The Executive & The Opposition Party
Sources of the PM's Weaknesses
No Personal Mandate
By not having a personal mandate, the PM doesn’t have a direct right to govern but through leadership of his party, he gains that right. In Australia, citizens vote their parliament & in itself the leader of the Party becomes PM. Since the PM isn’t directly voted in, they can be deposed any time as there isn’t any rule or convention preventing them from being so. Evident in Rudd/ Gillard, Abbot/Turnbull, Turnbull/Scomo leadership spill.
Since ministers are not bound by any legislation to be fully loyal to the PM, the easiest way to become PM is by deposing the current one. Rivals limit the power as the PM becomes paranoid to if they would deposed and hence cannot fully focus on their job at legislating. An example of this is Tony Abbott leaking information to the media regarding Turnbull’s decision.
Division in Party/ Party Ideology
Since PM’s are leaders of their party, they are bound by that party’s ideology. If the party loses faith in their leader, they can vote to replace him. If a party is in coalition (joint with another party), the PM must also make legislation that works for that party, so they don’t polarise that party. This is evident in the Liberal/National coalition.
Since power is divided vertically in Australia, the national govt may not intrude on certain aspect of state powers. This becomes a limit to the PM’s power; however, they can use fiscal power to manipulate state legislation. An example of states limiting power is States being able to extend the national emergency act which allows states to possess exclusive powers i.e., quarantine.
The opposing party works in contrast with the govt presenting itself to be an alternate government. The opposition party can use many non-parliamentary techniques to create doubt in the other party leading to a decline in their popularity. An example of this is being provocative in parliament or using the media.
The Senate was designed to be a States house, however, it also now become a limit on the power of the PM and the government e.g., ABCC legislation. Since the senate uses proportional voting, minority parties are overrepresented in the senate. This is because each state has the same number of senators and a state with a small popularity (Tasmania) has greater representation per person in the Senate. It’s usually highly difficult for the majority party to gain a majority in the Senate, meaning it has to compromise on aspects of its legislation to pass it. This is called an ‘Unfriendly Senate’ as it is controlled by the crossbench as they are required for legislation to pass. A hostile senate is the best limit to the power of the PM as they are often unable to pass most of their legislation since the opposition party in the govt is controlling the senate. E.g., of the hostile senate = the 1975 crisis when the liberal party had control over the senate.
Relationship between States
If states are corporative with another, they can force the government to do what they want (to a moderate extent). As seen in the National Cabinet during 2020 when Scott Morrison listened to what the states wanted in regard to supplies etc and did as such. Moreover, due to the astonishing win of the Labor party at the state election, Scomo has to be weary of this as if he weakens the relationship with WA, he may lose support and at the next election and hence may lose.
The High Court (HC)
The HC’s role in judicial review:
The HC can rule against the Federal govt. However, up until now the High court has relatively ruled in the favour of the Federal government. An example of the high court ruling against and curbing the power of the federal government was in the chaplain’s case where it was decided that the government did not have the authority to fund money to chaplain under “the authority of the governor general.” This underlined under section 76.