The Commonwealth of Australia was formed in 1901 and is made up of the six colonies that were created on the continent. The commonwealth is considered a Constitutional Monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as the current head of state. However, the commonwealth also has an elected prime minister, parliament, and federal state and local levels of government.
Since its foundation, the commonwealth has been perceived as a stable democratic democracy. However, this has been challenged since the 2019 federal election in the country. The financial disclosure system in the country had voters waiting for nine months to know where campaign donations were coming from in elections. After this information was released it became clear that one individual Clive Palmer, who is a mining magnate, was responsible for financing more than 83 million dollars to elections that benefited the winning coalition. The large amounts of donations allowed for one individual to influence various aspects of elections and allow those he supports to win against challenges with fewer resources. One example of this is in 2016 when an individual donated over a million dollars to Malcolm Turnbull’s election campaign which allowed him to continue to run for election. However, after this became known government accountability was hard to find when inquiries were made about the large donation. This system allows for a small group of individuals to have large influences and effects on multiple elections without legally having to disclose who has given donations to campaigns within the country. As a result, there is potential for democratic backsliding in the country because small groups of wealthy individuals are allowed to influence elections while the large population is unable to. Donations are a beneficial aspect to the political process, however, the amount of influence a person can gain through the use of donations can greatly impact how a politician political positions based on how much a small segment of the population donates.
Another issue challenging democracy in the commonwealth is the widespread uninterest in democratic processes. Since the beginning of the Covid 19, pandemic citizens have been blaming issues within the country on the federal government while blame should be placed on the state governments on issues such as shutting down domestic borders. This attention on the federal government from both the citizens of Australia and the media has allowed state governments to make changes to laws in the country. This period has allowed many of the state governments to limit or change the amount of transparency and standards of accountability. An example of this is the fact that the Australian tax system collects 81% of all tax revenue including income taxes. However, the other levels of government collect taxes such as land, payroll, and other parts of daily life. With this system, there is a strong association with the federal government taxing compared to the state government taxes on society. This allows the state-level governments to make decisions with low levels of scrutiny while the federal government faces larger amounts of scrutiny based on the association that the federal government is responsible for taxation.
The next issue is the level of popularity that democracy has in the country, which has not been extremely positive among the Australian population. A poll conducted by the Lowy Institute Poll showed that 30% of Australians aged 18-29 believed that a non-democratic system would be more beneficial in certain situations. It also showed that 55% of the population believed that the democratic process was better in all circumstances. This is a drastic difference compared to 60 years ago when the population showed that only 15% of people surveyed would prefer the non-democratic system over a democratic system. His survey also showed that 72% of the population also agreed that the democratic system was preferable in all circumstances. This poll shows that over the past few decades the decline in support for a democratic government. This is important because the lack of support for the current type of government shows that there is a growing lack of faith that this regime type may not continue to be effective if the current trends continue to grow. The growing percentage of younger people who support the switch to a non-democratic government in certain situations also further supports the fact that the government is losing public support and as a result is backsliding.