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Glossary

P

Parliament House
The building where the federal Parliament meets in Canberra.
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.
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 committees, to ensure 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 federal 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.
petition
A request by a group of citizens for Parliament to take action to solve a particular problem.
platform
A policy or idea 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.
point of order
An appeal to the President or the Speaker to make a decision about whether a standing order (parliamentary rule) 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.
politics
The activity involved in getting or using power in the governance or public life of a nation.
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.
premier
The elected leader of the political party or coalition of parties that form a state government.
President
(see also Speaker)
A senator chosen by other senators to run meetings of the Senate and to make sure the standing orders (parliamentary rules) are followed.
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.
press gallery
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.
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.
private member
(see also private senator)
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
(see also private member)
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.
prorogation
A special proclamation to formally close a session of the Parliament, currently used regularly before a dissolution of the House of Representatives and the calling of a federal election.  
public gallery
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.

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