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Four-year Terms for the House of Representatives

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❶The Governor-general is not voted in, but is appointed by the Queen on the Prime mnister's recommendation.

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How will the new terms be decided?

This means that the Parliament does not run it's full term of 3 years. This occurred in when the Labor government of Gough Whitlam was famously forced out and Malcolm Fraser - then Liberal Party leader was made caretaker Prime Minister while the nation went to the poles in a Double Dissolution.

There is no set term. The term of a Parliament is 3 years between elections for the House of Representatives, but if a party keeps being re-elected and keeps the same leader, a Prime Minister can last for longer than that, perhaps much longer. The Prime Minister, after all, is not elected but appointed by the Governor-General as the leader of whichever party or coalition can command a majority in the House.

The standard term of a federal government in Australia is three years. As the Prime Minister is elected by his or her party and not the people, the Prime Minister does not have a set term; they can be removed at the party's behest at any time. The term in the Senate is six years.

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It is a blot on the face of a measure of this kind to require that the division of the senators into two classes after the first election shall be made by lot. I could understand that device being adopted in the absence of any other means of determining which senators should have the longer period.

But the poll itself ought to afford, or be taken to afford, a reasonable indication of the wishes of the electors in this respect, and it is a probable injustice, as well as a mistake, to fall back on the antique method of settling questions of the kind.

If the Drafting Committee think fit, they can adopt the method of providing that the three highest on the poll should have the six years' tenure. If that be the sense of the Convention, I will now simply submit my motion. This amendment was carried, leaving the Senate with the power to decide how the Senate is divided following a dissolution.

As you can see the founders of our Constitution argued that the wishes of the electors should be used to divide the Senate into their two groups. The traditional method used to divide the Senate is to decide who gets a long or short term based on the order of election.

This has meant that the Senators who have been elected in places have received long terms while those elected in places have received short terms. It has been argued that this method for dividing the Senate was sufficient when we had a majority voting system in the Senate, but that this is not the best method for splitting the Senate now that we use a proportional system.

To address this problem the Commonwealth Electoral Act was amended in to provide a new method for deciding long and short terms in the Senate after a double dissolution section This is known as the recount method. This method sees the vote counted to decide the 12 Senators elected and then recounted as if it was a normal half-Senate election.

The six Senators in each state that show up again in the recount are given the six year term, and the six that only showed up in double dissolution count are given the short term. We have had one double dissolution since this legislation was implemented. He says under the Order-of-Election method, it is also possible the Greens could win two long-term senators in Tasmania, Western Australia and Victoria. He says the method would be certain to deliver the Nick Xenophon Team two long-term senators in South Australia.

As an interesting aside — this double dissolution will almost certainly bring to an end to the long delay often experienced by new senators taking their seats. Had a normal election been held later this year, new senators wouldn't start until July But under double dissolution rules, the new Senate's term will be backdated only a day to July 1st this year. That means another Senate election would be due by July , bringing it into much closer alignment with the House of Representatives term.

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The Recount method

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In the election for example, the Australian Democrats received % of the vote and secured % (or 5) of the 40 available seats in the Senate. They received % of the vote for the House of Representatives, but were not successful in .

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After a double dissolution election, section 13 of the Constitution requires the Senate to divide the senators into two classes, with the first class having a three-year "short term", and the second class a six-year "long term".

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However, if the House of Representatives maximum term became four years, with no alteration of Senate terms, simultaneous elections would be much rarer. The question of Senate terms therefore cannot sensibly be avoided in any discussion of the possibility of extending House terms to four years. Australia has 76 senators, 12 from each state and two from both the Northern Territory and the ACT. State senators are usually elected to staggered six-year terms, with half of each state's senators facing the electorate every three years.

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So, 36 senators will get a three-year term and 36 senators will get a six-year term. For a normal election senators need to achieve a "quota" of one-seventh of the overall vote or per cent. For a double-dissolution election the "quota" that needs to be reached is much lower, one-thirteenth of the share or per cent. There is no fixed term of office for Senators in Australia. A Senator's term starts on the day of a general election for the House of Representatives and ends the day before the next such election.