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The Australian National University

In a Fix: Fixed-Term Parliaments in the Australian States

Peter Congdon (2013) 41 (2)

Constitutional systems of Westminster heritage are increasingly moving towards fixed-term parliaments to, amongst other things, prevent the Premier or Prime Minister opportunistically calling a 'snap election'. Amongst the Australian states, qualified fixed-term parliaments currently exist in New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria. Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia have also deliberated over whether to establish similar fixed-term parliaments. However, manner and form provisions in those states' constitutions entrench the Parliament's duration, Governor's Office and dissolution power. In Western Australia and Queensland, unlike Tasmania, such provisions are doubly entrenched. This article considers whether these entrenching provisions present legal obstacles to constitutional amendments establishing fixed-term parliaments in those two states. This involves examining whether laws fixing parliamentary terms fall within section 6 of the Australia Acts 1986 (Cth) & (UK). The article concludes by examining recent amendments to the Electoral Act 1907 (WA) designed to enable fixed election dates in Western Australia without requiring a successful referendum.

Vol 41, Issue 2, 2013

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