What is Parliament?

Parliament is the body that makes laws for Australia.  It has three distinct parts:  the House of Representatives, the Senate and the Queen (represented in Australia by the Governor-General).

Parliament House Calendar

January 2013

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  • Senate
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Parliament at Work

Work of the Parliament

Flag raising

All members of Parliament are elected. Each one of the 150 members of the House of Representatives (MPs) is elected by about 85,000 voters in each electorate. Senators represent states. Each state is represented by 12 senators while each territory has two senators.

Notice Paper and Senate Chamber

A new Commonwealth (national) law can only be made, or an existing law changed or removed, by or under the authority of the federal Parliament, that is, by or in accordance with an Act of Parliament.

Committees

Parliamentary committees investigate specific matters of policy or government administration or performance.

Hour Glasses in House of Representatives
Parliamentary Privilege
The term ‘parliamentary privilege’ refers to two significant aspects of the law relating to Parliament: the privileges or immunities of the houses of the Parliament, and the powers of the houses to protect the integrity of their processes, particularly the power to punish contempts.

The government consists of members of the political party that wins an election and has the majority of members in the House of Representatives. This party and/or its leader (the Prime Minister) select fellow parliamentarians to be the ministers who run departments. Some ministers are senators.

Coat of Arms in Senate Chamber

The federal government is held responsible to both the House of Representatives and the Senate, though in different ways.

The Budget is the occasion of the Government’s annual financial report and policy statement to the Parliament and the nation.