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About Parliament | History | State symbols | Chartist checkbox | Did you know?

About Parliament

Victoria Parliament

Victoria's Parliament consists of an Upper House (Legislative Council) and a Lower House (Legislative Assembly), where the government of the day is formed.

There are currently 40 Members of the Legislative Council (MLCs), five from each of eight electoral regions. Members are elected to the Legislative Council for a term of four years using a proportional representation voting system with a single transferable vote (similar to elections for the Australian Senate). The 88 Members of Victoria's Legislative Assembly (MLAs) are elected from each of the State's 88 electoral districts. Members serve for one term (four years), and elections for both Houses are held on the same day. A majority preferential voting system is used to elect the members of the Legislative Assembly.

Vacancies in the Legislative Assembly are filled by holding a by-election in the former member's electorate, while casual vacancies in the Legislative Council are filled by a joint sitting of the two Houses to elect a nominated candidate.

Elections for the Victorian Parliament are held on the last Saturday in November, four years after the previous election. Voting in Victorian State elections is compulsory for all citizens aged 18 years and over.


Europeans first came to Victoria in the early 1800s, with the majority of permanent European occupants arriving in the 1830s. In 1836, the colonial government in Sydney named the settlement the Port Phillip District of New South Wales.

The district had some limited representation from 1843, when the New South Wales Legislative Council, the body that advised the Governor, was increased from 30 to 36 members to include six men from Port Phillip. One of these men was from Melbourne, and five from the rest of what is now Victoria.

Victoria became a separate colony in 1851. The first legislature was a 30-member Legislative Council, which advised the Lieutenant-Governor of the colony, CJ LaTrobe. All members were men and only 20 of them were elected, with the remaining 10 chosen by LaTrobe.

The first Legislative Council wrote Victoria's Constitution. This gave the colony responsible government and a fully elected bicameral parliament. The new Parliament consisted of a Legislative Council of 30 members, elected by property owners, and a Legislative Assembly of 60 members elected by a wider section of the male population, including minor landowners, rent payers and gold-diggers. All men acquired the vote in 1857 and all women were entitled to vote from 1908.

State symbols

The Victorian Coat of Arms was granted in 1910 by King George V. It comprises a shield bearing a representation of the Southern Cross supported by two female figures, one holding an olive branch and the other the mythological cornucopia or 'horn of plenty'. These objects are symbols of 'peace and prosperity', which is the state motto.
The Victorian flag was first proclaimed in February 1870. It was gazetted in 1877 and amended in 1901. It consists of the blue ensign with the Union Flag and the State Badge.
The State Badge shows the Southern Cross and the St Edward's Crown. The design of the badge is changed with the style of crown chosen by the King or Queen of Australia. The last change was made in 1953, after Queen Elizabeth II chose the St Edward's Crown for her Coronation in 1953.
Victoria's Parliament House is located in central Melbourne and is one of the city's best known landmarks. The site was chosen in 1851, and the large sandstone building was constructed between 1856 and 1893.
The official colours of Victoria are blue and silver.
The common (pink) heath was made the State Floral Emblem of Victoria in 1958.
The Leadbeater's possum was made the State Animal Emblem of Victoria in 1971.
The helmeted honeyeater was made the State Bird Emblem of Victoria in 1971.

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Chartist checkbox

The Chartist checklist was a series of demands for responsible and representative government that spread throughout the Australian colonies from the mid-19th century.

Victorian (Self-government from 1856)

Democratic right Date right achieved for Assembly
Universal adult male suffrage 1857
Secret ballot 1856
Annual Parliament Not implemented
No property qualifications for Members of Parliament 1857
Payment of Members of Parliament 1870
Equal electorates 1982 Electorates can vary by 10%
Adult female suffrage 1908
Voting rights for Indigenous Australians Indigenous men received the right to vote with other British subjects in the 1850s. Aboriginal women acquired the right on the same terms as other women in 1908. Other prohibitions and qualifications, and bureaucratic interpretation, however, sometimes conspired to deny Indigenous people the exercise of their right.

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Did you know?

  • When 20 Members were elected to the first Victorian Legislative Council in 1851, only men who owned a certain amount of land in the colony or who paid substantial rent were allowed to vote.
  • Victoria's Parliament was the first in the world to approve the use of the secret ballot for elections. It was used to elect the first Victorian Parliament in 1856.
  • Women were granted the right to vote in elections for the Victorian Parliament in 1908, 13 years after their counterparts in South Australia and six years after they were allowed to vote in elections for the Commonwealth Parliament.
  • The federation movement received strong support in Victoria. Melbourne was the most important business, financial and industrial city in Australia. With federation and the end of border duties, Victorians anticipated growth in business with the rest of the country.

Parliament of Victoria

Victorian Electoral Commission

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