The Doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty: Its Scope and Influence on the Australian Law System


  • Tian-ngern Uttarachai -


Doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty, Constitutional Law, Australian Constitution, Legislative Power


This article conducts a study on the theory of parliamentary sovereignty which is a basic principle in the constitutional law of the former countries of the British Empire. This principle establishes that parliament has absolute sovereignty and is superior to the executive and judiciary. Therefore, Parliament has unrestrained legislative authority, and the Court cannot question the constitutionality of parliamentary acts. Australia being a British colony has undoubtedly been affected by this concept. However, Australia gained a written constitution from the Imperial Parliament; consequently, it is impossible to apply traditional parliamentary sovereignty in Australia. It has been demonstrated that the Commonwealth parliament's powers are constrained because it was founded by the federal constitution and was granted legislative authority according to the Constitution. The states’ legislative powers are restricted by the Commonwealth Constitution, the state constitutions, and some of the Commonwealth’s powers. Thus, neither the Commonwealth nor the state parliaments in Australia have the legislative supremacy to enact or alter laws without restriction. Regardless of the fact that parliaments in Australia are not truly sovereign, parliamentary sovereignty has continued to have a significant impact on the Australian legal system, particularly as it relates to legal interpretation and statutory human rights protection.


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