The Parliament consists of two Houses (the Senate and the House of Representatives), and the Queen, represented in Australia by the Governor General.
In 1901 the Australian Constitution established the Australian Parliament, also known as the federal Parliament or the Commonwealth Parliament.
The Australian Parliament has four main roles:
- Making and changing federal laws.
- Representing the people of Australia.
- Providing a place where government is formed.
- Keeping a check on the work of the government
The Senate is one of the two houses of the Australian Federal Parliament. It consists of 76 senators, twelve from each of the six states and two from each of the mainland territories. It shares the power to make laws with the other House of the Parliament, the House of Representatives.
The House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of Parliament and is sometimes called ‘the People’s House’ or the ‘house of government’. The party, or parties, that hold a majority of seats in the House form government. There are currently 151 Members of the House of Representatives who each represent an electorate.
The work of the Australian Parliament – its Members, Senators and parliamentary committees – is supported by four separate departments:
Note: Information about the legal framework for these four departments is contained in the Parliamentary Service Act 1999
There are a number of publications that explain the work of the Parliament, and the various practices and procedures of the chambers, as well as policies about the workings of Parliament House.
Find out about current jobs in the four parliamentary departments:
The Parliamentary Workplace Support Service (PWSS) is an independent and confidential support and complaint service for MOPs Act employees and parliamentarians who have been affected by serious incidents in the parliamentary workplace. Find out more
If you would like to know more about different aspects of the work of Parliament, the Parliamentary Education Office has a range of on-line material.
Other material can be found at: