About Parliament – What is Parliament
Video duration: 2 min 03
The federal Parliament meets here at Parliament House in Canberra to represent the people of Australia.
This is the place where laws are made and where issues of national importance are debated and dealt with.
It's where government is formed and where government is held accountable for its actions.
In Australia, the Parliament is made up of the Queen, represented by the Governor-General and two Houses of Parliament: the Senate, and the House of Representatives.
At election time, Australians vote to send a person from their local region, known as an electorate, and people from their state or territory, to represent them in Parliament.
76 senators are elected to the Senate and 150 members are elected to the House of Representatives.
The political party with the most members in the House of Representatives forms the government.
One of the most important things Parliament does is to make new laws or change old ones.
A proposal to change a law, or make a new one, is called a bill.
The Parliament passes around 160 bills each year.
Examples of bills: Archives Amendment Bill 2008; Tax Laws Amendment (Budget Measures) Bill 2008; National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Amendment Bill 2008.
Most are introduced by government ministers. The actions of government are carefully examined by the Parliament through processes such as Question Time and through the work of parliamentary committees.
So let's sum up.
Parliament represents the people of Australia, and it's the place where government is formed.
Parliament makes and changes laws and examines the work of the government.