Does Australia Need A Federal Bill of Rights?

Essay by misc_m6m9High School, 11th gradeA+, April 2006

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The Commonwealth of Australia was established in 1901 when the former British colonies agreed to federate and become the six states we know today along with the two territories. Federation brought about the creation of two vital aspects for managing this new nation: parliament and the Constitution. Australia's system of government is based on liberal democratic traditions, where its conventions and practices are derived from both British and North American models. Yet Australia contrasts quite remarkably from its derivations and most other nations in the western world - Australia does not have a Federal Bill of Rights.

Like America, Australia's bicameral political system is "federal", meaning there are two levels of government where neither level can make or amend laws of issues which are assigned to the other. Also like America, our written constitutions are entrenched, that is, they can only be altered through a referendum. This is disparate in Britain, where the constitution can be amended by an act of parliament.

Australia also adopts portions from the British, closely following the "responsible government" system; the Prime Minister and Cabinet are responsible to the parliament and can be removed from office by the parliament on any grounds if there is a vote of no confidence. Furthermore, an election can be called at any time although there is a maximum term by which an election must be arranged. In America, there is a "fixed" term during which the President can not dissolve Congress to call an early election.

Australia has assumed a mixture of practices from both Britain and North America, but what sets Australia apart is its decision not to implement either a statutory or constitutional Bill of Rights. A Bill of Rights is a country's written statement of fundamental rights which, under law, citizens should have. The Commonwealth government...