Politics One

Fourth edition

by Ian Ward and Randal G. Stewart

Parliament

Quick e-introduction to parliament:

Further reading suggestions

  • Department of the House of Representatives 2003.@@@A House for a Nation@@@[CD Rom] A useful multimedia resource produced to mark the 2001 centenary of Australia’s parliament.@@@
    http://www.houseforthenation.gov.au/explore/index.htm
  • Singleton, G., Aitkin D, Jinks B. and Warhurst J. 2009.@@@Australian Political Institutions. 9th edn. (Frenchs Forrest: Pearson). Chapter.5 on ‘The Australian Parliament’ provides a more detailed description of the organisation and procedures of Parliament than we do in Politics One.
  • Summers, J. 2009. ‘Parliament and Responsible Government’ in D. Woodward, A. Parkin, and J. Summers (eds)@@@Government, Politics, Power and Policy in Australia. 9th edn. (Frenchs Forest NSW: Pearson.) This chapter sets a discussion of parliamentary government alongside responsible government.

A further note on Parliamentary committees.@@@
The House of Representatives and the Senate have each developed an extensive committee system. For more information Parliamentary committees conduct inquiries, and often travel Australia to take evidence and investigate issues of concern, in some case issues referred to them by Ministers. In@@@Politics One@@@we suggest that they make a valuable contribution. But do they? Are committee inquiries an effective means of allowing Parliament to shape policy? The experience during the final term of the Howard Government in which the coalition parties controlled the Senate and reshaped its committee system suggests that the capacity of Senate committees to investigate issues and hold the government accountable via estimates hearings is limited when the governing party or coalition has control of both houses of parliament.

Discussion point@@@
John Uhr@@@says that: ‘Parliament works best when it “adds value” to government by acting independently of the government of the day, which is accountable to Parliament. Despite their misgivings, governments have to learn to share power with parliaments.’ But a difficulty with this argument is that Australia has a system of responsible party government—that parties form governments and seek to control parliamentary proceedings in their own political interests.@@@

Is it likely that governments will ever learn to share power with parliaments?