03_Parliament - Constitutional and Administrative Law 3...

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Unformatted text preview: Constitutional and Administrative Law 3 Parliament Page 1 of 28 P ART III T HE P ARLIAMENT I Representative Democracy A The Concept of Representative Democracy Cass and Rubenstein describe three notions of representation inherent in the idea of representative democracy: Representation by government The ability to vote for representatives who will act in the interests of voters; Representation in government The ability of any citizen to be elected into government; and Diversity in representations of government Values and standards inherent in opinions, rules and law. B Australian Constitutional Features Representative democracy might well be described as a purely theoretical political ideal in light of Australias Constitution . Certainly, representative democracy is inconsistent with the circumstances surrounding the drafting and adoption of the Constitution : 1 Women were largely excluded from the constitutional conventions of 1891, 1897 and 1898; the representativeness of the drafting process is thereby undermined; The indigenous population and women were prevented from voting on whether to adopt the Constitution , with the exception of South Australia, which allowed women to vote since 1894; Women and indigenous people were unable to vote for Members of Parliament until 1902, when universal suffrage was granted in all states except Western Australia and Queensland, and with the notable exception of aborigines It must therefore be doubtful whether representative democracy was intended to exist as a distinct constitutional doctrine in Australia. Contemporary ideals have changed. Two views exist about the relevance: first, the literalist view that it is inappropriate to transpose current political views about representation onto the text of the Constitution as it was intended to read in 1901. Second (and more popular) is the view that only the current legitimacy of representation that is, participation today by all groups is relevant and that the Constitution should be read by todays standards. The issue then arises of how well contemporary representation is achieved. Women still occupy a dramatically smaller place in politics than their numbers would suggest; however, voting is now universal. Despite formal equality of voting, however, there may still be identified substantive barriers to participation: for example, the party system (and pre-selection) limits the success of independent or minor party candidates, who may better represent minority views. Various structural impediments or disincentives also exist, including the professional and familial kind. 1 D Cass and K Rubenstein, Representation/s of Women in the Australian Constitutional System (1995) 17 Adelaide Law Review 3, 2835. Constitutional and Administrative Law 3 Parliament Page 2 of 28 An idealised system of representation may encompass the following characteristics: 1 A right to vote All adults with citizenship except: (i) Long term expatriates (but should long term residents be eligible?) Long term expatriates (but should long term residents be eligible?...
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This note was uploaded on 08/17/2010 for the course BUSLAW 730-214 taught by Professor N/a during the Three '10 term at Melbourne Business School.

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03_Parliament - Constitutional and Administrative Law 3...

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