The concept of the rule of law
In democratic nations such as Australia the primary role of the government is to make laws that serve and protect its citizens. When making these laws, governments have to ensure that they conform to the country’s constitution, which has been designed to prevent any abuse of power. A political party that aspires to form a government has to convince society that its policies are the best available for that society. If the party in government fails to make laws that serve society competently, it is at risk of being voted out of power.
In a democratic society such as Australia the power of parliament is controlled by the Commonwealth Constitution.
Courts are independent of the government. Their role is to interpret the law, determining what it does and does not allow. No person or group stands above the law and no one may violate it without punishment. In essence, the rule of law ensures that the exercise of arbitrary power by any group is not possible. In a democratic
society the law covers all aspects of government, and everyone is considered to be
equal before it. The individual is deemed to have value and dignity.
The Australian legal system embodies a wide variety of inter-related principles, including:
• independence of the judiciary
• the right of the accused to a fair trial
• individual rights in relation to arrest and questioning procedures
• provision of Legal Aid for those unable to afford their own defence
• the right of a person not to incriminate themselves
• the right of the accused to provide a defence that is free from state interference
• the right of the accused to be informed of the alleged crime with which they are being charged.
• In addition to all of these, the most important principle is that the law must
• apply equally to all, regardless of status or position in society.