Annotated Bibliography | Are Australian prime ministers too powerful? Should we codify their powers in the Constitution?


2509LHS – Media, Politics & Public Opinion

Essay topics: 35% – Due Friday Week 10

Write 2,000 words, in clear scholarly prose, and essay – with a cover page, introduction (containing a clearly identifiable argument), body, conclusion and reference list – on one of the following topics. Use in-text references (Harvard or APA style) generously.

NB: You must not write an essay on the same topic as your oral presentation.

  1. What are the key national identities with whom Australians have traditionally identified? How does ‘real’ Australia differ from these myths?
  2. Compare and contrast the theories and ‘world views’ of Walter Lippmann and John Dewey. Is one more useful than the other in understanding democracy and communication today? (cite and refer to the authors’ original works)
  3. Compare and contrast federal politics Newspoll results ( with ReachTel ( results between January 2015 and the July 2016 federal election. What methods / samples did they use? What questions did they ask? Which was the more accurate? (Use scholarly theory)
  4. Analyse the public comments One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson has made in 2016. What rhetorical devices does she employ? Whom is she targeting? (Use Factiva)
  5. Are Australia’s major political parties in crisis? Why or why not?
  6. Would a proportional representation voting system be a “better” choice for our House of Representatives? (What do we mean by “better”?)
  7. Are Australian prime ministers too powerful? Should we codify their powers in the Constitution?
  8. Track the public comments (via Factiva) the Queensland government & police made – in reference to the death of Cole Miller & alcohol law reform from January-February, 2016 – and contrast those with the comments and lobbying strategies of the alcohol lobby.
  9. What was the Finkelstein Report? Who commissioned it and for what reason? What were its key recommendations? How did Australia’s major newspapers react? (see
  10. Compare & contrast the rhetoric the Liberal- National party coalition has used on asylum seekers since 2001 with that used by the Greens and asylum-seeker support groups. How has the rhetoric of each evolved over time?
  11. Free choice: Pitch you own topic & argument to Paul.


Wanna provides an insightful explanation of the Westminster type of government detailing how it works and its history in Australia. The author’s main argument is that Australians have a hard choice to make as the current powers of the prime minister will become untenable and calls for changes in the constitution to clearly codify the powers will become louder in the future. Wanna is of the view that continuation Westminster democracy in Australia will depend on how well the leaders serve the public in Australia. One of the key strengths of Wanna’s paper is that it gives a chronology of how previous prime ministers in Australia have abused their position. The second strength is that the research is recent and provides examples that the current generation can relate with. The examples of how the past prime ministers used their powers excessively makes the research applicable to the current research. The failure to provide applicable solutions makes the research weaker.