The Roles Of: The Constitution, Including Division of Powers and Separation of Powers

The Constitution, Including Division of Powers and Separation of Powers

  • Although human rights are not explicitly protected in the Constitution of Australia, the Constitution does contain a number of provisions that indirectly promote and protect human rights, including: division of legislative power between the Commonwealth (federal) and the state governments, and through expressed and implied rights.
  • Division of Powers entitles distinct authorities to the state and federal government. For example, the federal government supervises the external fairs, makes laws on the matter of national defence, trade, commerce and even immigration and citizenship; while the state government holds the power to make laws on the matter of education, health, transport etc. Having a clear separation of powers makes sure that all the citizens in the country are equal in the eyes of law regardless of the state they belong to or live in.
  • Express and Implied Rights are derived from interpretations of the Constitution. Express rights are those that are directly mentioned in the constitution (right to freedom of religion, the right to trial by jury, and the right to a fair compensation for property acquired by the government); Implied rights refer to the rights that are derived from the text and structure of the Constitution and their underlying values. Some examples of implied rights include – implied freedom of political communication, implied right to freedom of movement, implied right to procedural fairness.
  • Separation of Powers entitles the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government with respective authorities to make sure no single branch of the government is overpowered by another.

Extract from Legal Studies Stage 6 Syllabus. © 2009 Board of Studies NSW.