Australia flag Australia: Economic and Political Overview

The political framework of Australia

Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
Governor General: David HURLEY (since 1 July 2019)
Prime Minister: Scott MORRISON (since 24 August 2018) - Liberal Party Of Australia
Next Election Dates
Senate: 2022
House of Representatives: 2022
Current Political Context
The prime minister, Scott Morrison, will lead the Liberal-National coalition government until the next election, which is due in 2022 with a series of major challenges in front of him. Australia experienced the worst ever fire season, with a loss of 12 million hectares, and a record-breaking heat wave between the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020, with every state and territory being affected, tourism areas devastated and damage to the retail, construction and finance sectors. The COVID-19 pandemic made Australia close down its borders from March 2020 to October 2021 and impose strict social distancing rules. The capital cities of Sydney and Melbourne, were again imposed a lockdown of several months in 2021. The crisis has had a profound impact on Australia’s health system, community and economy. Scott Morrison's government has pumped over 147 billion USD in economic stimulus.
2021 was also the second year in a row of increasingly tense relationship with China, Australia's biggest trading partner. A series of defence, trade and foreign policy disputes have led to what is seen by analysts as the lowest point in the two countries’ ties in 50 years. With China accounting for about 35% of Australia’s total trade, some experts fear an all-out trade war could cost the latter 6% of its GDP.
On September 2021, Australia entered a new strategic security pact with the United States and the United Kingdom. The agreement, AUKUS, sets out to deepen defense ties between the three countries by integrating military capabilities across naval, cyber, artificial intelligence, quantum computing and other undersea domains while also setting the stage for an enhanced U.S. force posture in Australia. At the heart of AUKUS is a commitment by the U.S. and the U.K. to provide Australia with at least eight nuclear-propelled submarines that will operate using highly enriched uranium but will not go into service until 2040. This decision, for Australia, to embrace a new alliance with its old allies will have profound implications for its future, in particular in Asia-Pacific.
Main Political Parties
Three parties dominate the political life:
- The Liberal Party: conservative, centre-right, neoliberal
- The National Party of Australia (former Country Party): conservative, centre-right, mostly represents rural interests
- The Australian Labour Party: social democrat, centre-left
- The Greens and Independent members are other popular representatives, and the National Party (conservative) are in a coalition with the Liberal Party.
Executive Power
Australia is an independent nation that belongs to the Commonwealth, and recognises the British Monarch as its sovereign. As such, Queen Elizabeth II is the Head of State. She is represented in Australia by a Governor General who has a symbolic function (they are appointed by her on the recommendation of the Prime Minister). The Prime Minister is the Head of the Government. The Prime Minister runs state business and appoints the Cabinet. The Prime Minister is the leader of the party that wins the majority of seats in the House of Representatives at the General Election.
Legislative Power
The parliament is bicameral and composed of the Senate with 76 members and the House of Representatives with 151 members. Senators are elected for a six-year term, with half of the membership being renewed every three years. Members of the House of Representatives serve terms of up to three years. By Westminster convention, the decision as to the date on which an election is to take place is that of the Prime Minister, who 'advises' the Governor-General to set the process in motion by dissolving the House of Representatives (if it has not expired) and then issuing writs for election. The Prime Minister and the Cabinet are responsible for parliament, of which they must be elected members.
 

Indicator of Freedom of the Press

Definition:

The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:
25/180
 

Indicator of Political Freedom

Definition:

The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Ranking:
Free
Political Freedom:
1/7

Political freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Freedom in the World Report, Freedom House

 

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Latest Update: December 2022

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