About Parliament: A New Parliament updated January 2018
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About Parliament: A New Parliament updated January 2018

December 13, 2019


Music. Electing the House of Representatives. In Australia, the House of Representatives
can only meet for a maximum of three years before its members must face re-election. Any time during this three-year term, the
Prime Minister may request an election. ‘The Governor-General has accepted
my advice to dissolve both houses of Parliament.’ When this happens, the Governor-General issues
a special proclamation and the House of Representatives is then dissolved. Or in other words, its business is brought
to an end. On election day, Australian citizens aged
18 years and over vote to choose the people who will represent them in the Parliament. The political party (or coalition of parties)
with the support of the majority of members elected to the House of Representatives forms
the government. The leader of the government becomes the Prime
Minister. ‘This is carrying on the great
vision of the founders of the Snowy Mountain Scheme.’ What about the Senate? In contrast to the House of Representatives,
most senators are elected for a six-year term. The only exception to this rule is for territory
senators who serve a maximum three-year term. Senate elections use a system of rotation,
with half the membership of senators elected every three years. When an election for the House of Representatives
is called, a half-Senate election is usually held at the same time. Opening of the new Parliament. After the general election, the Parliament
is formally opened. A recent addition to the opening ceremony
is a ‘Welcome to Country’ by local Indigenous people, symbolically welcoming people to the land. Senators and members then assemble in their respective houses. The Usher of the Black Rod delivers a message
summoning all members to the Senate. ‘Honourable members, the Usher of the Black Rod with a message from the Deputy appointed by his Excellency, the Governor-General.’ ‘Honourable members,
the Deputy of his Excellency, the Governor-General, desires your attendance in the Senate chamber.’ The ceremony is held in the Senate because
there is a convention that the Queen, or the Governor-General, representing the Queen,
does not enter the House of Representatives. This tradition dates back to the British
Parliament in the 17th century. ‘Members of the Senate and members of the House of Representatives, His Excellency, the Governor-General has appointed
me as his deputy to declare open the Parliament of the Commonwealth. The Clerk of the Senate will now read the
instrument of appointment.’ After the Parliament is officially opened,
members return to the House of Representatives to be sworn in. In the Senate, senators representing the territories
are also sworn in. The House of Representatives then elects a
Speaker. This is important because no business can
be conducted in the House until the Speaker takes the chair. ‘I declare the Honourable Member for Casey duly elected as Speaker.’ #Applause# It is customary for the newly elected Speaker
to be reluctantly escorted to the chair by his supporters. This is a tradition dating back to early UK
Parliaments when some Speakers were beheaded or imprisoned. Later in the day, the Governor-General arrives
at the Senate to address members of Parliament. ‘Mr President, His Excellency, the Governor-General approaches the Senate chamber.’ Once again, a message is delivered to the
House of Representatives summoning members to the Senate. As is tradition, the Usher of the Black Rod
knocks on the door three times and waits to be admitted to the House. When all members of Parliament are gathered
in the Senate, the Governor-General makes an opening speech and sets out the government’s
plans for the future. ‘With a multitude of policy
choices important not only to how Australians live today, but to what sort of society we
bequeath to future generations.’ The ceremony concludes with a reception in
the Members Hall at Australia’s Parliament House. #Music# Business as usual. ‘The key finding of this report is not that a disproportionate number of…’ After the Parliament is officially opened,
it is business as usual for both the Senate and the House of Representatives. ‘$25.4 million over three years…’ This includes debating and making new laws,
discussing issues that are important to the nation, and making decisions about governing
the country, on behalf of all Australians. Music.

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