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Role-play the Parliament – Senate

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

Title: Role-play the Parliament the Senate.

Music.
The presenter stands at the front of parliament house, footage of senators of parliament 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 Senate at work, including senators giving speeches and a vote in progress.

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.

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 Senate. 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 debated in the Senate have already been agreed to 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 Senate. Music.

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

Students at work in the classroom.

Presenter: To get your class started try a few of the preparation activities on the PEO website. This will give your students some idea how senators 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. Presenter: You will need a bill to debate. The PEO website has suggestions to help you decide on a bill. You may want to continue with a bill that your class has already debated in the House of Representatives role-play.
The PEO website. Presenter: For our debate the students will be using the “No Homework Bill” from the PEO website.
Students assemble a Black Rod, 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 Senate. Presenter: Transform the classroom into the Senate. 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 Senate.

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 Senate. Refer to Parliament Now on the PEO website for the current numbers in the Senate.

The teacher selects the President, Clerk, and Usher of the Black Rod. Those students take their places and the teacher gives them scripts. The President, Clerk, and Usher of the Black Rod put on costumes.

The teacher selects other students to have speaking roles in the debate and gives them scripts.

Presenter: You'll need a student who is good at reading, speaking and keeping order to be the President. You'll also need two students to be the Clerk and the Usher of the Black Rod. Each team will need students to be a party leader and a team whip.

Teacher: Government members you 're going to need a backbencher who's going to be a senator who will tell us why this is a great idea. Opposition backbencher. Someone to be Senator Bruno. I 'll give you that job. Independents you also have a crucial role, so Senator Cooper...

Presenter: Your Senate is ready to begin.

Caption: Starting the Role-Play – The Opening Ceremony. Music.
The student in the role of the Usher of the Black Rod picks up the black rod and joins the President at the door. Presenter: The Usher of the Black Rod and the President stand outside the Senate.
Footage of the real Usher of the Black Rod leading the real President into the Senate chamber.

Presenter: The Senate begins when the Usher of the Black Rod leads the President into the chamber.

Usher of the Black Rod: Honourable Senators, the President.

The student in the role of the Clerk rings the bell and asks the senators to stand. All the students stand. Clerk: (rings the bell) Honourable Senators, please stand.

The Usher of the Black Rod leads the President into the chamber and puts the black rod down. The President sits down.

Usher of the Black Rod: Honourable Senators, the President.

President: Senators please sit down. The Senate is now in session. The rules of the Senate must be obeyed. Clerk, please read out the rules.

The Clerk stands and reads out the rules then sits down again.

Clerk: Always stand to speak. Begin your speech with the words “Madam President or Mr

President”. Senators should not interrupt each other. The President keeps order.

Title: The first reading – The Bill is introduced. Music.
The President 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.

President: Clerk, read the title of the bill.

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

The President calls the Leader of the Government in the Senate to speak about the bill.

The Leader of the Government stands and makes a speech.

Government senators show support for the speech.

President: I call the Leader of the Government in the Senate to introduce the bill.

Leader of the Government in the Senate: Mr President, I am pleased to introduce this bill to the Senate. School work should be done with the supervision of a teacher. At home, students might not have anybody to help them, or they might cheat on their homework. Homework simply does not help students to learn.

Government senators: Hear, hear.

President calls the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate to make a speech.

The Leader of the Opposition stands and makes a speech.

Opposition senators show support for the speech.

President: I call the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.

Leader of the Opposition: Mr President, I vote against this bill. Some teachers give interesting activities for homework which kids enjoy, instead of just maths and spelling. If this bill passes, teachers who set fun activities for after school will be breaking the law.

Opposition senators: Hear, hear.

The President calls a government backbencher to speak.

The senator stands and makes a speech.

Government senators show support for the speech.

President: I call Senator Finch.

Senator Finch: Mr President, I am going to vote for this bill. Children should be more involved in their community. Instead of being stuck at home doing homework, they will have time to be involved in local sports, music, arts and other things.

Government senators: Hear, hear.

The President calls an opposition backbencher to speak.

The senator stands and makes a speech.

Opposition senators show support for the speech.

President: I call Senator Bruno.

Senator Bruno: Mr President, I am not going to support this bill. Students need to be able to reinforce what they learn in class. By banning homework, this Government will be stopping students from reaching their full potential.

Opposition senators: Hear, hear.

The President calls an independent senator to speak.

The senator stands and makes a speech.

President: I call Senator Cooper.

Senator Cooper: Mr President, I think that most homework is a waste of time, but I do think that students should have to read at home. Later, I will suggest a change to the bill to ban all homework except for reading.

The students sit and the teacher stands at the front of the room. The President adjourns the chamber.

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

President: The Senate is now adjourned.

The Clerk calls for the senators to stand. The senators stand and the Usher of the Black Rod picks up the black rod and leads the President from the chamber. Clerk: Honourable senators, please stand.
Caption: Debate Adjournment – Plan Speeches. Music.

Footage of senators making speeches in the Senate chamber.

A senator in a committee room.

Presenter: In the real Senate the debate takes a long time and can be spread over weeks or months. This gives senators time to research and talk about bills with each other and the community.
Students in the classroom 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 senators can think more about bill. However, if all students have already prepared their speeches, you won't need to adjourn the debate.
Caption: Continuing the debate. Music.

In the classroom the Clerk rings the bell and calls for the students to stand.

The Usher of the Black Rod and the President enter. The Usher of the Black Rod announces the President.

Presenter: The students resume their debate in the Senate the same way they started.

Clerk: Honourable Senators, please stand

Usher of the Black Rod: Honourable Senators, the President.

The President tell the chamber that the debate will continue and calls for senators to speak. President: Senators please sit down. The Senate is now in session. Are there any other comments on this bill? Stand if you wish to speak.

A few senators stand. The President chooses someone.

The chosen senator gives a speech. The others sit down.

Government senators show support for the speech.

President: I call Senator Lilly.

Senator Lilly: Mr President, I agree with the bill because children should have a say in what they do in their free time, because if they are stuck inside doing homework they will not be able to be creative and do what they like with their free time.

Government senators: Hear, hear.

A few senators stand. The President chooses someone.

The chosen senator gives a speech. The others sit down.

President: Stand if you wish to speak. I call Senator Joe.

Senator Joe: Mr President, if the kids don't have homework they will be behind. And if they are behind, they need extra lessons. If they need to practise for a musical competition, they will be behind and they might forget the notes. Or if they are practising for a maths test, they might forget what ...

A montage of other students giving speeches.

Student 1: Mr President, I am for this bill. I think that when school students come home from school all they want to do is physical activity, socialise with others, and hang out.

Student 2: It can sometimes make children depressed.

Student 3: They will fall behind...

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

Student 4: Not many students work their best when…

Title: Voting on the Bill A Vote on the Voices. Music.

Footage of senators making speeches in the Senate chamber.

A senator in the President's chair conducts a vote on the voices.

The Clerk of the Senate stands to read the title of the bill.

Presenter: When the Senate decides if the bill should pass it begins with a vote called the vote on the voices.

Senator: Those of that opinion say aye. To the contrary no. I think the ayes have it.

Presenter: If all senators 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 President conducts a vote on the voices.

The government and opposition senators respond in turn.

President: Order. A vote on the bill will now be taken. The question is that the bill be read a second time. Those who agree say 'aye'.

Government senators: Aye.

President: Those who disagree say 'no'.

Opposition senators: No.

The students wait for the President to announce the result of the vote on the voice.

The President gives the vote to the government.

Presenter: However, your senators will not all agree on the bill because the opposition was against it. The President decides if they think more senators have said aye or no.

President: I think the ayes have it

Presenter: The whip from the team who lost the vote on the voices calls for a division vote.

Title Voting on a Bill - The division. Music.

Footage of a division in the Senate chamber.

Caption: Division required.

Students in the role of senators sit in the classroom.

Presenter: Divisions happen when the government and opposition disagree. In a division the votes of all members are counted and the results are recorded.
The President asks the Opposition Whip if a division is required. The Opposition Whip stands and answers.

President: Order, is a division required?

Opposition Whip: Mr President, a division is required.

Footage of former President, Senator Hogg, calling for a division and senators entering the Senate chamber in fast forward.

The President gives instructions for the division vote.

Senator Hogg: Division required, ring the bells.

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

Senator Hogg: Lock the doors. Lock the doors. The ayes will pass to the right of the chair, the noes to the left of the chair.

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 President asks the Clerk to ring the bell for four minutes.

The Clerk rings the bell for a few moments.

President: Division is required. 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 President conducts the division vote, and the cross-bench senators choose a side. President: Order. Those who support the bill move to the right of the President's Chair. Those who oppose the bill move to the left of the President's chair.
The President 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 President and whisper the result. President: Whips count the vote.
Title: Passing the Bill. Music.
The President stands to announce the numbers and asks the Clerk to read the title of the bill a second time. President: Result of the division. The number of votes for the bill is 15. The number of votes against is 13. The bill is agreed to. Clerk read the title of the bill for the second time.

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

The teacher stands in front of the class to discuss the outcome of the role-play.

Clerk: Second reading the No Homework Bill. A bill for an act to ban homework in all Australian schools.

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

The President adjourns the Senate. The Clerk stands and asks the senators to stand. The senators stand and the Usher of the Black Rod takes the Black Rod and leads the President out of the classroom.

President: Order. The Senate is now adjourned.

Clerk: Honourable Senators, please stand.

Title: After the role-play Music.

Students sit in groups in the classroom. The teacher stands at the front of the class.

Students using computers and making notes.

Footage of divisions in progress in the House of Representatives and the Senate with the caption: Division in progress.

Former Governor-General, Dame Quentin Bryce, signing a bill at Government House.

Presenter: If the bill was passed the senators 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 a bill has passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate it must be sent to the Governor-General to receive Royal Assent. It then becomes a new Australian law.

The Presenter at the 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 they are running the debate all by themselves.

Parliamentary Education Office logo

Title: Parliamentary Education Office with thanks to the staff & students at Aranda Primary School.

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