Make speeches

Discover the different types of speeches senators and members make in Parliament by turning your class into a Parliament and doing it yourselves! Use these activities to further explore the work of the Parliament or to give context to oral presentations in any classroom.

Students
Years 5 to 12
Duration
1 to 2 lessons

First speeches

  1. Ask students to imagine that they are members of the House of Representatives or senators. How old would they be? What did they do before their election to Parliament? Why did they choose to run in the election?
  2. Ask the students to choose an electorate—House of Representatives—or a state/territory—Senate—to research. You may like to ask the students to use their real electorate. You can find information on current federal electorates on the Australian Electoral Commission website. What are the main issues affecting the people they represent?
  3. Discuss with students the purpose of a first speech. For example, the first speech allows members and senators to outline their visions and hopes, to thank those who have helped them get elected, acknowledge people who have inspired them and speak about the needs of their electorate. It becomes a public record that other members of parliament, the public, and the media, may refer to in the future.
  4. Ask the students to write a first speech to present to the Parliament.
  5. The speech can be any length. You may want to set a time limit that suits the age and ability of your students.
  6. In their speech, students should describe:
    • Why they wanted to become a member of parliament
    • What they hope to achieve
    • Issues (local, national, or global) that they are concerned about.
  7. Select a student to be the chairperson; for the House of Representatives you will need a Speaker and for the Senate you will need a President
  8. The Speaker/President calls each student to speak in turn and asks them to stand as they give their speech. At the end of their speech each student is applauded or congratulated by the other members and senators when they have finished.
  9. Explore the following questions with your students:
    • How do you think members and senators would feel making their first speech? For example, they might be nervous speaking for the first time in the Parliament, but also proud to be representing the people of Australia.
    • How would a member or senator address issues outlined in their first speech? For example, they could convince their team to take a particular course of action, or to introduce a bill—proposed law—about the issue. They could use their profile as a member or senator to draw attention to the issue in the media.

Matters of Public Importance (MPIs)

  1. Help your students choose an MPI by:
    • Brainstorming ideas with the class
    • Selecting a topic connected to a relevant curriculum area
    • Identifying a problem in your school or community
    • Finding an issue in the media
    • Identifying a matter currently before the Parliament by looking at News from our Parliament.
  2. You can choose to discuss one or more MPIs. Write the topics on the board so that students can refer to them.
  3. If discussing more than one MPI, group the students who are discussing the same one together and have them perform their speeches before moving on to the next topic.
  4. Ask students to imagine that they are members of the House of Representatives or senators. How old would they be? What did they do before their election to Parliament? Why did they choose to run in the election?
  5. Ask the students to choose an electorate—House of Representatives—or a state/territory—Senate—to research. You may like to ask the students to use their real electorate. You can find information on current federal electorates on the Australian Electoral Commission website. What are the main issues affecting the people they represent?
  6. Divide the class into government, opposition, minor parties and independents. For the current composition of the House of Representatives, visit Parliamentary statistics.
  7. Give teams a few minutes to discuss, and decide what the team thinks of the issue.
  8. Ask the students to write their speech on the Matter of Public Importance. The speech can be any length. You may want to set a time limit that suits the age and ability of your students. In their speech, students should:
    • Outline the issue and explain why it is important
    • Describe what could be done about the issue
    • Call on the Parliament to take some action
  9. Select someone to be the chairperson: for the House of Representatives you will need a Speaker. For the Senate you will need a President. This could be a student or the teacher.
  10. The Speaker/President calls each student to speak in turn and asks them to stand as they give their speech. If discussing more than one MPI, remember to group speeches by topic.
  11. Then explore the following question with your students:
    • What is the benefit of discussing Matters of Public Importance? For example, speaking on an issue in Parliament can put it on the public agenda and may lead to government action. MPIs may highlight government mishandling of a matter, which can put pressure on the government to address the issue.

Constituency statements

  1. Help each student to choose a topic for their constituency statement. Popular topics for constituency statements include:
    • Local heroes
    • Local cultural celebrations and events
    • Successes of local sporting teams
    • The impact of government decisions on the local area
    • Historical events and anniversaries.
  2. Ask students to imagine that they are members of the House of Representatives. How old would they be? What did they do before their election to Parliament? Why did they choose to run in the election?
  3. Ask the students to choose an electorate. You may like to ask the students to use their real electorate. You can find information on current federal electorates on the Australian Electoral Commission website. What are the main issues affecting the people they represent?
  4. Divide the class into government, opposition, minor parties and independents.
  5. Ask the students to write their constituency statement. Speeches should be no more than 3 minutes long.
  6. Select someone to be the chairperson: for the House of Representatives you will need a Speaker. This could be a student or the teacher.
  7. The Speaker calls each student to speak in turn and asks them to stand as they give their speech.
  8. Explore the following question with your students:
    • What are the benefits of constituency statements? During constituency statements, members can raise their own topics. This means that a member can identify issues that are important to them and the people in their electorate, rather than just debating bills—proposed laws—most of which are introduced by the government. Constituency statements are on the public record, so the public and the media can hold the government accountable for how they respond to an issue.