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Law and Order Cheat Sheet by


You must be at least 18 years of age to vote in Australia.
There is no upper age limit to voting in Victoria. If you are aged 70 or over you are excused from voting in council elections. However, you will still be provided with a ballot pack and are welcome to vote.
However, if a person is no longer capable of unders­tanding the nature and signif­icance of enrolling and voting, they may be removed from the roll.
If you did not respond to the apparent failure to vote notice or if your excuse for failing to vote was not considered suffic­ient, you will receive an infrin­gement notice with a fine of $78.

Separation of Powers

The Separation of Powers describes the way in which the law gives power to the arms of government in Australia. It ensures government remains fair and accoun­table by creating checks and balances on the use of power.
The Parliament (also referred to as the Legisl­ature) is made up of the Queen (repre­sented by the Governor- General), the Senate and the House of Repres­ent­atives
The Parliament makes and amends the law
The Executive is made up of the Queen (repre­sented by the Govern­or-­Gen­eral), Prime Minister and ministers
The Executive puts the law into action
The Judiciary is made up of the High Court and other federal courts
The Judiciary makes judgements about the law

Rule of law

Rule of law: all people regardless of their status are equal before and subject to the law
Presum­ption of innocence: if you are accused of a crime, you do not have to prove your innocence. Instead, it is the job of the prosecutor to prove you are guilty.
Burden of proof: the need for the prosecutor to provide the jury or court with enough evidence that you are guilty beyond reasonable doubt. It they cannot the case is lost.
Right to a fair trial: everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing by an impartial tribunal to determine the criminal charges against them.
Right to legal repres­ent­ation: the right to have a legal repres­ent­ative in legal procee­dings.

Delegated law

The Australian Parliament makes laws for Australia. Sometimes it gives the power to make decisions about the details of these laws to the relevant minister, executive office­-holder or government depart­ment.
This is called delegated law because the power has been delegated to that person or depart­ment. The Parliament holds the right to overrule these delegated decisions if it does not agree with them.

Getting involved in democracy

This is the most direct way that Austra­lians are involved in their Parlia­ment. If the people of Australia do not like the actions of a govern­ment, they have a chance to elect new repres­ent­atives in both the Senate and House of Repres­ent­atives.
Contact members of parliament
Austra­lians can write to or email members of parliament at any time. You can contact your federal member or senators about things that are important to you. Altern­ati­vely, if you have a view about a particular subject (such as health, education or the enviro­nment) you can contact the government minister respon­sible for that area.
Members of the public can raise matters of importance to them and influence decisions made in Parliament by starting or signing a petition. This is a request by a group of citizens for Parliament to take note of and perhaps solve a particular problem.
Any member of the public can write to the committee to express their views and provide inform­ation which may be helpful to the committee. After consid­ering these written submis­sions, the committee may choose to hear further from members of the public, asking them to expand on the inform­ation they have already given.
Public meetings and protests
Austra­lians who are concerned about an issue can organise a public meeting or protest about that issue. They may invite members of parliament to attend their public meetings to hear what the people have to say, or answer questions from the public.
Observing Parliament
The work of the House of Repres­ent­atives and the Senate is always open for the public to watch, as is much of the work of parlia­mentary commit­tees.
Lobby groups
People who try to influence politics to meet their own agenda. Often busine­sses.
Interest groups
A group of people that seeks to influence public policy on the basis of a particular common interest or concern. They attempt to achieve their goals by lobbyi­ng—that is, by attempting to bring pressure to bear on policy makers to gain policy outcomes in their favour.

The Consti­tution

The Australian Consti­tution was drafted at a series of consti­tut­ional conven­tions held in the 1890s. It was passed by the British Parliament as part of the Common­wealth of Australia Consti­tution Act 1900 and took effect on 1 January 1901. The Consti­tution is the legal framework for how Australia is governed and it can only be changed by refere­ndum.
The Australian Consti­tution establ­ishes the compos­ition of the Australian Parlia­ment, and describes how Parliament works, what powers it has, how federal and state Parlia­ments share power, and the roles of the Executive Government and the High Court.

Common law

Common law is created through decisions by judges in particular cases which are then applied to every case afterw­ards.
Common law works according to ‘prece­dent’. If a matter before the court is similar to a matter in the past and if the circum­stances are similar, the decision in the new case should follow the previous decision. If the circum­stances are different, then the decision may be different, with the new decision becoming a precedent for the next similar case.
These decisions are recorded in special law report books to which lawyers can refer to argue their cases and judges can refer to make their decisions. It is only the decisions of the highest and most important courts that are recorded and referred to in this way.

System of Government

Defini­tion: the way in which a country is ruled.
Consti­tut­ional monarchy: a system of government in which a monarch is guided by a consti­tution whereby his/her rights, duties, and respon­sib­ilities are spelled out in written law or by custom.
Dictat­orship: a form of government in which a ruler or small clique wield absolute power (not restricted by a consti­tution or laws).
Democracy: a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected repres­ent­atives.
Electoral system: a system where indivi­duals vote for their repres­ent­atives in the govern­ment.
Repres­ent­ative govern­ment: a system of government in which people elect their repres­ent­atives, who are then held accoun­table to them for their activity within the govern­ment.
Westmi­nster system: a parlia­mentary system of government modeled after that which developed in the United Kingdom.


In Australia, a referendum is a vote used to approve a change to the Australian Consti­tution.
At the referendum the proposed alteration must be approved by a 'double majority'. That is:
-a national majority of voters in the states and territ­ories
-a majority of voters in a majority of the states (i.e. at least four out of six states).

Making a bill

A proposal for a new statute is called a bill. A bill must go through a compli­cated series of stages before it can become a law. In the Federal Parliament in Canberra, the bill must pass through the House of Repres­ent­atives, the Senate and be signed by the Govern­or-­Gen­eral.
1. First reading of the bill in the House of Repres­ent­atives.
2. Minister makes a speech.
3. Second reading of the bill in the House of Repres­ent­atives. Bill becomes public. Parliament has two weeks to consider the bill.
4. The bill is considered in detail. In the Senate, this is called the Committee Stage.
5. Third reading of the bill in the House of Repres­ent­atives.
6. The bill passes through the Senate in the same steps as in the House of Repres­ent­atives.
7. The Govern­or-­General signs off on the bill making it a law or an 'act of parlia­ment'.
A statute law is a law created by parlia­ment. Bills take so long to pass because they must be thoroughly debated before being passed. Changing or adding new laws can cause very important effects and they must be carefully consid­ered. The consid­eration of legisl­ation takes up 45% of the House’s time.


Freedom of associ­ation: An indivi­dual's right to leave or join groups.
Freedom of speech: the right to express your opinions
Freedom of assembly: the right of people to come together and express their ideas
Freedom of religion: the right to choose their own spiritual values
Freedom of movement: the right of people to roam as they see fit


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