Australian House of RepresentativesAustralian House of Representatives
since February 12, 2008 Members 150 Political groups ALP (83)
Liberal Party (55)
National Party (10)
Last elections 24 November 2007 Meeting place Parliament House, Canberra, ACT Web site House of Representatives Entrance to the House of Representatives High-resolution image of the House of Representatives AustraliaThis article is part of a series about the
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- 1 Origins and role
- 2 The composition of the House
- 3 Seats won by party at Australian elections, 1946 – 2007
- 4 Main Committee
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Origins and role
The House is presided over by the Speaker.
The 150 members of the House are elected from single-member electorates (geographic districts, sometimes known as "seats" but officially known as "Divisions of the Australian House of Representatives"). Each electorate has between 59,000 and 120,000 voters. They are designed to be relatively equal across the state or territory within which the electorate exists. Voting is by the 'preferential system' (usually referred to elsewhere as the instant-runoff voting).
The number of electorates in each state and territory is determined by population. The parliamentary entitlement of a state or territory is established by the Electoral Commissioner dividing the number of the people of the Commonwealth by twice the number of Senators. The population of each state and territory is then divided by this quota to determine the number of members to which each state and territory is entitled. Under the Australian Constitution all original states are guaranteed at least five members. The Federal Parliament itself has decided that the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory should have at least one member each.
According to the Australian Constitution, the powers of both houses are nearly equal, with the consent of both houses needed to pass legislation. The difference mostly relates to taxation legislation. In practice, by convention, the leader of the party (or coalition of parties) with a majority of members in the lower house is invited by the Governor-General to form the Government. Thus the leader becomes the Prime Minister and some of the other elected members of the government party in both the House and the Senate become ministers responsible for various portfolios and administer government departments. Bills appropriating money (supply bills) can only be introduced in the lower house and thus only the party with a majority in the lower house can govern. In the current Australian party system, this ensures that virtually all contentious votes are along party lines, and the Government always has a majority in those votes.
The Opposition party's main role in the House is to present arguments against the Government's policies and legislation, and attempt to hold the Government accountable as much as possible by asking questions of importance during Question Time and during debates on legislation. In recent times, the Senate, by contrast, has not had a majority from the Government of the day (both Liberal/National Coalition and Labor), so votes in the Senate have become more meaningful. However, the Coalition Government gained a Senate majority from 1 July 2005, following the 2004 election. The House's well-established committee system is not always as prominent as the Senate committee system because of the frequent lack of Senate majority.
In a reflection of the United Kingdom House of Commons, the predominant colour of the furnishings in the House of Representatives is green. However, the colour was tinted slightly to suggest the colour of eucalyptus trees
The composition of the HouseIRV) — Turnout 94.76% (CV) — Informal3.95% Party Votes % Swing Seats Change Australian Labor Party5,388,147 43.38 +5.74 83 +23 Liberal Party of Australia4,546,534 36.61 –4.21 55* –20 Australian Greens967,781 7.79 +0.60 0 0 National Party of Australia682,424 5.49 –0.40 10 –2 Family First Party246,792 1.99 –0.02 0 0 Australian Democrats89,810 0.72 –0.51 0 0 Independents 276,369 2.23 –0.27 2 –1 Other 222,004 1.79 +0.25 0 0 Total 12,419,863 150 Australian Labor PartyWIN 52.70 +5.44 83 +23 Liberal/National coalition 47.30 –5.44 65 –22
Seats won by party at Australian elections, 1946 – 2007Seats Won Election ALPLIBNATOther Total 194643 15 11 5 74 194947 55 19 121 195152 52 17 121 195457 47 17 121 195547 57 18 122 195845 58 19 122 196160 45 17 122 196350 52 20 122 196641 61 21 124 196959 46 20 125 197267 38 20 125 197466 40 21 127 197536 68 23 127 197738 67 19 124 198051 54 20 125 198375 33 17 125 198482 45 21 148 198786 43 19 148 199078 55 14 1 148 199380 49 16 2 147 199649 75 19 5 148 199867 64 16 1 148 200165 69 13 3 150 200460 75 12 3 150 200783 55 10 2 150
An interesting feature of the Australian House is its Main Committee, designed to be an alternative debating chamber; it is modeled after the Committee of the Whole that exists in several different legislatures, particularly the United States House of Representatives and British House of Commons. Matters considered to be relatively uncontroversial can be referred by the entire House to the Main Committee, where substantive debate can take place. The Main Committee cannot, however, initiate nor make a final decision on any parliamentary business, although it can perform all tasks in between.
The Main Committee was created in 1994, to relieve some of the burden of the entire House: different matters can be processed in the House at large and in the Main Committee, as they sit simultaneously. It is designed to be less formal, with a quorum of only three members: the Deputy Speaker of the House, one government member, and one non-government member. Decisions must be unanimous: any divided decision sends the question back to the House at large.
The Main Committee was created through the House's Standing Orders: it is thus a subordinate body of the House, and can only be in session while the House itself is in session. When a division vote in the House occurs, members in the Main Committee must return to the House to vote.
The Main Committee is housed in one of the House's committee rooms: the room is customized for this purpose and is laid out to resemble the House chamber.
Due to the unique role of the Main Committee, proposals have been made to rename the body to avoid confusion with other parliamentary committees. Proposals include "Second Chamber" and "Federation Chamber".
See alsoThe disproportionality of the 2007 election was 10.28 according to the Gallagher Index, mainly between the Labor and Green Parties.
- Australian House of Representatives committees
- List of members of the Australian House of Representatives
- Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives
- Clerk of the Australian House of Representatives
- List of longest-serving members of the Australian House of Representatives
- Women in the Australian House of Representatives
- List of Australian federal by-elections
- Canberra Press Gallery
- ^ Australian Electoral Commission, Virtual Tally Room 2007, Senate results, First preferences by Group, retrieved January 2008
- ^ Lower house results summary: UOW. The CLP replaces the Liberals in the Northern Territory, thus their figure is included in the Liberal tally. The CLP received 40,298 votes.
- ^ Lower house results: AEC
- ^ "The Structure Of The Australian House Of Representatives Over Its First One Hundred Years: The Impact Of Globalisation," Ian Harris
- ^ Standing and Sessional Orders, House of Representatives
- ^ Main Committee Fact Sheet, Parliamentary Education Office
- ^ The Second Chamber: Enhancing the Main Committee, House of Representatives
- ^ Renaming the Main Committee, House of Representatives
- ^ Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons First Report. British House of Commons (7 December 1998). Retrieved on 2007-06-20.
- House of Representatives Practice: APH
- House of Representatives Committees – Parliament of Australia
- Australian Parliament – live broadcasting