House of Representatives FAQs

House of Representatives FAQs

  1. How can I contact my local Member?

    The List of Members provides contact details including postal addresses, telephone, facsimile and email (if the Member has a parliamentary email account) information for all Members of the House including Ministers. You can also email your local Member via a Feedback Form (available for those Members with email accounts) which is located on the Member's Home Pages .

  2. How do I find out about the work of the House?

    The Votes and Proceedings is the official record (or minutes) of the proceedings of the House of Representatives. It records in concise form the decisions made by the House, papers presented, legislation presented or considered, motions moved, the attendance of Members and any other business which takes place. 

    The parliamentary debates, often referred to as Hansard, record what was said in the House. The debates are available in HTML.

    The Work of the Session is a periodic summary of the business completed by the House of Representatives and House and joint committees. It is usually published twice each year. The most recent issue and back issues from 1990 are available in PDF.

  3. How do I get my petition before the House and what will happen to it after it is presented?


    The House has established a Standing Committee on Petitions to ensure that all petitions presented to the House are considered and responded to appropriately.  Petitions may be sent directly to the Committee or to a Member to pass on to the Committee.  There are a number of rules regarding the form and content of petitions and it is the Committee’s role to check that all petitions conform to these rules before they are presented to the House of Representatives.  Information on how to prepare a petition to meet the House’s requirements is available on the Committee’s website.


    Most petitions are presented to the House by the Chair of the Petitions Committee on sitting Mondays, but any Member may present a petition.  In all cases, petitions must first be assessed by the Petitions Committee.  Once presented, the text of the petition is included in the Hansard (official transcript) and published to the Petition Committee’s website.  After presentation, the terms of a petition may be referred by the Petitions Committee to the relevant Minister/s for comment.  The response is later published on the Committee’s website.

  4. How is the Ministry selected?

    Ministers are selected by the Prime Minister who also allocates portfolios.  The Cabinet, consisting of senior Ministers presided over the Prime Minister, is the Government’s pre-eminent policy-making body.  Major policy and legislative proposals are decided by the Cabinet.  However, as far as the proceedings of the House are concerned, no differentiation is made between Cabinet Ministers and other Ministers.

  5. What are the sitting times of the House?

    The regular sitting times of the House of Representatives are set out in its standing orders. These provide for it to meet at the following times: Mondays - from 12:30pm to 9:30pm Tuesdays - from 2pm to 9:30pm Wednesdays - from 9:00am to 8pm. Thursdays - from 9:00am to 5pm. Occasionally circumstances require some change to these times.

  6. What are the standing and sessional orders?

    The standing orders are the continuing rules of procedure adopted by the House; the sessional orders are temporary rules which, in most cases, expire at the end of a session - usually when the House is dissolved for a general election. The current version available:

  7. What is a quorum?

    A quorum is the minimum number of Members required to be present in the House to constitute a meeting of the House. It is set by law to be one-fifth of the total membership. With 150 Members, this makes a quorum of thirty, including the occupant of the Chair.

    The House may, and often does, operate with fewer than 30 Members present. Because of the demands placed on Members it is necessary that they spend a large amount of time on other duties outside the Chamber.

    At any time during a sitting any Member may draw the lack of a quorum (the state of the House) to the Chair's attention, and a count must be made. If a quorum is not present, the bells are rung until enough Members are present to form a quorum. If, after 4 minutes, a quorum still isn't present, the Chair may adjourn the House until the next sitting day, or suspend the sitting for a short period, in which case, if there is not a quorum when the Chair resumes, the House is adjourned to another day.

  8. What is the House doing?

    The routine of business description shows the categories of business the House of Representatives and the Main Committee normally deal with on each day of a sitting week.

    The Notice Paper is the House's formal agenda and lists in order of priority all of the government business, private Members' business and business before the Main Committee awaiting the House's consideration. The Notice Paper also includes details of the questions lodged by Members for written answers by Ministers and the membership of, and inquiries currently being conducted by, the House of Representatives and joint committees.

    The Daily Program provides in more detail the proposed business of the House of Representatives for a particular sitting.

  9. When is the House sitting?

    A schedule (or calendar) of proposed parliamentary sittings is published in advance of the sittings.

    The actual sittings of the House of Representatives adhere very closely to the schedule. Occasionally circumstances require some departure from it. Nevertheless, the schedule is a very useful guide to the sittings.

  10. Where can I find information about Inter-Parliamentary Relations?

    The International and Community Relations Office (ICRO) provides advice and support relevant to the conduct of the Parliament's international and regional affairs. It provides general support for inter-parliamentary conferences and incoming and outgoing parliamentary delegations; training support for other parliaments, particularly the smaller parliaments in our region; and advice to the Presiding Officers and members on international parliamentary matters.

    The ICRO's objective is to support external relations for the Parliament with a view to achieving productive and amicable international and regional relationships with other parliaments and parliamentary bodies and organisations.

  11. Where can I find more information about the House of Representatives and the Parliament?

    You can refer to our list of Infosheets and to House of Representatives Practice. The site map for the Parliament site provides a general guide to information on the website. The site's search engine may be more useful for locating specific items of information.

    The Department of the House of Representatives conducts seminars and workshops on the operations of the House which are open to anyone on payment of a fee.

  12. Where can I get a copy of legislation?

    The text of most bills before the Parliament is available at Bills and Legislation page. Explanatory memoranda and amendments proposed in connection with the bills are also available at this site. Acts of the Commonwealth Parliament (bills after they have been passed by both Houses and become law) can be found at the Australian Government's ComLaw page.

  13. Where can I look at a copy of the Constitution?

    The text of the Australian Constitution is available in HTML and PDF format. A summary of issues covered and other information about the Constitution is available in Infosheet 13.

  14. Who is my local Member?

    If you know the name of the federal electoral division in which you live, refer to the List of Members by electoral division.

    If you do not know the name of the electoral division in which you live the Australian Electoral Commission should be able to help. It is responsible for providing electoral information and can be contacted for information on divisional boundaries. A map of Australian electoral divisions is available online from the AEC site.

    Biographical information on each Member is also available on the Members' Home Pages.

  15. Who is the Clerk and what does he or she do?

    The Clerk of the House of Representatives is responsible for advising the Speaker and Members on parliamentary procedure. The Clerk's position in the Chamber is seated at the Table, in front of the Speaker. He or she is assisted in the Chamber by the Deputy Clerk, who sits at the Table to the left of the Clerk.

    The Clerk is appointed by the Governor-General, on the recommendation of the Speaker, and serves all Members of the House equally. He or she administers the Department of the House of Representatives, which provides support services to the House, its committees and Members.

  16. Why is the House of Representatives Chamber green?

    Green is the colour traditionally used by the British House of Commons, and the Australian House of Representatives followed that tradition when the old Parliament House was being built and furnished in 1926-7. The shades of green selected in the present Chamber represent the grey-green tones of native eucalypts.