Parliament of Australia
House is not live
House of Representatives
Senate is not live
Current section pages
You are here:
 This and subsequent quotations from Bagehot are taken from The Collected Works of Walter Bagehot, edited by Norman St John-Stevas, vols 5 and 6, The Economist, London, 1974.
 The difference between federation and confederation is becoming somewhat arcane. To some, particularly in the USA, ‘confederation’ means a union of sovereign states with a stress on provincial independence; ‘federation’ stresses the supremacy of the central government. In recent years, ‘confederacy’ has come to mean a temporary union. On both counts, Canada is a federation, though in 1867 it was usually referred to as a confederation.
 This was the popular name for the Act, though at this time British Acts did not have short titles. The long title was ‘An Act for the better Government of Her Majesty’s Australian Colonies’. It was officially given the short title ‘Australian Constitutions Act (No. 2)’ in 1896.
 The title of the 1852 Act was ‘An Act to grant a Representative Constitution to the Colony of New Zealand’. The short title was given in 1896. An earlier Constitution Act had been passed in 1846, dividing New Zealand into three provinces, New Ulster, New Munster and New Leinster. That Act came into effect on 1 January 1848 but was suspended on 7 March.
 The term ‘Maori wars’ is not popular now. ‘New Zealand wars’ or ‘land wars’ are preferred.
 The statistics in this section are taken from Philip Norton, Dissension in the House of Commons 1945-74, London, Macmillan, 1975.
 In first-past-the-post voting, each elector has a single vote. The winner is the candidate with the most votes, however small a proportion of the total votes this may be.
 The system was later changed, and in the 2001 vote for the leadership of the Conservative Party for the first time all party members-more than 300 000 of them-were entitled to vote.
 In the 1994 election only 19 per cent of the eligible trade unionists voted.
 MEP is the short title for a Member of the European Parliament.
 The Constitution Act 1867 was originally called the British North America Act (nearly always referred to as the BNA Act). It and the various amending BNA Acts were renamed Constitution Acts when the Canadian Constitution was ‘patriated’ in 1982.
 P.B. Waite (ed.), Confederation Debates in the Provinces of Canada, Toronto, McClelland & Stewart, 1963.
 Our Future Together, Minister for Supply and Services Canada, 1992, pp. 4-5.
 C.E.S. Franks, The Parliament of Canada, University of Toronto Press, 1987, p. 74.
 J.R. Mallory, ‘Cabinet Government in the Provinces of Canada’, McGill Law Journal, vol. 3, no. 2, Spring 1957.
 Martin Robin (ed.), Canadian Provincial Politics, 2nd edn, Scarborough, Ontario, Prentice-Hall, 1978.
 The ‘natives’ were Australian-born white citizens, not Aborigines.
 In 1888 Papua became a dependency controlled by Queensland, and on federation became effectively an Australian colony. German New Guinea was conquered in 1914, and was given to Australia as a League of Nations mandate in 1919. In 1975 Papua New Guinea was granted independence. It is still independent, still a democracy (though with some difficulties) and still the biggest recipient of Australian overseas aid.
 The High Court can, under s. 74 of the Constitution, still grant a certificate to the Privy Council on certain constitutional questions. This power has not been used since 1912.
 Newspoll surveys have shown considerable consistency in community attitudes on the question of a republic. About 52 per cent are strongly or partly in favour of a republic, and 35 per cent strongly or partly in favour of the present system. The undecided are 13 per cent.
 The Tasmanian upper house is elected from single member electorates and each MLC has a fixed six year term. The Legislative Council is never dissolved, and (when there were nineteen Councillors) in May each year three MLCs were elected, with a fourth elected every sixth year.
 The question of how far existing parliaments can ‘entrench’ acts by requiring that they can be amended or repealed only in certain ways is a fertile field for lawyers (see, for example, G. Winterton, ‘Can the Commonwealth Parliament Enact “Manner and Form” Legislation?’, Federal Law Review, vol. II, no. 2.). On this question, the problem arises of whether a head of state should approve legislation which a future parliament would find impossible to amend.
 Keith Sinclair, A History of New Zealand, Harmondsworth, UK, Penguin, 1980, p. 154. The confusion continues, though it is diminishing. There were 350 local authorities until there was a major review in 1989, when the number was reduced to 89.
 In March 2000 the Reform Party became the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance, more commonly known as the Canadian Alliance. In the 2001 election the Alliance once again captured most seats in Western Canada, but was limited to two seats in Ontario and none further east, and the Liberals won a decisive victory.
 E.A. Forsey and G.C. Eglington, ‘The Question of Confidence in Responsible Government’, unpublished manuscript held in the Parliamentary Library, Ottawa [nd].
 None of the four subsequent changes, Eden/Macmillan, Macmillan/Home, Wilson/Callaghan, and Thatcher/Major were the cause of a general election.
 ABC, ‘This Day Tonight’, 17 June 1975.
 In Australia, since 1976 a Labor prime minister wishing to dismiss a minister has had to consult the parliamentary party, the Caucus. This was formalised in 1984 by the Labor Party Conference-a non-parliamentary body, it should be noted-which gave the power to decide the fate of any minister to a committee comprising the Party Leader and Deputy Leader in each House.
 The Collected Works of Walter Bagehot, St John-Stevas (ed.), vol. 5, 1974, p. 138.
 New Statesman, 5 May 1972.
 See Tik-Tok of Oz, 1913, p. 17.
 Francis Pym, The Politics of Consent, London, Hamish Hamilton, 1984, p. 18.
 Press release by the prime minister, 24 November 1998.
 K.C. Wheare, Government by Committee, London, Clarendon Press, 1955, p. 27.
 R.H.S. Crossman, Inside View, London, Jonathan Cape, 1972, p. 74.
 Geoffrey Sawer, “Ministerial Responsibility and Quangos’, Australian Journal of Public Administration, vol. 42, no. 1, March 1983.
 It was known as the Country Party until May 1975 when the name was changed to National Country Party. The party became the National Party in October 1982.
 1970 Congressional Quarterly Almanac, p. 159.
 Lord Hailsham, Law Society Gazette, 28 August 1985.
 Justice Meagher, Address to the St. James Ethics Centre, 27 August 1998.
 Senator Reg Withers.
 There is a minor exception to this rule, for 90 hereditary Lords were elected by their peers in 1999 in the transitional arrangements for House of Lords reform.
 H.V. Evatt, The King and His Dominion Governors, 2nd edn, Melbourne, Cheshire, 1967, p. 268.
 Except in the Canadian Constitution, where the prime minister is briefly mentioned, but without any definition of his basic powers.
 Sir David Beattie, in Hyam Gold, New Zealand Politics in Perspective, Auckland, NZ, Longman Paul, 1985. He was quoting an article by Sir John Marshall.
 There were claims that the Australia Act 1986 deprived the Governor of any discretion. In fact the Act simply declares that the British government has no function in relation to the governance of the states, and that advice is tendered to state governors by state premiers. It does not say that state governors are bound to accept that advice.
 A.V. Dicey, Modern Democracies, London, Macmillan, 1921, vol. 2, p. 492.
 William Anson, Law and Custom of the Constitution, 5th edn, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1922, p. 330.
 E.A. Forsey, The Royal Power of Dissolution of Parliament in the British Commonwealth, Oxford University Press, 1943, p. 89.
 Final Report of the Constitutional Commission 1988, vol. 1, p. 326. A minority of the committee was in favour of the dismissal of the prime minister by the Governor-General where there was ‘no other method available to prevent the prime minister or his government engaging in substantially unlawful action.’
 Until 1986 advice relating to the appointment of a state Governor was tendered to the Queen through the UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. Since the passage of the Commonwealth Australia Act 1986 the state premiers have advised the Queen directly.
 Nick Renton, ‘Legislative Mumbo Jumbo’, IPA Review, vol. 48, no. 1, 1995, p. 40.
 R.E. Megarry Miscellany-at-Law, London, Stevens, 1955, p. 345.
 Quoted in Charles Gordon (ed.), Erskine May, 20th edn, London, Butterworths, 1983, p. 530.
 Liberal Party of Canada, Reviving Parliamentary Democracy, January 1993.
 B. Crick, The Reform of Parliament, 2nd ed., London, Macmillan, 1970, p. 14.
 The statistics and background information in this section are taken from publications by Phillip Norton (see bibliography).
 Government defeats on the floor of the House, 1970-99: 1970-74, 6; 1974, 17; 1974-79, 42; 1979-83, 1; 1983-87, 2; 1987-92, 1; 1992-97, 9; 1997-99, 0. David Butler and Gareth Butler, Twentieth-Century British Political Facts 1900-2000, London, Macmillan Press, 2000, p. 201.
 C.E.S. Franks, op. cit., p. 45.
 J.A.G. Griffith and M. Ryle, Parliament. Functions, Practice and Procedures, London, Sweet & Maxwell, 1989, p. 400.
 The temporary ‘Old’ Parliament House, opened in 1927, was built close to the site chosen for the Parliament House in the original design for the national capital. Construction of the new Parliament House on the original site would have involved the demolition of the temporary building, which was generally thought to be politically unacceptable.
 The Australian, 9 July 1996. The figures were 53 per cent strongly in favour, 22 per cent partly in favour, 6 per cent partly against, 12 per cent strongly against and 7 per cent uncommitted.
 Julian Amery, Approach March, London, Hutchinson, 1973, pp. 442-3.
 Norman Fowler, ‘Parliament and the Media’, The Parliamentarian, vol. LXXXI, no. 3, 2000, p. 16.
 Quoted in Franks, op. cit., p. 168.
 New Zealand established an Audit Select Committee by statute in 1858, but it fell out with the government and was abolished in 1867. A Public Accounts Committee, without statutory powers, was established in 1871.
 Parliamentary Debates, 3 July 1901, p. 1955.
 Hon. P.J. Keating, Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer, Hansard, 24 November 1988, p. 3206.
 Well, fairly secret. To avoid suspicions of disloyalty, Labor MPs have taken to showing their completed ballot papers to their neighbours.
 Some censure or want of confidence motions did actually pass, but this was after government amendments which totally reversed the thrust of the original motions.
 G.S. Reid and M. Forrest, Australia’s Commonwealth Parliament, 1901-1988, Carlton, Vic., Melbourne University Press, 1989, p. 458.
 State parliaments, whose proceedings are not televised, suffered a similar fall, but it seems likely that the public does not distinguish between state and federal politicians. Of the occupations surveyed, only estate agents, union leaders, advertising people, newspaper journalists and car salesmen ranked lower than politicians.
 S.D. Bailey (ed.), The Future of the House of Lords, London, Hansard Society, 1954, p. 7.
 F.A. Kunz, The Modern Senate of Canada, University of Toronto Press, 1968, p. 6.
 Professor McKechnie, quoted in G. Ross, The Senate of Canada, Toronto, Canada, Copp, Clarke 1914, p. 84.
 Royal Commission on the Reform of the House of Lords, Executive Summary, p. 7.
 Peers who are not office-holders are reimbursed for travel, subsistence and secretarial costs concerned with a sitting of the House or a committee. In 2000 these allowances were 81.50 for overnight accommodation, 36.00 for day subsistence and 35.00 for secretarial assistance.
 Robson rotation is described in Chapter 3.
 Tasmanian Legislative Council Hansard, 3 July 1991, p. 1293.
 J.A.G. Griffith and M. Ryle, 1989, op. cit., p. 461.
 Official Report of the National Australasian Convention Debates, Sydney 2nd to 24th September 1891, Sydney, Government Printer, 1891.
 C.E.S. Franks 1987, op. cit., p. 94.
 Such a constitutional change might well require a majority of voters in all of the states, because of s.128 of the Constitution, whereby a state may not be deprived of its proportionate representation in either house without its consent.
 Andrew Adonis, ‘The House of Lords since 1945’, Contemporary Record, vol. 2, no. 3, Autumn 1988, p. 384.
 Initially a list was tabled twice a year, but the system worked so smoothly that in 1999 the Senate agreed to the list being made annual.
 The eight committees cover the following areas: Community Affairs; Economics; Employment, Workplace Relations and Education; Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts; Finance and Public Administration; Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade; Legal and Constitutional; Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport.
 Thirty minutes a day are allocated in the Senate for debate on ‘government papers’-reports and so on-and among these papers are the annual reports from statutory bodies, but the debate is often barely relevant to the annual report.
 A procedure survives by which a ‘private notice’ question may be asked on a matter of urgency, without appearing on the order paper but with the approval of the Leader of the House. Such questions are now discouraged, and half a dozen a year would be a high figure.
 Lord Hayter, quoted in the Third Commonwealth Conference on Delegated Legislation, 1989, p. 79.
 House of Lords, 14 April 2000.
 Nicholas Winterton, ‘Procedural Reform’, The Parliamentarian, vol. LXXXI, no. 3, 2000, p. 14.
 The figure of 3000 instruments is only a rough estimate because of the numerous exceptions to registration and publication requirements.
 The Preparation of Legislation, Ottawa Privy Council Office, 1981, p. 9.
 Ordinances are used for the territories of Cocos Island and Norfolk Island. They have not been used for the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory since they were given self-government.
 J.M. Fraser, ‘Responsibility in Government’, Australian Journal of Public Administration, vol. 37, no. 1, March 1978, pp. 1-2.
 Canberra Times, 23 September 1976, p. 2.
 Senator P.D. Durack, QC. Press release by the Attorney-General, Canberra, 21 August 1978.
 William Armstrong, The Role and Character of the Public Service, Oxford University Press, 1970, p. 15.
 Justice [later Chief Justice] Brian Dickson.
 In New Zealand the Controller and Auditor-General reports to the government rather than the Parliament, but in 2000 there was a move to give the Controller and Auditor-General the status of an Officer of Parliament, responsible directly to that body.
 Sonja Sinclair, Cordial but not Cosy, Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, 1979, p. 125.
 P.H. Russell, ‘The First Three Years in Charterland’, Canadian Public Administration, vol. 28, no. 3, 1985, p. 374.
 Accession combines signing and ratification in one action.
 J.A.G. Griffith and M. Ryle, op. cit., 1989, p. 38.
 Except for two bills which were handled by an experimental procedure. The experiment was quickly stopped by the government.
 That would result in about ten Senate chairs receiving the rewards. As an example, it would seem appropriate that the chairs of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee, the Scrutiny of Bills Committee and the eight legislation and references committees should be so rewarded. (Each legislation and references committee would be divided into two sub-committees, one dealing with legislation and the other with references.)
 The five are Australia, New Zealand, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.
Back to top