Chapter 2 | House, Government and Opposition

A knowledge of the structure of the House of Representatives is important to an understanding of its mode of operation. The components or groups which make up the House and which are described in the text that follows are common to most parliamentary systems based on the Westminster model. The relationship and interaction between these components is at the heart of parliamentary activity. The nature of the relationships between the groups largely determines the operational effectiveness of the Parliament, particularly in relation to the Executive Government.

Government and Parliament


A note on separation of powers and checks and balances

The Government and House proceedings

The Constitution and Executive Government

Constitutional conventions

Aspects of ministerial responsibility

Collective Cabinet responsibility

Individual ministerial responsibility

Political parties

Leaders and office holders

Party whips

Party committees and meetings

Parties and their effect on the House

The Ministry

Number of Ministers

Composition of the Ministry

The two-level Ministry

Coalition Ministries

Interim Ministries

Caretaker conventions

The Ministry and the Senate

Prime Minister



Leader of the House

Cessation of ministerial office



Leave of absence

Ministerial assistance

Parliamentary Secretaries

Assistant Ministers

Ministerial salaries

Office of profit

Personal or pecuniary interest and related matters

Declarations of interests

Ministerial standards

Standards for ministerial staff

Register and code of conduct for lobbyists

Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme


Select Cabinets

Federal Executive Council

The (official) Opposition


Leader of the Opposition

Shadow Ministry

Role of the Opposition