How the Australian Parliamentary System works

Understanding the Australian Parliamentary System and how to vote in the House of Representatives and in the Senate is important for making your vote effective.

In Australia, candidates are democratically elected to the Parliament to represent the Australian people and to make laws on their behalf.

The Australian Federal Parliament is made up of two houses:

The House of Representatives (Lower House)

Made up of local Members of Parliament (MPs)

Source: Parliamentary Education Office (

The Senate (Upper House)

Made up of Senators who represent the states and territories of Australia

Source: Parliamentary Education Office (

The party, or group of parties, who have the support of more than half of the MPs in the House of Representatives, becomes the Government and chooses the Prime Minister.

Voting for candidates in both houses is important, because both houses play an important role in decision making. Both houses must agree before new laws are made. For more information, visit the Parliamentary Education Office website.

You will be given two ballot papers:

  • The green ballot paper is for the House of Representatives
  • The white ballot paper is for the Senate