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definition - Australian_House_of_Representatives

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Australian House of Representatives

                   
Australian House of Representatives
Coat of arms or logo
Type
Type Lower house
Leadership
Speaker of the House Peter Slipper, Independent
since 24 November 2011
Structure
Members 150
Current Structure of the House of Representatives
Political groups

Government (71)

Opposition
Coalition (72)

Crossbench (7)

Elections
Last election 21 August 2010
Meeting place
Australian House of Representatives - Parliament of Australia.jpg
Parliament House
Canberra, ACT
Australia
Website
House of Representatives
  House of Representatives' entrance
  Inside the House of Representatives
Australia
Australian Coat of Arms.png
This article is part of a series about the
Politics and government
of Australia
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The House of Representatives is one of the two houses (chambers) of the Parliament of Australia; it is the lower house; the upper house is the Senate. Members of Parliament (MPs) serve for terms of approximately three years.

The present Parliament, as elected at the 2010 election, is the 43rd Federal Parliament since Federation. It is the first hung parliament in the House of Representatives since the 1940 election, with Labor and the Coalition winning 72 seats each of 150 total. Six crossbenchers hold the balance of power: Greens MP Adam Bandt and independent MPs Andrew Wilkie, Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor declared their support for Labor on confidence and supply, independent MP Bob Katter and National Party of Western Australia MP Tony Crook declared their support for the Coalition on confidence and supply. The resulting 76–74 margin entitled Labor to form a minority government. The Labor government increased their parliamentary majority on 24 November 2011 from 75–74 to 76–73 when the Coalition's Peter Slipper became Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives, replacing Labor's Harry Jenkins. In the Senate, where no party tends to have a majority of seats, the Greens gained the sole balance of power, previously holding a shared balance of power with the Family First Party and independent Nick Xenophon.

Contents

  Origins and role

The Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act (Imp.) of 1900 established the House of Representatives as part of the new system of dominion government in newly federated Australia. The House is presided over by the Speaker. The 150 members of the House are elected from single member electorates (geographic districts, commonly referred to as "seats" but officially known as "Divisions of the Australian House of Representatives"). One vote one value legislation requires all electorates to have the same number of voters with a maximum 10 per cent variation. However the baseline quota for the amount of voters in an electorate is determined by the amount of voters in the state in which that electorate is found. Subsequently, the electorates of the smallest states and territories have more variation in the amount of voters in their electorates, with the smallest holding around 60,000 voters and the largest holding around 120,000 voters. Meanwhile the largest states have electorates with more equal voter numbers, with most electorates holding 85,000 to 100,000 voters. Voting is by the 'preferential system', also known as instant-runoff voting. A full allocation of preferences is required for a vote to be considered formal. This allows for a calculation of the two-party-preferred vote.

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.

The current formula for determining the size of the House has the disadvantage that it can result in a House with the size being an even number (as it is a present). When the numbers are very close, as at present, this could result in both major parties having the same number of members, meaning that neither could govern. A formula setting the size of the House at twice the Senate minus one, and then determining the representation in each State and territory, would avoid this difficulty.

According to the 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. By contrast, the only period in recent times during which the government of the day has had a majority in the Senate was from July 2005 (following the 2004 election) to December 2007 (following the Coalition's defeat at the federal election that year). Hence, votes in the Senate are usually more meaningful. Currently however, with current numbers in the parliament resulting from the 2010 election, the situation is reversed. Legislation that is passed in the House by the current minority government is likely to be passed in the Senate, as the parties in minority government in the House have a combined majority in the Senate. 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 in the new Parliament House (opened 1988) to suggest the colour of eucalyptus trees.

Australian parliaments are notoriously rowdy, with MPs often trading colourful insults. As a result, the Speaker often has to use the disciplinary powers granted to him under Standing Orders.[1]

  Federation Chamber

The Federation Chamber, formerly the Main Committee, is a second debating chamber that considers relatively uncontroversial matters. These can be referred by the entire House to the Federation Chamber, where substantive debate can take place. The Federation Chamber cannot, however, initiate nor make a final decision on any parliamentary business, although it can perform all tasks in between.[2]

The Federation Chamber 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 Federation Chamber, 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 Federation Chamber was created through the House's Standing Orders:[3] 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 Federation Chamber must return to the House to vote.

The Federation Chamber is housed in one of the House's committee rooms; the room is customised for this purpose and is laid out to resemble the House chamber.[4]

Due to the unique role of what was then called the Main Committee, proposals were made to rename the body to avoid confusion with other parliamentary committees, including include "Second Chamber"[5] and "Federation Chamber".[6] The House of Representatives later adopted the latter proposal.[7]

The concept of a parallel body to expedite Parliamentary business, based on the Australian Federation Chamber, was mentioned in a 1998 British House of Commons report,[8] which led to the creation of that body's parallel chamber Westminster Hall.[9]

  The composition of the House

The 2010 election resulted in the first hung parliament since the 1940 election. Four of six crossbenchers gave confidence and supply to the incumbent Labor Party headed by Julia Gillard. The resulting 76–74 margin entitled Labor to form a minority government. The government increased their parliamentary majority on 24 November 2011 from 75–74 to 76–73 when the Coalition's Peter Slipper became an independent MP and Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives, replacing Labor's Harry Jenkins.

House of Representatives (IRV) — Turnout 93.21% (CV) — Informal 5.55%
Party Votes % Swing Seats Change
  Australian Labor Party 4,711,363 37.99 −5.40 72 −11
  Coalition          
  Liberal Party of Australia 3,777,383 30.46 +0.76 44 −11
  Liberal National Party (QLD) 1,130,525 9.12 +0.60 21 +21
  National Party of Australia 419,286 3.43 −0.04 6 −4
  Country Liberal Party (NT) 38,335 0.31 −0.01 1 +1
  Australian Greens 1,458,998 11.76 +3.97 1 +1
  National Party (WA) 43,101 0.34 +0.20 1 +1
  Independents 312,496 2.52 +0.30 4 +2
  Other 510,876 4.11 −0.38 0 0
  Total 12,402,363     150
Two-party-preferred vote
  Australian Labor Party 6,216,445 50.12 −2.58 72 −11
  Liberal/National Coalition 6,185,918 49.88 +2.58 72 +7

*All results are final.[10][11][12][13]

  Current distribution of seats

Party Seats held Percentage of House
  Australian Labor Party
71
47.33%
  Liberal/National/LNP/CLP Coalition
72
48.00%
  Independent
5
3.33%
  Australian Greens
1
0.67%
  Katter's Australian Party
1
0.67%
  Total
150
100%

Independents: Tony Windsor, Rob Oakeshott, Andrew Wilkie, Peter Slipper, Craig Thomson

  Primary, TPP and seat results since 1937

ALP = Australian Labor Party, L+NP = grouping of Liberal/National/LNP/CLP Coalition Parties (and predecessors), Oth = other parties and independents.

House of Representatives results and polling
Primary vote TPP vote Seats
ALP L+NP Oth. ALP L+NP ALP L+NP Oth. Total
21 Aug 2010 election 38.0% 43.3% 18.8% 50.1% 49.9% 72 72 6 150
17–19 Aug 2010 poll 36.2% 43.4% 20.4% 50.2% 49.8%
24 Nov 2007 election 43.4% 42.1% 14.5% 52.7% 47.3% 83 65 2 150
20–22 Nov 2007 poll 44% 43% 13% 52% 48%
9 Oct 2004 election 37.6% 46.7% 15.7% 47.3% 52.7% 60 87 3 150
6–7 Oct 2004 poll 39% 45% 16% 50% 50%
10 Nov 2001 election 37.8% 43.0% 19.2% 49.0% 51.0% 65 82 3 150
7–8 Nov 2001 poll 38.5% 46% 15.5% 47% 53%
3 Oct 1998 election 40.1% 39.5% 20.4% 51.0% 49.0% 67 80 1 148
30 Sep – 1 Oct 1998 poll 44% 40% 16% 53% 47%
2 Mar 1996 election 38.7% 47.3% 14.0% 46.4% 53.6% 49 94 5 148
28–29 Feb 1996 poll 40.5% 48% 11.5% 46.5% 53.5%
13 Mar 1993 election 44.9% 44.3% 10.7% 51.4% 48.6% 80 65 2 147
11 Mar 1993 poll 44% 45% 11% 49.5% 50.5%
24 Mar 1990 election 39.4% 43.5% 17.1% 49.9% 50.1% 78 69 1 148
11 Jul 1987 election 45.8% 46.1% 8.1% 50.8% 49.2% 86 62 0 148
1 Dec 1984 election 47.6% 45.0% 7.4% 51.8% 48.2% 82 66 0 148
5 Mar 1983 election 49.5% 43.6% 6.9% 53.2% 46.8% 75 50 0 125
18 Oct 1980 election 45.2% 46.3% 8.5% 49.6% 50.4% 51 74 0 125
10 Dec 1977 election 39.7% 48.1% 12.2% 45.4% 54.6% 38 86 0 124
13 Dec 1975 election 42.8% 53.1% 4.1% 44.3% 55.7% 36 91 0 127
18 May 1974 election 49.3% 44.9% 5.8% 51.7% 48.3% 66 61 0 127
2 Dec 1972 election 49.6% 41.5% 8.9% 52.7% 47.3% 67 58 0 125
25 Oct 1969 election 47.0% 43.3% 9.7% 50.2% 49.8% 59 66 0 125
26 Nov 1966 election 40.0% 50.0% 10.0% 43.1% 56.9% 41 82 1 124
30 Nov 1963 election 45.5% 46.0% 8.5% 47.4% 52.6% 50 72 0 122
9 Dec 1961 election 47.9% 42.1% 10.0% 50.5% 49.5% 60 62 0 122
22 Nov 1958 election 42.8% 46.6% 10.6% 45.9% 54.1% 45 77 0 122
10 Dec 1955 election 44.6% 47.6% 7.8% 45.8% 54.2% 47 75 0 122
29 May 1954 election 50.0% 46.8% 3.2% 50.7% 49.3% 57 64 0 121
28 Apr 1951 election 47.6% 50.3% 2.1% 49.3% 50.7% 52 69 0 121
10 Dec 1949 election 46.0% 50.3% 3.7% 49.0% 51.0% 47 74 0 121
28 Sep 1946 election 49.7% 39.3% 11.0% 54.1% 45.9% 43 26 5 74
21 Aug 1943 election 49.9% 23.0% 27.1% 58.2% 41.8% 49 19 6 74
21 Sep 1940 election 40.2% 43.9% 15.9% 50.3% 49.7% 32 36 6 74
23 Oct 1937 election 43.2% 49.3% 7.5% 49.4% 50.6% 29 44 2 74
Polling conducted by Newspoll and published in The Australian. Three percent margin of error.


  See also

  References

  1. ^ Madigan, Michael (27 February 2009). "Barking, biting dog House". Winnipeg Free Press. http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/westview/barking_biting_dog_house-40410887.html?viewAllComments=y. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  2. ^ "The Structure Of The Australian House Of Representatives Over Its First One Hundred Years: The Impact Of Globalisation," Ian Harris
  3. ^ Standing and Sessional Orders, House of Representatives
  4. ^ Main Committee Fact Sheet, Parliamentary Education Office
  5. ^ The Second Chamber: Enhancing the Main Committee, House of Representatives
  6. ^ Renaming the Main Committee, House of Representatives
  7. ^ [House of Representatives Vote and Proceedings], 8 February 2012, Item 8.
  8. ^ "Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons First Report". House of Commons of the United Kingdom. 7 December 1998. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199899/cmselect/cmmodern/60/6013.htm. Retrieved 20 June 2007. 
  9. ^ House of Commons Standard Note—Modernization: Westminster Hall, SN/PC/3939. Updated 6 March 2006. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  10. ^ "2010 election lower house vote results: AEC". Vtr.aec.gov.au. Archived from the original on 10 September 2010. http://vtr.aec.gov.au/HouseStateFirstPrefsByParty-15508-NAT.htm. Retrieved 9 September 2010. 
  11. ^ 2010 election lower house seat numbers: AEC
  12. ^ "Labor wins 2PP vote as writs returned: SMH 17 September 2010". News.smh.com.au. 17 September 2010. http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/labor-wins-2pp-vote-as-writs-returned-20100917-15g3i.html. Retrieved 4 April 2012. 
  13. ^ 5 Minutes 10 Minutes (17 February 2012). "Labor wins two-party vote by a whisker: The Australian 18 September 2010". Theaustralian.com.au. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/labor-wins-two-party-vote-by-a-whisker/story-fn59niix-1225925611236. Retrieved 4 April 2012. 

  External links

   
               

 

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