South Australian Legislative Council

From Academic Kids

The Legislative Council, or upper house, is one of the two chambers of parliament in the Australian state of South Australia. Its central purpose is to act as a house of review for legislation passed through the lower house, the House of Assembly. It sits in Parliament House in the state capital, Adelaide.

It has 22 members elected for eight-year terms by proportional representation, with half the members facing re-election every four years. It is elected in a similar manner to its federal counterpart, the Australian Senate. Casual vacancies - where someone resigns or dies - are filled by a joint sitting of both houses, who then elect a replacement.

The Legislative Council was the first parliament in South Australia, having been created in 1840, seventeen years before the Assembly. It originally appointed by the Governor, and only served in an advisory capacity, as the governor retained almost all legislative powers. It was expanded slightly in 1843, when several prominent landowners were allowed to join. In the same year, proceedings were opened to the general public.

Public demand for some form of representative government had been growing throughout the 1840s, and this was reflected in a series of reforms in 1851, which created a partially representative Legislative Council. After the changes, it consisted of 24 members, four official (fulfilling what would be today ministerial positions) and four non-official members, both nominated by the governor on behalf of the Crown, and 16 elected members. The right to vote for these positions was not universal, however, being limited to propertied men. In addition, the reforms meant that the Governor no longer oversaw proceedings, with the role being fulfilled by a Speaker that had been elected by the members.

In 1856, the Legislative Council prepared what was to become the 1857 Constitution of South Australia. This laid out the means for true self-government, and created a bicameral system, which involved delegating most of its legislative powers to the new House of Assembly. While all adult males could vote in the new Assembly, the Council continued to limit voting rights to the wealthier classes. Women earned the right to vote in the Council at the same time as the Assembly, in 1894. However, it was only in 1973 that full universal suffrage was granted. As with all other states and territories, voting is compulsory for all those over the voting age of 18, but this was not implemented in the Council until 1985.

See also

Current Distribution of Seats

PartySeats Held
Australian Labor Party7
Liberal Party9
Australian Democrats3
Family First Party1

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