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British Institutions in Australia
Transcript of British Institutions in Australia
-As you would know from global history, all of Europe was governed by Monarchic Feudalism from the fall of Rome until the 18th and 19th century.
-Feudalism is an economic system where the majority of the population work to produce agrarian excess to support a wealthy ruling class.
-Monarchism is a political system where a single ruling family has autocratic power over a defined territory. They usually rely on a loyal "nobility" to police this power in smaller regions.
- The British Rule of Australia was "Imperial" between 1788 and the 1850s
- This meant the Monarch "owned" the colonies and the military "ran" the colonies in his/her interests.
-Self-governance allowed the burgeoning colonies to make and enforce new legislation specific to the colonial experience.
-It gave an unprecedented amount of autonomy to the new colonists in Australia.
-It also began the process towards our federation.
Our Political System
-Australia operates a Constitutional Monarchy
-It is has three Levels of government:
-It also has three layers of government:
-We will begin by looking at the Federal system, and how and why, power is seperated
Major Issues in Australian Politics
- We face many issues in our political present.
- How are today's leaders responding to these crises?
-Australia's political system is defined by its past involvement in the British Empire.
-The current political system that we have is a result of several centuries of political thought in Europe and our experience as colonial dominions.
-Accordingly, in addition to over viewing how our system works today - we will also examine how in came to be.
British Institutions in Australia
Major Events in Political History
Separation of Powers
Electing an Executive
Why have so many "checks and balances"?
A British Dominion?
A "Washminster Mutation"
The Australia Act
The Liberal Party
The Labor Party
The Whitlam Dismissal
Howard's Gun Reforms
The Attempted Banning of the Communist Party
Precedent set in Canada
Moves From Autocracy
Calls for more independence
Ideas of the Enlightenment
Sovereignty and Federalism
Growth of Parliament in England.
Life in the Colony
Governing the Colony
-This is one of the central principles of government.
-It keeps power out of a single set of hands.
-In Australia, power is seperated between:
-In Theory, the Queen is the head of state of Australia and her representative, the Governor General holds power.
-In practice though, the executive is the Prime Minister and their cabinet.
-The Cabinet ministers are elected to either house of parliament and become responsible for a portfolio that is essential to the country.
1. Electoral majority
2. Electoral minority
3. Leadership spill.
- The Legislature make new laws.
- There are two legislative house
-The House of Representatives
-150 members from 150 electorates
-12 from each state and 2 from the territories
- The judiciary interprets the laws made by the legislature.
- Local courts adjudicate whether individuals have broken laws
- The High Court of Australia decides if laws made are "constitutional"
- The idea that underpins this political system is checks and balances.
- This means that no one person has unchecked political power.
- Australia's system is less rigourous than Wahington's as our executive and legistature are typically one and the same.
-However, in some ways this has increased government efficiency.
-The state system has many of the same systems in place.
-All states have an executive and a legislative body.
-Most states have two houses of parliament as a safety measure.
-The states are responsible for services within their borders.
- The smallest form of governent is local.
- Most local councils have a mayor, local councillors and a substantial office.
- Their influence is only on a local level
Division of Responsibilities
-Distribution of funds to states
-Law and order
- A political party is an organisation of local members with a common objective and vision for the nation.
- They typically have similar economic, social, and political visions for the nation and believe that this can be achieved through their collective actions.
-No party, though, ever has complete unity in vision. Factions within parties are influential in determining leadership.
- Major Events in politics can happen at any time.
- They can be motivated by:
-In a representative democracy we elect people to deal with these issues and we have to believe (or at least hope) that they will work in the best interests of the nation.
- Marked the beginning of legal limits on royal power.
- No large increases in taxation without the consent of parliament.
- No person to be imprisoned without a trial (habeas corpus).
- Forced on King John by the nobility but paradoxically reinforced power of the control government and parliament at the aristocrats’ expense.
- English Parliament’s power grew under Henry VIII (reigned 1509-1547).
- Succession Acts (required by Henry’s six marriages) meant that Parliament decided who would be monarch
- Notion of partnership of King and Parliament
Partnership breakdown in Civil War (1642-1649) under Charles I (reigned 1625-49), leading to Charles’ trial and execution.
The English Glorious Revolution, 1688, affirms Parliament’s supremacy by overthrowing Charles’ son James II, and appointing a new monarch.
The Upper and Lower Canada Rebellions of 1837-38 alarmed London, as these were very loyal subjects.
Lord Durham’s Report on the Affairs of British North America, 1839 recommended Canada have colonial responsible government, to avoid a repetition of 1776.
The concept of colonial responsible government: colonial parliaments could make their own laws and determine their own policies.
Nova Scotia the first British colony with responsible government, 1848.
Canada (now united) passed laws opposed by London in 1849, establishing the principle that colonial governments are sovereign within their own territories.
Canadian Confederation, 1867, created the first British dominion with a governor general.
It was the precedent for Australian Federation
Early NSW governors were autocrats, although restrained by courts (and rebellion against Governor Bligh in 1808)
Emergence of Councils to advise governors from 1823 in NSW
NSW Legislative Council had 24 elected members (out of 36) from 1842
End of transportation of convicts from 1840 aided the creation of a free society and the growth of institutions like Sydney City Council.
- The first organised worker’s movement commenced in Britain around 1824 and with it came the term Socialism which originated in the 1830's. Extensive social upheaval was experienced in the 1830's when Chartism arose in Britain.
- Chartism was a working class movement that championed a democratic constitution and political and social reform for the non-propertied class. Workers at that time did not have the right to vote in parliamentary elections and didn’t have any industrial or human rights. Chartism took its name from the People's Charter of 1838 which demanded the following six main objectives:
-“Universal” suffrage for working males over the age of 21 (excluding female workers)
- Equal size electoral districts
- Voting by secret ballot
- An end to the need for a property qualification for members of parliament
- Payment of members of Parliament
- Annual elections for Parliament
- Australian Colonies Government Act, 1850
Separation of Victoria and introduction of responsible government from 1855-56
- British governors replaced by elected premiers as heads of government
Responsible Government in Australia
New South Wales - 1855
Victoria - 1855
Tasmania - 1855
South Australia - 1856
Queensland - 1859
Western Australia - 1890
- Australia became federated on January 1, 1901.
- Federation allows for more autonomy within the British Empire.
The Federal movement
was strongest in Victoria – the economic reason for this was Victoria’s dependence on manufacturing and its search for a nationwide market. NSW, with free trade policies, was not very enthusiastic about Federation.
NSW premier Henry Parkes started the movement in Tenterfield in 1889
Sir Henry Parkes, GCMG (27 May 1815 – 27 April 1896) was a statesman and politician who is considered the Father of the Australian Federation. As the earliest advocate of a Federal Council of the colonies of Australia, a precursor to the Commonwealth of Australia, he was the most prominent of the Australian Founding Fathers.
Parkes was described during his lifetime by The Times as "the most commanding figure in Australian politics". Alfred Deakin described him as "though not rich or versatile, his personality was massive, durable and imposing, resting upon elementary qualities of human nature elevated by a strong mind. He was cast in the mould of a great man and though he suffered from numerous pettinesses, spites and failings, he was in himself a large-brained self-educated Titan whose natural field was found in Parliament and whose resources of character and intellect enabled him in his later years to overshadow all his contemporaries"
- The Westminster system in England has a Monarch as head of state, a democratic house of "commons" and a aristocratic house of "lords".
- The Washington system is entirely democratic with all levels of government elected by the people.
- Australia adopted a mix of both:
-The monarch is only a figurehead
-The people elect the actual executive.
-The people elect their legislature.
-Australia's new autonomy was an act of British parliament.
-Australia's role in the British Empire was strengthened by Federation.
-Under the constituion the states have stronger rights than the Commonwealth - although this has changed since 1901.
We will examine Australia's participation in the British Empire. We will specifically focus on Australia's participation in British wars and our quest for a national identity.
-Some important philosophers came to challenge this system. They believed that greater political freedoms would improve society.
-The enlightenment was an age of reason where, through broad secularisation, the ruling monarch was demystified and no longer seen as divine.
- Both Rousseau (left) and Hobbes (right) argued that society could be held together through a social contract and collective responsibility towards the state.
-They were the first philosophers to suggest a state without a monarch was possible.
-Sovereignty:The ideas of self-governance for a defined population.
-Federalism: A collective system of government free of a monarch.
-The American Revolution: The original 13 colonies seceded from Britain through war (1776-1788). The sought to remove themselves from the authority of a monarch and keep American capital in America
-The French Revolution: The transfer or power from a monarch to aristocratic rule through violent and popular revolution
These two ideas and events shook the world system like never before. They implemented the ideas of enlightenment philosophers on an unprecedented scale.
-Democracy was implemented in France and America after their revolutions.
-HOWEVER, in the US voting rights were only given to white male property owners (estimated 7% of population). In France, democracy broke down within a decade.
-Democracy is an ancient concept of collective rule. But the idea of full participation is very recent.
-Several states, including France and the US, had representative democracy by the 1860s.
-Several European monarchs survived the nineteenth century. In order to do so, they had to give some participation to the public. Hence, our form of constitutional monarchism is very common.
-Monarchs still exist in the major European countries of the UK, Denmark, Spain, Sweden,Norway, the Netherlands and Belgium.
-Some form of democracy exists in all of these countries and their colonies.
The other major advent of the nineteenth century was "liberalism".
-Liberalism is a philosophy based on the ideas and values of the French Reovlution.
-JS Mills (below) stated:
"The only part of the conduct of anyone, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns him, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign".
-This means that individuals should be completely free to do whatever they please so long as they do not cause harm to another individual or impede their liberties.
-Hence, all laws should be repealed except those that effect the liberty of other individuals.
1) Australia's political system is defined by its past.
2) It operates a constitutional monarchy.
3) Although sovereignty is still with the Monarch, we have a form of democracy.
4) Power is separated between the executive, the legislature and the judiciary.
5) Our political parties have been consistent since the first few decades of federation.
6) Hence, we effectively have a two party system.
-In 1999, there was a referendum to decide whether Australia should away from the monarchy.
-It has been suggested that this issue will re-emerge after the next election because the two most important political leaders (Turnbull and Shorton)both support the movement.
-Following the precedent set by the US, Australia legislated the collection of meta-data in 2014.
-Under these "anti-terror" laws, government agencies can collect computer date PRIOR TO any suspicion of a criminal act.
-Critics, such as Edward Snowden, have warned that there are serious implications for civil rights and media freedom as a result of these laws.
-Proponents suggest that it is the only way to prevent "terror" threats before they materialise.
-Finding a middle-ground is one of the bigger challenges of this generation.
-Formed in the 1890s,
-The Second International,
-Harvester Amendment 1907,
Formed in 1944,
Collection of conservative and centrist ideologies,
Evolved out of the old "Country Party" which dates back to the 1920s,
Formerly established in 1974,
Represent rural interests,
Protect local trade interests,
Open foreign markets,
Subsidies for farmers,
Coalition with the liberals,
Actions in government,
-Seeks to represent "green" issues,
-Also takes on other "leftist" issues such as social justice,
-Formed in 1992 out of a group of protest movements,
-Increased significance in 2010,
-Politicians can also be independent of the major parties. Some seek to form minor parties also. Notable independent and minor party politicians:
-The Autocracy of the British Empire in the Goldfields of Ballarat led many miners to rebel against the government.
-While most of the miners who formed the "Reform League" were British, there was also French, American, and Prussian agitators.
-Under the leadership of the Irishman, Peter Lalor, the Reform League pledged:
-"We swear by the Southern Cross to stand truly by each other, and fight to defend our rights and liberty".
-he Eureka rebellion of November and December of 1854 was quashed by the British military on the morning of December 3. 22 protestors were killed by the military in the first few hours of conflict.
-This event is used by many diverse groups as a symbol of Australian identity and independence from a corrupt British monarchy
-The first few decades of colonisation were extremely harsh.
-The society was controlled by the military.
-No citizen rights were granted to anyone, including free settlers.
-Military treatment of convicts was barbaric.
-Class distinctions were evident as the colony became increasingly hierarchical in the early decades.
-The political system in the colony was defined by the British Empire.
-In Britain, the political system was defined between the Monarch, the Nobles, and the Commons.
-Society was extremely hierarchical with the so-called House of Commons run by an aristocratic class.
-The working classes had very little political power in England.
-This system was transferred to Australia in the first decades of the colony.
-The governor was seen as the Monarch's representative in each colony. As there was no legislative body, the governor had the power of autocrat - the literal "judge, jury and executioner".
How would Australia's political system change if it were to become a republic?
How many levels of government does Australia have? How are powers separated?
What political institutions did Australia adopt from England and the USA?
What effect did the Eureka stockade have on the colonies relationship with the empire?
How was Australia ruled between 1788-1850?
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