Australian Electoral Commission
What is voting? Voting is a chance for everyone to have a fair say in today’s democracy, we are given choices and we decide on who or what will make our life better. We elect Representatives who make decisions in Parliament for us. We vote with a secret ballot system. This allows us to vote in a way where we can not be told what to do or who to vote for, it also allows you to have some choices. This is a democratic way to choose what happens around us. But there are a few rules for Australian voting; you can ONLY vote once, this allows everyone to have a fair say, you MUST be 18 years of age so you are then fully matured, you MUST to be an Australian citizen and last of all you need to be enrolled to the Australian voting site.
This gives everyone a fair chance to have their say in the Australian democracy. We as Australians use our voting system to elect our representatives for each state or territory. They then go to the House of Representatives where they debate and question laws, public issues and other such things. Our representatives act on our behalf, they help make Australia a democracy. We were luckily given a great opportunity to learn all about this and more at the Electoral Educational Centre.
By Sophie & Lily
Canberra is home to very important building called Parliament House. This the home of the Federal Government. It is where important decisions are made and is built of different natural materials from the different states.
There is lots of Tasmanian wood, mostly in the Senate. Outside the building is a large Aboriginal painting that is symbolic of a meeting place. Parliament house is a meeting place for the Prime Minister and other politicians who go there to pass laws and help us in our everyday life. They are guided by the Australian Constitution. Parliament house is so special in many ways and I think it is important to have it here in Canberra as a national meeting place.
Anzac parade represents the main axis that runs through Canberra from Parliament HOUSE TO WAR M. There are many different memorials that also represent all the people who have fought in Australian Wars with New Zealand. ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. There were memorials dedicated to nurses that served, Gallipoli, the first World War and Second World War. Even though we were at war with Germany in WW1 we are still able to put the past behind us and fly our flags side by side. The ANZAC parade represents all the alliance we have made and those that are yet to be made as alliance are also crucial for successful relationships.
By Zac and John
House of Representatives
The House of Representatives (Reps) is divided into parties by the amount of seats they have. The Liberal party are a part of a Coalition and have 75 seats and one speaker and the opposition have 69 seats. The seats are from Federal divisions and each state has 12 Representatives for each division.
The House of Reps have Question Time to ask questions about what the leading party is doing. Question Time is for the public to know what our politicians are doing to run the country . The House of Reps also pass bills. If the leading party were to pass a bill they need to have a majority vote which is over 50%. If the bill is passed it then goes through the Senate. If it passes the Senate without change it goes straight to the Governor-General but if it is altered it comes back to the House of Reps for another vote. So to conclude the House of Reps have Question Time to ask questions about how the country is being run and they also vote whether to pass bills. The House of Reps are voted in by the public and represents the community’s view. That is the job of the House of Representatives.
The Senate is in Parliament House on the west wing. The Senate is the darkest red from the ground and when it goes up the red lightens. Laws come from the House Of Reps and then the Senate decides on whether they should become a future law. If the law gets passed it goes back down to the House Of Reps. These laws keep our democracy in shape. In the Senate there are 76 seats where 12 senators from each state and 2 senators from each territory.
At the front of Senate chamber the is a chair where the President of the Senate sits. Behind that there is a chair for the Governor-General and the chair on the right of the Governor-General is a chair for any important person visiting. The Senate also houses the opening of parliament when everyone from the House Of Reps sits on the side of the Senate chamber every three years. So the Senate is a something that our democracy needs to have so that it keeps running and stays healthy.
By Thomas Watson
-Great Charter in Latin
At Parliament House we were lucky enough to visit a copy of the Magna Carta! There was lots of information but I am just looking at one particular piece.
Firstly the Magna Carta was written more than 700 years ago in England.
King John was not obeying his own rules and so the people wanted to change that and so King John had to write the Magna Carta and agree to the new rules and regulations. Magna Carta is a foundation of the start of a working democracy and also a responsible government!
By Leilani Challis
National Portrait Gallery
We had the privilege to go to the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra. It is filled entirely with Australian art by Australian artists. We learnt that different emotions are essential for paintings and you can see small symbols in the clothing and settings. For example, a light bulb is in the background which symbolizes bright ideas. People need to be free to do what we want to (legally) do. We enjoy the freedom of speech, freedom to vote and freedom of religion in our Australian version of democracy.
The National Portrait Gallery is important because it acknowledges the people who make a big difference in the world e.g. influence the young to be artists or whoever the portrait is of. For example, there is an amazing piece of artwork of Cathy Freeman and potentially anyone could be inspired to be a runner. When you see someone’s portrait and read their story it can take you to different places when you are still standing on the same spot. In a democracy you have to be yourself and you have the freedom of speech and to fight for what you want. The National Portrait Gallery relates to democracy because in drawing and creating you have to express yourself as in Parliament. You have to have reasons for why you want it to happen, who’s going to make it happen and when it is going to happen. You have the freedom to truly express yourself and make a difference.
We have embassies and High Commissions to represent the different countries of the world to show how our countries communicate and respect each other.
All Commonwealth countries have the same head of state as Australia which is the Queen, however not all embassies are Commonwealth countries, these are called High Commissions.
The embassies are all very close to the Parliament House which is where the Prime Minister works in Australia.
Embassies and High Commission’s develop relationships with the Federal Government in Trade and Immigration.
By Ella and Charlotte
Chatting with His Excellency the Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove was one of the highlights of our trip. We are very thankful that he gave up his time to talk with us and to talk about his role as the Queens’ Representative in Australia. All laws have to be approved by the Governor General before they are officially proper laws. He spoke to us about his charity work and how close he is to the troops. A working democracy looks like a very organised Government that’s run by the people, for the people, with the people.