In 1901 a federal system of government was established under the Australian constitution. The power was thereafter distributed between the States and the federal government. There was a definite definition of exclusive power which was vested in the federal government hence enabled to legislate on matters to do with taxation, commerce and trade, external affairs, immigration, defense and citizenship. There is also a provision for concurrent powers whereby the two government tiers were able to make laws. Federal laws prevail in entire Australia. In particular, instances where there seems to be a disagreement between the state and the federal law, the latter will apply.
Nevertheless, States are allowed to legislate on specific matters that have not been assigned the federal government. This is to say that Australia has a total of nine legal systems; the federal system and eight territorial and state criminal laws. These latter laws play a vital and immediate effect on the daily activities of the Australian people. There are three government branches that are incorporated in the state and federal system. This includes the judicial, legislative and the executive.
The legislative is responsible for making the laws; administration of the laws is the responsibility of the executive government whereas interpretation and application of the law is the role of the judiciary. The indigenous people of Australia have been historically noted to have been discriminated by the Australian legal system. This is because the legal system had not taken into consideration their customs and cultural background. The legal system was imported and forced upon the indigenous people (Australia’ s Unfair Legal System, 2008). For instance, it has been identified by the Australian Law Commission that the Torres Strait Islander and the Aboriginal women are the worst served by the system (Jager, 2001).
There have been suggestions from policy groups to the legal offices to allow for at least an Aboriginal person as a staff member in the courts that deal mainly with the Aborigines. These measures among others are essential to ensure that justice is easily accessed by the entire society members.
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