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About Federal Parliament

The Parliament consists of two Houses (the House of Representatives and the Senate), and the Queen, represented in Australia by the Governor General.

The House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of Parliament and is sometimes called the People’s House or the house of government. The party, or parties, that hold a majority of seats in the House form government. There are currently 151 Members of the House of Representatives who each represent an electorate.

The five important functions of parliament are to provide for the formation of a government; legislate (make laws); provide the funds needed for government; provide a forum for popular representation; and scrutinise the actions of government.

Proposed laws, known as Bills, have to be passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate and then approved by the Governor-General before they can become Acts of Parliament. A proposed law can be introduced in either House, with the exception of laws relating to revenue and taxation, which can only be introduced in the House of Representatives. 

The role of a Federal MP is to be a spokesperson for local interests; a scrutiniser of the work of the government and how it spends money; and a contributor to debates on national issues. Members of Parliament also provide a direct link between their constituents and the Parliament. Many MPs spend most of their time advocating for their constituents and supporting their interests.