Question:

What is the Government of Australia?

Health and Welfare

The government of Australia delivers a number of social services throughout the country. Programs of assistance for people who are sick, aged, widowed, or unemployed exist to provide at least a subsistence allowance. Parents may apply for a subsidy for children under 16 years of age. Medical and hospital benefits are paid by the federal government, although private health insurance is also available. The Flying Doctor Service provides medical service for people in remote areas and covers two-thirds of Australia, with physicians operating from bases equipped with radio stations for communicating with distant ranches and settlements. Australia has 455 people for every physician and 112 people for every hospital bed.

Political Parties

There are four major political parties in Australia: the Australian Labor Party (ALP), the Liberal Party of Australia (Liberals), the National Party of Australia (National Party), and the Australian Democrats (Democrats). All are moderate social-democratic parties. Traditionally, the ALP is associated with trade unions, the Liberals are aligned with business interests, the National Party is more conservative, and the Democrats are more progressive, but these differences have become increasingly blurred. As with many western countries, the system is essentially a two-party system, and all major roles have been filled by the ALP and Liberals for many decades.


Judiciary

Judiciary
At the head of the judicial system of the commonwealth is the High Court of Australia, consisting of seven members appointed by the governor-general in council. There are lesser federal courts and state supreme courts.

Commonwealth

Government
Australia, a federal parliamentary democracy, is an independent self-governing state and a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The constitution of Australia, which became effective in 1901, is based on British parliamentary traditions, and includes elements of the United States system. The head of state is the British sovereign, and the head of government is the Australian prime minister, who is responsible to the Australian Parliament. All powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states. Australia is a founding member of the United Nations (UN).

Executive

Executive
Formally, executive authority in Australia is vested in the governor-general, who is appointed by the British monarch in consultation with the Australian prime minister. The British monarch is also the royal head of Australia, but has no real power in the government and serves as a symbolic head of state. The governor-general acts only on the advice of the Executive Council, or cabinet, comprising all ministers of state. Federal policy in practice is determined by the cabinet, which is chaired by the prime minister, who is the head of the majority party in parliament. The ministers are responsible for the individual departments of the federal government, and these departments are administered by permanent civil servants.

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