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date: 16 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter focuses on the national institution variously called the ‘federal Parliament’, the ‘Australian Parliament’, or the ‘Commonwealth Parliament’. It highlights three constitutional meta-principles as having significance for the institution of Parliament. These three—federalism, representative government, and responsible government—have been particularly influential in determining the institutional trajectory of the Parliament. Hence, this chapter uses them to organize a discussion of key structural features. The latter two meta-principles are further taken as useful lenses through which to examine notable innovations, challenges, and constraints that contribute to an understanding of the institution. This chapter thus reveals that Parliament itself has had a significant and ongoing influence upon the structures through which representative government gains expression, even while the High Court has intervened periodically to enforce perceived baseline requirements.

Keywords: parliaments, federal Parliament, Australian Parliament, Commonwealth Parliament, constitutional meta-principles, federalism, representative government, responsible government

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