Parliamentary Glossary A-B
(see also simple majority)
- An absolute majority is more than half of the total votes of those eligible to vote, even if they are not present. The bill to alter the Constitution was passed by an absolute majority when 85 of the 150 members of the House of Representatives voted for it.
- An absolute majority is the number by which votes for the leading candidate in an election exceed the votes for all other candidates put together. Since Ms Nyugen received 9000 votes and all other candidates received a combined total of 4000 votes, Ms Nyugen had an absolute majority of 5000.
To abstain is to voluntarily refrain from casting a vote. The senator could not decide the issue and felt it was best to abstain from the vote.
To be accountable is to be able to be called on to explain your actions. During Senate Estimates the opposition called on the minister to be accountable for the mismanagement of bushfires in several national parks.
An Act of Parliament, is a law made by a parliament. The Act required that food labelling practices apply wherever food is sold, including school events.
To adjourn is to put off, postpone or suspend. The chamber agreed to adjourn until the following Monday.
An adjournment debate is a debate at the end of each sitting day when members and senators make short speeches on any subject. Four members spoke during the adjournment debate—one spoke about electoral matters the others on matters of national interest.
An adversarial system is an approach or system where one person or group opposes another. The Australian Parliament demonstrates the adversarial system because two major parties oppose each other in the chambers.
Something is affirmative if it is agreed. Affirmative is the opposite of negative. The bill was passed in the affirmative.
(see also Councillor)
Alderman is the title for a person elected to local government. The alderman listened to the committee’s request for more areas to be set aside for parklands.
- An appeal is a request for review by a higher authority. The High Court is the final court of appeal in Australia.
- An appeal is a request for something needed. The public appeal to the minister to provide more information was followed by a media interview.
An appropriation bill is a bill which, if passed by parliament, allows executive government to spend money it has gathered from the community (through taxes and charges) on government services such as roads, schools and security. The appropriation bill was tabled during Budget week.
The Attorney-General is the chief law officer of executive government and the minister responsible for the management of legal matters. The Attorney-General stated that the proposed law was unconstitutional.
The Auditor-General is the chief accounting officer of the federal Parliament. The Auditor-General inspects executive government accounts and reports to the Parliament on whether government departments spend or receive money correctly and legally. The Auditor-General requested that the department produce its annual budget and relevant documents for review.
The Australian Coat of Arms (formally known as the Commonwealth Coat of Arms) consists of a shield containing the badges of the six Australian states supported by an emu and kangaroo. The shield is a symbol for the federation of the states, which took place in 1901. The Commonwealth uses the Coat of Arms to identify its authority and property. The Australian Coat of Arms is a prominent symbol throughout Australia’s Parliament House.
The Australian Constitution is the set of rules by which Australia is governed. It provides the authority for the powers of the Australian Parliament, Australian Government and the High Court of Australia. It also covers financial trade matters; the federal relationship between the states and the Commonwealth; the arrangements for a seat of government; and the process for any alteration of the Constitution. The Australian Constitution is a written text that contains elements of both the British and American systems of governance.
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) is the organisation responsible for running Australian national elections and referendums. The AEC also provides information about elections. Before the election the Australian Electoral Commission issued a booklet informing people about how to vote.
(see also Executive the)
The Australian Government is the formal title given to the group of people who administer Australian law, deliver goods and services to the Australian people and make day to day decisions on behalf of Australia. The Australian Government announced a change to child-care policy.
(see also division)
Aye is the word used for voting ‘yes’ in parliament. The senators who agreed with the bill called out ‘aye’ when the President asked who was in favour of the proposal.
(see also noes)
The ayes are the votes of members of parliament who vote ‘yes’ on a particular matter. The result of the division was 87 ayes and 63 noes.
The backbench is those members of parliament who are not ministers or shadow ministers; also known as private members and senators. Most parliamentarians serve on the backbench before becoming ministers or shadow ministers.
A backbencher is a member of parliament who is not a minister or a shadow minister. Backbenchers sit behind the front bench (thus on the back bench) in each chamber. The backbencher rose to deliver a speech in support of his electorate.
Balance of power is the ability of one person or parliamentary party to decide an issue by the way they vote due to no party having the majority. The Independent senator held the balance of power in the Senate.
- A ballot is the group voting process by which a choice is made. The Speaker of the House of Representatives is elected by secret ballot.
- A ballot is to select by secret vote. A ballot was held to elect the class captain.
- Ballot is the right to vote. The eighteen year old was eager to embrace the ballot.
A ballot-paper is a piece of paper that lists the names of those wanting to be elected to parliament (see candidates). Voters mark their choice of person or persons on the ballot-paper. Each voter is given a ballot-paper on polling day.
A bill of rights is an Act of Parliament or part of a nation's constitution stating some of the basic rights of the people of a country. Australian rights are established and protected by several mechanisms that do not include a separate bill of rights.
To be bipartisan is to represent, or have the support of two parties. With all members of the House of Representatives in agreement on the bill, it was passed with bipartisan support.
(see also Usher of the Black Rod)
The Black Rod is the staff of office of the Usher of the Black Rod. The Black Rod is made of ebony and bears a silver crown and Australian Coat of Arms.
A blue-ribbon seat is a seat or electorate where a majority of voters usually vote for the same member or party making it a ‘safe’ seat for that member or party. The member was confident she would again win her blue-ribbon seat.
The Budget is a plan before a parliament that shows how much money the government expects to collect in the coming year and how it will spend that money. The Budget speech included a plan to spend $10 billion dollars on national roads.
The Budget estimates are the amounts of money which executive government proposes estimates will be needed for expenditure by government and authorities in the coming year. Details of Budget estimates can be found in the annual appropriation bills.
A bureaucracy is the group of people who work in or manage government departments. The bureaucracy is often criticised for creating a lot of paperwork.
A by-election is a special election held to replace a member of the House of Representatives who has ceased to be a member—perhaps because he or she has died or retired between federal elections. A by-election was held to fill the seat of a member who had died suddenly.
A by-law is a local government rule or regulation. The council by-law stated that all domestic dogs were to be registered.
By leave is to do something with the permission of every member present in the chamber. By leave of the chamber the senator made an unexpected statement.