The Cambridge Handbook of the Social Sciences in Australia

By Ian McAllister; Steve Dowrick et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 15
Legislative Institutions
Campbell Sharman

The legislature is at the heart of any system of representative democracy. It is not only the source of binding rules for citizens but also the most important link between the political community and its government. This puts the legislature on the interface between the government as a set of agencies for making and implementing law under the constitution, and procedures for ensuring that government responds to popular preferences. As such, it embodies much of the ambivalence enshrined within the notion of liberal democracy. Part of its legitimacy derives from its role in ensuring limited government and the rule of law, yet its representative aspect ties its legitimacy to the ability to respond to popular majorities (see Brennan and Hamlin 1993). For parliamentary systems, this tension is compounded by the clash between the expectation that the legislature will maintain a role independent of the executive, and pressure for its operation to be dominated by the government of the day.

Australia's parliaments – one federal, six state and two territory legislatures – provide good examples of the variety of ways in which these contradictory forces can be accommodated. The development of Australian legislative institutions has been marked by the emergence of strongly disciplined parliamentary parties that have favoured executive dominance, and also by institutional pressures working to limit government control of the legislative process.

As shown by a 1985 review of literature on Australian political institutions (Jinks 1985), the exploration of factors limiting executive influence over parliament had become an important component of the scholarly analysis of the legislative process by the 1980s. This was as a result, in large measure, of the work of Reid epitomised by his paper 'The Trinitarian struggle: Parliamentary–executive relations' (Reid 1973) and his book with Forrest on the federal parliament (Reid and Forrest 1989). The theme of tension between executive control of the legislature and procedures for effective parliamentary scrutiny of bills and government activity has since become a staple for the analysis of Australian parliaments, and is now a regular component of introductory texts on Australian politics (for example, Parkin and Summers 2002). As Smith (1994) points out in a thoughtful and informative survey, this is much more than a reworking of the decline-of-parliament thesis, a proposition that had always raised as many questions as it purported to answer by assuming some golden age of parliamentary independence.

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The Cambridge Handbook of the Social Sciences in Australia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Figures and Tables vii
  • Contributors x
  • Preface and Acknowledgements xviii
  • Introduction 1
  • References 13
  • Part 1 - Economics 15
  • Chapter 1 - Privatisation 17
  • References 27
  • Chapter 2 - Competition Policy and Regulation 31
  • References 40
  • Chapter 3 - Economics and the Environment 45
  • References 57
  • Chapter 4 - Health Economics 60
  • References 70
  • Chapter 5 - Immigration 74
  • References 87
  • Chapter 6 - Labour Market and Industrial Relations 94
  • References 113
  • Chapter 7 - Income Distribution and Redistribution 118
  • References 134
  • Chapter 8 - Taxation 138
  • References 148
  • Chapter 9 - Innovation 153
  • References 165
  • Chapter 10 - International Trade and Industry Policies 168
  • References 180
  • Chapter 11 - The Macro Economy 186
  • Notes 199
  • References 200
  • Chapter 12 - Money and Banking 203
  • References 216
  • Part 2 - Political Science 221
  • Chapter 13 - Political Theory 223
  • References 231
  • Chapter 14 - Federalism and the Constitution 234
  • References 246
  • Chapter 15 - Legislative Institutions 249
  • References 260
  • Chapter 16 - Political Parties and Electoral Behaviour 266
  • References 283
  • Chapter 17 - Electoral Systems 287
  • References 302
  • Chapter 18 - Gender Politics 305
  • References 319
  • Chapter 19 - Interest Groups and Social Movements 323
  • References 339
  • Chapter 20 - Environmental Policy and Politics 345
  • References 355
  • Chapter 21 - International Relations 358
  • Notes 368
  • References 369
  • Chapter 22 - Political Economy 374
  • References 391
  • Chapter 23 - Public Policy and Public Administration 406
  • References 422
  • Part 3 - Sociology 431
  • Chapter 24 - Patterns of Social Inequality 433
  • References 457
  • Chapter 25 - Families and Households 462
  • References 477
  • Chapter 26 - Gender Perspectives 480
  • References 493
  • Chapter 27 - Work and Employment 499
  • Notes 511
  • References 512
  • Chapter 28 - Crime and Deviance 518
  • References 531
  • Chapter 29 - Health and Illness 536
  • References 552
  • Chapter 30 - Population 554
  • References 569
  • Chapter 31 - Race, Ethnicity and Immigration 573
  • Notes 585
  • References 586
  • Chapter 32 - Urban and Regional Sociology 590
  • Reference 598
  • Chapter 33 - Rural Sociology 604
  • Reference 619
  • Chapter 34 - Religion and Spirituality 626
  • Reference 632
  • Chapter 35 - Cultural Studies, Australian Studies and Cultural Sociology 638
  • References 651
  • Chapter 36 - Sociological Theory 654
  • References 664
  • Chapter 37 - Social Policy and Social Welfare 666
  • References 674
  • Author Index 678
  • Subject Index 696
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