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Role-play the Parliament – House of Representatives

Video duration: 14 min 33

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Opening credits showing the Parliament at work and students participating in parliamentary activities in a classroom.

Title: Role-play the Parliament House of Representatives.

Music.

The presenter stands at the front of parliament house.

Members of parliament making speeches.

Presenter: Teaching students about the Parliament can be engaging, exciting and easy. The best way to teach your class about Parliament is to turn your class into a parliament. With the help of this video your students will run their own debates, make their own speeches and vote on issues just like real members of parliament.

The House of Representatives at work, including members giving speeches and a division in progress.

Students in the role of members of parliament in the classroom, making speeches.

Presenter: Members of parliament are elected by the Australian people to make decisions about how Australia is governed. They debate issues and then vote on them. Through role-play, your students will run their own debates in their own parliament. This role-play presents a simplified version of the real Parliament, capturing its main ideas without all the complex procedural detail.

A person browses the PEO website: www.peo.gov.au.

Presenter: All of the scripts, resources and information that you will need for the role-play are on the PEO website.

The presenter stands in the House of Representatives.

Presenter: One of the main ways that Parliament makes decisions for Australia is by passing laws. A proposed law is called a bill. To become a law a bill must be agreed to by both the House of Representatives and the Senate. It is then signed by the Governor-General. Most bills start in the House of Representatives. If you want more information about how laws are made watch the PEO's law-making video.
Title: Law-making in the House of Representatives. Music.
Students browse information about the House of Representatives on the PEO website, including Role-play Lesson Plans and a Seating Plan for the House of Representatives. Presenter: To get your class started try a few preparation activities on the PEO website. This will give your students some idea of how members of the House of Representatives are elected and what work they do.

Students working in a classroom. They put up their hands and make suggestions for a bill. The teacher writes the suggestions on a whiteboard.

Students browse information on the PEO website, including the script for the 'No Homework Bill '.

Presenter: You'll need a bill to debate. The PEO website has suggestions to help you decide on a bill. For our role-play, the students will be using the 'No Homework Bill ' from the PEO website.
Students assemble a mace, organise gowns, and place them on a table with a bell. Presenter: Preparing some costumes and props will help your students get into role.
Students, directed by the teacher, move chairs and tables so that the classroom resembles the House of Representatives. Presenter: Transform your classroom into the House of Representatives. Move the chairs into a horseshoe shape, with a table at one end.

Students sitting on chairs in the classroom.

Graphic showing the composition of the House of Representatives.

Presenter: You can now sort the class into government and opposition teams, and Independents and minor parties. Make sure that the ratio of members in your chamber compares to the real House of Representatives. Refer to Parliament Now on the PEO website for the current numbers in the House.
Students sitting in their teams in the chambers. The teacher hands out scripts, putting students into roles. Presenter: The government team will need a prime minister, minister and team whip. The opposition will need a leader of the opposition, shadow minister and team whip.
The teacher selects the Speaker, Clerk, and Serjeant-at-Arms. Those students take their places and the teacher gives them scripts. The Speaker, Clerk, and Serjeant-at-Arms put on costumes. Presenter: You'll need a student who is good at reading, speaking and keeping order to be the Speaker. You'll also need two students to be the Clerk and the Serjeant-at-Arms. Your House of Representatives is ready to begin.
Title: Starting the role-play : the opening ceremony. Music.
Students take their seats in the classroom. The student in the role of the Serjeant-at-Arms picks up the mace and joins the student in the role of the Speaker at the door. Presenter: The Serjeant-at-Arms and the Speaker stand outside the House of Representatives.
Footage of the real Serjeant-at-Arms leading the real Speaker into the House of Representatives chamber. Presenter: The session begins when the Serjeant-at-Arms leads the Speaker in to the chamber.
The student in the role of the Clerk rings the bell and asks the members to stand. All the students stand. Clerk: (rings the bell) Honourable members please stand.
The Serjeant-at-Arms leads the Speaker into the chamber and puts the mace down on the table. The Speaker sits down.

Serjeant: Honourable Members, the Speaker.

Speaker: Members please sit down. The House is now in session. The rules of the House must be obeyed. Clerk, please read out the rules.

The Clerk stands and reads out the rules then sits down again. Clerk: Always stand up to speak. Begin your speech with the words 'Madam Speaker or Mr Speaker '. Members should not interrupt each other. The Speaker keeps order.
Title: The first reading: The bill is introduced. Music.
The speaker calls the Clerk to read the title of the bill. The Clerk stands, reads the title of the bill then sits down again.

Presenter: The Clerk reads the title of the bill for the first time. The bill can now be debated.

Speaker: Clerk, read the title of the bill.

Clerk: First Reading, the No Homework Bill. A Bill for an Act to ban homework in Australian schools.

The Speaker calls the Minister to speak about the bill. The Minister stands makes a speech.

Presenter: The first person to speak in the debate is the Minister responsible for the bill.

Speaker: I call the Minister for Education to introduce the bill.

Minister for Education: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to introduce this bill to the House. After spending many hours at school, students are tired and don't need to do more school work. If we ban homework, children will have more time for other activities like sport and music.

Government members: Hear, hear.

The Speaker calls for the shadow minister to make a speech.

The shadow minister stands and makes a speech.

Presenter: The Shadow Minster usually speaks next.

Speaker: I call the Shadow Minister for Education.

Shadow Minister: Madam Speaker, I am going to vote against this bill. Studies show that homework helps children remember what they learn in school. If homework is banned, children will just waste more time playing video games.

Opposition members: Hear, hear.

The Speaker calls a government backbencher to speak. The member stands and makes a speech.

The Speaker calls an opposition backbencher to speak. The member stands and makes a speech.

The Speaker calls an Independent member to speak. The member stands and gives a speech.

Speaker: I call the Member for Holt.

Member for Holt: Madam Speaker, I am going to vote for the bill. Parents have to supervise homework and sometimes even do their children's homework for them, this doesn't help anyone. A happy home is one without any homework.

Government members: Hear, hear.

Speaker: I call the Member for Brisbane.

Member for Brisbane: Madam Speaker, I am going to vote against this bill. Homework teaches good study habits and shows students that learning can happen outside school. A better education means a better future for Australian children.

Opposition members: Hear, hear.

Speaker: I call the Member for Denison.

Member for Denison: Madam Speaker, I am concerned that students are doing too much homework, however I cannot support this bill as it is. Later I will suggest ...

The Speaker listens to the end of the previous speech then adjourns the chamber.

Presenter: The session ends when all the members have made their speeches, or if you run out time. The Speaker adjourns the chamber.

Speaker: Order. The House is adjourned.

The Clerk rings the bell and calls for the members to stand. The members stand and the Serjeant-at-Arms picks up the mace and leads the Speaker from the chamber. Clerk: (rings bell) Honourable members, please stand.
Caption: Debate adjournment: plan speeches. Music.
Footage of members of the House of Representatives making speeches. Presenter: In the real House of Representatives speeches can take a long time and may be spread over weeks or months. This gives members time to research and talk about bills with each other and the community.
Students in the classroom researching on the internet, meeting in groups, and making notes. Presenter: By adjourning the debate you can give your students more time to research and prepare. Parties can work together to share ideas, and Independents and minor party members can think more about the bill. However, if all students have already prepared their speeches, you won't need to adjourn the debate.
Title: Continuing the debate. Music.
In the classroom the Clerk rings the bells and calls for everybody to stand. The Serjeant and the Speaker enter. The Serjeant announces the Speaker and puts the mace down on the table.

Presenter: The students resume their debate in the House of Representatives in the same way they started.

Clerk: (rings the bell) Honourable members, please stand.

Serjeant: Honourable members, the Speaker.

The Speaker and the members sit down. Speaker: Members please sit down. The House is now in session. Are there any other comments on the bill? Stand if you wish to speak.

Some members stand to speak. The Speaker calls on someone who then speaks.

Other members stand for further debate and the Speaker calls on them in turn.

Speaker: I call the Member for Harry.

Member for Harry: Madam Speaker, I think we should ban all homework because when they get home from school they have just had seven hours of solid working, except for recess and lunch that is. But when they get home they should be able to stimulate their brains in other ways like with sport and music. I think we should ban homework.

Government members: Hear, hear.

Speaker: Stand if you wish to speak. I call the Member for Cameron.

Member for Cameron: Madam Speaker, I disagree with this bill. Homework builds up children's general knowledge and teachers can see how kids are working at home.

Opposition members: Hear, hear.

Speaker: Stand if you wish to speak. I call the Member for Alicia.

Member for Alicia: Madam Speaker, I think we should ban homework because kids are spending hours in the afternoon doing homework rather than outside exercising.

Government members: Hear, hear.

Speaker: Stand if you wish to speak. I call the Member for Cindy.

Member for Cindy: Madam Speaker, I disagree with this bill, homework is important for students because it helps students to prepare for future study.

Opposition members: Hear, hear.

Other Members: Madam Speaker, I think homework in Australia should be banned, children already get enough work at school ... I think we should keep homework because it improves their learning ... the less stressed children are, the better they learn ...

Presenter: When all the students have made their speeches it will be time to have a vote on the bill, to see if it will be agreed to.

Other members:...It is not revision … allows them to remember what they 've learnt at school, and if they 've been away, it allows them to catch up on their work.

Title: Voting on the bill: A vote on the voices Music.
Footage of the Speaker in the House of Representatives conducting a vote on the voices.

Presenter: When the House of Representatives decides if the bill should pass it begins with a vote on the voices.

Real Speaker: All of those of that opinion say aye. To the contrary no. I think the ayes have it.

Presenter: If all members agree with the bill, it is passed with the vote on the voices. Bills are often passed this way.

In the classroom, the student in the role of the Speaker conducts a vote on the voices where each side responds in turn.

Speaker: Order. A vote on the bill will now be taken. The question is, should the bill be read a second time?

Speaker: Those who agree say aye.

Government members: Aye

Speaker: Those who disagree say no.

Opposition members: No

Speaker: I think the ayes have it.

Presenter: However, your members will not all agree with the bill because the opposition was against it. When this happens the opposition calls for a division vote. In a division the votes of all members are counted and the results are recorded.

Title: Voting on a bill - the division. Music.
The Speaker asks the Opposition Whip if a division is required. The Opposition Whip stands and answers.

Speaker: Opposition Whip, is a division required?

Opposition Whip: Madam Speaker, a division is required.

Footage of the Speaker in the House of Representatives calling for a division and members entering the House of Representatives.

The Speaker gives instructions for the division vote.

Speaker: Is a division required? Clerk, ring the bells for four minutes.

Presenter: The bells ring for four minutes to allow any members who are not in the chamber to return and vote on the bill. Members might not be in the chamber because they are doing other work throughout Parliament House.

Real Speaker: The ayes pass to the right of the chair, the nos to the left.

Presenter: The government and opposition members usually vote with their party. The Independents and minor party members will choose to support or oppose the bill.

The student in the role of the Speaker asks the Clerk to ring the bell for four minutes. The Clerk rings the bell for a few moments.

Speaker: Clerk, ring the bells for four minutes.

Presenter: Your class will not need four minutes. The Clerk can ring the bells as a way of announcing that the division is about to take place.

The Speaker conducts the division, and the cross-bench members consider each team then choose a side. Speaker: Order. Those who support the bill move to the right side of the Speaker's chair. Those who oppose the bill move to the left of the Speaker's chair.
The Speaker instructs the whips to count the vote. The whips stand up and count the number of students on their side. The whips then approach the Speaker and whisper the result. Speaker: Whips count the vote.
Caption: Passing the bill. Music.
The Speaker announces the numbers and asks the Clerk to read the title of the bill a second time. Speaker: Order; result of the division. The number of votes for the bill is 14. The number of votes against the bill is 12. The bill is agreed to. Clerk, read the title of the bill a second time.

The Clerk stands, reads the title of the bill a second time, then sits down.

The students in the role of members sit in the classroom.

Clerk: Second reading, the No Homework Bill. A Bill for an Act to ban homework in all schools.

Presenter: As the majority of votes were for the bill, it is agreed to and the Clerk will read its title a second time. However, if the majority of votes were against the bill, it would have failed, and could not become a law.

The Speaker adjourns the House. The Clerk asks the members to stand. The members stand and the Serjeant takes the Mace and leads the Speaker out.

Speaker: Order. The House is now adjourned.

Clerk: Honourable members, please stand.

Caption: After the role-play Music.

The teacher speaks to students in class. The students are smiling and participating in the discussion.

Footage of the PEO website, including the address, www.peo.gov.au, the Lesson Plans page, and the Toolkit.

Footage of the Senate at work.

Footage of the former Governor-General, Dame Quentin Bryce, signing a bill.

Presenter: If the bill was passed the members could still consider making small changes to the bill, called amendments. The PEO website has instructions on how your class can consider amendments, as well as other follow up activities. If the bill is to become a law, it must be debated and voted on in the Senate before being signed by the Governor-General.
The presenter standing in front of Parliament House. Presenter: Don't stop at one debate. Repeating the role-play will give students the chance to play a range of roles and debate more issues. It won't be long before students are running the debate all by themselves.

Parliamentary Education Office logo

Title: Parliamentary Education Office with thanks to the staff & students at Burgmann Anglican College.

Music.