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Glossary

C

Cabinet
The key group of decision-makers in executive government, consisting of the Prime Minister and top-level ministers.
Cabinet Room
A highly secure room in Parliament House where the Cabinet meets.
candidate
A person standing for election to Parliament.
casting vote
A vote exercised by someone which decides the matter when votes are equal.
casual vacancy
A vacancy that occurs in the Senate if a senator resigns or dies before their term of office has expired.
caucus
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 another 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 other debates occur.
chief minister
The elected leader of the political party, or parties, forming a territory government.
clause
A separate numbered item in a bill; a clause becomes a section in an Act.
Clerk
The top-level parliamentary officer in each chamber.
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
The joining together of 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 (proposed law) 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.
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.
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 (proposed law) 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
The set of rules by which a state or country is run.
constitutional monarchy
A system of governance in which a king or queen is the head of state, but acts in accordance with a constitution and accepted practices known as conventions.
council
The law-making body in 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.
cross the floor
The action of a member of a parliamentary party walking across the chamber to vote against their party’s view.

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