Glossary terms & Definitions

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Act (of Parliament)

definition

A law made by Parliament; starting as a bill which passes three stages (First, Second and Third Reading) in both Houses of Parliament and receives assent by the Governor.

Amendment

definition

An amendment is a proposed change to the wording of a motion or part of a bill. An amendment may seek to add, delete or change words.

If a member does not entirely agree with a motion or part of a bill in its original form, rather than just vote against it, the member might seek to amend it so that it becomes something that the member can support.

Assent

definition

Assent is the last stage in the legislative process by which a bill becomes an Act.

Once both Houses of the New South Wales Parliament agree on a bill, the bill is sent to the Governor of New South Wales for his or her assent. The law does not necessarily commence on the day of assent as the bill may include a commencement date which is different from the date of assent.

Backbencher

definition

Members of the government and opposition who are not Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries, Shadow Ministers or presiding officers.  The term refers to the benches on which they sit in the chamber.

Bicameralism

definition

A bicameral parliament consists of two Houses. Parliaments with only one chamber are described as unicameral. 

The New South Wales Parliament is bicameral, consisting of the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council. Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory have unicameral parliaments. In New South Wales, the two Houses are elected by different voting methods which results in significant differences in the representation of political parties in each House.

Black Rod

definition

The black rod is a symbol of authority placed in the Legislative Council chamber by the Usher of the Black Rod during each sitting day.

The Legislative Council’s black rod is made of ebony and silver, has a shield with the coat-of-arms, and is modelled on the black rod in the English House of Lords.  The black rod is also carried by the Usher of the Black Rod when performing important ceremonial duties, such as the opening of a new parliament, and when executing the direction of the President to remove a member from the Legislative Council Chamber.  

Budget

definition

The New South Wales Budget sets out the Government’s revenue and expenses for the coming year (July to June) and details what they intend to deliver to the people. The Budget starts as Appropriation Bills. When these bills become Acts the Parliament has authorised the Government’s proposed budget.

Budget Estimates

definition

Each year the Government hands down the Budget which is the estimated income and expenditure for the forthcoming year.

After the Budget has been delivered, the Portfolio Committees of the Legislative Council conduct inquiries into the Budget Estimates, with Ministers and senior public servants appearing at public hearings to answer questions about the expenditure, performance and effectiveness of their agencies. The Portfolio Committees can hold three rounds of Budget Estimates related hearings each year.  The Budget Estimates inquiry is an important process for ensuring government accountability and transparency.

By-election

definition

A special election held to fill the vacant seat of a member of the Legislative Assembly. By-elections occur in situations where a member has resigned, died or been removed.

Cabinet

definition

The Cabinet consists of all New South Wales Government Ministers. The Cabinet makes decisions about the policies the Government will adopt and implement, and the actions the Government takes.

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