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Government

Legislature

National legislative power in Australia is vested in a bicameral parliament, made up of a Senate and a House of Representatives. The Senate consists of 76 members (12 from each state and 2 from each territory). Senators are popularly elected under a form of proportional representation; senators from states are elected to six-year terms and senators from territories are elected to three-year terms. According to the Australian constitution, the House should have about twice as many members as the Senate. The number of members from each state is proportional to its population, but must be at least five. As of the 2001 elections the House has 150 members, all of whom are directly elected to three-year terms. The prime minister can ask the governor-general to dissolve parliament and call new elections at any time; the prime minister also determines the date of parliamentary elections every three years. Australia has universal and compulsory suffrage for all citizens over the age of 18.

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