Victorian Legislative Council

From Academic Kids

The Legislative Council, or upper house, is one of the two chambers of the Parliament of Victoria, Australia. The other is the Legislative Assembly. Both sit in Parliament House in Spring Street, Melbourne. It serves as a house of review, in a similar fashion to its federal counterpart, the Australian Senate. Although it is possible for legislation to be first introduced in the Council, most bills receive their first hearing in the Legislative Assembly.

The Council was created in 1851, four years before the Assembly, and today has 44 members serving eight-year terms. They represent 22 Electoral Provinces, with two members representing each Province. This system had favoured the Liberal Party of Australia over the Australian Labor Party and minor parties, such as the Australian Greens. This had caused many incidences where a Labor-controlled Assembly has faced a hostile Council - a rare occurrence elsewhere in Australia.

This system is due to change at the next election, as a result of major reforms passed by Steve Bracks' Labor government in 2003. Under the new reforms, members will serve fixed four-year terms, unless the Assembly is dissolved sooner. The state will be divided into 8 regions. Each region will consist of 11 contiguous Legislative Assembly districts and elect 5 members of the Legislative Council by the single transferable vote. The reforms also remove the ability of the Council to block supply, and introduce proportional representation. The reforms will likely improve the chances of minor parties gaining the balance of power at the expense of government dominance of both houses.

See also

Current distribution of seats

PartySeats Held
Australian Labor Party25
Liberal Party15
National Party4
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