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  Historic images of Parliament

What is the "Westminster System"?

The Westminster system is so called after the Palace of Westminster, where the British Parliament sits. This system of parliamentary government was developed over the centuries and is used in many countries including Australia.

The features of the Westminster style of government are: A sovereign, bicameral parliament makes the laws; the party or group of parties with control of the lower house forms government. There is "rule of law" and the judicial system is independent of the parliament. The executive (group of Cabinet Ministers) is drawn from within the parliament and is answerable to the parliament. The head of state is a constitutional monarch who is above politics. The public service impartially serves and advises the government of the day.

Parliaments in Australia differ from the Westminster model in that their authority is limited by their State or Commonwealth Constitution.