This website will be progressively updated as the final outcome of the election of 2 July is known, and as the 45th Parliament meets.

Learning

Constitution comparisons

Parliament and MPR [PDF 2.97Mb, 18 pages]

The following table provides an overview of the distinguishing features of both nations’ constitutions.

AustraliaIndonesia

Origins

  • The Australian Constitution was approved by the Australian people in a series of referendums.
  • The Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act (UK) 1900 gained Royal Assent on 9 July 1900 and took effect on 1 January 1901. 

Origins

  • Indonesia proclaimed independence in August 1945 after the surrender of the occupying Japanese forces. The colonial power, the Netherlands, handed sovereignty to the Indonesian government in 1949.
  • The 1945 Constitution was meant as a temporary constitution and was replaced in 1949. It was reintroduced in 1959.

Executive power

  • The Constitution gives executive power to the Queen, which is exercised by the Governor-General. In practice, executive power is exercised by the Prime Minister and Cabinet (high-ranking ministers).
  • The Governor-General presides over the Federal Executive Council, which advises the Governor-General on the administration of the government. It is not a forum for policy debate. The Prime Minister and all ministers are members of the Council.
  • The Prime Minister and Cabinet are not mentioned in the Constitution. By convention, the Prime Minister leads the party or parties with the support of the majority of the members in the House of Representatives, and is commissioned by the Governor-General to form a government. 

Executive power

  • The Constitution gives executive power to the President. 
  • The President is head of state, head of government and Supreme Commander of the armed forces.
  • The President is elected directly by the people of Indonesia.
  • The President appoints ministers (Cabinet) and the heads of some government institutions, such as the heads of the armed forces. Ministers are not members of the MPR (People’s Consultative Assembly).

Separation of powers

  • The Constitution separately describes the legislative, executive and judicial arms of Australian governance.
  • Australia does not have a complete separation of powers because the executive is drawn from the Parliament (legislature), and members of the judiciary (High Court judges) are appointed by the Governor-General (on the advice of the executive).

Separation of powers

  • The Constitution describes the legislative, executive and judicial arms of Indonesian governance.
  • The DPR has the authority to make laws (legislative power) but in reality the DPR works with the President (through the executive) to negotiate laws.
  • Members of the MPR are prohibited from holding executive office, including the presidency.
  • The President cannot dismiss the MPR.
  • Judges of the Supreme Court (Mahkamah Agung) are appointed by the President on the approval of the DPR.

Amending the Constitution

  • A proposed amendment (change) to the Constitution must be passed by the Parliament.
  • The proposal must then be approved by Australian voters in a referendum.
  • For the change to be agreed to, a majority of voters in a majority of states, and a majority of all voters nation-wide (double majority) must agree to the proposal.
  • The Australian Constitution was amended in 1907, 1910, 1929, 1946, 1967 and 1977 (three separate changes).

Amending the Constitution

  • A proposed amendment (change) to the Constitution must be proposed by one-third of MPR members (the DPR and DPD sitting together as one body).
  • Two-thirds of MPR members must attend the session when the proposed amendment is discussed.
  • To be agreed to, an absolute majority (more than half) of all MPR members must agree to the proposed amendment.
  • The 1945 Constitution was amended in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002.
Similarities

Both systems:

  • Have written constitutions that describe the functions of the executive, legislative and judicial branches.
  • Give legislative power to the elected representatives of the people sitting in a parliament.
  • Have a procedure for amending the constitution.