A Brief History Of The Australian Parliament

The Australian Parliament was originally established in 1901 with Edmund Barton as Prime Minister. It was opened by Prince George who later on became King George V. The Commonwealth Parliament was first opened in Melbourne, but in 1927 it was moved to Canberra, the new capital of Australia. In 1902, the Parliament approves a law which gives all women in the country the right to vote.

The number of Parliament members changed multiple times in the last century

The Constitution states that the House of Representatives should feature approximately twice more members than the Senate Chamber. Therefore, from 1901 until 1949, the House of Representatives had approximately 75 members while the Senate Chamber had only 36. However, with the passing of time, the number of members has increased in both Chambers.

Compulsory voting is implemented in 1925

This is the first time when compulsory voting is used on a federal election. All the Australians who are capable of voting were required to vote in an election. In 1911, the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1911 was approved in the Australian Parliament, and it stated that it is compulsory for all Australians to be on the electoral roll.

Australia’s most important historical moments took place in the Parliament building

From 1927 to 1988, the Australian Parliament was the house of multiple historical events of great significance. For example, Australian’s declaration of war against Japan took place in 1941 in the Parliament building. Similarly, the Gough Whitlam’s Labour Government was dismissed in 1975 and this was an important moment in Australia’s political history.

From 1949 to 1984, approximately 125 members occupied the House of Representatives while the Senate had 60. Since 1984, both chambers were expanded to accommodate more members and the House of Representatives were given 150 members while the Senate has approximately 75.

Radio broadcasts of Parliamentary meetings began in 1946

Radio National was the radio station who originally broadcasted Parliamentary meetings and conferences. These broadcasts started since 10 July 1946 and continue to this day. In August 1994, the broadcasts were outsourced to ABC NewsRadio, a special type of radio channel created by the government. This channel broadcasts 24/7 and when the members of the Parliament are not present, the radio station broadcasts news or various events.

The legal offence of contempt of Parliament

This is a legal offence active in the Australian Parliament for decades. Basically, if someone in the Parliament speaks in a contemptuous manner or behaves contemptuously, he can be convicted and imprisoned after a trial. The power to convict a contemptuous person was held by the Parliament back in the days, but now this power is outsourced to courthouses.

The Browne–Fitzpatrick privilege case held in 1955 is a good example of contempt in Parliament. Similarly, Harriet Swift was reprimanded in 2007 for behaviour which was considered to be contemptuous.

In 1959, the Parliament appears on television for the first time

The Australian Parliament is shown on television for the first time in 1959 when a short broadcast of the opening of the Parliament is filmed. Until this date, television wasn’t widely available for Australian citizens.

The first indigenous member enters the Australian Parliament in 1971

Neville Bonner is the name of the first indigenous Parliament member who filled a position in the Senate Chamber. In 1972, he is chosen to be the Liberal senator of Queensland.

The first televised event held in the Australian Parliament took place in 1974

The historic 1974 Joint Sitting event was the first televised Parliamentary event to be broadcasted to the large public. Since August 1990 regular broadcasts took place from the Senate Chamber and since February 1991 from the House of Representatives. These broadcasts consisted of Question Time and the first broadcast is showed live while the other one is recorded on tape and presented later on in the day.

Other types of televised broadcasts from the Australian Parliament include Leader of the Opposition’s reply and similar events. Nowadays, the Australians can also have access to live Parliamentary meetings directly from the internet.

The Australian Parliament was one of the largest buildings in the south hemisphere until 1980

The Parliament House stretches over a vast area and until 1980, it was considered to be the largest building in the south hemisphere. More than 10,000 Australian workers were used to erect this magnificent building. These workers frequently return to celebrate their accomplishment. When the Parliament House was built, many aspects were taken into consideration such as its size and grandeur. In 2010, the first female Prime Minister is elected

Julia Gillard is the name of the first female Prime Minister in the Australian Parliament. She was chosen as a leader by the Labour Party. In a similar fashion, the first 2 women elected in the federal Parliament were Dorothy Tangney and Enid Lyons. This happened back in 1943. Dorothy Tangney was a Labour Party senator and she represented Western Australia. On the other hand, Enid Lyons was a member of the United Australia Party and she represented the electorate of Darwin.

The first hung Parliament in Australia was formed in 2010

The 2010 elections resulted in the first hung Australian Parliament. This is a unique event in more than 70 years and after nearly 3 weeks of careful considerations; several independent party members choose to support the Labour Party to form a small government.

2015 is the year when the Australian Parliament possesses armed personnel

Officers of the Australian Federal Police armed with assault rifles are placed in both the House of Representatives Chamber and the Senate Chamber for protection purposes. This is the first time in the history of the Australian Parliament when such security measures are implemented.

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