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: Anthony Albanese (since 23 May 2022) - Australian Labour Party.
Next Election Dates
Senate: 2025
House of Representatives: 2025
Current Political Context
On 22 May this year Scott Morrison’s Liberal-Coalition government was defeated in the Federal Election, with Labor leader Anthony Albanese becoming Australia’s new Prime Minister. Polls had predicted a narrow win for Labor, and the Coalition government’s prayers for a (second) “miracle” went unanswered. The Labor Party has since been confirmed as a majority government after almost a decade in opposition. The year 2022 ended on a high for the newly elected Labor Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, with opinion polls showing the Labor government and its leader are only growing in popularity across Australia. The new government spent its first seven months ticking off election promises and recalibrating Australia’s standing on the world stage. But every honeymoon must come to an end and in 2023, the domestic political challenges for the Albanese government will soon loom large with issues like the rising cost of energy, the cost-of-living increases, the imported inflation, housing pressures, industrial relations and tax reform. Labor is also expected to flesh out its climate policy in its May 2023 budget with a stronger focus on cutting carbon emissions. In this respect, Prime Minister Albanese will seek to deliver on his party’s promise to cut emissions by 43% by 2030. This will assist in building cordial relations with US President Biden, with whom he already shares a similar worldview and domestic agenda. Albanese has signalled support for America’s new Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF). His proactive stance on this issue will come as welcome news to partners in the South Pacific.

In September 2021, Australia entered a new strategic security pact with the United States and the United Kingdom. The agreement, AUKUS, sets out to deepen defence 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.

Reorientation towards western partners will create issues with China, but China's reliance on Australian raw material should temper the antagonism.
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, in a coalition with the Liberal Party.
- The Australian Labour Party: social democrat, centre-left
- The Greens and Independent members are other popular representatives.
Executive Power
Australia is an independent nation that belongs to the Commonwealth, and recognises the British Monarch as its sovereign. As such, King Charles III is the Head of State. He 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: March 2023