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The Three Arms of Government

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Our system of government is organised into three arms and these are known as:

(1) The legislative arm.

This is the law making section of government, called the Parliament, and the people of Western Australia elect its members.

(2) The executive arm.

This is the law administering (carrying-out) section of government, called the Executive, and its members are drawn from the members of parliament whose party has the majority of seats in the Legislative Assembly. This arm is accountable to the Parliament, and therefore the people, for its actions.

In Western Australia, the executive arm of government is officially represented by the Executive Council. The Governor under Letters Patent issued by Her Majesty the Queen appoints the Executive Council. Officially it consists of all the members of the ministry and is presided over by the Governor. All ministers also meet as a body called the Cabinet. Cabinet is not recognised in the Constitution, but in practice makes the major decisions relating to Government policy and guides ministerial decision-making.

It should be noted that in Australia the term 'the Government' is often used to refer to the Executive Government. This is because the direction of affairs is largely in the hands of the body that holds Executive power.

(3) The judicial arm.

This is the law adjudicating (judging) section of government. This section has appointed people who have the authority to interpret Acts of Parliament and to decide if laws and previous decisions apply to a particular case.

In Western Australia, the judicial arm of Government is the judiciary (or judges of the various courts). The Supreme Court is the State's superior court and the Chief Justice of Western Australia is the State's chief judicial officer.

 What is Parliament

The Australian Parliament

The Western Australian Parliament

Other Australian Parliaments

The Role of the High Court

What is Executive Government