a referendum. For a referendum to pass, it must be passed by both a majority of electors, but also a majority of states. Because of these strict requirements, only alterations that have strong support can be passed.

External Links Full text of the constitution.