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Australia's governmental institutions and practices, which came into existence at Federation in 1901, follow the western democratic traditions combining the British and American experiences.

At the national level is the Parliament (or legislature) whose powers are defined in a written constitution. The Parliament, located in Canberra, the national capital, is bicameral, with two chambers: the House of Representatives and the Senate.

A system of Cabinet government, modelled on the Westminster system, is the major national policy-making body. The political party or coalition of parties commanding a majority in the House of Representatives become the Government and provides ministers (including the Prime Minister) for the Cabinet, all of whom must be members of the Parliament.

Likewise at the state and territory levels are governments with cabinets and legislatures. At the local levels are about 900 municipal councils.

At all levels elections for candidates of several political parties are held about every three years. The two dominant parties have been the Labor Party and the Liberal Party.

According to the constitution, the judicial power of the Federal Government is vested in the High Court and other courts created by Parliament. The states and territories have their own court systems.

Australia is an independent nation that maintains constitutional links to the British
Crown. In Australia the Crown is represented by the Governor General nationally (and state governors at the state levels), who perform official and ceremonial duties in the capacity of Head of State.

To check out the Australian Government's travel advisory service, log on to

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