Seminar Details

About Parliament – Wednesday 16 April and Wednesday 13 August

Seminar code: AP

The new About Parliament seminar, run in conjunction with the Department of the Senate, provides an introduction to Australia’s parliamentary system of government and what parliament does. Developed with graduates and people new to the public service in mind, this seminar provides an overview of the parliamentary system, including the constitutional provisions for the federal system of government; the functions of the parliament, executive and judiciary; and the way in which public servants interact with the House of Representatives and the Senate. This seminar includes a tour of the House of Representatives and the Senate chambers.


This introductory seminar will help you understand:

  • the provisions in the Australian Constitution for Australia’s federal system of government
  • the functions of the parliament, executive and judiciary
  • the role and responsibilities of the House of Representatives and the Senate
  • how the public service interacts with the parliament and how to keep up to date with the work of the houses

Seminar outline

1. Australia’s system of government

  • features of the Australian Constitution
  • the functions of the parliament, executive and judiciary

2. Parliament’s work

  • roles of the House of Representatives and Senate, with emphasis on law making and accountability

3. Working with parliament

  • how public servants are involved with the work of parliament
  • how legislation passes through parliament
  • contributing to parliamentary committees
  • following parliament’s work

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About Legislation - Wednesday 30 July

Seminar code: AL

Most proposed Commonwealth legislation is introduced into the House of Representatives. In our About Legislation seminar we explain in detail the whole legislative process – from the introduction of a bill into the House, to what happens when it becomes an act, or law. We guide you in how to find and use on-line documents related to the legislative process.

Our seminar is designed for people who are involved in the legislative process and who need to follow the passage of legislation through the parliament.


You will understand:

  • the legislative powers and functions of the parliament
  • the role of the House of Representatives and the Senate in law making
  • all stages of the parliamentary legislative process
  • the function of the second chamber or Main Committee in the House of Representatives
  • how House committees are involved in the consideration of legislation
  • how to follow the passage of legislation on-line

Seminar outline

1. Introduction

  • key functions of the House
  • legislative powers of the parliament
  • what is ‘primary legislation’
  • House and Main Committee

2. The passage of legislation

  • origins of legislation
  • the key stages of parliamentary consideration, including assent
  • legislation examined by parliamentary committees

3. The House and the Senate

  • legislative powers – distinctions between the two Houses
  • Senate amendments and requests
  • disagreements between the House and the Senate
  • assent and act publication

4. Accessing information and legislation

  • finding documents relating to legislation and following legislation on-line

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About Committees - Wednesday 2 July

Seminar code: AC

Parliamentary committees regularly inquire into and report on issues of importance to all Australians. Our About Committees seminar provides detailed information on all aspects of committee work, including the types of committees and how they conduct their investigations. If you want to know how you can contribute a submission to a committee’s inquiry, give evidence before a committee, or you need to brief others on these processes, or simply follow the progress of an inquiry, this seminar will interest you.


You will understand:

  • the committee system operating in the parliament, particularly the House of Representatives
  • the way a committee investigation is conducted – from the referral of an inquiry topic through to the tabling of the government’s response to the report and any follow-up action by the committee
  • how to make effective contributions to committee inquiries
  • parliamentary privilege, and the rights and obligations of contributors to committee inquiries
  • what the members of a committee see as important in the inquiry process
  • how to follow a committee investigation on-line

Seminar outline

1. The operation of parliamentary committees

  • the system of committees in the parliament
  • the role and focus of House committees
  • differences between House and Senate committees
  • parliamentary privilege as it applies to committees

2. The inquiry process

  • the origins of inquiries
  • the inquiry process
  • what happens after a report is tabled
  • the importance of the government’s response

3. Contributing to an inquiry

  • the accountability of public servants to committees
  • the obligations and rights of contributors
  • making a submission
  • appearing as a witness
  • following an inquiry on-line

4. Members’ experience on committees

If a member is available to make a presentation on this seminar, we invite them to:

  • Discuss his/her involvement in the work of committees

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About the Budget – Wednesday 7 May

Seminar code: ATB

The annual passage of the budget through the parliament is critical for the proper functioning of government. Our seminar About the Budget gives a practical insight into the procedures involved in the various stages of budget consideration once the budget has been introduced into the House. The seminar includes a comprehensive guide to accessing budget documents. The seminar is designed for people who are involved with or need to follow the budget after it is introduced into the House.


You will understand:

  • the key steps in the parliament’s consideration of the budget
  • the procedural steps involved in the passage of the budget and how you may get involved
  • the range of budget-related measures that can be associated with the budget
  • how to access information about budget processes – what stage it is at, who has said what, and when

Seminar outline

1. Budget night

  • presentation of the budget
  • budget speech
  • budget-related measures
  • budget papers

2. The main budget debate in the House of Representatives

  • Opposition response
  • the scope of further debate

3. Detailed consideration of the budget in the House and the Main Committee

  • the sequence of consideration
  • voting funds for departments
  • role of advisors

4. Senate consideration of the budget

  • the Senate debate and estimates process
  • the potential for requests for amendments

5. Final stages

  • bill returned to the House
  • assent by the Governor-General

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Presentations for individual organisations

The Department of the House of Representatives is able to conduct presentations for individual organisations at Parliament House in Canberra, interstate and in regional Australia.

We can tailor presentations for your organisation around any of the themes or subjects covered in this seminar booklet. We can help your staff to learn how your organisation can follow and be involved in the parliamentary process.

We can offer a stand alone presentation or provide a session on parliament within a wider program. Our presentations can be basic or very detailed and we can talk to small or large groups. Presentations are two hours in duration.

As an example, an introductory presentation on Australia’s system of government could cover:

  • the constitutional framework for our system of government
  • the structure and functions of parliament – how the two Houses of Parliament are different
  • members – government and opposition - how they raise issues, what members actually do
  • the legislative process
  • the budget in parliament
  • the work of committees and what they achieve

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See also:

Seminar program cover



The 2014 Seminar program is also available in printed format. A PDF version of this document is available to download (PDF 62 KB).

Please contact the Community Relations Office to request a printed copy.

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