How the Australian Parliamentary System works
It is important to understand how Victoria’s Parliament works and how to vote in its elections to make your vote effective.
In Victoria, you democratically elect candidates to parliament to represent you and to review and make laws on your behalf every four years.
These candidates are usually – but not always – members of political parties. Political parties can become the Victorian Government if a majority (at least 45) of their candidates get elected. The largest party not able to form government is called the Opposition. A party without a majority can form government if it makes an alliance with enough other parties and candidates to have a majority.
Candidates who do not belong to a party are called independents. Independents and members of smaller parties that are elected and do not join the government or the opposition are sometimes called the Crossbench.
Candidates who are successfully elected are called Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) or Members of the Legislative Council (MLC). They either represent a certain district or ‘electorate’ in the Legislative Assembly or one of 8 regions in the Legislative Council.
The Victorian Parliament is made of two parts called houses:
The Legislative Assembly (Lower House)
Made up of 88 members. This is where laws are made and the state budget is passed. The Premier, the leader of a government, is elected in this house.
The Legislative Council (Upper House)
Made up of 40 members. This is where laws passed by the Legislative Assembly are reviewed.
Voting for candidates in both houses is important because they both have an important role in government decision-making. Both houses need to agree before new laws are made.
For more information, visit the Victorian Parliament website.