The Division Of Law-making Powers In Australia

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorUniversity, Bachelor's June 2001

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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,