Our Common Bond Clip 6 – Government and the law in Australia
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Our Common Bond Clip 6 – Government and the law in Australia

August 26, 2019


What do the three levels of government do? Responsibilities of the Australian government: Taxation. National economic management. Immigration and Citizenship. Employment. Postal services, and the communications network. Social security, pension. And family support. Defence. Trade. Airports, and air safety. And foreign affairs. Relations with other countries. Responsibilities of the state and territory government: Hospitals, and health services. Schools. Railways, roads, and road traffic control. Forestry. Police, and public transport. Responsibilities of local government, and the Australian Capital Territory government: Street signs. Traffic controls. Local roads, footpaths, bridges, drains. Parks, playgrounds, swimming pools, sports grounds. Camping grounds and caravan parks. Food, and meat inspection. Noise, and animal control. Rubbish collection. Local libraries, halls, and community centres. Some child care, and aged care services. Building permits. Social planning. And local environmental issues. What role do political parties play in the way Australia is governed? A political party is a group of people who share similar ideas about how to govern the country. Most members of parliament belong to political parties, but some do not belong to any party. They are called independents. In Australia, we are free to join a political party. How is the Australian government formed? After an election, the political party, or the coalition of parties with the majority of members in the house of representatives, forms the government. The leader of the government becomes the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister chooses MP’s, or senators, to become ministers. Ministers are responsible for areas of government, such as employment, or indigenous affairs. The party, or the coalition of parties with the second largest number of members in the house of representatives forms the opposition. Its leader is called the leader of the opposition. How are laws made? A member of parliament proposes a new law or a change to the law. This proposal is called a bill. Members in both houses discuss the bill and vote on it. If a majority in both houses agrees to the bill, it goes to the governer general. When the governer general signs the bill, it becomes law. State and Territory governments make their own laws in a similar way. How are laws administered? The courts. The courts are responsible for interpreting and applying the law. A court decides if a person has broken the law. The court also decides on a penalty. Courts are independent of the government. They make decisions using the evidence presented to them. Judges and magistrates. A judge or magistrate is the highest authority in a court. They are independent, and no one can tell them what decision to make. Juries. A court will use a jury in some cases. A jury is a group of ordinary citizens from the general population. The jury listens to evidence provided in court, and decides if the person is guilty. The judge decides the penalty. In Australia, a person is considered innocent, until found guilty by a court. The police. The police maintain peace and order in Australia. It is their job to find people who they believe have broken the law. They can arrest them and take them to court. You can report crimes, and ask for help from your local police Criminal offences in Australia. Violence is against the law in Australia. Other criminal offences include murder, assault, sexual assault, armed robbery, or theft, dangerous driving, and use of illegal drugs. It is against the law to carry weapons such as knives, or guns. It is important to know Australian law In court, ignorance of a law is not accepted as an excuse for breaking that law. Traffic offences. Road and traffic rules are controlled by state and territory governments. People can be fined large amounts of money, or even sent to prison for breaking traffic laws. To drive a car in Australia you must have a local drivers licence, and the car must be registered. There are many other traffic laws. You must become familiar with them. Australian citizenship, our common bond. In Australia we enjoy a peaceful and stable society. We share a rich and unique culture. As a citizen, you will become a part of Australia’s story and contribute to our future. Australia welcomes you. Citizenship is our common bond.

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