Actions speak louder than words, results more than rhetoric. Peter Costello summarised it perfectly this morning. Wayne Swan really is out of his depth. Last year, Mr Swan promised no less than 500 times that he would deliver a budget surplus this year.
Senator Scott Ryan spoke in strong opposition against the Gillard Government’s attempt to regulate the media and stifle free speech in Australia.
The Commonwealth Parliament is comprised of two houses, the House of Representatives and the Senate, and the Crown, represented by the Governor-General.
All proposed laws (‘bills’) must pass through both Houses of Parliament and receive the Royal Assent from the Governor-General before they become law (‘Acts of Parliament’).
The Commonwealth Parliament has the power to pass laws relating to areas authorised by the Australian Constitution, and other laws necessary to give effect to these. Most of these areas of authority are outlined in Section 51 of the Constitution. Those areas that are not within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Parliament remain within the realm of State Parliaments.
For more information on the Australian Constitution see:
For more information on the history of the Australian Parliament see:
The House of Representatives
Often referred to as the ‘lower house’, the House of Representatives comprises members elected to represent individual seats (‘electorates’) in Parliament. Most of these ‘electorates’ comprise just under 100,000 voters. Currently there are 150 electorates and members of the House of Representatives.
Government is formed by the party or coalition of parties that are able to command a majority in the House of Representatives. The leader of that party or coalition becomes the Prime Minister.
For more information on the House of Representatives:
The Senate is often referred to as the ‘upper house’ or the ‘house of review’. It consists of 76 Senators, twelve from each of the six states and two from each from the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory.
The Senate has virtually equal power to make laws with the House of Representatives apart from the ability to intiate appropriation and taxation bills – but it may reject and, in some cases, propose amendments to such bills.
Senators from the states are elected for six year terms, with half usually facing re-election at every general election for the House of Representatives and those elected taking office on the 1st day of July following their election.
Senators are elected ‘at large’, representing the entire state (as opposed to individual seats) and are elected by a different voting system known as proportional representation. This ensures that the composition of the Senate closely reflects the voting pattern of the electors – and it ensures that minor parties have a greater chance at election. For this reason it is rare for the Government which has a majority in the House of Representatives to also have a majority in the Senate.
Further information on the Senate can be found at:
Senate committees focus on conducting inquiries into proposed legislation, mainly proposed by the government and investigating government policies and administration as well as other issues when directed to do so by the Senate.
Members of the public may attend public hearings of these inquiries at Parliament House or at any one of the many towns and cities throughout Australia where committees meet. Members of the public are also invited to make written submissions to these inquiries, and if invited, give oral evidence at public hearings.
Following the referral of a matter to a committee for consideration, the committee advertises and seeks submissions from interested individuals and organisations. Witnesses are then invited to give evidence before the committee.
Once information has been gathered and considered, the committee draws up a report which presents its findings and recommendations. Committee members and senators who have participated in the hearings but who disagree with the recommendations may attach dissenting reports, or additional conclusions and recommendations, to the report. The report is then tabled in the Senate and its recommendations debated.
Senator Scott Ryan is a member of several committees:
Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration.
This Standing Committee is comprised of a pair of committees – a committee to deal with references from the Senate itself, and a corresponding one to conduct inquiries into proposed legislation.
This Committee maintains oversight over three portfolios that include: Prime Minister and Cabinet, Finance and Deregulation and Human Services. The Committee also maintains oversight over two Parliamentary Departments: the Department of the Senate and the Department of Parliamentary Services.
More information about this committee can be found at
Senator Ryan is Chairman of the Finance and Public Administration References Committee and Deputy Chairman of the Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee
Senate Select Committee on the Reform of the Australian Federation
This is a special-purpose committee created by the Senate to conduct an inquiry into specific matters relating to Australia’s federal system. (Link not available yet)
Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters
Senator Ryan is a member of this Joint Standing Committee comprising members of the House of Representatives and the Senate. It is responsible for conducting inquiries into matters relating to the conduct of elections.
More information on this committee can be found at:
For further generation information on Senate committees see:
Presiding Officers’ Information Technology Advisory Group
POITAG is a working group comprised of Senators, Members and staff from various departments that advises the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives on information technology matters.