The Australian Parliamentary Elections were conducted on 02.July.2016. Here is a run down about the Election process.

But first a little information about the Australian Government and Parliament Procedures.

In 1901 the Australian Constitution established the Australian Parliament, also known as the federal Parliament or the Commonwealth Parliament.

The Australian Parliament has four main roles:

  • Making and changing federal laws.
  • Representing the people of Australia.
  • Providing a place where government is formed.
  • Keeping a check on the work of the government.

Law-making

The Parliament makes new laws and amends existing laws. To make or amend a law, a bill (a proposed law) must be introduced into the Parliament. Most bills are introduced by ministers, although non-government members of parliament may introduce their own bills. Bills are debated and voted on by members of parliament.

A bill becomes a law if it is passed with a majority vote in the House of Representatives and the Senate and is given Royal Assent (approval) by the Governor-General. A law is then also known as an Act of Parliament. Each year, Parliament introduces about 200 bills and passes about 160 bills (see Bills and Laws). A bill is usually a response to a problem or a way to improve things for the people of Australia.

Representing Australians

Members of parliament represent the views and interests of Australians.

There are 150 members elected to the House of Representatives (also referred to as MPs). Each member represents one of the 150 electorates in Australia. On average, 100 000 voters live in each electorate.

Seventy-six senators represent Australian states and territories. There are twelve senators from each state and two senators from each territory.

Members of parliament represent their electorates or states/territories by finding out about people’s interests and concerns and by speaking about them in Parliament. Members of parliament assist constituents who may be having difficulties with issues such as pensions, migration and taxation.

Members of parliament also represent the people by considering how bills and decisions of Parliament will affect those in their electorate or state/territory.

Formation of government

The Parliament provides an institution in which the government is formed from the party (or coalition) with the support of the majority of members in the House of Representatives. As the government is made in the House of Representatives, it can also be unmade if it does not retain the confidence, or support, of the majority of members. Although the government is formed in the House of Representatives, both the government and opposition also have members elected to the Senate.

The government manages important national issues like trade, immigration or the environment. Laws passed by the Parliament are put into action by the government. The government also represents Australia internationally.

Checking the work of the government

The Parliament scrutinises the work of the government in several ways, including:

  • examining bills, in chamber debates and parliamentary committees
  • analysing government decisions in major policy debates
  • participating in Senate estimates hearings three times a year, to investigate how the government has spent tax-payers’ money
  • questioning the government each day at Question Time in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Parliamentary scrutiny helps to ensure the government acts responsibly when managing Australia’s affairs, spending public money and serving the interests of the people.

Source : Parliamentary Education Office

The House of Representatives , known as the people’s house, is where government is formed. It has 150 members, and the party or parties able to gain the support of the majority of the House form the government. The House’s other roles are to debate proposed laws, watch over government expenditure, including through its committee system, and to provide a forum for public debate on issues of national importance.
The Senate is a partner with the House in the legislative process, but is also a check on the government of the day. It consists of 76 senators – 12 from each state and 2 from each territory. The Senate conducts much of its work through an established committee system, including the budget estimates accountability process.

Below is a snapshot of the 2016 Elections:

Voting arrangements
▪ About 7000 polling places will be operating from 8am to 6pm on election day, Saturday, July 2.
▪ More than 600 early voting centres operated in the weeks leading up to election day.
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▪ Voting services will be available in 94 diplomatic missions around the world, enabling eligible Australians living, working or holidaying overseas to cast their vote.
▪ Australia House in London was the biggest polling place for the 2013 federal election, taking more than 15,000 votes.
▪ Forty-one mobile voting teams were to visit more than 400 remote locations across Australia by land, air and sea.
▪ Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) mobile voting teams will cover about 3.4 million square kilometres by road, air and sea.
▪ Information in 27 languages explaining how to vote will be available at every polling place.

Enrolment
▪ 15,676,659 Australians are enrolled to vote for the 2016 federal election. This compares with 14,712,799 in 2013.
▪ An estimated 816,000 eligible Australians are not enrolled for the 2016 election. This compares with an estimated 1.22 million in 2013. This equates to a rise from 92 per cent to 95 per cent participation.
▪ An estimated 254,432 18- to 24-year-olds aren’t enrolled to vote for the 2016 election – a participation rate of 86.7 per cent. This compares with an estimated 400,000 in 2013. Within this broader youth category, the participation of 18-year-olds has risen from about 50 per cent at the end of April to more than 70 per cent for the 2016 federal election.

Parties
▪ 57 parties are registered for the 2016 federal election. This compares with 54 in 2013.
▪ 33 parties registered a logo for the 2016 federal election.
Candidates
▪ 1625 candidates nominated for the 2016 federal election. This compares with 1717 in 2013.
▪ 994 candidates nominated for the House of Representatives for the 2016 election. This compares with 1188 in 2013.
▪ 631 candidates nominated for the Senate for the 2016 election. This compares with 529 in 2013.
▪ There are 1084 male candidates and 540 female candidates for the 2016 election. This compares with 1247 male and 470 female candidates in 2013.

Election resources
▪ More than 45 million ballot papers have been produced for the 2016 federal election.
▪ More than 60,000 ballot boxes have been produced.
▪ More than 120,000 voting screens have been produced.
▪ About 13,000 recycling bins have been produced.
▪ More than 100,000 pencils and about 140 kilometres of string are required.
▪ About 10 million households will have received the AEC’s publication Your Official Guide to the 2016 Federal Election.
▪ More than 75,000 polling official positions exist to service early voting centres, polling places on election day and for counting votes after the election. These staff are recruited, trained and undergo police checks.
▪ About 500 election call centre operators were trained to answer inquiries during the election period.
▪ More than 310,000 calls had been received for the 2016 federal election by June 23. This compares with 550,000 calls received in 2013.
▪ The election funding rate for candidates, if they achieve at least 4 per cent of the formal first preference vote, is 262.784¢ per vote.

Voting
▪ In the first two weeks of early voting more than 1.1 million people had voted.
▪ More than 1.4 million postal vote applications have been received by the AEC for the 2016 federal election.
▪ The rate of early voting traditionally increases towards election day.
▪ More than 3.7 million Australians (27 per cent) voted early (pre-poll, postal and mobile) for the 2013 federal election.
▪ More than 1.3 million postal vote applications were received for the 2013 federal election.
▪ In the 2007 and 2010 federal elections, the rate of early voting was 15 per cent and 18 per cent respectively.
▪ 2832 votes were cast via the AEC’s telephone voting solution for people who are blind or have low vision.

Electorate facts
▪ Geographically, Grayndler in NSW is the smallest electorate in Australia.
▪ Geographically, Durack in Western Australia is the largest electorate in Australia.

Culturally and linguistically diverse
▪ A range of advertising materials (including television, press and digital) are translated into 27 languages and 13 Indigenous languages.
▪ The AEC’s official guide to the election is translated into 27 languages, and is available in braille, large print and audio versions.
▪ A how-to-vote guide with information in 27 different languages is available on the AEC website.
Penalties for not voting
Failing to vote attracts a $20 penalty.
Failure to pay may lead to the matter being referred to court, where a fine of up to $180 plus court costs may be levied and a criminal conviction may be recorded.
Source: Australian Electoral Commission

Minor parties running for the Senate in NSW

When faced with the Senate ballot paper, you may be overwhelmed by a raft of names of unfamiliar parties. Here are some of them and what they stand for:

Health Australia Party
The HAP, which has won the coveted first spot on the ballot, is campaigning in enthusiastic defiance of modern medicine. It opposes the use of vaccines and water fluoridation, and would see alternative therapies put on equal footing as science-based medicine. “Even if you are dissatisfied with the performance of the major parties, please don’t vote for the Health Australian Party,” says the Australian Medical Association’s NSW president, Brad Frankum. “They are not experts, doctors, or particularly qualified to be advocating for people’s health.”

Family First Party
Though Family First describes itself as a secular organisation, it was founded by evangelical Christians in South Australia. It is sceptical of climate science and opposed to gay rights, abortion, surrogacy and native title. But unlike most conservative parties it opposes the so-called Pacific Solution, and would test asylum claims in Australia.

Liberal Democratic Party
Lead LDP candidate David Leyonhjelm has been active in the Labor Party, the Liberal Party, the Shooters Party and the Outdoor Recreation Party. In recent years he has focused on shrinking government and stripping regulations. Leyonhjelm managed to squeak into the senate in 2013 after a name change from the Liberty and Democracy Party to the Liberal Democrats. “He is probably the only senator elected because people mistook his party for another,” Fairfax Media reported at the time. “Looks like I’m going to be the senator for the donkeys,” Leyonhjelm said after the votes were tallied.

Pirate Party Australia
“Our name might seem silly at first,” begins the Q & A section on the Pirate Party’s website. The Pirate Party was formed in Sweden in 2006 in protest at the international crackdown on copyright infringements and online pirating. Today it has members in national and regional governments in Germany and the Czech Republic, and has led national polls in Iceland.

Sex Party
True to their name, the Sex Party has a swathe of policies on sexuality, including advocating for marriage equality, access to safe and legal abortion, and decriminalising sex work. Their broader platform includes policies for an Australian republic with an Australian head of state; the decriminalisation of personal drug use; legalisation of voluntary euthanasia; ending government funding for religious schools; and closing the Manus Island and Nauru detention centres.

Voteflux.org
Voteflux is the only party on the ballot to boast that its candidates have no views on any issue at all. Instead they will allow their votes in the nation’s house of review to be directed by members via an app.

Online Direct Democracy
Similar to Voteflux and formerly known as Senator Online, ODD seeks to give its members direct control over policy and voting using new digital technology. It probably doesn’t help the party that its founder in Australia and lead NSW candidate, Berge Der Sarkissian, was found by ASIC to have engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct to secure extra Telstra shares during part of the telco giant’s privatisation in 1999.

Democratic Labour Party
Like Family First, but with Catholics and unions.

Science Party
On the progressive end of the micro-party spectrum, the Science Party advocates doubling research funding, implementing the Gonski reforms and ending mandatory detention. Its leader, Dr James Jansson, sought – without success – to gather the progressives on a single ticket.

Australian Cyclists Party
Another progressive outfit that advocates improving cycling infrastructure and introducing what it calls a “legislated bias towards protecting vulnerable road users through improved enforcement”. That and a review of mandatory helmet laws.

Renewable Energy Party
REP founder Peter Breen first bounced from the Young Libs to the Bill of Rights Group to the Reform the Legal System party. He went on to join the Labor Party before founding the Human Rights Party, then worked as a staffer to Senator Ricky Muir of the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party alongside the preference whisper himself, Glenn Druery. After Muir turfed the two of them in 2014, Breen founded the Renewable Energy Party. He says the Greens’ platform is too broad and a single-issue party focused on new energy technology can contribute.

Australian Antipaedophile Party
Opposed to paedophiles and the Family Court. And, if you pay heed to its Facebook traffic, the Safe Schools Coalition which seeks to combat bullying of LGBTQI school students.

Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party
Fresh from a recent prison stint for breaching a court suppression order, Hinch is running on an anti-paedophile platform, but stresses he is not a single-issue candidate. He would like to see “more jail, less bail” – and more animal rights. Hinch has won the endorsement of his most famous former wife, Jacki Weaver, who on his website is reported as saying: “He’s honest. He’s decent. He’s got a good heart. Now that he’s not drinking, he’s really reliable.” Hinch has a chance at a Victorian seat, though his lead NSW candidate, Ken Stevens, is more of a long shot.

Rise Up Australia Party
After being turfed out of Family First in 2004 for “making demeaning comments about a minority group”, Catch the Fire Ministries pastor Daniel Nalliah has pursued his political interests via other channels. In 2007, Nalliah held a prayer meeting in Canberra to drive away evil spirits after the discovery of a “black mass altar” at Mount Ainslie. His Rise Up Australia Party opposes multiculturalism in favour of assimilation, in which foreign cultures “complement” rather than “override” Australian culture. It opposes Sharia law, tax and the climate change findings of “so-called scientists”.

Australian Liberty Alliance
Another of the parties competing with Pauline Hanson for the right-wing nationalist vote, the ALA has secured Angry Anderson as a NSW candidate. It is opposed to Islamic immigration, political correctness and Waleed Aly’s Gold Logie.
Source : www.smh.com.au

Further Reading : AEC, ELECTION FILES PDF, PARLIAMENT OF AUSTRALIA

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