South Australia is a constitutional monarchy with the Queen of Australia as Sovereign, and the Governor of South Australia as her representative. It is a state of the Commonwealth of Australia. Its bicameral parliament consists of a House of Assembly (lower house) and a Legislative Council (upper house), with legislative elections held every four years. The current Premier of South Australia is Jay Weatherill, a member of the Australian Labor Party.
Initially, the Governor of South Australia held almost total power, derived from the Letters Patent of the Imperial Government to create the colony. He was only accountable to the British Colonial Office, and thus democracy did not exist in the colony. A new body was created to advise the governor on the administration of South Australia in 1843 called the Legislative Council. It consisted of three representatives of the British Government and four colonists appointed by the governor. The governor retained total executive power.
In 1851, the Imperial Parliament enacted the Australian Colonies Government Act which allowed for the election of representatives to each of the colonial legislatures and the drafting of a Constitution to properly create representative and responsible Government in South Australia. Later that year, wealthy male colonists were allowed to vote for 16 members on a new 24 seat Legislative Council. Eight members continued to be appointed by the governor.
The main responsibility of this body was to draft a Constitution for South Australia. The body drafted the most democratic constitution ever seen in the British Empire and provided for manhood suffrage. It created the bicameral Parliament of South Australia. For the first time in the colony, the executive was elected by the people and the colony used the Westminster system, where the government is the party or coalition that exerts a majority in the House of Assembly.
In 1894, South Australia was the first Australian colony to allow women to vote and it had the first Parliament in the world to allow women to be elected as members. Catherine Helen Spence was the first woman in Australia to be a candidate for political office when she nominated to be one of South Australia’s delegates to the constitutional conventions that drafted the Constitution. South Australia became an original state of the
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