The Parliament of Victoria
Victoria is governed by a parliament.
It operates under a 2-house system, also known as a bicameral system.
The 2 houses are:
- the Legislative Assembly (Lower House)
- the Legislative Council (Upper House).
Members of both Houses are elected for a fixed 4-year term.
The Lower House:
- has 88 members
- is voted in by electorates known as districts.
The Upper House:
- has 40 members
- is voted in by electorates known as regions.
How government is formed
The government is chosen from elected members of parliament. The party that has the support of the majority of members from the Lower House forms government.
What parliament does
- represents the people of Victoria
- supports the formation of government
- passes legislation
- approves the government’s budget appropriations
- scrutinises the actions of the executive government.
How laws are made
Parliament has the power to make or change laws.
A Bill can be introduced in either House, but it’s usually the Lower House that introduces it. To become a law, it must be passed by both Houses.
Learn more about how a law is made.
How parliament operates
A sitting day involves debates over a range of issues. The day starts with bells ringing in Parliament House to call members to the Chamber.
Different rules apply to each time of debate, including time limits on speeches. The media and general public can attend or watch parliamentary sittings online.
View the sitting day schedule.
During question time, members of parliament can ask the Premier or a minister a question. They must respond directly after the question is asked.
Almost all members of parliament attend question time, but it’s not mandatory. Ministers are expected to attend, but if they can’t, the Premier makes an announcement at the start of question time.
Read more about question time in Parliament.
Questions on notice
Questions on notice are written questions from members to a minister requesting detailed information. A minister must provide a response to a question on notice in writing.
Department of Parliamentary Services
The Department of Parliamentary Services helps members of parliament with:
- information technology services
- services and advice on conditions of employment and remuneration
- services related to training budgets, mobile phones and car fleet arrangements
- payments regarding office budgets and allowances
- library services such as media monitoring services.
The Department of the Legislative Assembly and the Department of the Legislative Council provide administrative and research support for their respective Houses of Parliament.
The Department of the Legislative Assembly is headed by the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly.
The Department of the Legislative Council is headed by the Clerk of the Legislative Council.
Read more about the departments that support parliament.
- include members of parliament from all parties, not just the elected government
- conduct investigations into specific areas.
There are 4 types:
- joint investigatory committees that include members of both houses
- standing committees that operate throughout the life of a parliament
- select committees that are set up for a specific purpose
- domestic committees that focus on the operations of parliament.
See the list of parliamentary committees.
Independent officers of parliament
Independent officers of parliament are responsible to parliament, not the government of the day. They are governed by specific legislation.
The independent officers of Parliament are the:
- Electoral Commissioner
- Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC) Commissioner
- Victorian Inspector
- Parliamentary Budget Officer.
The Auditor-General is responsible for monitoring how public sector agencies manage resources and services.
Learn more at audit.vic.gov.au.
The Ombudsman investigates complaints about administrative actions taken by:
- Victorian government departments
- statutory authorities
- officers of local government.
Learn more at ombudsman.vic.gov.au.
The Victorian Electoral Commission carries out the Electoral Commissioner’s statutory obligations.
It’s responsible for:
- maintaining the electoral enrolment register
- conducting Victorian Parliamentary elections, local council elections, certain statutory elections, commercial and community elections
- increasing the public’s awareness of, and engagement in, electoral matters.
Federal elections are conducted independently by the Australian Electoral Commission.
Learn more at vec.vic.gov.au.
The IBAC Commissioner is the head of IBAC.
IBAC investigates and exposes corruption and police misconduct.
Its jurisdiction includes:
- members of parliament
- state government
- local government
- the judiciary.
- has powers similar to a Royal Commission
- may conduct own-motion investigations
- assesses complaints made under the Public Interest Disclosures Act 2012
- informs the public sector and community about corruption and police misconduct and ways to prevent it.
Heads of public bodies have a legal obligation to report suspected corrupt conduct to IBAC.
Learn more at ibac.vic.gov.au.
The Inspector is the head of the Victorian Inspectorate (VI). The main role of the VI is to ensure that the agencies it oversees use their powers properly. The VI is required to monitor the use of coercive powers by each body it oversees.
Coercive power include powers to:
- examine witnesses
- make organisations provide documents as evidence.
It also has power to receive and investigate certain complaints made about:
- IBAC and its personnel
- Victorian Ombudsman officers
- Chief Examiner and Examiners
- Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner (OVIC) officers
- Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) officers.
The VI is required to:
- inspect and audit relevant records kept by the Public Interest Monitor (PIM)
- report to the minister and the Parliament on that inspection and audit.
It also has a compliance role in relation to covert powers.
Covert power includes power to:
- intercept telephone conversations
- place surveillance devices
- conduct controlled operations.
Learn more at vicinspectorate.vic.gov.au.
Parliamentary Budget Officer
The Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) was established in 2017 to:
- cost policy proposals
- provide financial advice independently of the government.
The PBO prepares:
- election policy costings
- pre-election reports and post-election reports
- costings of other policies or proposed policies at the request of a member of parliament
It also advises members of parliament on financial, fiscal or economic matters.