Work of the Parliament

Work of the Parliament

Parliament makes laws, authorises the Government to spend public money, scrutinises government activities, and is a forum for debate on national issues.

The work of the Parliament—its Members, Senators, and parliamentary committees—is supported by staff of the four parliamentary departments:

Forming and Governing a Nation

    Magna Carta

    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 such as the Department of Foreign Affairs. All ministers are members of Parliament and are therefore elected.

    Although the government is formed in the House of Representatives, some ministers are senators. About two thirds of ministers are members of the House of Representatives, and about one third are senators.

Parliament at Work

    Senate Question Time Chamber, by AUSPIC

    Parliament has four main functions: legislation (making laws), representation (acting on behalf of voters and citizens), scrutiny (examining the government), and formation of government.

     

Elections

    Australia Act

    General elections at the federal level in Australia are governed by a complex of constitutional and statutory provisions which, apart from determining how elections are held, also determine the balance of power between the legislature and the executive.

     

A New Parliament

    The opening of Paliament on 28 September 2010

    Each new Parliament begins with the opening by the Governor-General on the first day the two houses meet after a general election. The current Parliament is the forty-third since federation in 1901. The parliamentary term continues for three years after the date of the first sitting of the houses, unless it is ended earlier by the dissolution of the House of Representatives or by the double dissolution of both houses to resolve a deadlock or disagreement between them. Both types of dissolution are carried out by the Governor-General on the advice of the Prime Minister.

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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

July 2013

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  • Senate
  • House of Representatives
  • Both
  • Public Holiday
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