Glossary

Use this helpful glossary to browse or search the meanings of key parliamentary terms.

A

absolute majority

(see also simple majority)
More than half the votes of the total number of members of the House of Representatives or the Senate.

abstain

In Parliament, to choose not to vote.

accountable

To be responsible for one's actions.

Act or Act of Parliament

A law made by a parliament.
More information: Making a law in the Australian Parliament

adjourn

To postpone or suspend.

adjournment debate

A debate at the end of each sitting day when members of parliament make short speeches on any topic.

adversarial

A contest between two or more sides representing different positions or holding different views.

alderman

(see councillor)

amendment

A change to a bill, an Act of Parliament or motion.
More information: Amendments

appropriation bill

A bill to allow the government to spend money.
More information: Budget

assistant minister

A member of the government who assists a minister with their work.
More information: Ministers and Shadow Ministers

Australian Constitution

The set of rules by which Australia is governed, describing the powers of the Australian Parliament, the Australian Government and the High Court of Australia.
More information: Australian Constitution

Australian Electoral Commission

The organisation responsible for running national elections and referendums.
More information: Federal elections

Australian Government

The federal government that puts Australian law into action, provides national government services and makes decisions on behalf of the nation.
More information: Government

Australian Parliament

The national Parliament, consisting of the Queen (represented by the Governor-General), the Senate and the House of Representatives.
More information: Parliament

aye

(see also no)
The expression used in Parliament to indicate a 'yes' vote.
More information: Voting in the chambers

B

backbencher

A member of parliament who is not a minister or shadow minister, also known as a private member or private senator.
More information: Frontbenchers and backbenchers

balance of power

The ability of one or more independents, or a parliamentary party, to decide an issue by the way they vote, due to no single party or coalition of parties having majority support.

ballot

A voting process by which a choice is made.

ballot-paper

A piece of paper listing the names of candidates for election, on which voters record their choice.

bicameral

(see also unicameral)
A parliament that consists of 2 chambers or houses.
More information: Australian Parliament

bill

A proposal for a new law.
More information: Making a law in the Australian Parliament

bipartisan

To have the support of 2 parties.

Black Rod

The staff of office of the Usher of the Black Rod, made of ebony wood with a silver crown on the top.
More information: Black Rod

blue-ribbon seat

A seat—electorate—in which most voters usually vote for the same political party or independent, making it a ‘safe' seat for that member or party.

Budget

The federal government's annual statement of how it plans to collect and spend money, with the agreement of the Parliament.
More information: Budget

bureaucracy

The public servants who work in or manage government departments or organisations, and who help to put law into action.

by-election

An election held to fill a single vacancy in the House of Representatives if a member resigns, dies, or is found to be ineligible between federal elections.
More information: Federal elections

C

Cabinet

The key group of decision-makers in the government, consisting of the Prime Minister and top-level ministers.
More information: Cabinet

Cabinet Room

A highly secure room in Parliament House where the Cabinet meets.

candidate

A person standing for election to Parliament.

casting vote

(see also deliberative vote)
A vote which decides the matter when votes are tied.
More information: Voting in the chambers

casual vacancy

A vacancy that occurs in the Senate if a senator resigns or dies before their term of office has expired.

caucus

The members of parliament who belong to a particular parliamentary party (usually used in relation to the Australian Labor Party.)

censure motion

A motion moved in either chamber to express disapproval of a member of parliament, a minister or the government.

chair

The person who is in charge of a meeting.

chamber

A purpose-built room in the Parliament, in which law-making and debates occur.

chief minister

The elected leader of the political party, or coalition of parties, forming a territory government.

clause

A separate numbered item in a bill. A clause becomes a section in an Act.
More information: Making a law in the Australian Parliament

Clerk

The top-level parliamentary officer in each chamber.
More information: Clerks

closure

A way of ending a debate and causing a vote to be taken straight away on the matter being discussed, even though some members of parliament may still wish to speak.

coalition

An agreement between two or more parliamentary parties to create a bigger group and strengthen their position.

cognate debate

A debate in which two or more separate, but related, matters are discussed at the same time.

committee of the whole

(see also consideration in detail)
A stage in the passage of a bill through the Senate, in which senators discuss the bill in detail, including any suggested changes.

common law

Law based on custom or court decisions, which works together with statute law made by a parliament.
More information: Types of law

commonwealth

A group of people of a state or nation united by a common interest.

Commonwealth Coat of Arms or Coat of Arms

The formal symbol of the Commonwealth of Australia, used to identify its authority and property.
More information: National symbols

Commonwealth of Australia

The formal name for Australia, established by the Australian Constitution.

confidence of the House

Having the support of more than half the members of the House of Representatives.

conscience vote

(see free vote)

consensus

General agreement on an issue.

consideration in detail

(see also committee of the whole)
A stage in the passage of a bill through the House of Representatives, in which members discuss the bill in detail, including any suggested changes.

constituent

Someone who votes or lives in an electorate or area represented by a member of parliament.

constitution

(see also Australian Constitution)
The set of rules by which a state or country is run.

constitutional monarchy

A system of government in which a king or queen is the head of state but has limited power and must follow a constitution and accepted practices known as conventions. In Australia, the powers of the Queen have been delegated to her representative, the Governor-General.

council

The law-making body of a local government.

council chambers

The building where a local council meets.

councillor

Title for a person elected to local government, also called an alderman.

court

In the legal system, a place where cases and trials are conducted; also the collective name for the judges that work in a court.

crossbench

The seats in either chamber occupied by minor parties and/or independents.
More information: Independents

cross the floor

The action of a member of a parliamentary party walking across the chamber to vote against their party's view.
More information: Crossing the floor

D

Daily Program

(see also Order of Business)
The daily agenda showing items of business expected to be dealt with in the House of Representatives.

deadlock

A situation in which the House of Representatives and the Senate disagree over a bill.
More information: Double Dissolution

debate

A formal discussion on a bill or other topic in which different views are expressed.

delegated law

Rules or regulations made by a government minister, executive office-holder or government department using power that is given to them by the Parliament.
More information: Delegated law

deliberative vote

(see also casting vote)
The ordinary vote of a member of parliament, as opposed to the casting—or deciding—vote.

Democracy

(see also representative democracy)
A system of government in which the people have a say about how they are governed, and free elections are held.

Despatch Boxes

Two wooden chests on the central table of the House of Representatives, from which the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, ministers and shadow ministers make their speeches.
More information: Despatch Boxes

dissolution

The act of closing the House of Representatives before calling a federal election.

division

A formal recorded vote in which members of parliament move to either side of the chamber to show whether they are voting for or against a proposal.
More information: Voting in the chambers

division bells

Electronic bells that ring throughout Parliament House to call members of parliament to the chambers.

Dorothy Dix question or Dorothy Dixer

A pre-arranged question asked by a government backbencher to a minister in Question Time, which allows the minister to give a prepared reply.

double dissolution

The dissolution of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, so a federal election to take place. This can occur to resolve a deadlock between the 2 houses.
More information: Double Dissolution

double majority

A majority of voters across the nation and a majority of voters in a majority of states. Necessary for making a change to the Australian Constitution in a referendum.
More information: Referendums and plebiscites

E

election

The process by which eligible citizens vote for people to represent them in a parliament.
More information: Federal elections

election campaign

A competition for votes by people or parties who are seeking election to a parliament.

elector

(see voter)

electoral roll

A list of all the people who are able to vote.

electorate

A geographical area represented by a member of parliament, also referred to as a seat.

electorate office

The office of a member of parliament in their electorate, or state or territory where they work when Parliament is not meeting in Canberra.

Executive and executive government

The Prime Minister and ministers—also called the ministry—who lead and manage government departments and are responsible for putting into action government policy and the laws made by the Parliament.

executive power

(see also separation of powers)
The power of the executive government to make national decisions and put laws into action.

expenditure

The act of spending money or the amount spent.

explanatory memorandum

A document that explains the purpose and detail of a bill in a user-friendly way.

F

federal

Relating to the Australian Parliament and the Australian Government, rather than state and territory parliaments, and state and territory governments.

federal election

The process by which eligible citizens vote for people to represent them in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
More information: Federal elections

Federal Executive Council

The council of ministers including the Governor-General which discusses government policies and actions and can make delegated law, in accordance with the Australian Constitution.

federal Parliament

(see Australian Parliament)

federal government

(see Australian Government)

federalism

A system of government in which powers and responsibilities are divided between a federal—national—government and state governments.

federation

A nation formed by the union of a number of states which give up some of their powers and responsibilities to a central government.
The creation of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901.
More information: Australia's federation

Federation Chamber

The second chamber of the House of Representatives, used to conduct everyday business referred by the House, including long debates.
More information: House of Representatives

filibuster

To use long speeches or other tactics to deliberately delay a parliamentary decision or vote.

first reading

The first stage of a bill's passage through the Parliament, in which the bill is introduced and the title of the bill is read for the first time.
More information: Making a law in the Australian Parliament.

first speech (formerly maiden speech)

The first speech in the chamber by a newly-elected member of parliament, during which they talk about what is important to them and what they hope to achieve in Parliament.

free vote

A vote in which members of parliament are not required to vote with their party; instead, they can vote according to their own beliefs. Sometimes called a conscience vote.
More information: Crossing the floor, Voting in the chambers

frontbencher

A member of parliament who is a minister or a shadow minister.
More information: Frontbenchers and backbenchers

G

gag

A way to immediately stop a member of parliament speaking during a parliamentary debate.

general business

(see also private members' business)
Business introduced into the Senate by a senator who is not a minister.

governance

The act of governing and the exercise of authority.

government

A system of rule in a state or country. In the Australian Parliament it refers to the party, or coalition of parties, with the support of the majority of members in the House of Representatives.
More information: Government

government business

Business introduced into the House of Representatives or the Senate by a minister.

government department

A group of public servants who give advice to the minister in charge of their department and, under the direction of the minister, carry out the decisions of the government, provide government services to the public, and put laws into action.

governor

The Queen's representative in each state of Australia.

Governor-General

The Queen's representative in Australia.
More information: Governor-General

grievance debate

(see also senators' statements)
A weekly discussion in the House of Representatives in which a member may speak on any matter of concern to them or their constituents.

guillotine

A time limit imposed on discussion of a bill.

H

half-Senate election

An election held for half the Senate seats in each state. State senators have 6 year terms, but a system of rotation makes sure that half end their term every 3 years.
More information: Federal elections

Hansard

The edited transcript—written record—of what is said in Parliament.
More information: Hansard

head of state

The formal leader of a country. Queen Elizabeth II is Australia's head of state.

High Court of Australia

The highest court in Australia; it interprets and applies Australian law and decides cases about national issues, including challenges related to the Australian Constitution.

honourable

A title that may be used by a current or former minister, President of the Senate or Speaker of the House of Representatives.

House of Commons

One of the two houses of the British Parliament.

House of Lords

One of the two houses of the British Parliament.

House of Representatives

One of the two houses of the Australian Parliament, also known as the lower house, in which the Australian Government is formed.
More information: House of Representatives

I

Independent

A member of parliament who does not belong to a political party.
More information: Independents

informal vote

A ballot-paper that is not counted in an election because it has not been filled in correctly.

interest group

A group of people organised to promote an issue or cause which they have in common.

in order

To act according to the standing orders.

interjection

A remark made to interrupt a speech or debate.

J

joint committee

A parliamentary committee made up of members of both houses of Parliament.
More information: Committees

joint sitting

A combined meeting of the House of Representatives and Senate in one chamber, to make a decision on a bill which the 2 houses, sitting separately, have been unable to agree on.
More information: Double dissolution

Journals of the Senate

(see also Votes and Proceedings)
The official record of the actions and decisions made in the Senate.
More information: Records of the Parliament

judicial power

(see also separation of powers)
The power of the courts to make judgements about the law.

Judiciary

The High Court of Australia and other federal courts that make judgements about the law.

L

law

Rules that help manage our society and define how people and organisations are expected to behave.
More information: Types of laws

Leader of the Government in the Senate

A government senator who is chosen by their party or coalition of parties to lead them in the Senate.

Leader of the House

A minister appointed by the government to manage its business in the House of Representatives.

Leader of the Opposition

A member of parliament who leads the largest party or coalition of parties that is not in government.
More information: Leader of the Opposition

Leader of the Opposition in the Senate

An opposition senator who is chosen by their party or coalition of parties to lead them in the Senate.

leave

Permission given to a member of parliament by other members of parliament present in the chamber to do something which is not usually allowed in the standing orders.

legislation

A law or proposed law.

legislative power

(see also separation of powers)
The power of the Parliament to make and amend laws.

legislature

The law-making body of a country or state.

lobby

To approach the government, the opposition or other members of parliament, to get support for a cause or to influence them to change policy or actions.

local government

The level of government that looks after local issues, such as rubbish collection, pet control and local roads.
More information: Three levels of government: governing Australia

long title

The full title of a bill which describes what the bill is about.

lower house

The name sometimes given to the House of Representatives.

M

Mace

The symbol of the authority of the House of Representatives and the Speaker, made of silver coated in gold, with a crown at one end.
More information: Mace

maiden speech

(see first speech)

Manager of Government Business in the Senate

A minister appointed by the government to manage its business in the Senate.

Manager of Opposition Business in the House

A shadow minister appointed by the opposition to manage its business in the House of Representatives.

Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate

A shadow minister appointed by the opposition to manage its business in the Senate.

marginal seat

A seat or electorate in which the vote was very close and the winning candidate won by a small number of votes.

Matter of Public Importance or MPI

A discussion in Parliament about the government's actions or policies. The topic is usually raised by a shadow minister and, in the House of Representatives, responded to first by the minister in charge of the relevant government department.

mayor

The head of a city or town council.

Media

(see also press gallery)
Newspapers, television, radio stations and other organisations that collect and publish information.

member

A person elected to the House of Representatives, also referred to as an MP.
More information: Members of the House of Representatives

member of parliament

A person elected to the House of Representatives or the Senate.

minister

A member of the government who has been given an area of responsibility for how Australia is run, known as a portfolio.
More information: Ministers and shadow ministers

ministerial responsibility

The principle that a minister should be accountable to the Parliament for their actions and decisions, as well as those of their government department.

ministry

(see Executive and executive government)

minority government

A government formed by a party or coalition of parties that does not have a majority in the House of Representatives, but governs with the support of the majority of all the members.

minor party

A political party that has only a small number of members elected to Parliament.

monarch

A head of state, such as a king or queen, who has inherited their position.

money bill

A proposed law that introduces a tax or suggests spending money for a particular purpose.

motion

An idea or proposal put forward for consideration, debate and decision.

move (a motion)

To make a formal proposal at a meeting.

municipality

An area of land that has its own local government.

N

no confidence

A vote in which the House of Representatives or the Senate expresses dissatisfaction with the performance of the government or a minister, more commonly used in the House of Representatives.

no

(see also aye)
The expression used in Parliament to indicate a ‘no' vote.
More information: Voting in the chambers

non-government member

A member of parliament who does not belong to the government.

notice of motion

An announcement of a plan to introduce a motion, which indicates an intention to do something in the chamber.

Notice Paper

A document published on each sitting day which lists all business before each chamber of the Parliament.

O

oath of allegiance

A declaration of loyalty to the Queen which the Australian Constitution requires a member of parliament to make before taking a seat in Parliament. An affirmation of allegiance—which does not include the name of God—may be made instead.

opposition

The largest party or coalition of parties that does not have the support of the majority of members in the House of Representatives.
More information: Opposition

order

The correct or proper conduct in parliamentary meetings.

Order of Business

(see also Daily Program)
The daily agenda showing business to be dealt with in the Senate on that day, known as the 'Red'.

P

pair

An arrangement in which a member of parliament abstains from voting in order to balance the vote for an absent member on the opposite side.

Parliament

An assembly of elected law-making representatives. The Australian Parliament consists of the Queen—represented by the Governor-General—the Senate and the House of Representatives.
More information: Australian Parliament

Parliament House

The building where the Australian Parliament meets in Canberra.
More information: Parliament House

parliamentarian

(see member of parliament)

parliamentary committee

A small group of government and non-government members of parliament from either chamber, which investigates and makes recommendations about a particular issue.
More information: Committees

parliamentary officer

A non-elected officer who works for the Parliament and has duties which support the work of the Parliament.

parliamentary party

A political party with at least one member elected to a parliament.

parliamentary privilege

The legal protection given to members of parliament or witnesses appearing before parliamentary committees to make sure they cannot be sued or prosecuted for anything they say or do during parliamentary proceedings.

parliamentary secretary

(see assistant minister)

parliamentary triangle

A geographical area in Canberra where the Australian Parliament is situated and which is part of Walter Burley Griffin's original plan for the city.

party discipline

Control used by a parliamentary party to ensure its members work and vote together.

party room

A room where parliamentary party members hold meetings. Also used to refer to all the members of a party or a coalition of parties.

petition

A request by a group of citizens for Parliament to take action to solve a particular problem.
More information: Petitions

platform

A policy or plan of action put forward by a political party or candidate.

plebiscite

A national vote used to decide a question that does not affect the Australian Constitution, the result of which is not binding on the government.
More information: Referendums and plebiscites

point of order

An appeal to the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the House of Representatives to make a decision about whether a standing order has been broken.

policy

A plan of action on an issue.

political party

An organisation that represents a particular group of people or set of ideas, and aims to have their members elected to Parliament.
More information: Political parties

politics

The activity of government, getting or using power and influencing public policy.

poll

A count of people, votes or opinions; the official record of this count.

polling day

The day on which people vote in an election.

portfolio

An area of responsibility of a government minister.

preferential voting

A system of voting in which a voter indicates an order of preference for candidates in an election.
More information: Federal elections

premier

The elected leader of the political party or coalition of parties that form a state government.

President of the Senate

A senator chosen by other senators to run meetings of the Senate and to make sure the standing orders are followed.
More information: President of the Senate

Presiding Officer

A member of parliament elected to run meetings in the Senate or the House of Representatives; in the Senate called the President and in the House of Representatives called the Speaker.

A group of people who work for the media inside Parliament House, and collect and publish information; also describes the area of Parliament House in which they work.
More information: Press gallery

press release

An announcement, statement or item of news prepared for and given to the media.

Prime Minister

The head of the Australian Government, who leads the parliamentary party or coalition of parties that wins the support of the majority of members in the House of Representatives.
More information: Prime Minister

private member

A member of the House of Representatives who is not a minister.

private members' business

(see also general business)
Business introduced into the House of Representatives by a member who is not a minister.

private senator

A senator who is not a minister.

proceedings

The formal actions and decisions of a house of parliament.

proclamation

An official public announcement that has legal effect.

proportional voting

A system of voting used in multi-member electorates which allocates seats in proportion to votes cast for candidates in an election.
More information: Federal elections

prorogation

A special proclamation to formally close a session of the Parliament, used before a dissolution of the House of Representatives and the calling of a federal election.

The public viewing area in the Senate and House of Representatives chambers.

public service

An organisation of people employed in government departments, responsible for putting laws into action and delivering government services.

put the question

To ask for a decision on a question before the Parliament.

Q

Queen (the)

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Australia's head of state.

question

A matter to be debated and voted on, or a request for information put to a minister in the Parliament.

question on notice

A written question asked of a minister, which is answered in writing at a later time.

Question Time

A time each sitting day in which members of parliament ask ministers questions about government decisions and actions.
More information: Question Time in the Australian Parliament

question without notice

A spoken question asked of a minister in Question Time, which a minister is expected to answer immediately.

quorum

A minimum number of people who have to be present in the House of Representatives or Senate to hold a meeting, as stated in the Australian Constitution and the standing orders of each chamber.

quota

The number of votes needed to be elected to the Senate.

R

reading

The formal action which marks the completion of each stage of the passage of a bill through Parliament.

redistribution

A change in the boundary of a House of Representatives electorate, to make sure there are a similar number of voters in each electorate.

referendum

A national vote to consider a change to the Australian Constitution.
More information: Referendums and plebiscites

regulation

A law made under the authority of an Act of Parliament.
More information: Delegated law

repeal

To formally revoke or remove.

report

A written statement of the results of a parliamentary committee of inquiry.

representative

A person elected to Parliament to speak on behalf of others.

representative democracy

A system in which people vote for candidates to represent them in a parliament. In Australia, members of parliament are elected to the Senate or the House of Representatives to represent Australians and make laws on their behalf.

republic

A nation in which the head of state is a president who is either directly or indirectly elected by the people, rather than a monarch.

reserve powers

Additional powers of the Governor-General not written in the Australian Constitution which may be used without ministerial advice, but usually according to accepted practices known as conventions.

request

The way in which the Senate asks the House of Representatives to make an amendment to some money bills which the Senate cannot change by itself.

responsible government

The principle that the government should be responsible to the Parliament, to make sure the government does not abuse its power. The government must retain the support of the majority of members in the House of Representatives to stay in power.

revenue

Money a government collects from taxes and other sources to spend on government services.

rotation

The system of electing state senators in which all are elected for 6 year terms, with half being elected every 3 years, so that the Senate has continuous membership.

Royal Assent

The signing of a bill by the Governor-General, which is the final step in making a bill into a law.
More information: Making a law in the Australian Parliament

rule of law

The principle that all people are equal before the law and must obey it; that the law should be fair, clearly written and protect people's rights.

S

scrutinise

To examine something closely.

secondary legislation

(see delegated law)

second chamber

(see Federation Chamber)

second reading

The second stage of a bill's passage through the Parliament, in which members of parliament debate and vote on the main idea of the bill.
More information: Making a law in the Australian Parliament

select committee

A group of members of parliament who inquire into and report to the Parliament on a specific issue, and who disband when they have completed the report.
More information: Committees

Senate

One of the two houses of the Australian Parliament, also known as the upper house.
More information: Senate

Senate estimates hearings

Meetings of Senate committees that examine government spending, and related actions and decisions.
More information: Senate estimates

senator

A person elected to the Senate.
More information: Senators

senators' statements

(see also grievance debate)
A weekly discussion in the Senate in which a senator may speak on any matter of concern to them or their constituents.

separation of powers

The principle that the power to govern should be distributed between the Parliament that makes the law, the Executive that puts the law into action and the Judiciary that interprets the law, to avoid one group having all the power, and to act as a check on the possible misuse of power.
More information: Separation of powers: Parliament, Executive and Judiciary

Serjeant-at-Arms

A parliamentary officer who assists the Speaker in the House of Representatives to maintain order and run the chamber, as well as providing services to members of the House of Representatives.
More information: Serjeant-at-Arms

session

A period which starts on the first sitting day after an election or prorogation and ends either by prorogation, a dissolution of the House of Representatives, or at the conclusion of 3 years from the first sitting of the House.

sessional order

(see also temporary order)
A temporary rule used to manage the work of the House of Representatives, which may be adopted as a permanent rule.

shadow Cabinet

The key group of decision-makers in the opposition, consisting of the Leader of the Opposition and top-level shadow ministers.

shadow minister

A member of the opposition who scrutinises—closely examines—the work of a particular minister or government department, and explains opposition policies.
More information: Ministers and shadow ministers

shadow ministry

The entire group of shadow ministers who scrutinise—closely examine—the work of government ministers.

shire

An area of local government, usually rural.
More information: Three levels of government: governing Australia

short title

The commonly known name of a bill.

simple majority

(see also absolute majority)
More than half of the votes of members of parliament present in either the House of Representatives or the Senate.

sitting

A meeting of a house of parliament.

Speaker of the House of Representatives

A member of the House of Representatives chosen by other members to run meetings of the House and to make sure the standing orders are followed.
More information: Speaker of the House of Representatives

standing committee

A group of members of parliament who meet regularly throughout the life of a Parliament to inquire into and report on bills and issues relating to particular subjects.
More information: Committees

standing orders

The rules used to manage the work of the House of Representatives and the Senate.
More information: Standing orders

state

A region with certain law-making powers, which may join with other states to make up a federal union.

state government

The level of government that puts state law into action, delivers government services and makes decisions on behalf of the people of that state.
More information: Three levels of government: governing Australia

state parliament

Elected representatives who make state laws.

statute

A written law made by a parliament.

suffrage

The right to vote in an election.

suspend

To remove a member of parliament from the House of Representatives or the Senate, usually because of their disorderly conduct.

swearing-in

A ceremony in which new members of parliament make an oath of allegiance or an affirmation of allegiance.

swinging voter

A voter who transfers their support from one political party or candidate to another at different elections.

T

table

To present a document or object to the House of Representatives or the Senate, to be included in the records of the Parliament.

tax

An amount charged by a government on items such as wages or goods and services, to provide money for government services.

temporary order

(see also sessional order)
A temporary rule used to manage the work of the Senate which may, after a trial period, be adopted as a permanent rule.

terms of reference

The description of the reason for a parliamentary committee of inquiry.

territory

A region created by the Commonwealth of Australia with certain law-making powers.

territory government

The level of government that puts territory law into action, delivers government services and makes decisions on behalf of the people of that territory.
More information: Three levels of government: governing Australia

territory parliament

Elected representatives who make territory laws.

third reading

The third stage of a bill's passage through the Parliament, in which members of parliament vote on the bill in its final form.
More information: Making a law in the Australian Parliament

Treasurer

The minister responsible for the government's economic and financial policy, including how the government will collect and spend money to run the country.

U

unconstitutional

To be inconsistent with or go against a constitution.

unicameral

(see also bicameral)
A parliament that consists of one chamber or house.

unparliamentary language

The use of language which the Speaker of the House of Representatives or the President of the Senate judges to be offensive or disorderly, and which usually needs to be withdrawn.

upper house

The name sometimes given to the Senate.

urgency motion

Debate on a matter in the Senate, usually regarding government actions or policies, followed by a vote on whether the matter is urgent.

Usher of the Black Rod

A parliamentary officer who assists the President of the Senate to maintain order and run the chamber, as well as providing services to senators.
More information: Usher of the Black Rod

V

vice-regal

A person appointed to represent a monarch.

vote

A formal expression of a choice.

voter

A person who votes or is eligible to vote.

Votes and Proceedings

(see also Journals of the Senate)
The official record of the actions and decisions made in the House of Representatives.
More information: Records of the Parliament

W

Westminster

The British Parliament, which meets at Westminster Palace in London.

Westminster system

The system of government which originated in Britain, with an executive government drawn from and directly responsible to a parliament.

whip

A member of parliament who is selected by their parliamentary party or coalition of parties to be their team manager and to help arrange the business of the House of Representatives or the Senate.
More information: Party Whip

witness

A person who gives evidence to a parliamentary committee.

writs

Legal documents instructing the Australian Electoral Commission to hold an election. The Governor-General issues writs for the election of members of the House of Representatives and territory senators; state governors issue writs for the election of state senators.