The Senate

Discover the role and work of the Australian Senate with this introductory video.

Teachers can use this video to introduce the Senate to their students. It supports the Year 7 Unit of work and the Make a Law: Senate and Make speeches Classroom activities.

Duration: 3min 17sec


Vision Audio
Opening credits showing animated shapes with the words: Understand, Teach, Book, Connect.The Parliamentary Education Office logo. Music.
Animated graphic showing Parliament House, a silhouette of the King, the letters GG underlined by a laurel, a red U shape and a green U shape. Footage of the Senate. Narrator: In Australia, the Parliament is made up of the Monarch, represented by the Governor-General, and two houses of Parliament: the Senate and the House of Representatives. This is the Senate.
Footage of people voting at a polling place. Animated graphic of a map of Australia showing 6 states and 2 territories, each with a red seat on it. Narrator: Senators are elected to represent Australia's states and territories, so the Senate is sometimes called the ‘states’ house’.
Footage of senators speaking about local and national issues.

Narrator: Senators can speak about issues and events which are important to the people in their state or territory.

Senator for Victoria: I want to talk specifically about the north east of Victoria.

A picture of the United States Capitol Building. A picture of the British Houses of Parliament. Footage of the House of Lords. Footage of the Usher of the Black Rod entering the Senate. Narrator: The idea of the states having equal representation in the Senate comes from the United States of America. The Senate also has some traditions from the British Parliament, such as the use of red to represent the Senate, and the ceremonial use of the Black Rod.
Animated graphic of the Senate highlighting the President’s chair, then the government benches, then the opposition benches, then the crossbench. Narrator: The Senate is arranged in a horseshoe shape with the President of the Senate sitting at the front. Government senators sit to the right of the President and opposition senators sit to the left. There are also independent and minor party senators who sit in the middle area known as the crossbench.
Footage of the Senate at work.

Narrator: A government majority in the Senate is unusual, so the government must negotiate with senators from the opposition and crossbench.

Senator for Tasmania: It’s pleasing to hear members of the crossbench who are willing to work with the government on things that are important to our nation.

Senator for South Australia: I seek leave to move amendments.

Footage of the Senate at work.

Narrator: Senators look at new laws proposed by the government and often suggest changes.

Senator for Western Australia: The proposed amendment to the NDIS Act clarified ...

Footage of senators and witnesses in committee inquiries.

Narrator: They debate these laws in the Senate, and examine them closely in Senate committees.

Witness: There are a lot of issues, but there’s no more important issue ...

Senator for Western Australia: ... particularly as it relates to Indigenous communities and Aboriginal communities because ...

Narrator: Committees also help senators find out how new laws affect people in the community.

Witness: And then, just throwing in, the basic cost, I think, is about $13 500 for board...

Footage of the Senate at work in the Senate and in a committee inquiry.

Narrator: One of the most important functions of the Senate is to keep an eye on what the government is doing. This helps to ensure that the government makes good decisions when running the country.

Senator for Tasmania: I am much obliged. And then we can discuss those figures in February.

Witness: Absolutely Senator.

Senators question a witness during a Senate Estimates hearing. Narrator: At Senate estimates hearings, senators can question ministers and public servants about their decisions and the spending of public money.
Footage of the Senate during Question Time.

Senator for South Australia: ... not just livelihoods, but also the very viability of ...

Narrator: Senators also review the work of the government during Question Time by asking ministers to explain their actions.

Leader of the Opposition in the Senate: ... whether it supports additional investment in regional infrastructure ...

Senator for South Australia: Why is the government seeking to suspend ...

Narrator: This helps to keep the government accountable to the Parliament and to the people of Australia.

Leader of the Government in the Senate: ... all senators will continue to do their job ...

The Parliamentary Education Office logo. Narrator: This is our Australian Parliament. To find out more, and how you can get involved, visit the Parliamentary Education Office website: