The Australian Constitution

The Australian Constitution is Australia’s supreme law, providing a framework for the development of all other laws in Australia, by establishing the division of power between the federal and state parliaments.

The Constitution also provides fundamental laws and protections for all Australians.

The Australian Constitution was passed in 1900 to ensure greater cooperation between the states, which had been operating as six self-governing British colonies since European settlement.

Under the Constitution, the Federal Government has the ability to make laws for all of Australia—allowing a more coordinated approach to the development of laws of national significance, such as those relating to defence.

In agreeing to the Australian Constitution, the states passed some power to the Federal Government to make laws for the whole nation, while still maintaining the power to make other laws relating to their state.

The division of power established under the Australian Constitution can be changed either by the states referring powers to the Commonwealth, or by a vote of the people, known as a referendum. As a result the division of power can change over time.

This page was last updated on March 19, 2014