A series of posters presenting information on the features and parliamentary processes of the Legislative Assembly for the ACT.
What makes the ACT Legislative Assembly unique
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What makes the ACT Legislative Assembly unique?
- The Assembly is one of only two self-governing parliaments in all of Australia's ten territories.
- Unlike every other state and territory, the Assembly votes to elect the Chief Minister after an election.
- There is no Governor to sign bills into law in the ACT. New laws are notified on a website.
- The Assembly's mace is made of timber and steel, rather than gold and without the traditional crown and royal symbolism.
- The Assembly is the only parliament which combines both the state and local levels of government.
Who's who in the ACT Assembly
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Who's who in the ACT Assembly:
- Speaker - the member who runs the debate and maintains order, just like a referee or umpire.
- Clerk - the seniormost parliamentary official, who makes sure that the Assembly runs smoothly.
- Deputy Clerk our Deputy Clerk is also the Serjeant-at-Arms and is in charge of the Assembly's mace.
- Principal Attendant - provides security in the chamber and circulates papers to members.
- Chief Minister - the leader of the Government, elected by a vote in the Legislative Assembly.
- Opposition Leader - the leader of the second largest party in the Assembly
- Deputy leaders.
- Ministers - members responsible for policy making for the ACT.
- Government backbench - members of the governing party who are not part of the executive (ministers).
- Opposition frontbench - all opposition members focus on certain issues to keep ministers accountable through shadow ministries.
- Opposition backbench.
- Crossbench - minor party and independent members who often hold the Assembly's balance of power.
- Public gallery - where members of the public can come, sit, and watch members doing their jobs.
The legislative process in the ACT Assembly
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The legislative process in the ACT Assembly:
- Input from:
- intergovernmental agreements;
- petitions and public consultation;
- government initiatives; and
- campaign promises.
- Drafting - the Parliamentary Counsel's Office receive directions to write a new bill (draft law).
- Presentation - the bill is then presented in the Assembly by a member. It is then send to the Scrutiny Committee. Sometimes, the Assembly sends a bill to another committee for an inquiry.
- Scrutiny - the Scrutiny Committee checks bills comply with the Human Rights Act 2004 (ACT)
- Inquiry - Committees sometimes examine bills in more details in an inquiry. They will ask the public for feedback on the bill.
- Agreement in Principle - After scrutiny and inquiry stages are complete, the Assembly then debates and votes on whether they agree with a bill's general ideas. Bills need a majority of votes to pass.
- Detail Stage - During the detail stage, members can go through a bill line-by-line and add, remove, or change the content. Each of these changes are voted on individually. If no changes are proposed, members can choose to move straight to a vote.
- Agreement - members vote on whether they agree or disagree with the bill.
- Proof - the bill's text is checked to make sure it is accurate.
- Notification - the Speaker sends a letter to the Parliamentary Counsel's Office about the bill being passed. Once it is in the online law register, it has become a law.
- A "no" vote can happen at any stage, the bill proceeds no further, bills can be recycled but not within the same calendar year.
Australia's three levels of government
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Australia's three levels of government:
- Australia's levels of government are like a big company building, with each level dealing with something different.
- At the very top is federal government.
- Further down are the state and territory governments.
- And at the base of the building are the local governments.
- The ACT is the only state or territory which combines both territory and local governments.
The separation of powers in the ACT
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The separation of powers in the ACT:
- In Australia, the powers of government are split between three different branches. This separation of powers is an important part of the Westminster System and helps keep those who use power accountable.
- The Legislature
- The legislative branch is the ACT Legislative Assembly and it has the power to make and change laws for the ACT.
- Our Legislative Assembly has 25 members, who are elected from the electorates across the ACT.
- The Executive:
- The executive branch is the Chief Minister and ministers, who have the power together to put laws into action.
- In the ACT, the executive is only allowed to be as large as 9 members (that's 1 chief minister and up to 8 ministers).
- The Judiciary:
- The judicial branch is made up of the ACT law courts and tribunals and has the power to make judgements on laws.
- There are many judges in the ACT judiciary, but did you know that they must retire at their 70th birthday?
- This is not a complete separation of powers.
- In Australia, members of the executive (ministers) must also be members of the legislature (MPs). This is a tradition inherited from the UK Parliament, where the Westminster Systems was developed.
- This is different to other systems of government where executive members cannot also be legislature members, like in the United States of America.