Fact Sheet 12
Victoria’s Parliamentary History
importance of parliamentary democracy in
1836 to 1851
The Legislative Council struggled to govern effectively. Chaos triggered by the gold rushes tested the wits of this inexperienced legislature. Yet despite its problems, the Legislative Council made the following enduring contributions to the character of Victorian parliamentary democracy:
· Approving the use of the secret ballot for elections, a world first; and
· Starting construction of the splendid Parliament House, in Spring Street Melbourne.
Preferential voting was introduced for electing members to the Lower House in 1911 and in 1922 for members to the Upper House. Voting was made compulsory for elections of Legislative Assembly members in 1926 and for Legislative Council members in 1935.
From Federation to the Present
Liberal Party lost government in 1982 to the Australian Labor Party (ALP) led
by Hon John Cain, whose father was Premier in the 1950s, and later by Joan Kirner,
Women in Parliament
Prior to 1933 no women had been elected to the Parliament of Victoria.
· In 1933, Lady Millie Peacock became the first woman elected to Parliament.
· Gracia Baylor and Joan Coxsedge became the first women elected to the Legislative Council in 1979.
· Joan Kirner was the first female Premier of Victoria. She was Premier from 1990–92.
· In 2003, Judy Maddigan became the first female Speaker of the Legislative Assembly and Monica Gould became the first female President of the Legislative Council.
Crown is represented in
current Governor is Professor David de Kretser, AC, who took office on
All legislation passed jointly by the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council must be approved by the Monarch, or the Governor as her representative. It is now accepted practice that the Governor follows the advice of the Premier. Accordingly, the Governor recalls, prorogues, and dissolves Parliament on the recommendation of the Premier.
The Legislative Assembly
There are 88 members in the Assembly. Each member represents one electoral district. Following the general election in November 2006, the numbers in the House are:
· ALP — 55 seats
· Liberal Party — 23 seats
· National Party — 9 seats
· Independent — 1 seat.
The Opposition comprises the largest party or grouping that does not support the Government, and the Liberals and Nationals, in coalition, hold that position. The Leader of the Opposition is Mr Ted Baillieu MP.
The Constitution provides that the Lower House is the source of all money bills. Financial management matters concerned with State revenue raising and expenditure, or with the passage of the annual Victorian budget, must therefore be initiated in the Legislative Assembly.
Changes to the Constitution Act 1975 made in 2003 provide that the Legislative Assembly will normally sit for fixed four year periods. There are some exceptions, such as if a no confidence motion is passed in the Premier and ministers.
next general election is scheduled to take place on
The Legislative Council
There are 40 members of the Legislative Council. They represent eight regions with five Legislative Councillors representing each region. The regions are the equivalent of 11 Legislative Assembly districts.
In 2003 substantial amendments were made to the Constitution Act 1975, which resulted in the following changes to the Legislative Council:
· Both Houses have the same fixed four year terms, with all members of Parliament being elected for four years. Previously Legislative Councillors served for two terms of the Legislative Assembly.
· The number of members in the Legislative Council was reduced from 44 to 40.
· The members of the Legislative Council are now elected by proportional representation.
· The Legislative Council is no longer able to ‘block supply’ (the Budget). It can debate and consider the bills but if they are not passed within a month of the Assembly passing them, they can be presented to the Governor to sign without the Council’s agreement.
Parliament’s bicameral system of checks and balances has fundamentally shaped
the nature of parliamentary democracy in
As expected, following the 2006 election the make up of the Legislative Council changed and it now consists of members from five parties, with neither the Government nor the Opposition having a majority of members.
Issued by the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, April 2009
The Legislative Assembly Procedure Office has produced a series of Fact Sheets that explain parliamentary procedure and terminology. All Fact Sheets are available on Parliament’s website www.parliament.vic.gov.au or through the Procedure Office.
Procedure Office, Legislative Assembly,
Parliament House, Spring Street,
Phone No: 03 9651 8563 Fax No: 03 9650 7245 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org