Members' 90 second statements: House of Representatives
During members’ statements, members of the House can raise a matter which concerns them or their electorate. This lesson involves a role-play that helps students understand the purpose of members’ statements, and how they are used by members of the House to speak on behalf of the country or their community.
About members' 90 second statements
Half an hour is set aside each day in the House for members' statements. Members, who are not ministers or parliamentary secretaries, can speak for up to 90 seconds on any topic. This gives backbenchers, shadow ministers and cross-bench members the chance to have their say. Members usually speak about issues which concern them, or voice complaints on behalf of their electorate. Traditionally, the first person to speak is an opposition member.
Forty-five minutes is also set aside on Mondays for 90 seconds statements in the Federation Chamber. This is the second chamber of the House of Representatives (for more information about the Federation Chamber, check this link: Fact Sheet: House of Representative).
Choosing a topic for a members' statement
Help your students choose a topic for their 90 second statement. It might be:
- connected to a relevant curriculum area
- a problem in your school or community
- the subject of media attention
- a matter that is currently before the Parliament.
Getting into role
- Divide the class into government, opposition, minor parties and Independents.
- Select a Speaker – this is a non-debating role and is generally someone from the government who can exercise authority in the room.
- Select an opposition member to speak first.
- Have the students who wish to speak prepare a short statement.
Starting the role-play
- The Speaker announces the start of members' statements.
- Members who wish to speak stand up.
- The Speaker calls a member of the opposition to speak.
- Speeches then alternate between government and non-government members.
- The session continues until no more members wish to speak, or there is no more time.
- The Speaker brings the debate to a close.
Madam/Mr Speaker: It is now time for members' statements. Please stand if you wish to speak. I call the Member for ________ (use the first name of a student who is standing).
The Speaker repeats this step for any other members who wish to speak.
Madam/Mr Speaker: I thank the members for their statements.
How might a member decide what issue they should raise in their statement?
A member might find out about the concerns and problems of their electorate. They might also talk about an issue which is before the Parliament.
How effective are members' statements in raising an issue or scrutinising the government?
During members' statements, members can raise their own topics. This means that a member can identify issues that they consider are important, rather than just debating bills (proposed laws), most of which are introduced by the government. Members' statements are on the public record, so the public and the media can hold the government accountable for how they then respond (if at all) to an issue.
How are members' statements different to a debate on a bill?
Each member can raise their own issue. Members do not have to respond to each other, or rebut each other's arguments. During a debate on a bill all members address the same topic, which they then vote on.
What might a minister do in response to an issue raised in a member's statement?
A minister might want to meet with the member to discuss the matter further. If a minister thought that the issue was of particular importance, they could consider introducing a bill to address the issue.
House of Representatives – Seating plan for the classroom
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90 second statements
A member speaking in the House of Representatives
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