A   B   C  D   E   F  G H  I   J K   L  M  N   O   P   Q   R   S  T   U  V  W   X  Y  Z


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Acknowledgement of Country and Traditional Owners The acknowledgement, at the beginning of a sitting day, of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Owners.

Act of Parliament (1) A law made by Parliament; (2) consequently, a Bill which has passed all three readings and received the Royal Assent.

Address A method by which the House makes known its desires or opinions to the Crown.

Address-in-Reply The formal answer of each House to the speech made by the Sovereign, or the Governor as his/her representative at the opening of each session of the Parliament. 

Adjournment The suspension of the sitting of a House to the following or some later day.

Adult Suffrage The right of eligible adults to vote in elections.

Affirmation of Allegiance A declaration made by Members of Parliament that they will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Sovereign (see also Oath of Allegiance). 

Amendment A change to a bill or an Act.

Appropriation Bill A bill which, if passed by Parliament, will allow the Government to spend money it has gathered from the community through taxes and charges, on Government services, and development of the State. Also known as the Budget.

Assent To agree to or approve. eg The Governor assents to bills after they have been passed by the two Houses of Parliament.

Auditor-General An officer appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Executive Council to inspect the accounts of departments and statutory authorities in terms of their Parliamentary appropriations and then report to the Legislature.

Aye The word used for voting "yes" in the Parliament.  

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Backbencher A Member of Parliament who is not a minister or a shadow minister and sits behind the front bench, on the back benches in the chambers.

Ballot (1) The process by which electors make a choice when voting in an election; (2) how votes are gathered; and (3) the vote itself.

Ballot-paper A piece of paper that lists the names of those wanting to be elected, on which the voter marks the name of the person they want elected.

Bar A barrier at the main entrance to each of the Legislative Council and House of Assembly chambers.

Bells  Bells that ring to call Members into the chambers at the beginning of each sitting day, or because a vote is about to be taken, or because there are not enough members in the chamber to form a quorum. 

Bicameral Having two chambers or Houses especially of a law-making body. South Australia's Parliament is bicameral because it has an Upper and Lower House.

Bill A proposal for a new law which has been presented to Parliament.

Bipartisan Representing, having or supported by two major parties.

Black Rod The staff of office which was carried before the Sovereign. >From ancient times the staff has been a symbol of authority. It is placed on the Legislative Council Table before the President when the Legislative Council is in session (also see Usher of the Black Rod).

Budget The Government's annual proposals for planned revenue and expenditure, presented by the Treasurer. A plan that shows the Parliament how much money the government expects to get and how it will spend the money in the coming year.

By-election A special election held to fill the seat of a Member of the House of Assembly who has died or resigned during the life of the Parliament

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Cabinet A group of senior members of the governing party known as Ministers, who collectively are responsible for policy development and implementation, and individually head the various departments.

Candidate Someone who stands for election for Parliament.

Casting Vote A vote which can be exercised by the Speaker, President or the Chairman of Committees when the votes in the House are equal.

Chairman of Committees An elected officer, appointed by a resolution of the House, who presides when the House forms itself into a Committee of the Whole. In the Legislative Council the President performs this role.

Chamber The meeting room of a House of Parliament

Coalition An official combination of two or more parties in the Parliament whether as a Government or as an Opposition.

Committee of the Whole A committee consisting of all members of a House, as when considering the details of a Bill in the Committee Stage.

Committee Stage After a Bill's Second Reading, a House may resolve into a Committee of the Whole in order to consider each clause in detail and propose amendments.

Commonwealth of Australia A group of States and Territories that have joined together to form the Federal Government.

Compulsory Enrolment The legislative requirement for eligible, Australian electors to enrol in order to vote in all Federal and State government elections.

Compulsory Voting The legislative requirement for eligible, Australian electors to enrol and vote in all Federal and State government elections.

Conscience vote A vote in Parliament in which members are free to vote according to their own judgement or beliefs, and not necessarily according to the guidelines, policies or decisions of their political party.

Constitution The body of fundamental principles according to which a state is governed.

Constituency The electorate or area, or the people in it which a Member of Parliament represents.

Constituent Someone who votes, or lives, in an electorate or area which a Member of Parliament represents.

Contempt An act by a Member or person which can be regarded as disrespectful to the Parliament.

Cross bench One of a set of seats usually for Members of Parliament who belong to neither the Government nor the opposition parties; seats for minor parties and independents.

Cross the floor When a member of Parliament goes to the other side of the chamber and votes with an opposing party.

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Debate The controlled discussion on a bill or other topic in which different views are put forward.

Democracy In a modern sense, a system of government where the power of the people resides in representative structures.

Dissolution The House of Assembly is dissolved by proclamation of the Governor prior to a general election.

Division A formal vote in the Parliament, heralded by the ringing of bells, whereby Members separate into the "ayes" on the right of the Chair, or "noes" on the left, to have their votes recorded.

Dorothy Dix question Question asked in Parliament by a Member at a Ministers request, to allow a Minister to give a prepared reply.

Draft Bill The Parliamentary Counsel's format of legislation prior to its introduction into the Parliament.

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Election The method by which citizens select their representatives for the Parliament.

Electorate (1) The area that a Member of Parliament represents; and (2) all of the people who live in an area represented by a Member of Parliament.

Electoral Roll The official list of eligible persons who may vote in a State election, which is updated on a regular basis.

Electoral System The structures and processes necessary to hold an election including the electoral laws, system of appointment, redistribution and voting.

Enactment The point at which an Act of Parliament becomes law.

Entrenched Clause A section of a constitution or legislation which cannot be repealed or amended, unless by a special process such as a referendum.

Estimates Committee Committees which meet during each year to look at Government spending proposals included in the Budget Papers.

Executive The Ministry which implements the Government's policy and is answerable to the Parliament for its administration.

Executive Council The chief executive authority of the Government, comprising the Ministry with the Governor presiding, which formalises the decisions of Cabinet.  

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Filibuster The use of long speeches or other tactics in Parliament to delay deliberately a vote or decision.

Financial interest See Pecuniary interest.

First reading The first of the stages that a bill must go through in order to become an Act. The clerk reads the full title of the bill out loud.

Franchise The right to vote at elections.

Frontbenchers Members of the Ministry or Opposition Shadow Cabinet who occupy the front seats of the Chamber on the right and left of the Presiding Officer's Chair respectively.

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Gag Technically known as Closure, the procedure for closing a discussion in a House when some members still wish to speak.

Gallery - (Press) A gallery reserved for the press.

Gallery - ( Public) An area in a House of Parliament set aside for the public.

General Election The required, periodic election held for all of the State's electorates after the House of Assembly has been dissolved by the Governor.

Gerrymander The drawing of the boundaries of electorates in a way which gives one political group an unfair advantage in elections by maximising its potential vote.

Government The majority political party, or coalition of parties, enjoying the support of the Parliament.

Government backbencher A Member of Parliament who belongs to the governing party or parties, but who is not a Minister.

Governor The representative of the Sovereign in the State. 

Grievance Debate A debate consisting of six Members who can each speak for a maximum of five minutes each on a topic of their choice. The Grievance Debate is typically held immediately after Question Time.

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Hansard (1) The printed record of Members speeches in Parliament; (2) the section and its staff who record, edit and produce the written record.

House of Assembly The name of the Lower House of State Parliament

House of Representatives The name of the Lower House of the Australian Federal Parliament.

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Independent (Member or Senator) A Member of Parliament who does not belong to a political party.  

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Joint Committee A Committee made up of Members of both Houses of Parliament.

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Landslide An easy win in an election.

Lay on the Table A term used to denote the introduction of Bills, Papers or Subordinate Legislation into the Parliament by Ministers or Members who physically lay the items on the Table of the House.

Leader of the OppositionThe Leader of the Party who has the second largest majority of members, consisting of Members who do not support the Government.

Legislation Bills passed by the Parliament which as Acts become the State's laws.

Legislative Council The Upper House of Parliament in all States except Queensland, which has only a Lower House.

Lobby Attempting to influence the Government through representation to Members.  

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Mace A ceremonial staff representing the Speaker's, and hence the Parliament's authority, as derived from the Crown. The Mace is carried into and from the Chamber by the Sergeant-at-Arms.

Maiden speech The first speech in Parliament by a newly-elected member.

Mandate The authority given to a party winning Government by voters, to implement policies which were the subject of an election campaign; a commission to act for another.

Member of Parliament (MP) A Member of a House of Parliament, usually used to describe a member of a Lower House, in South Australia, the House of Assembly. Members of the Upper House – the Legislative Council – use the initialism of MLC (Members of the Legislative Council).

Minister A Member of Parliament who is a member of the Executive Government, and who is usually in charge of a Government department.

Ministerial Responsibility A Minister's collective responsibility, as a member of cabinet government, and individual responsibility, as the head of a department, to the Parliament and hence the people.

Minutes of Proceedings The official daily record of the Legislative Council's proceedings, as compiled by the Clerk and the Table Officers.

Money Bill A Bill which appropriates revenue or moneys or imposes any form of taxation.

Motion A proposal seeking a decision of the House, e.g. a motion "For leave to bring in a Bill".  

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Naming a Member A declaration by the Presiding Officer whereby a Member who obstructs the House Business, or disobeys a ruling, can be named, and subsequently suspended from the proceedings for a period of time.

Noes The votes of Members in a House who vote 'no'.

Notice A declaration of intent to the House by a Member to either move a motion or present a Bill on a specified day.

Notice Paper An official House document detailing the Business of the House for a particular day's sitting, and includes Notices and Orders of the Day.

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Oath of Allegiance A declaration, using God's name, made by Members of Parliament stating that they will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Sovereign (see also Affirmation of Allegiance).

Office of Parliamentary Counsel An office of legal officers who draft or prepare proposals for new laws.

Opening Speech A speech by the Sovereign, or their representative, the Governor, in which the reasons for the calling together of Parliament are given, the affairs of the State are reviewed and the Government's plans are outlined.

Opposition The next, largest party or coalition of parties after the Government majority party, which shadows the Ministry and can provide an alternative government.

Opposition backbencher A Member of Parliament who belongs to the Opposition Party, but who is not a Shadow Minister.

Optional Preferential Voting The process of voting in which electors have a choice of whether to mark a second or further preferences for other candidates, as well as their first preference (see also Preferential voting).

Order Behaviour in the Chamber in accordance with Standing and Sessional Orders, which is maintained by the Presiding Officer.

Order, Point of A right of Members to call to the attention of the Presiding Officer any breaches of order made during another Member's speech.

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Pair An arrangement between parties whereby two Members from opposing sides of a House do not vote on a particular occasion, so that one or both can be absent without affecting the result of the vote. Pairs granted are recorded in Hansard if a formal vote is required.

Papers The various reports and documents tabled during a Parliamentary sitting.

Parliament In Australia: an assembly of elected representatives, usually having an Upper and Lower House, which, with the Head of State (the Governor), makes the laws for the State.

Parliamentary Committee A group of Parliamentarians usually from all parties, who are responsible for certain functions, or who investigate and report back to the Parliament on particular issues, in most cases with recommendations.

Parliamentary Counsel A body of legal officers who draft or prepare the Bill format of proposals for new laws.

Parliamentary Librarian A permanent officer responsible for the Library, which provides information and research requirements for Members and the various committees.

Parliamentary Privilege The protection accorded to the Parliament, its Members, and its publications in order to assure the right of freedom of speech.

Parliamentary Procedures The body of rules by which the Parliament functions, that have evolved from traditional practice, the Standing Orders and the precedents of Presiding Officers' Rulings.

Parliamentary Term The four year period stipulated in the South Australian Constitution over which the Parliament can no longer continue from the first meeting of the House after an Election.

Pecuniary Interest Under the Standing Orders, a Member cannot vote in a House on a matter involving a direct pecuniary interest. By Resolution of each House, all Members are required to detail their pecuniary interests in a register.

Personal Explanation A procedure which allows Members to provide to the Parliament an explanation regarding their particular statements or actions or the rebuttal of statements or actions of which they are aggrieved.

Petition A document presented to a House of Parliament by a person or group of people asking for action on a matter; a formal request. An ancient right by which citizens can have their grievances brought to the notice of the Parliament by a Member on their behalf.

Point of Order See Order, Point of.

Political Party An organised group of people seeking political power through endorsed candidates at elections.

Portfolio A Minister's area of responsibility as a member of Cabinet.

Prayers The traditional beginning to the sitting day, usually recited by a Presiding Officer.

Preferential Voting A voting system whereby voters are required to cast votes in a preferential order for all candidates (see also Optional preferential voting).

Premier The leader of the Parliamentary majority party and the Chief Minister in the State Government.

President The Member who is elected by the Legislative Council as its Presiding Officer.

Presiding Officer A Member of Parliament elected to preside over, or be in charge of, the business proceedings and administration of a House of Parliament. In the Legislative Council the Presiding Officer is called the President and in the House of Assembly, the Speaker.

Press Gallery (1) The journalists who report the Parliamentary proceedings for the media; (2) the gallery above the Chamber set aside for their use.

Pressure Group A group of people with a common interest or issue, who seek to influence a Government without themselves aspiring to direct political representation.

Private Member's Bill A Bill introduced by any Member as an individual and who is not a Government Minister.

Proclamation An official public announcement, made by the Governor and published in the Government Gazette.

Prorogue (the Parliament) To end a Session of Parliament and so discontinue meetings of the Houses until the next Session.

Public Gallery The Gallery or seated area above the Chamber from which the public can watch the Parliamentary proceedings.  

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Question Time A set, daily period of time in the Parliament providing an opportunity for Members to ask questions of Ministers without notice, concerning their portfolios.

Question on Notice A written question listed on the Notice Paper asked of a Minister which is answered in writing.

Question without Notice A Question asked orally of a Minister where the Minister usually has no warning of the content of the question (otherwise known as Question Time).

Quorum The necessary number of Members needed to be present in the Chamber for the conduct of Parliamentary business.

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Readings (of a Bill) The Three formal stages of a Bill's passage through Parliament:

Redistribution A new division of an area into electorates with the result that boundaries of some existing electorates are moved.

Referendum A vote by all voters on a particular question(s). In Australia it is nearly always a public vote on a proposed law to change the Constitution.

Resolution A Resolution is an expression of the opinion of the House or of its intention to take a certain course of action.

Royal Assent The final stage by which a Bill becomes an Act when the Governor, as the Sovereign's representative, accords it formal approval.

Royal Commission A group of people commissioned by the Parliament to inquire into various issues, and report their findings back to the Parliament.

Royal Prerogative. The Governor's discretionary (rarely used) powers, acting as the Sovereign's representative, to dissolve the House of Assembly and to appoint and dismiss Ministers.

Rulings A ruling is a decision or determination made by the Chair on a matter to do with the business or operation of the House.  

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Safe seat An electorate in which the support for a Member or Party is such that the Member or representative of that Party is very likely to be elected.

Secret Ballot First introduced in Australia in 1856, a system by which electors are entitled to privacy when casting their votes.

Select Committee A group of Members from either House or both Houses, appointed to inquire into and report on a particular subject. A select committee ceases to exist when it has made its final report to the House or Houses of Parliament.

Senate The Upper House of the Federal Parliament of Australia.

Senator A member of the Australian Senate.

Sergeant-at-Arms An officer of the House of Assembly who carries the Mace at the beginning of each sitting day or for other procedural or ceremonial occasions, including the Opening of Parliament and escorting the Governor. By direction of the Speaker, the Serjeant-at-Arms maintains order and decorum within the Chamber and its precincts, (see also the Usher of the Black Rod).

Session A period during the life of a Parliament between its opening and prorogation.

Shadow Minister An Opposition frontbencher who is the party spokesperson for an area of responsibility that matches a Minister's portfolio.

Sovereign The King or Queen of Australia.

Speaker (of the House of Assembly) The Member who is elected by the House of Assembly as its Presiding Officer.

Stages of a Bill There are four formal stages of a Bill's passage through Parliament:

Standing Orders The printed rules, adopted by the House and approved by the Governor, which regulate procedure, debate and the conduct of Members in the Chamber.

Sub Judice A convention by which the House excludes debate, motions or questions on any matter awaiting or under adjudication in a court of law.

Suffrage The right to vote at elections. See Franchise.  

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Table A table situated in front of the Speaker's Chair in the Chamber, at which the Clerk and Table Officers sit in order to record the daily business of the House and provide procedural assistance to the House.

Treasurer A senior Government Minister, heading the Treasury Department, who is responsible for the State's economic and financial matters plus the preparation, presentation and supervision of the State's budget.  

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Unparliamentary language Words used in a House which the Presiding Officer judges to be offensive or disorderly, and which are usually required to be withdrawn.

Usher of the Black Rod An officer of the Legislative Council (named after the rod of black Ebony wood they carry) who has special duties on ceremonial occasions, including the Opening of Parliament and escorting the Governor. By direction of the President, the Usher of the Black Rod maintains order and decorum within the Chamber and its precincts (see also Serjeant-at-Arms).

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Voices, On the The initial method of voting by Members in the Parliament for or against a motion by exclaiming "Aye" or "Noe". If the vote is contested, a Division is called.

Vote (1) The method by which the House determines the outcome of Motions and can be either on the Voices or by the calling of a Division; (2) the method by which the State's electors choose their Parliamentary representatives.

Vote of Confidence An important motion, usually by the Leader of the Opposition, which requires the Government to prove it has the House's confidence in terms of numbers. By convention, a Government which loses a vote of confidence is expected to resign.

Votes and Proceedings The official daily record of the House of Assembly's proceedings, as complied by the Clerk and the Table Officers.  

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Whip A Party manager in Parliament who is responsible for organising Members of his or her Party to take part in debates, votes and divisions, and who assists in arranging the business of a House of Parliament

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Acknowledgement of Country

The Parliament of South Australia acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the traditional owners of this country throughout Australia, and their connection to land and community. We pay our respect to them and their cultures and to the Elders both past and present.