Composition of the Australian parliament

Posted: April 12, 2017 To: Guides
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It's important for any citizen of Australia to understand how their parliament works. However, many students have bought an essay because they weren't sure of the fine details. In fact, the composition of the Australian parliament is much easier to understand than it looks. This is an overview of how the system works, and what each section does.

The different parts of parliament

The Australian parliament is made up of three different parts. They are the Queen of Australia, the Senate, and the House of Representatives.

The Queen Of Australia

The Queen herself does not act directly on the Australian parliament. Instead, a Governor-General is appointed, on the advice of the current Prime Minister. This person acts as her representative in Australia.

This person has the power to assent to legislation, refuse to assent to legislation, or to reserve a bill for the Queen's pleasure. However, these powers are rarely used, unless in its accordance with the Prime Minister.

The Senate

The upper house of parliament is the Senate, which was partially modelled on the system used by the United States. It consists of 76 members, and these members equally represent each state and territory, regardless of population.

These members are directly voted in, and it has always been this way. This is in comparison to the US, which only had senators directly voted in since 1913. Since 1919, the way senators are voted in is by preferential block voting. This is because the previous, 'first past the post' system would often result in landslides, creating uneven representation.

House of Representatives

The lower house of parliament is the House of Representatives. This is made up of singular electorates, and there's no set number for how many should be in the house at once. However, the Constitution decrees that this number must be 'practicable', and around twice the number of senators on duty.

Currently, the houses comprises of 150 members. Not every territory is guaranteed a seat, but the original five states will have at least 5 seats each.

Membership of houses

If you want to become a member of parliament, you can go up for election for either the Senate or the House of Representatives, but not both at the same time. Also, you must be an Australian citizen. Since 1999, British citizens cannot serve.

As you can see, the Australian parliament is much simpler than you'd think. These two houses pass laws and help run Australia as we know it today.

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