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

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Equal gender representation in the Senate

With the swearing-in of Sarah Henderson on 12 September 2019 to the Senate to fill the casual vacancy created by the resignation of Mitch Fifield (Lib., Vic.), the Senate now comprises 38 women and 38 men. This is the first time in the Senate’s history that it has had equal gender representation. Read more...

100th anniversary of the Parliament's Bible

On 12 September 1919, Governor-General Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson presented to the Commonwealth Parliament a Bible and lectern on behalf of the Victorian branch of the British and Foreign Bible Society. The 100th anniversary of this occasion falls on 12 September 2019.  Read more...

Two parliamentary milestones for women—
75 years of women in the Commonwealth Parliament and Australia's 100th female senator

21 August 2018 marks the 75th anniversary of the election of the first women to the Commonwealth Parliament. Enid Lyons of the United Australia Party and Dorothy Tangney of the Australian Labor Party were both elected on that day in 1943; Lyons to the House of Representatives and Tangney to the Senate. In addition, Dr Mehreen Faruqi (Australian Greens, NSW), who was sworn in as a senator on 20 August 2018, is Australia’s 100th female senator. Read more...

The Life Assurance Companies Act 1905: the first private members’ bill to pass the Parliament

On 7 December 2017, the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedom) Bill 2017 became only the 29th private senators’ or members’ bill to be passed into law by the Federal Parliament. (Issues surrounding the passage of such bills are covered in a recent Library FlagPost, together with a list of the previous 28 private members’ or senators’ bills to have been enacted.) Read more...

The passage of private members’ and senators’ bills through the Parliament

If, as is expected, Senator Dean Smith’s private senator’s bill, the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedom) Bill 2017, passes the House of Representatives, it will be only the 29th private senators’ or members’ bill to be passed into law by the federal Parliament since Federation. Read more...

International Women's Day 2017

Wednesday 8 March 2017 is International Women’s Day: a time to celebrate women’s achievements, to reflect on the challenges faced by women around the world, and to focus on taking action to improve gender equality. Read more...

Rotation of senators following the 2016 double dissolution

Following a double dissolution election, section 13 of the Australian Constitution states that the Senate must decide which of the senators will serve a full six-year term and which will serve a three-year half term and face election at the next federal election.  Read more...

Government losing votes on the floor of the House

On 1 September 2016 the Coalition Government lost three divisions on the floor of the House of Representatives: one motion to adjourn; one motion on closure of debate; and an amendment requiring the House to consider a message from the Senate immediately. Prior to this, the last time a majority Government lost a division in the House was in 1962. In the 43rd hung Parliament (2010-13), the minority ALP Government lost many divisions, mostly on procedural matters and private members’ motions. The votes lost by the Government in 1962 were as follows: A closure motion on 21 August 1962 A closure motion on 3 October 1962 Opposition’s dissent from... Read more...

The gender composition of the 45th parliament

Following the 2016 election the total number of women in Parliament has risen slightly from 69 (31 per cent) to 73 (32 per cent). The number of women in the House of Representatives has risen to 43 (29 per cent), up from 40 (27 per cent) at the end of the 44th Parliament. The number of women in the Senate has increased by one since the end of the 44th Parliament to 30 senators (39 per cent). As is the case in many parliaments around the world, women remain significantly under-represented in the Australian parliament. The Australian figures are similar to those of comparable countries such as Canada, where women make up 29 percent of the parliament, and New Zealand, where women make up 31 per... Read more...

So you’ve been prorogued – Common questions answered

On 21 March 2016 the Prime Minister wrote to the Governor-General to ask the Governor-General to prorogue Parliament on Friday 15 April and summon Parliament to sit again on Monday 18 April 2016. This Flagpost examines what proroguing means for the operation of the Parliament and the possible implications for the Senate’s consideration of certain Bills. Read more...

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