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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

New South Wales Legislative Council
Type Upper house
President Amanda Fazio, Labor Party
since 24 November 2009
Members 42
Meeting place
Legislative Council of NSW.jpg
Parliament House, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

The New South Wales Legislative Council, or upper house, is one of the two chambers of the parliament of New South Wales in Australia. The other is the Legislative Assembly. It sits at Parliament House in the state capital, Sydney. Although it is possible for legislation to be first introduced in the Council, most bills receive their first hearing in the Legislative Assembly.

The Council has 42 members, elected by proportional representation, as with the equivalent federal chamber, the Australian Senate. Each member serves an eight-year term, with half the Council coming up for election every four years.



The Legislative Council was created by an act of the British Parliament in 1823, and was established in 1824 as the first legislature in Australia - a five-member advisory council, which first met on the 24 August 1824. It grew to seven members in 1825, and between ten and fifteen in 1829. In 1842, under the Constitution Act 1842, the Legislative Council was expanded to 36 members, of which 12 were appointed by the Governor in the name of the Crown, and the remainder elected from amongst eligible landholders. The Australian Colonies Government Act 1850 saw the separation of the southern portion of the colony, with the creation of the new colony of Victoria in 1851. There were now 54 members of the Legislative Council, with two thirds elected. The Council presided over the drafting of a new state constitution in 1853, which three years later saw a major change in its role - the creation of a bicameral parliament, with most legislative power being granted to a fully-elected Legislative Assembly, and a Council that would act as a house of review, entirely appointed by the Governor. Under the powers of this Act, the colony of New South Wales finally attained full responsible government.

In 1925, 1926 and 1929, Premier Jack Lang made attempts at abolishing the Legislative Council, but all were subsequently unsuccessful. The debate did, however, result in another round of reforms, and in 1933, the law was changed so that a quarter of the Legislative Council was elected every three years by members of the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council, rather than being appointed by the Governor.

In 1978 the Council became a directly elected body in a program of electoral reform introduced by the Wran Labor government. The number of members was reduced to 45, although transitional arrangements meant that there were 43 members from 1978–1981, and 44 from 1981–1984. Further reform in 1991 by the Greiner Liberal government saw the size of the Legislative Council cut to 42 members, with half (21) being elected every 4 years.

As with the federal parliament and Australian other states and territories, voting in the election to select members for the Council is compulsory for all New South Wales citizens over the age of 18. Every four years half the seats in the house come up for election on the fourth Saturday in March, exceptional circumstances notwithstanding, as the result of a 1995 referendum.

The Queen of Australia has a Throne in the Legislative Council, and has twice presided at the State Opening of Parliament in NSW.

Party Politics

Proportional representation guarantees a representation of minor parties in the Legislative Council. In the 1999 elections, a record number of parties contested seats in the house, resulting in an unwieldy ballot paper (dubbed the "bedsheet ballot", the "tablecloth ballot" and the "ballot paper from hell"). Party registration requirements have since been made more restrictive (ie, requiring more voters as members), reducing the number of parties contesting elections so that only 3 minor parties are now represented in the Legislative Council.

Current Distribution of Seats (2007-2011)

Party Seats held Current Council
2007 Now
Australian Labor Party 19 19                                      
Liberal Party of Australia 10 10                                      
National Party of Australia 5 5                                      
The Greens 4 4                                      
Shooters Party 2 2                                      
Christian Democratic Party 2 1                                      
Family First Party 0 1                                      
  • Gordon Moyes was appointed in 2003 as a member of the Christian Democratic Party to fill the casual vacancy caused by Elaine Nile's resignation from the Legislative Council. Having been expelled from the party in March 2009, he sat as an independent until November 2009 when he joined the Family First Party.

Presidency of the Legislative Council

From 1846-1856 the title was Speaker of the Legislative Council.

Name Term of Office
Sir Charles Nicholson 20 May 1846 – 29 February 1856
Sir Alfred Stephen 20 May 1856 – 28 January 1857
John Hubert Plunkett 29 January 1857 – 6 February 1858
Sir William Westbrooke Burton March 1858 – 10 March 1861
William Wentworth 24 June 1861 – 10 October 1862
Sir Terence Aubrey Murray 14 October 1862 – 22 June 1873
Sir John Hay 8 July 1873 – 10 January 1892
Sir John Lackey 26 January 1892 – 23 May 1903
Sir Francis Bathurst Suttor 23 May 1903 – 4 April 1915
Frederick Flowers 27 April 1915 – 14 December 1928
Sir John Beverley Peden 5 February 1929 – 22 April 1946
Sir Ernest Farrar 30 April 1946 – 16 June 1952
William Edward Dickson 18 August 1952 – 22 May 1966
Sir Harry Budd 9 August 1966 – 5 November 1978
Johno Johnson 7 November 1978 – 3 July 1991
Max Willis 3 July 1991 – 29 June 1998
Virginia Chadwick 29 June 1998 – 5 March 1999
Dr Meredith Burgmann 11 May 1999 – 2 March 2007
Peter Primrose 8 May 2007 – 17 November 2009
Amanda Fazio 24 November 2009 – present

See also


External links



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