Flashcards in U4 AOS2: Parliament Deck (21)
- Main role: make / change laws
- Supreme law making body, make and amend the law
- Bicameral system
Representative nature of parliament
A factor that can affect parliament effectiveness as a law-making body
Australia parliamentary system is based on the principle of a Representative government. Principle that those elected into political office are chosen by the people to represent their interests as a representative government.
If they fail to make laws reflecting the people’s views and values they will jeopardise the chance of being re-elected.
A representative government is an essential principle of our democratic system
Defined as: internal, domestic and or international pressures that seek to induce or force political action or to encourage the legislature to refrain from acting.
Has a sig effect on the ability of parliament to make laws. Governments may support law reform based on if it will increase their popularity and public approval rating.
It can also allow influential individuals and organisations to place pressure on politicians and political parties to support reforms that suit their needs rather than Australia’s. Members of parliament can also be pressured by members of their party.
Three types of political pressure: domestic, internal and international
Restrictions on law - making powers of parliament
AC imposes restrictions on parliament which hinder parliaments ability to make laws in these areas
S106, 107 & 108 (guarantee of state powers) AC ensures that state maintains powers, constitution and laws remain enforced. Prevent CP from passing laws that interfere (residual power)
S116 (Freedom of religion) Prevents CP from establishing a state religion, impose and religious observance, prohibit the free exercise of religion or require a test to sit in CP
S99 (preference) Prevents CP from making laws that giver preference to one state over another in areas of trade, commerce and revenue
S92(free trade) Prevents the CP from making laws that prevent or restrict free trade between the states
S51(xxxi)(acquiring property)Prevents the CP from making any laws with acquire property from a group, state or person w/o paying compensation
S128(changing the constitution) Outline the democratic process for changing the constitution, prevents the CP from altering the constitution as it wishes (giving in more law making power)
Role of the crown in law making
Grant royal assent
- Queens rep, required to approve bills before they can become law
- Queens rep, have the responsibility of appointing EC
EC= give advice on gov matters and approve secondary legislation
Issuing royal assent
- Crown imitates royal commissions on inquiry, which can have substantial impact on law-making (comprehensive investigations into matters of public importance)=
Effectiveness of the lower house: Majority Gov
- Majority Gov. If gov holds majority of sears in the lower house (usually the case) - than its legislative program / policies will generally be accepted and passed by the lower house. Can progress to ipse house if passed and becomes law. Allows gov to fulfil election promises and program law reform.
- Has the power to introduce whatever bills it likes and implement all of its legislative program. Only public pressure and the risk of not being re-elected can prevent it from doing so.
PROBLEM: Majority in both houses can mean bills and issues are not adequately debated in upper house. Also giving gov the ability to reject bills w/o defat then bills are introduce by private members.
Effectiveness of the lower house: Minority Gov
Hung parliament: Can also influence the effectiveness of parliament, no majority in lower house (forming minority gov w/ minors and independents)
AD: Minority gov. does ensure that gov bills are thoroughly discusses and debated in the lower house. Even w/o a majority seas in lower minority gov can be successful in passing important law reforms
PROBLEM: Must constantly negotiate with minor parties and independents to ensure its legislative program is supporting and passed by the lower house. Can result in voters being annoyed because gov is forced to 'water down' and alter its original polices
Effectiveness of the lower house: Rubber stamp'
This is a situation where there is a majority government in both houses and the upper house will generally approve the decisions made by the government at the lower house and pass bills.
A ‘rubber stamp’ may prevent the upper house from adequately fulfilling its role as a ‘house of review’ or representing the interests of the states or regions – it may merely confirm the decisions of the lower house.
Effectiveness of the lower house: Hostile upper house
When the government does not hold majority seats in the upper house.
This means that the government will have difficulty implementing its policy agenda because the upper house will be able to reject or amend the government’s bills.
At the Commonwealth level the Senate is often hostile. This can mean more thorough debate and scrutiny, but it can be obstructive in implementing law reform.
Ad: May allow more thorough debate and scrutiny of proposed legislation
Dis: May prevent / obstruct ability of gov to implement law reform
Hostile upper house: Balance of power
A hostile upper house may have a group of independents or minor parties that hold high levels of power compared to their voter base.
When this happens, the government needs to win the support of the minority parties and independents to have bills passed through the upper house as they are able to vote together to reject gov. Independents and minority parties often do not represent the views of the community.
On the other hand, a diverse upper house can be seen as an opportunity for a more effective parliament – forcing the government to take account a wider range of views.
Example: Senate blocking same-sex marriage plebiscite in 2016
The law-making process
At both the Commonwealth and Victorian levels, a bill must be passed by both houses before it can become law. All bills must progress through several stages in each house before they can receive royal assent. These stages include debating the bill in broad or general terms (during the second reading debate) and examining it in great depth, clause by clause (during consideration in detail).
Advantages of law-making process
- Pass through both houses
The requirement that a bill must be passed by both houses gives the second house (usually the upper house, because in reality most bills are introduced by the government in the lower house) an opportunity to check the bill and suggest amendments.
- Debate takes place
An important part of the law-making process is the debate that takes place in each of the houses. Members can point out any flaws or any positives of the bill. In this way a wide range of views on the bill can be considered during the debates that take place.
- Can change law quickly
Parliament is able to change the law quickly if necessary, particularly if the government has a majority in both houses of parliament, even though the legislative process is generally slow.
Disadvantages of law-making process
- Slow process
The need to pass legislation through two houses before it can become law can slow the progress of legislative reform.
- Limited sitting days
Parliament only sits for a limited number of days each year, and laws must be made during parliament sitting time. This can slow the legislative process. For example, in 2016, the Senate and the House of Representatives only sat for 42 and 51 days respectively, compared with 60 and 75 days in 2015. The government can, however, extend the sitting period or even recall parliament for a special session.
- Can be restricted
The parliament as a whole is restricted in its law-making ability by the fact that it can only pass the laws that are presented to it, usually by the government of the day. The government therefore has a responsibility to ensure that the laws presented to parliament, as far as possible, respond to the needs of the people.
Advantages VS disadvantages of representative government
- Generally results in laws being made by parliament being condoned by the majority of Australians
- Ensures gov and opposition remain accountable and answerable to the people
- Parliament may not pass the laws if they are controversial (even if necessary) out of fear of voter backlash, consequentially not being re-elected
How do representative affect the ability of parliament to make law
It ensures that parliament are accountable toward to people so that parliament is not making laws in the interest of their political party, but for the good of the people.
Internal politcal pressures
- Voting along party lines ensures certainty and stability.
- Denial of a conscience vote can detract from representative government.
- Internal party friction (disagreement) can encourage thorough debate of law reform.
- Internal party friction can be disruptive and distract government from its legislative priorities.
International political pressures
- International treaties can improve the quality of domestic laws and encourage stronger relationships with other countries.
- Ratifying international treaties can restrict the parliament’s ability to pass different local laws.
- International treaties can pressure governments to act more in the interest of other countries or global corporations rather than Australia.
- Major international trading parties and defence agreements, and global events, can influence legislative change.
Domestic political pressures
- Petitions and demonstrations can be used to pressure parliament.
- Sometimes small but vocal minority pressure groups and powerful businesses can place political pressure (e.g. in relation to abortion).
- Business groups and organisation can also place political pressure on members of parliament and government to make laws in their best interests (e.g. trade unions, environmental groups, business organisations).
- Financial donations can pressure a political party or politician.
- Influential individuals, prominent business people and members of community groups and organisations sometimes run as independent candidates (e.g. Derryn Hinch).
How do political pressures affect the ability of parliament to make law
- May force parliament to act prematurely when they are not in the best position to do so
- May respond to financial incentives
- May respond to pressures from business or organisations
- May make laws ‘along party lines’
Parliament can only make law within its constitutional power:
Commonwealth Parliament cannot make laws in areas of residual powers.
States cannot make laws in areas of exclusive powers.
A tied grant is funding given by the Commonwealth to a state on the condition that the state spends the money in a way the Commonwealth specifies – it is a way for the Commonwealth to influence law-making in residual areas of power.