- Seven are appointed on the advice of the Prime Minister;
- Three are appointed on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition; and
- Three are appointed on the advice of the Prime Minister after he has consulted the organizations or interests which he considers the Senators should be selected to represent.
- To act as a House of review with responsibility for expressing second opinion in relation to legislative and other proposals initiated in the House of Representatives;
- To ensure proper consideration of all legislation;
- To provide adequate scrutiny of financial measures;
- To initiate non-financial legislation as the Senate sees fit: the Senate’s capacity to initiate proposed legislation effectively means that Parliament is not confined in its opportunities for considering public issues in a legislative context to those matters covered by bills brought forward by the executive;
- To probe and check the administration of laws and to keep itself informed and to insist on ministerial accountability for the administration of the Government;
- To provide effective scrutiny of Government and enable adequate expression of debate about policy and government programmes. As a parliamentary forum, the Senate is one place where a Government can be, of right, questioned and obliged to answer.
The House of Representatives was modelled on the British, and even now, in any matter of procedure not provided for by its own rules and practices, the rules and practices of the British House of Commons are followed.
The House of Representatives is the focal point of parliamentary activity and public attention, the grand forum of the nation, where major national and international issues are debated; where the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition may be seen in regular confrontation; where Cabinet Ministers defend the policies and conduct of their departments; where the nation’s business in freely and openly transacted, all that is said and done being faithfully recorded.
Parliament makes the laws and the House of Representatives plays the predominant part in making them. Any member can introduce bills, except bills involving expenditure or taxation, which can only be introduced by the government. Since the responsibilities of government now extend into almost every sphere of activity, and since most government action involves spending money (and raising it by taxes, fees, loans, and so forth), most of the time of the House is spent on Government Bills.
Every bill must pass both Houses and receive the Royal Assent before it becomes law. Assent is signified by the Governor General.
By law a general election must be held at least once every five years. However, Parliament may be dissolved and an election called before the statutory period has elapsed, and this is what normally happens. The power to dissolve Parliament is a royal prerogative exercised by the Governor General, normally on the advice of the Prime Minister.