Responsible Government (structural protection)

This article is about separation of powers as a structural protection in the Constitution (Unit 3, AOS 2). For “separation of powers” as a principle of the Australian parliamentary system (Unit 3, AOS 1), click here.


Responsible government means that members of government are kept accountable for their actions.The government itself is accountable to parliament, and parliament is accountable to the people. The Constitution reflects this principle, though it does not explicitly outline it.1

Maintaining and losing accountability

Thereby, it protects the people from a government that abuses its power. Government is kept accountable by the rest of parliament, whose job it is to scrutinise them. In addition, the political process is freely available to the public, so that they can hold the government to account. For instance, the public can access Hansard, watch parliamentary proceedings online or on television, and they can access and engage with media reporting. If a government or MP is found to have been irresponsible, it must resign.

See also:

Structural protections

Separation of Powers (structural protection) 

Representative Government (structural protection) 

  1. “The Australian System of Government,” Parliament of Australia,