Glossary of Parliamentary Terms and Language

The regular terms and vocabulary associated with parliamentary practices

 

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Click on a letter of the alphabet to see the terms.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

absolute majority - One more than half of the total votes of those eligible to vote: The Bill was passed by an absolute majority as 30 out of the 57 members who were eligible to vote, voted for it. 2. The number by which votes for the leading candidate in an election exceed the votes for all the other candidates put together: Since Ms James received 9000 votes and the other candidates received 4000 votes altogether, Ms James has an absolute majority of 5000.
 accountable - able to be called on to explain your actions: Ministers are accountable to the Parliament for actions they take in office.
Act  - a law made by Parliament; a Bill which has passed all three readings in each House and has received the Royal assent.
address-in-reply  - the formal answer of each House to the speech made by the Queen or the Governor as her representative at the opening of each session of Parliament.
address  - a formal message to the Governor or Queen by one House or the Parliament.
adjournment debate  - a debate at the end of each sitting day of a House when members make speeches on any subject on the motion to end the sitting: Six people spoke during the adjournment debate.
adjourn  - to put off, postpone or suspend: We will adjourn the debate until tomorrow.
assent  - to agree to or approve: The Governor assents to Bills after they have passed both Houses.
Attorney General  - the chief law officer of the Government and the Minister responsible for the management of legal matters.
Auditor General  - the chief accounting officer of the State who inspects government accounts and reports to the Parliament on whether government departments and authorities spend or receive money correctly and legally.
Australian Democrats  - see Democrats
Ayes  - the votes of members in Parliament who vote 'yes': The result of the division was ayes 27 and noes 22.
aye  - the word used for voting 'yes' in Parliament.
backbench  - 1. those members of Parliament who are not ministers or shadow ministers: Most members of Parliament serve on the backbench before becoming ministers or shadow ministers.

2. the seats where such members sit: When the member entered the House she went to her seat on the backbench.

balance of power  - the ability of one person or party to decide an issue by the way it votes: The Independents hold the balance of power in the Legislative Council.
ballot box  - a box in which voters put their ballot papers.
ballot paper  - a ticket or paper which lists the names of the people (candidates) who are seeking a place in Parliament, and on which the voter marks his or her choice or choices.
ballot  - 1. a ticket or paper you fill in to record your vote: The ballots were counted to see who won the election.

2. to select by a secret vote: We balloted for Speaker.

3. the process by which a choice is made: The ministers were selected by ballot.

Bar  - a barrier at the main entrance to each of the Chambers beyond which only members can go: The witness was called to the bar of the House to be examined.
bells  - electronic bells, the ringing of which calls members into Chambers at the beginning of a sitting, because a vote is to be taken, or because there are not enough members present: When the bells started ringing the members had two minutes to get into the Chamber to vote.
bicameral  - Having two Chambers or Houses: The state Parliament is bicameral because it has an upper and a lower House.
Bill of Rights (United Kingdom)  - an Act of the British Parliament, stating some of the basic rights of the people of the United Kingdom, which became law in 1689 and some provisions of which apply to the state Parliament.
bill  - a proposal for a new law which has been presented to Parliament.
bipartisan  - representing, having, or supported by, two parties.
blue-ribbon (see safe seat)  - an electorate where a majority of voters usually votes for the same member or party, so making it a 'safe seat' for that member or party.
budget bills  - proposals for new laws to allow the Government to spend money. There are usually two main Bills - Appropriation (Consolidated Fund)(No 1) and Appropriation (Consolidated Fund) (No 2)
budget  - a plan placed before Parliament every year by the Treasurer showing what money the Government expects to receive and how the Government wants to spend it.
bureaucrat  - one of a group of people who run, or who work in, government departments or organisations.
by-election  - a special election held to fill the seat of a member of the Legislative Assembly who has died or retired.
by-law  - a rule or regulation.
by leave  - with the permission of every member present in the Chamber.
cabinet government  - a system of government in which the most important decisions are made by cabinet ministers, who are members of Parliament, and who are supported by a majority in the lower House.
cabinet minister  - a Minister who is a member of the Cabinet; a senior or leading minister.
cabinet solidarity  - a united view or position presented by the Cabinet. Once a decision is made by Cabinet all ministers must support it.
cabinet  - the group of senior ministers in a Government: The Cabinet meets regularly to make important decisions.
can vass  - to ask for votes, support or opinions from: The candidate canvassed the voters in her electorate.
casting vote  - a vote which decides the matter when the votes are equally divided.
casual vacancy  - a vacancy in the Legislative Council that is caused when a member dies or retires.
Caucus  - the members of Parliament belonging to a particular political party particularly in relation to the Labor Party.
censure motion  - a motion moved in either House which is very critical of, and which seeks to attach blame to, a minister, another member or the Government.
Chairman of Committees  - a member who is in charge of the 'Committee of the Whole' - a committee consisting of all the members of the Legislative Council or Legislative Assembly. Usually formed to consider a Bill in detail.
Chair  - in the state Parliament, the President of the Legislative Council, the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, or someone who is occupying their place; for example, the Deputy President or the Acting Speaker, when presiding over the the Legislative Council or Legislative Assembly: Members make a bow to the Chair when entering or leaving the Chamber.
clause  - each separate sentence, or main item or requirement in a Bill: The Bill has 78 clauses. (Once a Bill has become an act, a clause is known as a section).
Clerk  - the most senior permanent official in each House of Parliament. The Clerk records all the decisions that are made i n the Chamber.
closure (also see gag)  - a way of ending a debate and causing a vote to be taken straight away on the matter being discussed, even though some members want to keep discussing the matter further.
coalition  - the joining together of two or more groups of parties, usually to form a Government or Opposition: The Liberal and National Parties have formed a coalition.
cognate debate  - a debate in which two or more related matters are discussed at the same time.
Committee of the Whole  - a committee consisting of all members of the Legislative Council or Legislative Assembly, usually formed to consider a Bill in detail.
common law  - law based on custom or court decisions not statute law.
concurrent power  -  power which, under the Constitution, may be exercised by both the Commonwealth and the States.
conference (between the two Houses)  - a meeting of representatives of both Houses of Parliament to discuss an issue on which the two Houses do not agree.
confidence  - the support of more than half the members of the Legislative Assembly for the Government, which may be shown by voting on a major issue: The Government showed it had the confidence of the House when the motion of no confidence was defeated.
conscience vote  - (see free vote)
constituency  - the electorate or area, or the people in it represented by an MP.
constituent  - someone who votes, or lives in an electorate or area which a member of Parliament represents: The constituent went to his member of Parliament to get help to find housing.
constitutional monarchy  - A country in which a King or Queen is the highest authority, but where that person has to Act in accordance with the Constitution, and whose powers are limited by that Constitution.
constitutional  - 1. having the power of, or existing because of a basic set of rules: A constitutional Government.

2. in agreement with, or depending on, a basic set of rules: This action is constitutional.

constitution  - the set of basic rules by which a country or State is governed: Australia's Constitution came into force on 1 January 1901.
contempt  - disobedience to the authority or orders of the Houses, interference with or obstruction of their work or the work of members. To refuse to appear before a Council committee may be treated as a contempt of the Council.
convention  - 1. a large meeting: A politics convention was held at the university.

2. a rule, often unwritten, which is generally or widely accepted.

cross the floor  - to vote with an opposing party: The government member crossed the floor on the issue because he believed that the Opposition was right.
crossbench  - one of a set of seats for members of Parliament who belong neither to the Government nor the Opposition; seats for minor parties and Independents: When he left his party, the member took his place on the crossbenches.
Crown  - 1. the King or Queen, or the highest governing power in a monarchy.

2. the Queen exercising her legal powers through one or more of her agents, usually a Minister or ministers.

custom  - usual practice or habit.
deadlock  - the point in a disagreement or argument when neither side will give way and a standstill is reached.
debate  - a formal discussion on a Bill or other topic in which different views are put.
declaration of the poll  - an announcement of the results of voting at an election.
delegated legislation  - laws in the form of regulations, orders or rules which an Act allows the Minister to make.
deliberative vote  - the ordinary vote of a member (different from a casting or deciding vote)
Democrats (Australian Democrats)  - formed in 1977 by Donald Cedric Chipp.
determination  - authoritative decision, rule or arrangement.
directive  - an order or an authoritative instruction: The Minister gave a directive that the road be closed.
disallow - to refuse to allow, to reject, to make void: The Legislative Council disallowed a health regulation.
disfranchise  - to take away a person's right to vote.
dissent  - to differ in opinion or disagree: We dissent from the recommendations of your report; the member moved a motion of dissent from the Speaker's ruling.
dissolve the House  - to bring to an end the life of the Legislative Assembly and make a new election necessary. Only the Queen or her representative, the Governor, may dissolve the Legislative Assembly.
division  the separation of the membership of a House into two groups for or against, so that their votes can be counted.
donkey vote  - where a voter appears to make no choice at all.
dorothy dix question  - a question asked in Parliament by a member at a minister's request to allow the Minister to give a prepared reply.
election  - the choosing of a person or Government by voting.
Electoral Commissioner  - the person who is given the responsibility to arrange for elections to be held and to ensure that the electoral laws are obeyed.
  electoral roll  a list of all names of people who are entitled to vote: When I turn 18 my name can be placed on the electoral roll.
electoral  - to do with voters or elections.
electorate office  - the office in a member of Parliament's electorate where the member works when Parliament is not sitting.
electorate  - 1. an area represented by a member of Parliament; a constituency: The member of Parliament was very keen to have a public swimming pool built for the people in her electorate.

2. the group of people who live in an area represented by a member of Parliament: The member is always ready to assist his electorate.

3. all the people who have the right to vote in an election: The Premier asked the elect orate to think carefully about the needs of the State.

elector  - a person who votes or who is eligible to vote.
enabling (of an Act, or Bill)< /span> - allowing something to be done which would otherwise not be permissible.
enact (a Bill)  - to make into an Act: The Censorship Bill was enacted on 27 July.
enfranchise  - to give a person the right to vote.
estimates committees  - committees which meet to look at government spending proposals.
estimates - the amounts of money which the Government thinks will be needed to run government works and services for the year: Details of the estim ates can be found in the Appropriation Bills.
exclusive power (of the Constitution) - the power that only the federal Parliament is given by the Constitution, for example, the power to make laws for the whole country on customs and excise duties.
Executive Council - formally, with the Governor, the chief executive authority of the State; the c ouncil of ministers which advises the Governor and gives legal form to cabinet decisions.
executive - the branch of government which carries out or administers the laws; the group of people from the governing party who make policy and control government departments, and who are answerable to the Parliament for the way they run government.
explanatory memorandum - a paper which explains the purpose and details of Bills or regulations, usually in a simple and less technical way.
faction - a group of people within a larger group, usually a political party.
Federal Court - a court formed by the federal Parliament in 1977 to make judgments on certain federal matters and on appeals from state and territory courts on certain other matters.
federalism - a system of government in which powers and responsibilities are divided between a national Government and state or provincial Governments.
federal - having to do with th e national Parliament or Government rather than state Parliaments or Governments.
federation - the forming of a nation by the union of a number of States which give up some of their powers and responsibilities to a national Government.
filibuster - the use of long speeches or other tactics in Parliament to delay deliberately a vote or decision.
financial power (of the Parliament) - the power of the Parliament to approve all expenditure proposals by the Government.
first-past-the-post - a way of voting where the candidate who gets the largest number of votes wins, even if it is less than half the votes cast.
first reading - the first stage in the progress of a Bill through a House. The Clerk reads out for the first time the long title of the Bill.
fixed term  - a term of office which cannot usually be shortened.
franchise  - a citizen's right to vote at elections: In Australia citizens are given the franchise at 18 years of age.
free vote  - a vote in Parliament in which members are free to vote according to their own judgment or beliefs, and not necessarily according to the guidelines, policies or decisions of their political party: All parties were given a free vote on whether the death penalty should be abolished.
freedom of information  - the principle that citizens should have a right to see most government papers and reports, particularly those which relate to their own personal affairs.
freedom of speech  - the right to speak as one wishes.
frontbencher  - a Minister or shadow minister.
frontbench  - 1. those members of Parliament who are ministers or shadow ministers.

2. the seats where such members sit .

gag  - a procedure for closing a discussion in a House when some members still wish to speak.
gazettal - the placement of official notices in the WA Government Gazette , upon which they are considered to have been notified to the public.
gerrymander - the drawing of the boundaries of electorates in a way that gives one political group an unfair advantage in elections by maximising its potential vote.
government - 1. the group of people who control or govern a country or State - the administration or Executive Government: In Western Australia the Government is formed from the majority party or coalition of parties in the Legislative Assembly.

2. rule, administration or control: A country prospers under good Government.

3. The form or system of rule by which a country or State is governed: Monarchical government, constitutional government.

Governor-General - the representative of the Queen in Australia at the federal level.
Governor - the representative of the Queen in a state of the Commonwealth of Australia.
Green Paper - a preliminary discussion document, usually issued in advance of the formation of government policy.
Greens WA  - formed on 1 January 1990, a merger of the WA Green party and the Green Earth Alliance.
grievance  - a matter of concern. T he grievance debate lets members raise matters of concern to them.
guillotine  - a time limit set on discussion of a Bill.
Hansard  - 1. the printed record of the debates in Parliament.

2. the people who produce the printed record.

High Court  - the court set up under the Constitution to decide matters arising out of the Constitution, and to hear appeals from the supreme courts of the States and other Federal Courts. 
House of Representatives  - the lower House of the federal Parliament of Australia elected on a population basis. 
how-to-vote card - a card or piece of paper handed out at an election by a political party or candidate showing the voter how the party or candidate would prefer the voter to vote.
immunity (of parliamentarians) - special legal protection for members of Parliament to enable them to carry out their duties, including protection from legal action for anything they say in Parliament.
in-camera - in private or in secret: The woman appearing before the parliamentary committee asked if she could give her evidence in-camera.
in committee - the state of a House of Parliament when it has formed itself into a Committee of the Whole House usually to consider the deta ils of a Bill.
independent - a member of Parliament who does not belong to a political party.
informal vote - in an election a voting paper which is not counted because it has not been filled in correctly.
interest group - a group of people organised to further some cause or interest which they have in common: Members of Parliament often get letters from interest groups asking for support.
interjection  - a remark made to interrupt, or respond to, a point during a speech.
joint committee  - a committee made up of members from both Houses of Parliament.
joint sitting  - both of the Houses of Parliament sitting together to make a decision: There was a joint sitting of the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council to fill the casual vacancy for the Senate.
judicial power - the power to interpret or apply the law in particular cases. one of the three powers under the Constitution, the others being legislative power and executive power.
judicial - having to do with judges or law courts.
judiciary - the branch of government concerned with the administration of justice.
Labor Party (Australian Labor Party [ALP ]) - first political party in Australia. Formed 1890.
landslide - an easy win in an election: The Government won in a landslide.
Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council - the Leader of the government party in the Council; the Government's main spokesperson and most senior Minis ter in the Council.
Leader of the House - the government member who arranges and manages government business in the Legislative Assembly.
Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council - the leader of the Opposition Party in the Council; the Opposition's main spokesperson and a leading shadow minister.
Leader of the Opposition - the leader of the party which is the next largest after the government party in the Legislative Assembly, and which is made up of members who do not support the Government.
leave - the permission of all members present in the Chamber at the time to do something which otherwise could not be done at that time or in that way.
legislation - a law or set of laws.
Legislative Assembly - the lower House of Parliament in Western Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland (where it is the only House); called the House of Assembly in South Australia and Tasmania.
Legislative Council - the upper House of Parliament in all States except Queensland.
legislative power - the power to make and change laws; one of the three powers under the Constitution. Others are judicial and executive power.
legislature - the law making body of a country or a State.
Liberal Party of Australia (LP)  - a party founded in 1944 by Sir Robert Menzies and others.
lobby  - 1. a group of people trying to get support for a particular cause: The environment lobby.

2. to approach people for support: To lobby for the conservation of rainforests.

local government  - 1. the management of the affairs of a shire, municipality or a town, by people who are elected by residents of that area

2. the people who make up such a management group, called a council.

 lower House (see Legislative Assembly) - the first Chamber 
Mace  - once a weapon of war shaped like a club, and the symbol of royal authority, but now the symbol of the authority of a lower House of Parliament and its Speaker.
maiden speech  - the first speech in Parliament by a newly elected member.
majority  - 1. the greater number, or more than half: The majority of people stayed at home.

2. the age at which the law says you are an adult and can vote in elections: When you turn 18 you will reach your majority.

mandate  - the authority which is assumed by a party winning government to have been given by voters for the party to implement policies which were the subject of an election campaign. 
marginal  - describing an electoral division (electorate) where the result of an election will probably be very close: The member won her marginal seat by three votes.
margin  - the extra amount (of votes, time, money, etc) over and above the necessary minimum: The successful candidate won the election by a wide margin.
matter of public importance - a matter of general nature that can be raised as a matter of urgency which must be supported by a certain number of other members.
message - the most common form of official communication between the Houses: The Speaker read to the Legislative Assembly the message from the President of the Legislative Council.
ministerial accountability - the requirement that a Minister can be called on to explain in Parliament his or her actions and those of the department and agencies under his or her control.
ministerial responsibility - responsibility to the Parliament for actions taken by a Minister or on that minister's behalf; the doctrine that the ministers in a Government, individually and collectively, depend for their continuance in office on ma intaining the support of the majority of the Legislative Assembly. Similarly for those ministers in the Legislative Council, maintaining the support of the majority of the Legislative Council.
minister - a member of Parliament who is a member of the Executive Government, and who is usually in charge of a government department: The Minister for Transport.
ministry - ministers; the Executive Government; members of both Houses of Parliament chosen from the parties or coalition of parties with a majority in the lower House who are formally appointed by the Governor as his or her Ministers of State.
minority government - a Government formed by a party or coalition of parties which does not have a majority in the lower House in its own right.
minutes - the official record of what has been decided by the Legislative Council.
money Bill - a Bill setting a tax or proposing the spending of money for a particular purpose: The Senate may not originate money Bills.
motion - An idea or proposal put forward for consideration, debate and decision: He moved a motion that the member be suspended.
name (a member)  - to formally identify a member for disorderly behaviour during a sitting of a House by which action a presiding officer sets in train disciplinary proceedings which may result in the suspension of a member.
National Party of Australia (NP)  - a party formed in 1920 as the Australian Country Party, later called the National Country Party and then the National Party of Australia. 
no confidence  - a means by which a House expresses dissatisfaction with the performance of a Government or a minister.
non-partisan  - not aligned to a political party; not biased or one sided; neutral.
notice of motion  - an announcement of intention to put forward a motion for consideration, nearly always for a later day.
Notice Paper  - the document issued each sitting day that lists all outstanding business before a House of Parliament.
Oath of Allegiance  - A declaration, using God's name, made by members of Parliament that they will be loyal to the Queen.
officer  - a permanent career official or employee of one of the parliamentary departments which provide support services for the Parliament.
Ombudsman  - an official whose job is to look into people's complaints against the Government or Public Servants.
open government  - a principle of governme nt under which citizens are given maximum opportunity to know about government decisions and the reason for those decisions, and where citizens have the right to see most government papers and reports.
opening speech  - a speech by the Queen, or her representative, the Governor; in which the reasons for the calling together of Parliament are given and the Government's plans for new laws are outlined. 
opposition backbencher  - a member of Parliament who belongs to the opposition party or parties, but who is not a shadow minister. 
Opposition  - the second largest political party or coalition of parties after the government party in the Legislative Assembly, which works to oppose what it believes to be wrong in government policies or actions, and which stands ready to form a Government should the voters so decide at the next or subsequent election. 
order of the day  - an item of business that the Legislative Council or Legislative Assembly has ordered to be set down for discussion on a particular day, usually the next day of the sitting.
organisational wing (of a political party)  - the part of a political party, usually its administration, that is outside Parliament.
out of order  - not in accordance with recognised parliamentary rules.
pair  - an arrangement between parties whereby two members from opposing sides of a House do not vote on a particular occasion so that one or both can be absent without affecting the result of the vote.
paper  - a report or document presented to a House of Parliament.
parliamentary committee  - a small group of members of Parliament, usually drawn from all parties in one or both of the Houses, which studies, reports on and makes recommendations about a particular subject: A parliamentary committee was set up to inquire into- road safety.
Parliamentary Counsel  - an office of legal officers who draft or prepare proposals for new laws. 
parliamentary democracy - a system of government in which power is vested in the people who exercise their power through elected representatives in Parliament.
parliamentary government - a system of government in which the Executive Government is answerable to the Parliament, in which the Government is formed from members of the Parliament and in which the Parliament is supreme.
parliamentary procedure - rules for and methods of carrying out the business of a House of Parliament.
parliamentary wing - those people from a political party who have been elected to Parliament.
Parliament - from the French verb parler, to speak. the legislative branch of government, consisting in Western Australia of the Sovereign (represented by the Governor), the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly.
participation - taking part.
party discipline - the control used by a political party to encourage its members in Parliament to vo te toge ther: Part y dis cipli ne in Aust ralia is almost total, with members of the major parties only rarely voting against their party.
party room - a room where the parliamentary members of a political party hold meetings.
personal explanation - a short statement made by a member concerning a matter with which he or she is personally connected, or by a member who feels he or she has been misrepresented and who wishes to state the correct facts or situation.
petition - a document presented to a House of Parliament by a person or a gr oup of people asking for action on a matter; a formal request, especially to a person or group in power: We signed a petition asking for more bicycle paths.
plank - a single policy; an aim or objective of a political party or candidate, forming part of the party's or candidate's platform: Free health care was an important plank in the party's platform.
platform - policies or plans of a political party or candidate or a collection of such policies or plans: A policy to increase the number of university places was part of the party's platform.
point of order - a question as to whether proceedings in a meeting are in accord with the rules or in the correct form.
political party - a group of people with similar ideas or aims, some of whose members stand at elections in the hope that they will be able to form a Government: The National Party is a political party.
polity - an organised society; a political unit and its system of government.
portfolio - the area of responsibility or duties of a Minister in a Government; the department for which a Minister is responsible.
preferential voting - a system of voting in which a voter shows an order of preference for candidates, giving the number one to his or her first choice and the last number to the last choice.
Premier - the head of the State Government.
President - the member who is elected by the Legislative Council as its presiding officer.
press gallery - 1. a gallery in a house reserved for the press.

2. a group of people who work for the various media inside Parliament House.

Prime Minister - the head of the national Government
private member - a member of Parliament who is not a minister.
proclamation - an official public announcement.
proportional representation - a voting system, such as that used in the Legislative Council elections, based on multi-member electorates, designed to make sure that the number of successful candidates from each party reflects as closely as possible the total vote for that party as a proportion of all the valid votes cast in an election.
prorogue - to end a session of Parliament and so discontinue meetings of the Houses until the next session.
public gallery - an area in a House of Parliament set aside for the public: When our school visited Parliament we watched question time from the public gallery.
public servant - a member of the public service; a person employed by the Government in a department of state.
public service - the departments and people who work for them, responsible for putting into effect government policy and decis ions and legislation passed by Parliament.
put the question - ask for a decision on a motion: The Speaker put the question to the House.
question on notice - a written question asked of a Minister which is answered in writing.
Question Time - a daily period of time in each house of the Parliament in which ministers are asked questions concerning their responsibilities by other members.
question without notice - a question asked orally of a Minister where the Minister usually has no warning of the content of the question.
question - 1. a matter to be debated and voted on: The question that the Bill be now read a second time was put and agreed to.

2. a request for information: I asked the Minister a question.

quorum - the minimum number of people who have to be present to constitute a meeting; the minimum number of members who have to be present for a House or committee to be able to conduct business and make decisions.
reading (of a Bill) - a formal stage of the passage of a Bill through a House of Parliament.
redistribution - a new division of an area into electorates with the result that boundaries of some existing electorates are moved.
referendum - a vote by all voters on a question; in Australia nearly always on a proposal to change the Constitution.
regulation - a law made under the authority of an Act of Parliament.
report (from the Committee of the Whole) - a statement given orally to the President or the Speaker by the Chairman of Committees of the relevant House on the results of a Committee of the Whole's consideration of a Bill or other matter.
report (of a committee) - a statement, usually in writing, of the results of an inquiry.
representative democracy - groups of citizens representing members of the wider community and participating in the decision making process on their behalf.
representative - a person who acts on behalf of others; a person elected to a law making body.
responsibility - a duty of care: The Minister had a responsibility for all education matters.
revenue - incoming money; the money Government collects from taxes and other sources.
royal assent - the signing of a Bill by the Queen's representative (The Governor in the case of State Parliaments, the Govern-General in the case of federal Parliament), which is the last step of making a Bill into an Act of Parliament.
royal commission - a person or persons chosen by government to inquire into and report on a matter of public concern: The Government established a royal commission to investigate organised crime.
rule of law - the principle that all people are equal before the law, and that all government actions will be undertaken in accordance with the law.
ruling - a formal decision made by the Speaker or President, usually on a matter of procedure.
safe seat - an electorate in which the support for a member or party is such that the member or representative is very likely to be elected.
schedule  - a list at the end of a Bill or Act which contains matters of detail: The schedule to the Act contained the list of exempt departments.
second reading  - the second reading of a passage of a Bill through a House at which time discussion on the principle or purpose of the Bill takes place.
section - a separate numbered item in an Act of Parliament: There were 65 sections in the Act.
select committee - a group of members from either House or both Houses, appointed to inquire into and report on a particular subject. A select committee ceases to exist when it has made its final report to the House or Houses.
Senate - the upper House of the federal Parliament of Australia.
Senator - a member of the Australian Senate.
Sergeant-at-Arms - an officer of the Legislative Assembly (House of Representatives) who carries out the orders of the House, such as accompanying a member who is directed to leave the House.
sessional order - a temporary rule governing the conduct of business in a House of Parliament, which applies only for the session in which it is made.
session - a parliamentary period which starts on the first day of sitting after an election or prorogation and ends at a prorogation or dissolution of the House
shadow cabinet - the group of members of the main opposition party or parties in a Parliament who Act as party spokesperson on the principal areas of government.
shadow minister - a member of the shadow ministry. Shadow ministers shadow, or follow closely, the areas of responsibility and activities of ministers.
sittings - meetings of a House of Parliament. in the state Parliament, the two periods in the year when the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council meet, usually between March and June (the autumn sitting) and between August and December (the spring sitting).
Speaker - the member who is elected by the Legislative Assembly as its presiding officer
standing committee - a group of members appointed by either House or both Houses to inquire into and report on certain matters. A standing committee usually exists for the life of the Parliament and is usually reappointed in succeeding Parliaments.
standing orders - the permanent rules which govern the conduct of business in a House of Parliament.
statutory authority - a government agency set up by an Act of Parliament, more or less independent of day-to-day ministerial control, usually not bound by public service procedures to the same extent as ordinary departments, and which is responsible finally to Parliament.
sub judice - under consideration or waiting consideration by a court of law.
Supply Bill - a Bill, which if passed, will allow the Government to spend money on the requirements of government.
suspend - to remove a member from a House and so prevent, for a time, his or her performing any duties, or being present in the House, usually in response to disorderly conduct.
swinging voter - a person who transfers his or her support (vote) from one political party to another at different elections.
table - 1. to present a document etc, t-o a House of Parliament: I table (lay on the Table) the report of the committee.

2. the table in front of the President or Speaker's chair: The Clerk sits at the Table.

teller  - a person, usually the Whip, chosen to count or tell the members voting in a division.
terms of reference (of a committee) - a matter referred for inquiry to a committee, the scope for activity and investigation open to a committee.
term - a limited period of time during which an office is held. This is the member's fourth term in the Legislative Assembly.
third reading - the final stage in the passage of a Bill through a House of Parliament.
Treasurer - the government Minister respons ible for the Government's economic and financial policy, and who prepares the Government's budget.
unconstitutional - contrary to, or inconsistent with, the Constitution or the recognised principles of the constitutional law of a country.
unicameral - consisting of one Chamber or House: Queensland has a unicameral Parliament.
upper house - the second Chamber: The Legislative Council is the upper House in the state Parliament.
urgency motion - a motion moved in the Legislative Council which enables discussion of a matter of concern.
Usher of the Black Rod - an officer of the Legislative Council (named after the Black Rod he or she carries) who has special duties on ceremonial occasions such as the opening of Parliament, who assists to keep order in the Chamber.
vacancy - an unoccupied position or office.
vice-regal - concerning or having to do with a person appo inted as a deputy by the King or Queen; having to do with a person acting in place of or representing a King or Queen: As the Governor attended the dinner it was a vice-regal function.
voter - someone who votes; someone who has a right to vote.
vote - a formal expression of choice, such as putting up one's hand or marking a piece of paper.
Votes and Proceedings - the official record of what has been decided in the Legislative Assembly.
Westminster system - a system of government originating in Britain, the main features of which are a head of state, who is not the head of government, and an executive which is drawn from and which is directly responsible to the Parliament.
Westminster - 1. the Houses of Parliament in London.

2. the city of Westminster in London where the Houses of Parliament (the place of Westminster) are located.

Whip - a party manager in Parliament who is responsible for organising members of his or her party to take part in debates and votes.
White Paper - a policy document usually iss ued by the Government to explain or discuss matters on which the Government is desiring community discussion or reaction. A White Paper is regarded as a more definite statement of policy than a Green Paper.
writs - formal orders, issued by the Governor, requiring that an election be held.