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The British historian Lord Acton’s celebrated saying eloquently summarises the essence of the approach of the English speaking countries to government:

 “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely .”




This is a sceptical approach, which is suspicious of concentrations of power. The model of government which emerged in Britain as a result of the glorious Revolution is the basis of two different but related systems of government which developed in Britain and the United States, which had fought for its independence on the grounds that King George III had withdrawn many of their rights as Englishmen under the Glorious Revolution.

The British model which developed in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Westminster system, has been exported successfully to many countries. The American model has not, although it works very well in the United States. The Canadian constitution is essentially based on the Westminster system, while borrowing federalism from the United States.

Australia was fortunate that she was settled by the British. This ensured that she would live under the rule of law, and that the Australian colonies would evolve as crowned republics.

When the Australian colonies federated, the Founding Fathers drafted a constitution, based on the  Westminster model.

In addition they borrowed more  of federalism from the United States than the Canadians  did, particularly in the role and composition of the Senate.

Australia also borrowed the referendum from Switzerland, so that the peoples' consent was necessary both to the adoption of the constitution and to making any change to it.

Much of the twentieth century has involved disputes between those who believe in limited government with effective checks and balances, and those who put their faith in finding the best guardians who could be trusted with power.

One, Fascism and its German form Nazism, led to the terrible Second World War ( 1939 – 1945) in which 70 million people died.

The crowned republics of Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa and the British Empire, including the India Empire,  were almost alone in fighting  Nazism from the beginning to the end.  

The other absolutist political philosophy which took power in the twentieth centuries in a number of countiries, communism,  led to the deaths of up to 100 million people, and the enslavement of many more.

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