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The House divided

The majority of decisions by Members of the House of Representatives in the Australian parliament are usually made via an opaque but efficient voting process known as a vote on the voices. Read more...

The 120th anniversary of women's suffrage in Australia

Sunday 12 June 2022 marked 120 years since Australian women gained the right to vote in federal elections, following the passage of the Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902 (Franchise Act). The Act extended the franchise to ‘persons not under twenty-one years of age whether male or female, married or unmarried’. The Act also gave women the right to stand as candidates in federal elections. With its passage, Australia became the first country in the world to give most women both the right to vote and the right to run for parliament. New Zealand women had gained the right to vote in 1893, but not the right to stand as candidates. Read more...

Trends in the gender composition of state and territory parliaments

How does the gender composition of Australian state and territory parliaments compare with that of the federal parliament? As of 1 January 2022, 39% of federal parliamentarians and 39% of state and territory parliamentarians were women. Over the past two decades, the proportion of women across state and territory parliaments has tracked closely with the proportion of women in the federal parliament. Women’s overall representation in state and territory parliaments has increased from 22% in 2001.   Read more...

Trends in the gender composition of Australian ministries

As of 1 January 2021 (the most recent figures at the time of publication), the Australian Parliament was ranked 73rd of 193 countries globally by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) for women in ministerial positions in national parliaments, with women then comprising 26.7% of the ministry.  Read more...

Trends in the gender composition of the Australian parliament

How does the gender composition of the Australian parliament compare with parliaments around the world, and how has it changed over the past two decades? Read more...

Ten years of examining human rights

For the last ten years, all Bills and legislative instruments have been considered for compatibility with human rights by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights (the committee). Over this period 58 parliamentarians have been appointed to the ten member committee, with Graham Perrett MP the longest-serving. While it’s members have predominantly come from the two major parties, it has also incorporated thirteen minor party members and one independent member—Cathy McGowan. The committee has been led by six chairs including senators Dean Smith and Sarah Henderson and members Ian Goodenough, Harry Jenkins, Phillip Ruddock and current Chair Anne Webster. Enhancing scrutiny ... Read more...

Floor crossings in the House of Representatives on the morning of 10 February 2022

On 9 February 2022, the House of Representatives resumed debate on the Government’s Religious Discrimination Bill 2021, Religious Discrimination (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2021 and Human Rights Legislation Amendment Bill 2021. Consideration of the Bills continued beyond midnight, concluding shortly before 5am the following day. Five Liberal Party members voted against the Coalition’s position on the Bills, or ‘crossed the floor’, at one or more points—Katie Allen (Higgins, Vic.), Bridget Archer (Bass, Tas.), Fiona Martin (Reid, NSW), Dave Sharma (Wentworth, NSW) and Trent Zimmerman (North Sydney, NSW). Read more...

Inquiring into the ABC’s complaints handling

A debate about how complaints are handled by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has highlighted some enduring tensions in relations between the ABC and the Australian Government. Read more...

120th anniversary of the first sitting of the Commonwealth Parliament

The first sitting of the Commonwealth Parliament occurred in Melbourne on 9 May 1901. The Constitution of Australia had come into effect five months earlier, on 1 January 1901, in accordance with a proclamation made by Queen Victoria. In an inauguration ceremony held in Centennial Park, Sydney, Australia’s first Governor-General, Lord Hopetoun, was sworn in and then appointed Australia’s first ministry, led by Edmund Barton. The first federal election was held on 29 and 30 March 1901 to fill 75 House of Representatives and 36 Senate seats. Once this electoral process was complete, the Governor-General, by proclamation issued on 30 April 1901, appointed 12 noon, 9 May 19... Read more...

Quotas for women in parliament

The issue of quotas for women in parliament is once again in the news, with motions to introduce quotas to be debated at upcoming Liberal Party state conferences in New South Wales and Victoria. An Essential Report poll published on 30 March 2021 found that 48 per cent of those polled supported political parties setting gender quotas for candidate selection (with 36 per cent opposed). The international experience of quotas Since the 1990s over one hundred countries have implemented political gender quotas, and by 2013 over half the world’s countries had adopted some form of quota, including by 2018, over twenty established democracies. Many countries have found quotas to be an effectiv... Read more...

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Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

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