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Australian Politics For Dummies
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Table of Contents

Foreword xv

Introduction 1

About This Book 1

Foolish Assumptions 3

Icons Used in This Book 3

Where to Go from Here 4

Part 1: Politics: You're in It 5 Chapter 1: Australian Politics: The Basics 7

What is Politics? 8

Compulsory Voting 9

A Lot of Government 9

Governing the nation 10

Governing the states 11

Administering the territories 11

Roads, rates and rubbish: Local government 12

From Government to Politics 12

Political parties 13

A two-party system? 15

Interest Groups: Fighting for Causes and Advancing Interests 15

Promotional interest groups 16

Sectional interest groups 16

Umbrellas and peaks 18

Understanding Politicians 19

Who becomes a politician? 19

A 'boys' club'? 19

Heavy hitters: Interest group politicians 20

Politics: You Can't Escape It 21

Chapter 2: Hot Topics in Australia: The Political Debate 23

Apathetic or Engaged? 24

Awareness of issues 24

The 'isms' in politics 25

Things We Never Tire of Talking About 28

Tariffs 29

The role of the unions 29

Immigration 31

Reconciliation 33

Women in politics 34

Great and powerful friends 36

New Things We're Talking About 38

COVID-19 and the pandemic 38

The environment and climate change 38

Climate change and water 40

The republic 41

Globalisation 42

Nation building 42

Complex Issues, Simple Choices 43

Part 2: The Australian System of Government 45 Chapter 3: One Country, Many Rulebooks 47

Australia is a Federation 47

The Constitution and power-sharing 48

The constitutions as rulebooks 48

The Path to Federation 48

The constitutional conventions 49

The states came first 49

The need for a national government 51

Big States and Small States 54

A house for the states: The Senate 54

You get at least five lower house seats if 55

Changing the Constitution 56

The Australian System of Constitutional Government 57

The governors and the governor-general 57

The Executive in Council 58

Ministers of the Crown 59

The parliament 60

The electors 61

The courts 62

Australian Constitutionalism: More than the Written Word 65

Chapter 4: Westminster: Much More than Big Ben 67

A Constitution without a (Written) Constitution 68

What do conventions cover? 68

The Crown 69

The parliament 70

The executive 72

Responsible Government 74

Forming a Responsible Government 74

Resign! Resign! 75

Collective Responsibility 75

Ministerial Responsibility 76

Westminster as Adversarial Politics 77

The alternative prime minister 77

The shadow ministry 78

Westminster and Party Politics 78

Tyranny of the executive? 79

Winner takes all? 79

Westminster and Australia 80

Chapter 5: Washminster: The Australian Hybrid 83

British or American? 84

American federalism: A model for Australia 84

A Senate, a court and a written constitution:

The American legacy 85

Limits to Americanisation: Responsible Government 85

Responsible Government the Australian Way 86

Executive in Council or Cabinet? 87

The governor-general or the prime minister? 87

What about the states? 87

House of Representatives or the Senate? 88

Deadlocks 90

The joint sitting 91

Clash of the Houses: The 1975 Constitutional Crisis 92

The politics of the crisis 92

The crisis: The deferral of supply 93

The governor-general: The reserve powers exercised 93

The governor-general's actions: The controversies 95

The meaning of the 1975 crisis 95

Kerr's argument: Parliamentary Responsibility 96

After the crisis 97

Chapter 6: Parliament: The House on the Hill 99

Housing the Houses of Parliament 100

The new house 100

The old house 101

Westminster parliaments: An overview 103

Never the twain shall meet? 104

Who's Who? Putting People in Their Place 104

The Speaker 104

The President 106

Frontbenchers and backbenchers 106

The crossbenchers 106

In the Senate? 107

The Whips 109

Question Time 109

Pairing 109

Voting in the Parliament 110

Ring the bells! The division 111

Crossing the floor 111

Conscience voting 112

Government rules, OK? 112

Making Laws in the Parliament 112

Amended bills 113

Legislating: The Representatives versus the Senate 114

The People's Forum or a Rubber Stamp? 115

Adjournments and grievances 115

The rise of standing committees 116

What about Hung Parliaments? 117

How common are hung parliaments? 118

Who governs while the crossbenchers are making up their minds? 119

The role of the governor 120

Minority or coalition? 121

Stable or volatile? 122

Chapter 7: Governing the Great Southern Land 123

The Constitution and the Division of the Powers of Government 124

Section 51 124

Federal-State Relations 126

Adopting (and challenging) the Uniform Tax system 126

Controlling the purse strings 127

Cooperative Federalism 130

From COAG to National Cabinet 131

Ministerial councils 131

Intergovernmental agreements 132

Uncooperative Federalism 132

The High Court of Australia 133

The Federal Court 133

Policy-making Australian Style 133

Public policy 134

Cabinet government the Australian way 134

Creating policy 135

Ministerial advisers 137

Statutory authorities 137

Big Government or Small Government? 138

Part 3: Party time! 139 Chapter 8: Parties, Parliament and Politics 141

What is a Party? 142

Majors and Minors 143

Oddities of the Australian majors 143

Issues for the Australian minors 144

Minor parties in the parliament 145

Beyond the Parliament: Party Organisation 146

Mass membership, mass parties 147

Raising money 148

Raising candidates 150

Preselection 151

Factions 151

Alternatives or Wellsprings: Interest Groups and Social Movements 152

Promotional interest groups 152

Social movements 153

Chapter 9: The Australian Labor Party 155

The Unions Create a Party 156

The strikes of 1891 156

The union movement's delegates? 157

Root and branch representation 157

The Party Organisation 159

The supreme organ: Conference 160

State and National Executive 161

From 36 faceless men to 400 delegates 162

A youth wing: Young Labor 163

The Labor Organisation: Internal Politics 164

The importance of factions 164

Left versus right 166

Labor and Policy: What Labor Stands For 168

The Socialist Objective 168

Ben Chifley and bank nationalisation 169

The Splits 171

Labor and conscription: 1916 171

Labor and the Great Depression: 1931 172

Lead-up to the 1955 split: The Industrial Groupers 172

Many tensions, one big split 173

Modernising Labor: From Whitlam to Rudd and Gillard 176

The Whitlam policy legacy 177

Hayden: Farewell the Socialist Objective 178

The Hawke government 178

Keating: From treasurer to prime minister 180

The rise of Rudd 181

The Gillard years 181

Pragmatism in Action: Labor in the States 182

Labor in the Future 183

Chapter 10: The Liberal Party 185

Early Origins: Free Traders, Protectionists and Fusionists 186

A new anti-Labor party: The Nationalists 187

Anti-Labor Uniting (Sort Of) 188

United they stand: Creating the United Australia Party 188

United they fall: The collapse of the UAP 189

From the UAP Ashes: The Liberal Party 190

The Liberal Party Organisation 191

Getting together: State and Federal Council 192

Follow the leader! 194

The Party Room 194

By Menzies, of Menzies, for Menzies 195

A structure for government or opposition? 195

The branch membership strikes back! 196

The Young Liberals 196

Liberal women 197

Liberal Factionalism 197

Liberals versus conservatives 198

Moderates versus Hardliners 198

Wets and Dries 199

State-based alliances 199

Leadership alliances 200

The Liberal Party in Government 201

Pragmatism or programs? 202

Liberals and the unions 203

Menzies in government 203

Malcolm Fraser's government 205

The Howard government 206

Post-Howard: The Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison governments 207

The Liberal Party in the States 209

The Liberal Party and the Future 209

Chapter 11: The National Party 211

The Origins of Rural Party Politics: The Country Party 212

A farmer's party 212

Soldier settlements 213

A shared constituency 213

The Country Party consolidates 214

Coalition Politics 214

The coalition agreement 215

Limits to coalition 216

The National Party Organisation 217

A small parliamentary party 218

Queensland: A National Party heartland 218

Factionalism in the National Party 219

The National Party in Government 221

The early coalitionists 221

John (Black Jack) McEwen: A Country Party giant 222

Doug Anthony: A moderniser 223

Tim Fischer: Back to basics 223

From Barnaby Joyce to Michael McCormack and back to Joyce 225

Future Challenges 225

Chapter 12: The Minor Parties and Independents 227

Minor Parties: People's Tribune or a Waste of Time? 228

The importance of the electoral system 228

Preference wheeling and dealing 230

Measuring minor party success 230

Senate-based minor parties 231

Here today, gone tomorrow? 232

Out on Their Own: Independents 232

Independent success 233

Once were party people 234

The Who's Who of Minor Parties 235

The Democratic Labor Party 235

The Australian Democrats 236

The Nuclear Disarmament Party 238

The West Australian Greens 239

The Australian Greens (the Greens) 240

Pauline Hanson's One Nation 241

Family First 242

Clive Palmer United Party 242

Liberal Democrats 243

Minor Parties of the Future 243

Part 4: Citizen Power! 245 Chapter 13: Elections: A Festival of Democracy 247

Democratic Origins 247

Federal and State Elections 249

Australian elections: Compulsory democracy 250

Conducting elections 250

Different electoral systems 251

Many elections 252

Double-dissolution elections 253

Calling elections: Who has the power? 254

The role of the prime minister 254

Fixed-term parliaments? 255

The Importance of Electoral Systems 255

Up the majority! Preferential voting 256

Lowering the electoral bar: Proportional representation 258

The Senate ballot paper: It's a whopper! 260

Who Wins and How? 263

Recounts and disputed returns 263

Exaggerated majorities 264

Paradoxical outcomes 265

Ransom-holding minorities 266

After the election is over 267

In between elections: By-elections 268

Chapter 14: Let the Campaign Begin! 269

The Rules of the Game 270

Elections: It's Party Time! 271

Show me the money 271

Preselections and nominations 272

Directing preferences 273

The Campaign 274

Raising money and conducting campaigns 274

Battle of the leaders? 275

The television campaign: The Great Debates 276

Launching the campaign 276

At the Press Club 277

The Big Day! Sausage Sizzles and More 277

Counting the vote: Saturday night fever! 278

Who Votes How and Why? 280

Electing oppositions in or voting governments out? 280

Seats: Safe, marginal and swinging 281

Predicting election outcomes: The pendulum 281

Focusing on the marginals 283

A Guide to Voter Types 284

The rusted-ons 284

The swingers 284

The donkey vote 284

Informal voters 285

Battlers 285

Working families 285

Doctors' wives 286

Post-materialists 286

Chapter 15: The Fourth Estate: The Media 287

The Role of 'the Press' in Politics 288

Press corps and press galleries 288

The Australian press gallery 289

The Media 289

Newspapers 290

Television 291

Radio 293

The internet and social media 293

King and Queen Makers? Journalists and Commentators 294

Journalists 294

Opinion writers 295

Political cartoonists 296

Opinion pollsters 297

Government Broadcasting? The ABC 297

Balanced or left-wing bias? 298

Covering elections 298

The Power of the Media? 299

Agenda setting 299

Spin doctors 299

Opinion polling 301

Part 5: Part of Tens 303 Chapter 16: Ten Politicians Who Made an Impact 305

John Christian Watson (1867-1941) 305

John Curtin (1885-1945) 306

Robert Menzies (1894-1978) 306

Gough Whitlam (1916-2014) 307

Malcolm Fraser (1930-2015) 307

Bob Hawke (1929-2019) 308

John Howard (b 1939) 308

Don Chipp (1925-2006) 309

Bob Brown (b 1944) 309

Pauline Hanson (b 1954) 310

Chapter 17: Ten (Plus One!) Speeches Worth Listening to Again 311

Sir Henry Parkes: The Crimson Thread of Kinship, 1890 311

John Curtin: We Are Fighting Mad, 1942 312

Robert Menzies: Forgotten People, 1942 312

Ben Chifley: Light on the Hill, 1949 313

Neville Bonner: Aboriginal Rights, 1971 313

Gough Whitlam: It's Time, 1972 314

Paul Keating: The Redfern Speech, 1992 314

Pauline Hanson: Inaugural Speech to Parliament, 1996 314

John Howard: Bali Terrorist Attack, 2002 315

Kevin Rudd: Apology to the Stolen Generations, 2008 315

Julia Gillard: 'Misogyny Speech', 2012 316

Chapter 18: Ten Acts of Political Bastardry in Australia 317

The Hopetoun Blunder 317

Aspiring to Conscription 318

Fleeing a Sinking Ship? 318

Spoilsport! 319

Over a Barrel 319

The Dismissal 320

The Drover's Dog 320

Bringing out the Knives 321

Kiss and Tell? 321

A Parade of Bastardry 322

Chapter 19: Ten (Plus One!) Women who made History in Australian Politics 323

Dame Enid Lyons (1897-1981) 323

Dame Dorothy Tangney (1907-1985) 324

Dame Margaret Guilfoyle (1926-2020) 324

Susan Ryan (1942-2020) 325

Joan Child (1921-2013) 325

Janine Haines (1945-2004) 326

Margaret Reid (b 1935) 326

Rosemary Follett (b 1948) 327

Quentin Bryce (b 1942) 327

Julia Gillard (b 1961) 327

Linda Burney (b 1957) 328

Glossary 329

Index 341

About the Author

Dr Nick Economou is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Social Sciences at Monash University. He has taught the subject since 1985.Dr Zareh Ghazarian is a Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations in the School of Social Sciences at Monash University.

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