Parliament definitions

  • The Judiciary operates ex post facto, or in the past. They interpret the law based on what happened in the past; they cannot change the law to affect the past.
  • To filibuster is to speak for a very long time such that a bill’s passage/vote is delayed. For instance, Senator Wendy Davis in the Texan Senate spoke for 11 hours to delay the passage of an anti-abortion bill. Filibusters rarely happen in Australia except when a Minister attempts to avoid a question during Question Time.
  • Gag – the immediate cessation of debate and the counting of a vote
    • e.g. ‘I move that the vote be taken now’
  • Guillotine – a planned or advance notice of cessation. 43rd Parliament used 216, Howard’s only used 31.
    • e.g. ‘I move that we put the bill to a vote at 5 pm’
  • Flood gating – the rushing of pieces of legislation such that the chamber does not have enough time to properly consider all aspects of the legislation. A backlog of legislation occurs.
    • e.g. in the last 4 days of the 43rd Parliament, the Senate has to pass 54 pieces of legislation, some very important.
    • They occur when the HoR is passing legislation faster than the Senate can review it, or since the gov’t has a majority in the HoR but not the Senate.
  • The Legislature operates in futuro i.e. they make provision for laws in the future.

How votes are counted:

  • By voice – people say ‘aye’ or ‘no’ and the speaker decides on which side has the most votes
  • Division – if the voice count is too close, a division may be called by two members. If this happens, people move to the side of the chamber that represents the way they are voting. Tellers count the names and number of people.
    • When a division is called, bells are rung for four minutes. After this, the doors to the chamber are locked.


  • A record/transcript of everything that is said in parliament.
  • Allows the public to read what is happening in parliament
  • Also allows people to prove whether or not a certain member said something, and used as evidence.


You may also like...

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: