Structure & Roles Of Australian Parliament Flashcards Preview

Legal Studies Units 3 & 4 > Structure & Roles Of Australian Parliament > Flashcards

Flashcards in Structure & Roles Of Australian Parliament Deck (15):

Commonwealth Parliament Structure

The structure of the Commonwealth Parliament consists of:
• the Queen (represented by the governor-general)
• the Senate (upper house)
• the House of Representatives (lower house).


The senate composition and structure

76 members
• Each state elects 12 senators
• Each territory elects 2 senators
• Elected for a 6-year term with half the senate retiring every three years.
• Bills may be initiated in the Senate although this is rare


Role of the senate

• initiate and pass Bills – The Senate is able to initiate Bills (other than money Bills) or pass Billsthat have previously been passed through the House of Representatives. INITIATE

• act as a states’ house – The Senate should have equal representation from each state, regardless of its size or population. In this way the Senate represents the interests of the states (representative government). STATES

• act as a house of review – The majority of Bills are initiated in the lower house, and the Senate (the upper house) has the task of reviewing the Bills already passed through the lower house. The Senate can, therefore, ensure that Bills which could be seen as too radical are not rushed through the parliament. Half-senate elections assist in this process. Since half the senators are put up for election every three years, the senators that remain are likely to have considerable experience in law-making.REVIEW

SCRUTINISE government


House of rep structure and composition

150 members
• No. of representatives varies according to state population
• Elected every 3 years


Victorian Parliament Structure

The Victorian Parliament operates in the same way as the Commonwealth Parliament, with an upper and lower house. The structure of the Victorian Parliament is the Queen who is represented by the governor, the Legislative Council which is the upper house and the Legislative Assembly which is the lower house.


Legislative council composition and structure

40 members representing 8 regions (each of 11 electoral districts of 420 000)
• Each of the 8 elects 5 representatives
• Elected every 4 years


Role of legislative council

Serves the same role as the Federal upper house; its primary function is to act as a House of REVIEW for proposed laws

• Members represent the interests of their respective region REGION

• Provides for representative government by ensuring that members are safeguarding the interests of people in all areas of Victoria and that they are proportionately represented REPRESENTATIVE

• Provides for responsible government because the government may not hold a majority of seats in the Legislative Council it may force the government to be held accountable for their actions.




Structure and composition of legislative assembly

The majority in the Legislative Assembly forms the government of the day and the minority in this house forms the opposition
• Comprises 88 members
• Members elected by electorates of an area of state of approx. same population
• Elected every 4 years


Role of legislative assembly

Serves the same role as the Federal lower house
• The party, or parties in coalition, with a majority in the lower house forms government GOVERNMENT

• Provides for representative government because members are elected to represent areas of approximately the same number of electors REPRESENTATIVE

• Provides for responsible government as each member has the opportunity to present the views of their electorate RESPONSIBLE


Controlling government SPENDING


Distinguish role house of rep and senate

The House of Representatives is different from the senate as they are responsible for representing the interests of the people with the political party who hold majority forming the government of the day. The role of the senate, on the other hand, is primarily to act as the ’State’s house’ and represent the interests of the state and territories.


Effectiveness of the senate

Minority v majority

In practice the senators tend to vote according to the dictates of their party. This means that the upper house largely does not fulfil its role as a states’ house or a house of review. If the government controls the upper house (has a majority), it tends to be a ‘rubber stamp’, merely confirming the decisions made in the lower house.

If, however, there is a hostile Senate (controlled by the opposition), then the upper house is likely to review the Bills passed through the lower house more carefully. If the balance of power in the Senate is held by a minority party or an independent member of parliament (one not aligned to any political party), the government will endeavour to win the support of that minority party in order to pass Bills through the Senate.


How does the senate scrutinise government

The Senate fulfils its role of scrutinising legislation by checking all Bills and delegated legislation to ensure that they are in the public interest. The Senate also operates as a check on government, including government administration, and government policy in general (responsible government). The Senate committee system assists the Senate in this scrutinising and checking process.


Explain the role of the legislative assembly

The Legislative Assembly is the house of government. The party with the majority of members in the Legislative Assembly forms the government. The main role of the Legislative Assembly is to make laws. Most Bills are initiated in the Legislative Assembly. Members of the Legislative Assembly are elected to represent the interests of the people (representative government). Their actions must reflect the views and values of the people. If they cease to do this it is likely they will be voted out of office at the next election.


Explain the role of the legislative council

It acts as a house of review for legislation that has been passed in the Legislative Assembly. It does this by scrutinising, debating and, on occasion, amending or rejecting legislation that has been initiated by the government. By performing these functions, the upper house can apply many of the important checks and balances that uphold the system of responsible government. The Legislative Council has a number of committees that debate the proposed laws at length.Bills can also be initiated in the Legislative Council but it is less common than in the Legislative Assembly. Money Bills can only be initiated in the Legislative Assembly.


The Coalition has a majority in the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly in Victoria.
To what extent does this lead to effective law-making? Discuss.

If the government holds a majority in both the lower house and the upper house, this increases the government’s ability to get the parliament to pass its legislative program as members in the upper house tend to just vote on party lines and accept bills proposed by their party members. However, this could lead to less scrutiny of government programs and less debate in parliament as the upper house is just passing bills made by their party without properly considering the implications.

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