About this section
The Constitution of Australia is the foundational legal document of our system of federal government. The Constitution provides a set of rules and a framework for how Australia is governed. The Constitution divides the power to make laws between the federal government and the state governments. The Constitution also provides for the role of the executive government, and the judicial system, as well as some of the rights and freedoms of individual Australian citizens.
While the Australian Constitution is itself a law, it has special high status. The Constitution cannot be changed or altered the same way as other laws, and it overrides all other laws in Australia. The Constitution can only be amended through a special referendum, which is a vote made by all the people in Australia. The Constitution provides express law making power to the Federal parliament on a variety of areas. However, the Federal Government is only allowed to make law on the areas specified in the Constitution. If the Federal Government makes laws over an area outside its power, this law will be invalid.
Most commonly constitutional law is concerned with a question of whether or not the State or federal government have constitutional power to make a particular law. Constitutional questions also sometimes address whether there has been a clash between a state or federal law, and determine how this clash will be resolved. Because the Constitution is a special law, all constitutional questions are heard in the High Court of Australia, which is the highest court in Australia.