This politics glossary contains terms and concepts relevant to Australian government, parties, elections and political processes. This page contains words from ‘E’ to ‘K’. This glossary is written and maintained by lawgovpol.com authors:
An election is a process where eligible citizens cast votes to select political representatives.
An electoral commission is an organisation responsible for organising and conducting elections. The roles of an electoral commission include registering voters and parties, managing and reviewing electoral boundaries, training election staff and overseeing elections. Australian Federal and State electoral commissions are government-funded but independent of governments.
An electoral system is a method for collecting, counting and distributing votes, in order to decide who is elected. In other words, electoral systems convert raw votes to results. There are several different electoral systems in use, both in Australia and worldwide.
An electorate is a geographical area, roughly equal in population, that elects a representative to a parliament. Electorates are also known as divisions or seats.
Constitutional powers belonging solely to the Federal parliament and not the States.
Explicit powers are law-making powers that are specifically outlined in the text of a constitution or legislation.
explicit rights (see express rights)
Express rights are rights that are clearly and definitively protected in the wording of a constitution.
Federal government (see Commonwealth government)
Federalism is a political system with more than one level of government, where powers are divided or shared between those levels. Australia is a federalist system because the Commonwealth or national government shares powers with the State governments.
Federation is the act of combining separate political entities to form a single state or nation. An example of this was the Federation of Australian colonies in 1901 to form the Commonwealth of Australia.
A filibuster is a parliamentary speech of great length or any similar delaying tactic, designed to delay voting on a bill. Filibusters are occasionally seen in the United States Congress but are rare in Australia, where time limits apply to most parliamentary speeches and debates.
first past the post
‘First past the post’ is a simple electoral system where the candidate with the most votes wins, regardless of whether they have achieved an absolute majority.
The first reading is the formal introduction of a bill into parliament. The bill’s short and long title are read aloud and the bill is added to the parliamentary schedule.
Foreign aid is assistance provided to foreign nations, in the form of money, food, supplies, military aid or training. Foreign aid is intended to support development, assist with disaster relief, enhance trade and economic connections and strengthen regional stability.
Foreign policy describes the decisions and agenda of the Federal government with regard to other nations, our region and the world at large.
The franchise is the right to vote in elections.
Freedom of Information (FOI)
Freedom of Information (FOI) laws guarantee citizens the right to access to information held by a government, provided the citizen has a ‘need to know’ and that the release of this information does not jeopardise public safety.
A gag is a parliamentary tactic where majority parties can prevent a particular topic from being raised or debated.
A gerrymander is the corrupt practice of re-drawing electoral boundaries to deliberately benefit specific candidates or parties. The term comes from early 19th-century American politician Elbridge Gerry.
government of the day
The government of the day is the political party or coalition of parties with a majority in the lower house of parliament. This majority entitles the party to form a government and appoint ministers.
A governor is a vice-regal officer who represents the Crown at State level. The governor performs several roles including signing bills into law, issuing writs for elections and swearing in government ministers.
The governor-general is a vice-regal officer who represents the Crown at Commonwealth level. The governor-general performs several roles including signing bills into law, issuing writs for elections and swearing in government ministers.
guillotine (or closure)
A guillotine is a parliamentary tactic where the majority party votes to halt debate on a bill or other measure.
The High Court of Australia is the superior court in our Federal and State court hierarchies. The High Court is the highest court of appeal and is responsible for examining the constitutional validity of laws, as well as matters involving constitutional interpretation.
House of Assembly
The House of Assembly is the lower house of the State parliaments of South Australia and Tasmania.
House of Representatives
The House of Representatives is the lower house of the Australian Federal Parliament, where the majority party forms the government of the day.
house of review
The house of review is the second house in a bicameral parliament or assembly. It reviews legislation and provides additional representation for the people. The term ‘house of review’ is sometimes used to specifically refer to the Senate or State upper houses.
How-to-vote cards are pamphlets distributed by political parties during elections. They show voters how the party wants them to allocate their preferences when voting.
Human rights are core rights that protect individuals from harm, exploitation and imposition by governments or other parties. They include the right to life and liberty, as well as freedom from discrimination and persecution.
A hung parliament describes a situation where one party or party coalition lacks the numbers for an absolute majority in the parliament. This party must then rely on the backing of minor parties and/or independents, in order to form a government.
Implied rights are rights considered to exist in a constitution or legislation, though they may not be explicitly part of the text. Implied constitutional rights are derived from constitutional interpretation, as evident in some decisions of the High Court of Australia.
Industrial relations refers to the area of government policy concerned with labour, unions and workplace management.
An informal vote is a ballot paper or vote that is invalid and therefore not counted. An informal vote occurs when the ballot paper is incorrectly completed or has been defaced.
interest group (see lobby group)
A joint committee is a parliamentary committee that contains members from both houses of parliament.
The judiciary is the branch of government concerned with upholding, enforcing and examining the law. Under the separation of powers, the judiciary is considered to be independent of the executive and legislative branches.
A jurisdiction is a geographical region and/or area of law where a particular parliament, court or authority has the power to pass and enforce laws.