The path to Federation
During the 1980s, each colony sent representatives to special meetings, called conventions, to try to agree about how to form a new federation. Eventually the delegates agreed on the rules for a federal system and a draft constitution.
The people of colonies voted in a series of referendums to accept this new Australian Constitution.
Then colonies of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania united and became states of Australia, known as the Commonwealth of Australia. Western Australia was not a party to the initial agreement but also agreed to join the federation before 1 January 1901.
The main business of parliament is to create laws. When a person firsts suggests one, it is called a bill. Bills are usually suggested in the House of representatives.
First the bill is explained, then all members discuss it. Changes might be made. Then all members vote for or against the Bill. If it passes the vote, it goes to the other House of Parliament and the same thing happens. Sometimes the Bill is sent back to be changed some more, and sometimes it passes another vote. Then the Bill is called an act of Parliament. The Governor-General signs it and it becomes a law that Australian obey.
Parliamentary Committees are an important section of the work of the parliament. They investigate issues and bills in, so that the parliament can be well informed before making decisions of national significance. One of the roles of parliament is to make laws for the nation. However, there is often limited time to debate
The other House of parliament is called the senate. People of each state and the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory select 12 people to be their senators. No matter how big or small a state or territory is, they have the same number of Senators. The chamber in Parliament House where the Senate meets is decorated in red. Like the other chamber, the Government members sit in the seats at the left of the picture, and the Opposition sit opposite them. The seats in the curved are for small parties and Independents. In the main chair in the middle, the President of the Senate is in charge of the meeting. The senate is made up of 76 senators.
The House of Represenatative
Australia is divided up into areas called electorates. For each different area there is one seat in the House of Representatives. Each electorate has about the same
Number of people living in it. At an election, the people who live in each electorate vote for a person to go to Parliament to speak for them. That voted person becomes the Member of the House of Representatives for that seat.
There are 150 members elected to the House of Representatives. Each member represents one of Australia's 150 electorates. On average, 150 000 live in each electorate, with an average of 94 000 voters.