Victorian Legislative Council

Last updated

Legislative Council
59th Parliament
Coat of Arms of Victoria.svg
Type
Type
History
Founded1851;171 years ago (1851)
Leadership
Nazih Elasmar, Labor
since 18 June 2020
Deputy President
Wendy Lovell, Liberal
since 19 December 2018
Leader of the Government
Jaclyn Symes, Labor
since March 2020
Deputy Leader of the Government
Gayle Tierney, Labor
since September 2020
Government Whip
Nina Taylor, Labor
since October 2020
Structure
Seats40
2020.10.13 Victorian Legislative Council - Composition of Members.svg
Political groups
Government (16)
  Labor (16)

Opposition (10)
  Liberal (9)
  National (1)

Crossbench (13)
  Justice (2)
  Liberal Democratic (2)
  Animal Justice (1)
  Greens (1)
  Reason (1)
  Shooters, Fishers, Farmers (1)
  Sustainable Australia (1)
  Transport Matters (1)
  Independent (4) [lower-alpha 1]
Length of term
4 years
Elections
Single transferable vote with group voting tickets
Last election
24 November 2018
Next election
26 November 2022
Meeting place
Victorian Legislative Council.png
Legislative Council Chamber,
Parliament House, Melbourne,
Victoria, Australia
Website
Vic Legislative Council

The Victorian Legislative Council (VLC) is the upper house of the bicameral Parliament of Victoria, Australia, the lower house being the Legislative Assembly. Both houses sit at Parliament House in Spring Street, Melbourne. The Legislative Council 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.

Contents

The presiding officer of the chamber is the President of the Legislative Council. The Council presently comprises 40 members serving four-year terms from eight electoral regions each with five members. With each region electing 5 members using the single transferable vote, the quota in each region for election, after distribution of preferences, is 16.7% (one-sixth). Ballot papers for elections for the Legislative Council have above and below the line voting. Voting above the line requires only a '1' being placed in one box, and group voting tickets voting has applied since 1988. [1] Semi-optional voting is available if a voter votes below the line.

History

First Legislative Council

VLC electoral districts, 1851-1854 Victorian Legislative Council districts 1851.png
VLC electoral districts, 1851–1854

The separate colony of Victoria was proclaimed on 1 July 1851 and writs for the election of the first Legislative Council were issued at the same time for the 20 elected members. [2] The Legislative Council initially consisted of 30 members, 10 of whom were nominated by the Lieutenant-Governor and 20 were elected from 16 "electoral districts", with Melbourne electing three members, and Geelong and the county of Bourke electing two members each. [3] The electors were male British subjects over the age of 21 years, who owned freehold valued at £100 or a householder paying rent of £10 per year, [3] both very large sums at the time. Members of the Legislative Council were unpaid, further restricting participation of those without independent means. It took some time before the Legislative Council was elected and ready to sit. [4] The Legislative Council met for the first time in November 1851 at St Patrick's Hall, which had been built in 1847 in Bourke Street, Melbourne. [5] The Legislative Council sat there until the opening of the Parliament House in 1856. James Frederick Palmer was the presiding officer of the Council, then called speaker.

The Legislative Council was expanded in 1853 to 18 nominees and 36 elected members. [6] A further expansion of the Council occurred in 1855, when 8 new members were elected from five new electorates, with one new nominee. [7] [8]

The first Legislative Council existed for five years and was responsible for at least three significant and enduring contributions to the parliamentary system of Victoria:

The new constitution was approved by the Legislative Council in March 1854 and was sent to Britain where it was passed by the United Kingdom Parliament as the Victoria Constitution Act 1855, received Royal Assent on 16 July 1855 and was proclaimed in Victoria on 23 November 1855. [10] [11] The Constitution established a Westminster-style system of responsible government that continues in Victoria today. [12]

Second Legislative Council

VLC electoral provinces, 1856-1882 Victorian Legislative Council provinces 1856.png
VLC electoral provinces, 1856–1882

The new Constitution came into effect in 1856. It created a bicameral Parliament of Victoria, with the Legislative Assembly being the lower house and the Council being the upper house. The Council consisted of 30 members, with five members being elected from each of the six provinces. [13] The Parliament of Victoria first met on 21 November 1856 at the almost completed main sections of Parliament House. James Frederick Palmer was elected first President of the Council.

The Legislative Council was later elected from a varying number of provinces. In 1882, several new provinces were created while Central and Eastern were abolished. [14] In 1904, more provinces were created [15] and two members (MLCs) represented each province. The terms for members were two Assembly terms, and one member was elected in rotation at each election, by majority-preferential (AV) vote. Until 1950, the Legislative Council was elected on a restricted property-based franchise and always had a conservative majority.

Until 1958, elections for the Legislative Council were not held in conjunction with those for the Legislative Assembly, but starting at the 1961 election they have been held at the same time. Prior to the 2006 election, the Legislative Council consisted of 44 members elected for two terms of the Legislative Assembly from 22 two-member provinces. Half the members were elected at each election on a rotation basis. This old system tended to favour the Liberal Party and the National Party (often in Coalition) over the Labor Party and other parties; [16] [17] as the Liberal party's support was more evenly spread across the state, compared to Labor's wasted votes in already safe provinces. [18] This resulted in many instances of a Labor government being faced with an opposition-controlled Council – a rare occurrence elsewhere in Australia.

2003 reforms

The current eight regions of the Legislative Council. Regions of Legislative Council, Victoria.svg
The current eight regions of the Legislative Council.

The electoral system used to elect members of the Legislative Council changed for the 2006 Victorian election, as a result of major reforms passed by the Labor government, led by Steve Bracks, in 2003. [19] Under the new system the State is divided into eight electoral regions, each of which returns five members. These Legislative Council members serve terms linked to the Legislative Assembly, which has fixed four-year terms unless earlier dissolved in exceptional circumstances.

Each electoral region covers 11 contiguous Legislative Assembly electoral districts and has 420,000 electors.

Five regions are metropolitan (Melbourne and environs) (Eastern Metropolitan, Northern Metropolitan, South Eastern Metropolitan, Southern Metropolitan, and Western Metropolitan) and three are non-urban regions (Eastern Victoria, Northern Victoria and Western Victoria).

Since 2006, Legislative Council members have been elected using the single transferable vote system of proportional representation. Each region elects five members. The quota for a seat in each region is 16.7% (one-sixth), approximately 70,000.

Small parties never receive this amount on the First Count in Victoria's Legislative Council elections but through the vote transfers that are part of STV, some candidates of small parties do receive vote transfers from other small-party candidates and pass quota that way. STV thus results in an increase in the number of minor parties represented in the Legislative Council as compared to the Instant-runoff voting system. Under Instant-runoff voting, in 2002 for example, the traditional big three - Labour, Liberal and National - took all the seats - Greens with 314,000 voters overall did not take one seat. In 2006 the Greens took almost exactly the same number of votes that it had in 2002 and this time won three seats, just slightly less than its 10 percent of the vote should have given it proportionally. The Democratic Labour Party also won a seat, the first one it had won in 50 years. STV was such that the success for those two parties was achieved while at the same time Labour, Liberal and National parties each still took a number of seats.

At the same time, the Council's ability to block supply was removed.

Composition

Since the 2006 Victorian state election, the Legislative Council has had 40 members serving four-year terms, elected from eight electoral regions, each returning five members.

Prior to the 2006 election, the Legislative Council consisted of 44 members elected for two terms of the Legislative Assembly from 22 two-member provinces. Half the members were elected at each election on a rotation basis. The number of members was increased to 44 from 36 in 1976 and from 34 in 1967.

Property qualifications for voting in the Legislative Council were abolished for the 1952 Legislative Council election, increasing the number of eligible voters from 0.5 million in 1949 to 1.4 million in 1952, and resulting in a large increase in the number of Labor MLCs. However, Labor achieved a majority in the Council only at the 1985 and the 2002 elections.


Current distribution of seats

1 Adem Somyurek was originally elected as a member of the Labor Party, but resigned in June 2020 amidst allegations of branch stacking and other misconduct.
2 Bernie Finn was originally elected as a member of the Liberal Party, but was expelled in May 2022 for "a series of inflammatory social media posts". Finn joined the Democratic Labor Party shortly afterwards.
3 Kaushaliya Vaghela was originally elected as a member of the Labor Party, but resigned in March 2022 over claims of bullying against her by other members of the party.
4 Catherine Cumming was originally elected as a member of Derryn Hinch's Justice Party, but resigned from party shortly after the 2018 election upon losing the party's post-election leadership ballot.

See also

Notes

Related Research Articles

Politics of the Australian state of Victoria takes place in the context of a constitutional monarchy with a bicameral parliamentary system, and like other Australian states, Victoria is part of the federation known as the Commonwealth of Australia.

Electoral systems of the Australian states and territories are broadly similar to the electoral system used in federal elections in Australia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Victorian Legislative Assembly</span> Lower house of the Parliament of Victoria, Australia

The Victorian Legislative Assembly is the lower house of the bicameral Parliament of Victoria in Australia; the upper house being the Victorian Legislative Council. Both houses sit at Parliament House in Spring Street, Melbourne.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">New South Wales Legislative Council</span> Upper house of the Parliament of New South Wales

The New South Wales Legislative Council, often referred to as the upper house, is one of the two chambers of the parliament of the Australian state of New South Wales. The other is the Legislative Assembly. Both sit at Parliament House in the state capital, Sydney. It is normal for legislation to be first deliberated on and passed by the Legislative Assembly before being considered by the Legislative Council, which acts in the main as a house of review.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">South Australian Legislative Council</span> Upper house of the parliament in South Australia, Australia

The Legislative Council, or upper house, is one of the two chambers of the Parliament 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Parliament of Victoria</span> Bicameral legislature of the Australian state of Victoria

The Parliament of Victoria is the bicameral legislature of the Australian state of Victoria that follows a Westminster-derived parliamentary system. It consists of the King, represented by the Governor of Victoria, the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council. It has a fused executive drawn from members of both chambers. The parliament meets at Parliament House in the state capital Melbourne. The current Parliament was elected on 24 November 2018, sworn in on 19 December 2018 and is the 59th parliament in Victoria.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Parliament of South Australia</span> Bicameral legislature of the Australian state of South Australia

The Parliament of South Australia is the bicameral legislature of the Australian state of South Australia. It consists of the 47-seat House of Assembly and the 22-seat Legislative Council. General elections are held every 4 years, with all of the lower house and half of the upper house filled at each election. It follows a Westminster system of parliamentary government with the executive branch required to both sit in parliament and hold the confidence of the House of Assembly. The parliament is based at Parliament House on North Terrace in the state capital of Adelaide.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Western Australian Legislative Council</span> Upper house of the legislature of Western Australia

The Western Australian Legislative Council is the upper house of the Parliament of Western Australia, a state of Australia. It is regarded as a house of review for legislation passed by the Legislative Assembly, the lower house. The two Houses of Parliament sit in Parliament House in the state capital, Perth.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Australian Greens Victoria</span> Political party in Australia

The Australian Greens Victoria, commonly known as the Victorian Greens or just as The Greens, is the Victorian state member party of the Australian Greens, a green political party in Australia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eastern Metropolitan Region</span> Electoral region of the Victorian Legislative Council

Eastern Metropolitan Region is one of the eight electoral regions of Victoria, Australia, which elects five members to the Victorian Legislative Council by proportional representation. The region was created in 2006 following the 2005 reform of the Victorian Legislative Council.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2002 Victorian state election</span>

The 2002 Victorian state election, held on Saturday, 30 November 2002, was for the 55th Parliament of Victoria. It was held to elect the 88 members of Victorian Legislative Assembly and 22 members of the 44-member Legislative Council.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">South Eastern Metropolitan Region</span> Electoral region of the Victorian Legislative Council

South Eastern Metropolitan Region is one of the eight electoral regions of Victoria, Australia, which elects five members to the Victorian Legislative Council by proportional representation. The region was created in 2006 following the 2005 reform of the Victorian Legislative Council.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2006 Victorian state election</span> Election in Victoria, Australia, in 2006

The 2006 Victorian state election, held on Saturday, 25 November 2006, was for the 56th Parliament of Victoria. Just over 3 million Victorians registered to vote elected 88 members to the Legislative Assembly and, for the first time, 40 members to the Legislative Council under a proportional representation system. The election was conducted by the independent Victorian Electoral Commission.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Southern Metropolitan Region</span> Electoral region of the Victorian Legislative Council

Southern Metropolitan Region is one of the eight electoral regions of Victoria, Australia, which elects five members to the Victorian Legislative Council by proportional representation. The region was created in 2006 following the 2005 reform of the Victorian Legislative Council.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2010 Victorian state election</span>

The 2010 Victorian state election, held on Saturday, 27 November 2010, was for the 57th Parliament of Victoria. The election was to elect all 88 members of the Legislative Assembly and all 40 members of the Legislative Council. The incumbent centre-left Labor Party government, led by John Brumby, was defeated by the centre-right Liberal/National Coalition opposition, led by Ted Baillieu. The election gave the Coalition a one-seat majority in both houses of parliament.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2008 Western Australian state election</span>

The 2008 Western Australian state election was held on Saturday 6 September 2008 to elect 59 members to the Legislative Assembly and 36 members to the Legislative Council. The incumbent centre-left Labor Party government, in power since the 2001 election and led since 25 January 2006 by Premier Alan Carpenter, was defeated by the centre-right Liberal Party opposition, led by Opposition Leader Colin Barnett since 6 August 2008.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2014 Victorian state election</span>

The 2014 Victorian state election, held on Saturday, 29 November 2014, was for the 58th Parliament of Victoria. All 88 seats in the Victorian Legislative Assembly and 40 seats in the Victorian Legislative Council were up for election. The incumbent centre-right Coalition minority government, led by Liberal Party leader and Premier Denis Napthine and National Party leader and Deputy Premier Peter Ryan, was defeated by the centre-left Labor Party opposition, led by Daniel Andrews. The Greens won two lower house seats, their first Legislative Assembly seats in a Victorian state election, whilst increasing their share of upper house seats. The new Andrews Ministry was sworn in on 4 December 2014.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Electoral regions of Victoria</span> Electoral divisions of the Victorian Legislative Council

Members of the Victorian Legislative Council, the upper house of the Parliament of the Australian State of Victoria, are elected from eight multi-member electorates called regions. The Legislative Council has 40 members, five from each of the eight regions.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2018 Victorian state election</span> Election for the 59th Parliament of Victoria

The 2018 Victorian state election was held on Saturday, 24 November 2018 to elect the 59th Parliament of Victoria. All 88 seats in the Legislative Assembly and all 40 seats in the Legislative Council were up for election. The first-term incumbent Labor government, led by Premier Daniel Andrews, won a second four-year term, defeating the Liberal/National Coalition opposition, led by Opposition Leader Matthew Guy. Minor party the Greens led by Samantha Ratnam also contested the election.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2025 Western Australian state election</span>

The 2025 Western Australian state election is scheduled to be held on 8 March 2025 to elect members to the Parliament of Western Australia, where all 59 seats in the Legislative Assembly and all 37 seats in the Legislative Council will be up for election.

References

  1. http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/vic/bill/crb1988520.pdf [ bare URL PDF ]
  2. "Anniversary of the Week". The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956) . Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia. 4 July 1930. p. 2 Supplement: Saturday Camera Supplement. Retrieved 26 January 2012.
  3. 1 2 "Victorian Electoral Act" (PDF). New South Wales Government. 1851. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  4. A City Lost and Found
  5. Australian Dictionary of Biography: Jackson, Samuel (1807–1876)
  6. Sweetman, p.108
  7. Sweetman, p.110
  8. "An Act to further alter "The Victoria Electoral Act of 1851" and to increase the Number of Members of the Legislative Council of Victoria" (PDF). 1855. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
  9. Payment of Members Act 1870 (Vic)
  10. "Victoria Constitution Act 1855" (PDF). Retrieved 5 May 2013.
  11. "Altering Victoria's Constitution". Fact Sheet D3: Altering Victoria's Constitution. Parliament of Victoria. October 2010. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
  12. "Victoria Constitution Act 1855". An Act to enable Her Majesty to assent to a Bill, as amended, of the Legislature of Victoria, to establish a Constitution in and for the Colony of Victoria. Parliament of the United Kingdom. 1855. Archived from the original on 12 March 2011. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
  13. Edward Sweetman (1920). Constitutional Development of Victoria, 1851-6. Whitcombe & Tombs Limited. p.  183 . Retrieved 5 June 2013.
  14. Victoria Parliamentary Debates (Hansard), Session 1882 (PDF). Vol. 41. Melb.: John Ferres. 1883. p. 2670.
  15. Victoria Parliamentary Debates (Hansard), Session 1904 (PDF). Vol. 107. Melb.: R. S. Brain. 1905.
  16. "Victoria's unexpected minority". Inside Story. 3 September 2010. Retrieved 16 November 2020. [...] before the 2002 election the Labor Party had enjoyed a majority in the Legislative Council for a grand total of three months (in 1985),
  17. "Will Bracks live to regret this reform?". The Age. 15 July 2005. Retrieved 16 November 2020. Through the 1980s, Labor actually managed to win a few state elections on the trot - but still without control of the upper house, except in 1985 when bizarre circumstances conspired to give a bare majority to Labor for a few short weeks, before normal service was resumed.
  18. Rodan, Paul. "Not quite as expected: Victorian Labor and the Legislative Council 2010" (PDF). Australasian Study of Parliament Group. Autumn/Winter 2012 Vol 27.1. While earlier malapportionment had given way to a version of ‘one-vote-one value’ (with a ten per cent tolerance), the distinctive population distribution of metropolitan Melbourne continued to disadvantage the ALP as it stored up majorities in safe western and northern metropolitan provinces while losing to the Liberals where it mattered most. [...] the Liberals, due to the geographical dispersal of party support in the Melbourne metropolitan area, could secure upper house majorities even when they polled far fewer votes than the ALP, as in the period of the John Cain (junior) government, elected in 1982.
  19. Constitution (Parliamentary Reform) Act 2003

Further reading