What did I learn?
In term 1, our class was learning about government. We learnt things like what was our country’s government, the three levels of government and what they do, what elements are in Australia’s federal parliament (things like equality before the law), how to make or change a law, knowing the roles and responsibilities of leaders in parliament and showing your understanding in school and community activities, and finding out the history of our parliament. That’s not all we learnt, but I just go into depth into those few categories we learnt about.
Our country’s government is a democracy, but also a constitutional monarchy. This means that we have a prime minister guiding the country, but also a king/ queen ruling over us as well. In this case, our queen is Queen Elizabeth II, who rules Australia and England! But she doesn’t live in Australia, which makes it hard for her to rule this country as well as England, that’s why she has a Governor General to represent her in parliament. The Governor General gets chosen by the queen herself, so you’re pretty lucky if you get the job! But more on the Governor General later, let’s talk about the democracy part of our government. Australia is a parliamentary democracy that means we get a say in what’s going on. That also means that the government is based on a system that is supreme! We have a House of Representatives, a Senate and The Queen/Governor General to make and change new laws so that Australia is run properly. As a democracy, we get to vote in who gets to be in parliament, and if you’re eligible, you can try to get in. The time where everyone tries to get into parliament is called an election. So Australia is a monarchy and a democracy, but what about the others ways of government, here they are:
- Anarchy: Anarchy is where there is no one to rule the country, there’s no government. This means that everyone does their own thing, and there’s no rules. This can happen to a country if a war took place, or another country has invaded and their fighting to take control.
- Communism: This system is how the government owns all business and farms, and then gives out the produced food to everybody equally.
- Dictatorship- If a country was ruled like this, it would mean that a person is ruling the country and was not elected. This could happen by the person using force to become the leader for his/her country.
- Republic- This is a country that is ruled with no monarch. This means that the head of the country is ruled by a prime minister, and they have to be elected in. So there would be no Queen or King, and no Governor General.
- Totalitarian state- This country is ruled by one political party, and the people in the country are forced to do whatever the government says they have to do. This may make people want to leave the country, but the government can (and would) prevent them from leaving.
In the olden days, King John was England’s King. He was called “The worst king of England”, and there were many reasons why. He was always going to war with France (and losing!) and he kept taxing the rich people to pay for his armies! But one day, the barons (rich people) had enough, and they marched to the fields on Runnymede, London and they made him sign the Magna Carta (click on Magna Carta if you don’t understand what it means). And it worked for a while, but when King Charles the 1st came along, well he locked people up in jail if they didn’t pay their taxes. But one person realised he wasn’t going by the Magna Carta, and this person was Sir Edward Coke, a politician and an important English judge. After the news broke out, this event ended up leading to a war, and Charles the 1st death. Then came the Age of Enlightenment (which happened in the mid 1600’s). New thinkers arrived and the way countries were run started to change. There was one person who influenced everyone, and that was John Locke (1963 to 1704). This man came and argued for the rights of property, liberty and life about the government. People were only going to be governed as long as they still had their rights. Then came 1679, when the parliament of England made the Habeas Corpus. The Habeas Corpus is a contract stating how locking people up unfairly wasn’t going to happen unless their proven guilty in court. Then the parliament passed the English Bill Of Rights (1689), which lays out rules regarding the power of the monarchy and the rights for people. Some things in that bill were that the parliament was responsible for making the laws and setting taxes (not the king/queen), elections will happen on a regular basis and the bill would protect the following things:
- Freedom of Speech
- Freedom of Assembly
- Freedom to petition the government
- The right to keep and bear arms.
As all of this was happening, the news of the Magna Carta was going around, and most countries liked that idea. The new (at the time) American colonies wanted some of the ideas in the Magna Carta to be in their laws, and they ended up combining those ideas with some of their own. But in 1765, King George III decided to tax 13 American colonies without their concern. That didn’t end well. The American colonies decided they didn’t like the British rule and wanted to overthrow the authority of Great Britain. This happened, and the United States of America was formed. They also formed their government with three main branches. The Congress, the President and the Courts.
Now, at the start of the 20th century (1901), the 6 colonies in Australia decided that we need a government for the whole country, and that where the federal parliament comes in. Some things the federal parliament established were the right to trial by jury, freedom of religion and the right to vote. But that wasn’t for everyone. Women weren’t allowed to vote (they were allowed to in 1902), immigrants weren’t allowed in Australia so they weren’t counted if they were their (that was fixed in 1947 and the government welcomed immigrates) and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were not recognised as Australia citizens and weren’t even counted in population (It changed after 1967 when a public referendum was held)!
In 1945, an international organisation with 51 countries in it (including Australia) was created. They are called the United Nations, and Australia played a big part in creating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This declaration of rights includes everyone, so no one in the whole world is left out.
So, here are some the things we have today that we have worked so hard to get. And remember, never take these things for granted. We have: Freedom of speech, equality, right to vote (if you’re 18 or over), right to worship (any religion) and right to a fair trial (court). But there are still rights that aren’t protected for everyone. In some parts of the world, people are treated unfairly for their age, gender, sexuality, race, nationality, having a disability and for even being themselves!
That’s just one thing we have to work on for the future of our society. But for now, that’s all the important things that’s happened in the past that’s got to do with the government, and that sums up what I’ve learnt.
Were they good goals?
I believe the goals I gave myself were very good. This is because the other goals I were allowed to choose from I understood, and there’s not point finding out about something if you already know about it. They were also good goals because I cared and it was challenging but achievable. I think each goal I chose were looking at a different point of the government/ parliament, so I ended up looking at a variety of different things that had to do with the government. And that’s really good.
Did I achieve my goals?:
I have learnt so many things from term 1 about the government, and I’m sure I can explain my goals in a way to show you that I understand them and have achieved them. For example, my first goal is if I can describe the three levels of government and some of the key functions of each level. The three levels of government are: Federal, State and Local. Local takes care of things like parks, libraries, community services, signs etc. State takes care of things like schools, police, roads, hospitals, etc. While Federal takes care of things like immigration, war, defence, tax etc. Federal is the highest level of government, while Local is the lowest, and State is right in the middle.
The second goal was that I could explain the basic elements of Australia’s federal parliamentary system and key democratic principles and values such as freedom of speech and equality before the law. The basic elements of Australian Federal parliament is (in order from lowest to highest in ranking) 1. The House of Representatives, 2. The Senate, and 3. The Queen or Governor General (you can put the queen and senate together). Some key principles in parliament are (from the Magna Carta): you can own your own house/land (you couldn’t do that back in 1215) and that no one is above the law (not the president or even the king/queen). There are more, like the bill of rights and fair elections, but I won’t list them all.
The last goal is that I can demonstrate understanding of the roles and responsibilities of leaders, and of democratic processes, when engaging in school and community activities. I think I have achieved that well because I know all the roles and in parliament and I know the responsibilities each one has. Also, in class we acted out what goes on in parliament (half the class was labour, half was liberal) and we would get a role to play, as well as having to know the responsibilities that person has in parliament. And if you still don’t believe me, I can name some roles in parliament right now:
House of Representatives:
Government- the team with the majority of ministers.
Greens- A minor party (there is more than the greens) and they get to go on whichever team they like. And they don’t have to vote on what their team believes if they don’t believe it (but they normally do).
Independents- They get to vote for whatever feels right for them. They have no pressure in a decision they have to make.
The Opposition- against the Government, has lost the election.
Right now, the government is Liberal, and Labour is the opposition. Liberal is a coalition and Labour is a minority.
There was more evidence to if I know the roles and responsibilities of parliament, but if you still don’t think I know it that well, I can tell you how the roles and responsibilities in parliament for passing a bill! Here they are:
The House of Representatives:
- The Cabinet- The prime minister and other important ministers get ideas for a new law.
- 1st Reading- The clerk reads out the bill for the first time.
- Ministers Speech- The minister states the reasoning’s he believes for the bill.
- Adjournment- Parties get time to think whether they will vote for the bill, or against it.
- Committee- Experts from the public gather information on the bill, and see what everyone is thinking of it in the media (this only happens if they don’t have that much evidence from the community’s).
- 2nd Reading Debate- The government, opposition, minor parties and independents state their opinion on the bill (including whether they vote for or against) and they vote whether the bill goes on to the 2nd
- 2nd Reading- The clerk reads out the bill for the second time.
- Consideration in detail- Members of parliament see whether they can improve the bill or give it any amendments.
- 3rd Reading- The clerk reads out the improved bill for the 1st
- Transfer to Senate- the Sergeant at Arms takes the bill to the senate.
- 1st Reading- The clerk reads out the bill for first time in the senate.
- Committee- Experts from the public gather information on the bill, and see what everyone is thinking of it in the media (it’s pretty much how the committee goes in the House of Representatives).
- 2nd Reading Debate- Ministers argue over the bill and vote whether it should go onto the 2nd
- 2nd Reading- The clerk reads out the bill for the 2nd
- Community of Whole- the House of Representatives and the Senate gather evidence to see whether the bill is in good enough state or the Governor General.
- 3rd Reading- The clerk reads out the bill for the last time.
- Governor General- He/she chooses whether to make it an act of parliament or not. If they do, the act of parliament later becomes a law (They almost always say yes to it).
So I believe that I have achieved this goal very well, and I have given my evidence to satisfy you.