Country Report Australia October 1996 Main report

Political structure.

Official name: Commonwealth of Australia

Form of state: Federal democracy

Legal system: Based on constitution of 1901

National legislature: Bicameral; House of Representatives of 148 members directly elected by a preferential voting system for a three-year term; Senate of 76 members directly elected by proportional representation for a six-year term, one half of the Senate retiring every three years, usually to coincide with elections for the House of Representatives. The Senate may not originate or amend money bills

Electoral system: Compulsory universal direct suffrage over age 18

National elections: March 2, 1996; next election due by end-May 1999 Head of state: Queen Elizabeth II, represented in Australia by a governor- general, currently Sir William Deans, appointed February 1996

State legislatures: In five of the six states there is a bicameral legislature, in the other (Queensland) the legislature is unicameral

National government: Cabinet headed by prime minister appointed by governor-general on the basis of party strength in the House of Representatives. There is currently a Liberal/National Party coalition majority government

Main political parties: Liberal Party; Labor Party; National Party; Australian Democrats Party

The cabinet (Installed March 1996) Prime minister John Howard Deputy prime minister & minister for trade Tim Fischer Cabinet ministers Communications & the arts Richard Alston Defence Ian McLachlan Employment, education & training Amanda Vanstone Environment (& leader of the Senate) Robert Hill Finance John Fahey Foreign affairs Alexander Downer Health & family services Michael Wooldridge Industrial relations (& leader of the House) Peter Reith Industry, science & tourism John Moore Primary industries & energy John Anderson Social security Jocelyn Newman Transport & regional development John Sharp Treasury Peter Costello Reserve Bank governor Ian McFarlane

© 1996 The Economist lntelligence Unit Ltd. All rights reserved
Whilst every effort has been taken to verify the accuracy of this information, The Economist lntelligence Unit Ltd. cannot accept any responsibility or liability for reliance by any person on this information