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Old August 22nd, 2016, 05:46 PM   #1

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Why does Australia have a mix of British-style and American-style government?


By that I mean the fact that since Australia was a British colony (and still maintains close ties with England) we have a prime minister - as all Commonwealth nations do - and our government is called a parliament, and we also use some British-like titles such as 'lord major', but on the other hand we call our Houses of government the House of Representatives and the Senate, the same as America. We also have a set, official Constitution similar to America's.

As an Australian I really like that we have things from both nations, these two nations being unarguably the largest influences on Australia throughout our short history, but it does make me curious about if there are any specific reasons why there is a mix of both countries' governmental styles and terminology.
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Old August 22nd, 2016, 06:20 PM   #2

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Quote:
Originally Posted by WhatAnArtist View Post
By that I mean the fact that since Australia was a British colony (and still maintains close ties with England) we have a prime minister - as all Commonwealth nations do - and our government is called a parliament, and we also use some British-like titles such as 'lord major', but on the other hand we call our Houses of government the House of Representatives and the Senate, the same as America. We also have a set, official Constitution similar to America's.
Btw, the parliament is not the government of Australia, it's just its legislative body.

Australia's Constitution is not really similar to the US constitution. the only similarity in which we can point out is the federalist senate and the federal organization of Australia, but anything else about Australian constitution is entirely based on the Westminster model.

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Originally Posted by WhatAnArtist View Post
As an Australian I really like that we have things from both nations, these two nations being unarguably the largest influences on Australia throughout our short history, but it does make me curious about if there are any specific reasons why there is a mix of both countries' governmental styles and terminology.
Political terminologies in US and Britain are quite different, especially when it comes to the definition of the word "Government".

In Britain "Government" refers to only the executive body (excluding the Monarch). Basically the government just consists the Prime minister and its Cabinet, Government departments and the Civil Service. The Legislative branch such as the British Parliament, also the Monarch and the Judiciary are not officially part of the Government. That terminology is also used in Continental Europe as well.

But in the United States and also in Australia, "Government" consists of all the sovereign and authoritative branches of the Federal State - it includes the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary as well.
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Old August 26th, 2016, 05:21 PM   #3
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Can you tell us why Australia has states? And what is the relationship of the states to the federal government? In America we have a constitutional principle called 'Federalism' which means that some powers belong the federal government and other powers belong to the states. The courts are always being dragged in to define if the federal government can do XYZ or if that's a power that the states still have.
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Old August 26th, 2016, 05:38 PM   #4

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Can you tell us why Australia has states? And what is the relationship of the states to the federal government? In America we have a constitutional principle called 'Federalism' which means that some powers belong the federal government and other powers belong to the states. The courts are always being dragged in to define if the federal government can do XYZ or if that's a power that the states still have.
Our states basically started the same way states in America did; they were different British colonies that while all under the control of England were quite adversarial towards each other sometimes.

We have a system called the division of powers written into our constitution, which is basically like the seperation of powers but for the states and the Commonwealth (we call the federal government the Commonwealth in our constitution). It's similar to what you described; the Commonwealth/federal government is given some powers (the majority of them), the states are given some powers (most of the ones they had before Federation in 1901), and there's also a certain list of powers that both the Commonwealth and states can share depending on the situation and who wants to claim power on it at that time. We've also certainly had disputes over whether the Commonwealth or state have the power to decide an issue, and our High Court handles it (basically like America's Supreme Court with the small number of appointed judges).
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Old August 26th, 2016, 11:18 PM   #5
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Why does Australia have States while Canada has Provinces? Both were British colonies that federated while loyally British colonies (in 1867 and 1901 respectively).
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Old August 26th, 2016, 11:29 PM   #6
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The British Crown dependency of Jersey (Channel Island) also has a Senate. I believe they started calling it that in 1771.
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Old August 27th, 2016, 01:13 AM   #7

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The system was bound to be different from Britain's in two major respects, the nature of the upper house, and the position of the states. This is a reflection of the different histories of the two countries. It would be absurd to talk of a house of 'commons' in the Australian context, when there is an elected upper house, so the American-sounding names of the two chambers were an obvious choice (they are descriptive!). But the system is not really a mixture of the British and American governmental systems, it is an adapted form the British system of bicameral government.
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Old August 27th, 2016, 05:41 AM   #8
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Why does Australia have States while Canada has Provinces? Both were British colonies that federated while loyally British colonies (in 1867 and 1901 respectively).
I suspect Canada calls them provinces because Canada was originally French, and France had provinces at the time. And Canada is technically a confederation, not a federation. (which I suppose you might know but used the word 'federated' out of convenience over accuracy - confederated might be an awkward term)

Confederacy - a temporary union. Member states or provinces retain the right to secede at some future time.

Federation - a permanent union. Once they join, member states or provinces may not later leave.
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