The Westminster system and the government

1. The Westminster System

The Westminster System ( WS ) is the British construction of representative authorities embodied by an executive council meeting within and being accountable to the legislative assembly. Some other elements of the WS are a supreme executive authorization, the Crown which doesn’t actively play a portion in authorities, and a self-determining bench. Executive and legislative powers are non separate. It is called the WS because the British Parliament sits at Westminster which is portion London. The fundamental laws of the Australian Commonwealth and the States adopted the WS which is besides acknowledged as responsible authorities ( Butt 2004, 457 ) .

2. Responsible Government

Responsible authorities is a specific manner of regulating through its elected representatives. Under this construction, the Parliament, non the authorities, is elected by Australian electors. Government Members are besides Parliament Members. They become the authorities as they have a bulk of members in the House of Representatives of the Australian Parliament. Occasionally a minority authorities might necessitate the support of either a smaller party or independent Members. What is cardinal to this construction is Responsible Cabinet authorities in Australia, and the democratic and broad values which are entrenched within it.

2.1 Parliament and the Election of the Government

The democratic component in the construction of the Australian authorities is the electors elect the Members of Parliament these Members so select the authorities. Under the WS the authorities is in the signifier of the Cabinet which is made up of the Prime Minister and Ministers who are drawn from the Government Members.

2.2 Parliament and the System of Responsible Government

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The Liberal component in the construction is that the authorities is held accountable to the Australian people. The Government is responsible to the Parliament non merely for its actions but besides for the government’s administrative arm ( public service ) . The Government answerability is to the electors through periodic elections and is reinforced by processs of the Parliament, and cheques on the authorities executive subdivision and its bureaucratism.

2.3 Parliament and Ministerial Responsibility

Individual ministerial duty is that Curates are responsible to the Parliament non merely for their actions but besides for those of their sections. In the event of impropernesss or maladministration’s a Minister should vacate. A corporate ministerial duty is when all Ministers must take duty for Cabinet determinations. A Minister that disagrees publically with cabinet determinations should vacate from the Ministry foremost.

2.4 The Australian theoretical account of the Westminster System

The drafters of the Australian Constitution made two of import alterations to the WS. They established the Senate an elective 2nd chamber of Parliament where each State had equal representation. The other is based on parliament’s formal processs which disguises the exercising of power of the Parliament, and its function in respects to the government’s exercising of executive power ( Woodward 2010, 73-74 ) .

3. Head of State

A characteristic of responsible authorities in Australia involves the caput of province. All executive powers are allocated in the Australian Fundamental law to the caput of province. Yet in pattern, these powers are implemented on the recommendation by the elective authorities in virtually all instances. The authorities bears duty for all the determinations and the caput of province ( Governor General ) remains above most of the political differences ( Woodward 2010, 66-68 ) .

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4. Conventions of Westminster-style democracies

Australia, unlike the United Kingdom, the fundamental law is a written papers where some of these regulations are contained. The judicial admissions of the Constitution contain the official regulations of authorities. But there are countries where the Constitution is soundless, political behaviour is directed by established patterns, uses, methods, axioms and habits most of them were received from colonial parliaments, and in bend they were received from WS ( Reid 1977, 244 ) .

4.1. Principles of Westminster-style democracies

Conventions are an built-in constituent of the Westminster-style democracies providing the inside informations and helping political pattern to detect the rules of responsible authorities. For case, conventions cover:

•procedures refering the relationship affecting the Prime Minister or Premier and the Cabinet,

•the map and the duties of Cabinet ;

•separation of powers ;

•relations between the Crown and the Parliament ;

•relationships between the Houses of Parliament ; and

•how budgets are appropriated ( Heard 1991, 1 ) .

4.2 Constitutional Conventions

There is a assortment of definitions on what establishes a constitutional convention. Mainly definitions refer back to the work of British bookman A.V. Dicey who examined the differentiations refering the jurisprudence and the legion constitutional conventions of the Constitution ( Heard 1991, p. 4 ) .

4.2.1 Identifying the being of a convention

The inquiries that need to be asked:

•what are the case in points ;

• do the participants in these case in points consider they were obligated by these regulations ; and

• is at that place a good intent for the regulation ( Jennings 1959, 159 )

4.3 Australian Parliamentary Key Conventions

The chief conventions are:

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•governments recognise a loyal resistance ;

•ministers must reply on behalf of their sections and supply accounts if questioned ;

•ministers must non misdirect Parliament – or if they do unwittingly, so they must rectify the record instantly ; and

•ministers have a responsibility to go to Question Time, except if they have pressing concern ( Jaconelli 2005, 150 ) .

5. Decision

The WS has evolved over 100s of old ages and will go on to germinate ; these case in points and patterns continue to play a important function in Australia, and function our democratic manner of life well.


Butt, P 2004,Concise Australian Legal Dictionary, 3rdedn, LexisNexis Butterworths, Chatswood NSW.

Heard, A. 1991,Canadian Constitutional Conventions: The Marriage of Law and Politics.Oxford University Press, Toronto.

Jaconelli, J. 2005,Do Constitutional Conventions Bind?Cambridge Law Journal, 64 ( 1 ) , March, pp. 149-176, viewed 12 March 2014, via Google Scholar.

Jennings, I. 1959,The Law and the Fundamental law, 5th edn, University of London Press, London.

Reid, G.S. 1977, ‘Commentaries’ . In Evans, G ( explosive detection systems )Labor and the Fundamental law: Essaies and Comments on Constitutional Controversies of the Whitlam Years in Australian Government. Heinemann, Melbourne.

Woodward, D. , Parkin, A. and Summers, J. ( explosive detection systems ) ,Government, Politics, Power and Policy in Australia, 9th Edn. , Pearson, Frenchs Forest NSW.