Parliament of Australia

The Parliament of Australia (officially the Federal Parliament,[1] also called the Commonwealth Parliament) is the legislative branch of the government of Australia. It consists of three elements: the Crown (represented by the Governor-General), the Senate and the House of Representatives.[1][2] The combination of two elected chambers, in which the members of the Senate represent the states and territories while the members of the House represent electoral divisions according to population, is modelled on the United States Congress. Through both chambers, however, there is a fused executive, drawn from the Westminster system.[3]

Parliament of Australia
46th Parliament
Type
Type
HousesSenate
House of Representatives
History
Founded9 May 1901; 120 years ago (9 May 1901)
Leadership
Elizabeth II
since 6 February 1952
David Hurley
since 1 July 2019
Scott Ryan, Liberal
since 13 November 2017
Tony Smith, Liberal
since 10 August 2015
Structure
Seats227 (151 MPs, 76 Senators)
House of Representatives political groups
Government (76)

Coalition
  Liberal (60)[lower-alpha 1]
  National (16)[lower-alpha 2]

Opposition (68)
  Labor (68)

Crossbench (7)
  Greens (1)
  UAP (1)
  KAP (1)
  Centre Alliance (1)
  Independent (3)[lower-alpha 3]


Senate political groups
Government (36)

Coalition
  Liberal (31)[lower-alpha 4]
  National (5)[lower-alpha 5]

Opposition (26)
  Labor (26)

Crossbench (14)
  Greens (9)
  One Nation (2)
  Centre Alliance (1)
  Lambie Network (1)
  Patrick Team (1)


Elections
Instant-runoff voting
Single transferable vote
18 May 2019
Senate last election
18 May 2019 (half)
By 3 September 2022
Senate next election
By 21 May 2022
RedistrictingRedistributions are carried out on a state-by-state basis by the Australian Electoral Commission.
Meeting place
Parliament House
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
Australia
Website
aph.gov.au

The upper house, the Senate, consists of 76 members: twelve for each state, and two each for the territories, Northern Territory (including Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands) and the Australian Capital Territory (including Norfolk Island and the Jervis Bay Territory). Senators are elected using the single transferable vote proportional representation system and as a result, the chamber features a multitude of parties vying for power.[4] The governing party or coalition has not held a majority in the Senate since 1981 (except between 2005 and 2007) and usually needs to negotiate with other parties and Independents to get legislation passed.[5]

The lower house, the House of Representatives, currently consists of 151 members, each elected using full-preference instant-runoff voting from single-member constituencies known as electoral divisions (and commonly referred to as "electorates" or "seats").[6][7] This tends to lead to the chamber being dominated by two major political groups, the centre-right Coalition (consisting of the Liberal and National Parties) and the centre-left Labor Party. The government of the day must achieve the confidence of this House in order to gain and remain in power.

The House of Representatives has a maximum term of three years, although it can be dissolved early. The Senate has fixed terms, with 36 Senators' terms expiring every three years (the terms of the four territory Senators are linked to House elections). As a result, House and Senate elections almost always coincide. A deadlock-breaking mechanism known as a double dissolution can be used to dissolve the full Senate as well as the House in the event that the Senate refuses to pass a piece of legislation passed by the House.[8]

The two Houses meet in separate chambers of Parliament House (except in a rare joint sitting) on Capital Hill in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory.