(This article is about representative government as a structural protection in the Constitution (Unit 3, AOS 2). For “representative government” as a principle of the Australian parliamentary system (Unit 3, AOS 1), click here.)
Representative government broadly means that members of government represent – or act on behalf of – the people they govern. Therefore, they pass legislation and act in a manner that reflects the beliefs of the people. The Constitution, by outlining this principle, guarantees the people the right to have a government that represents them.
Sections 7 and 24 of the Constitution provide for the people to directly choose their representative in parliament through elections. Section 7 states that Senators must be directly chosen for each state by the people of that specific state, and section 24 states that the House of Representatives must be composed of members directly chosen by the people.1
Therefore, governments are kept representative through the process of regular elections. If the public deems them to be unrepresentative of the people, they will not be re-elected.
The case of Roach v Electoral Commissioner established that this Constitutional principle also guaranteed the right to vote.
“Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 UK”, Parliament of Australia, http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Senate/Powers_practice_n_procedures/~/link.aspx?_id=AE5927DE2F0148F2B8B701857EBEB2F3&_z=z ↩
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