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

About Parliament

Tasmania Parliament

Tasmania has a bicameral Parliament made up of the Legislative Council (Upper House) and the House of Assembly (Lower House). The government of the day is formed in the Lower House. The Upper House is often called ´the House of Review´.

There are currently 15 Members of the Legislative Council (MLCs), each from single-member electorates. Members of the Legislative Council are elected, via a preferential voting system, for six-year terms. Elections are held annually on a rotational basis, with three members elected one year and then two the next, and so on.

There are 25 Members of the House of Assembly (MHAs). Each of the five electoral districts is represented by five members for a term of up to four years.

Members of the House of Assembly are elected using a type of proportional representation known as the Hare-Clark system. Voting in Tasmanian State elections is compulsory for all citizens aged 18 years or over who have lived in Tasmania continuously for at least six months.


The second permanent European settlement in Australia was established at Risdon Cove near Hobart in 1803.

Until 1856, Tasmania was known as Van Diemen's Land, named by Abel Tasman in 1642. Van Diemen had been a Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies.

Van Diemen's Land was made up of two colonies, the north and the south, which were both run from Sydney. The two colonies became one in 1812 and Van Diemen's Land became a separate colony with its own governing body in 1825.

In 1850, the British Parliament passed the Australian Colonies Government Act, giving Van Diemen's Land its first representative government. The membership of the Legislative Council was increased to 24; eight of these members were chosen by the Governor and 16 were elected by adult men who owned land or paid rent in the colony.

In 1854, the Constitution Act was passed by the Legislative Council, giving the colony responsible government and a bicameral parliament. It was given royal assent in 1855.

In 1856, the name of the colony was changed to Tasmania and elections were held for the new Parliament; but it was not until 1900 that all adult men acquired the right to vote. The first Tasmanian Parliament opened in December, with Mr WTN Champ as the first Premier.

The new Legislative Council had 15 members. The newly formed House of Assembly had 30 members representing 24 electoral districts. All districts had one member each, except Hobart, which had five, and Launceston, which had two.

By 1903, all adult men and women in Tasmania could vote in House of Assembly elections but it was not until 1968 that the same rights were introduced for Legislative Council elections.

State symbols

The Tasmanian Coat of Arms was granted in 1917 by King George V. It shows two Tasmanian tigers supporting a shield topped by a lion. The Latin motto ‘Ubertas et Fidelitas’ means ´Fruitfulness and Faithfulness´.
The Tasmanian flag became official in 1975, but its design is the same as that of the Tasmanian flag of 1875. It has the blue ensign with the Union Flag in the corner and the State Badge.
The State Badge, approved by the Colonial Office in 1875, has a red lion on a white disc. The lion shows Tasmania's historical ties with England.
The Tasmanian Parliament House is located on the edge of Hobart's city centre. It was built between 1834 and 1840 in the Georgian Colonial style.
In 1962, the blue gum was declared the State Floral Emblem of Tasmania.

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Chartist checklist

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

Tasmania (Self-government from 1856)

Democratic right Date right achieved for Assembly
Universal adult male suffrage 1901
Secret ballot 1858
Annual Parliament Not implemented
No property qualifications for Members of Parliament 1901
Payment of Members of Parliament 1890
Equal electorates 1974 (Electorates can vary by 10%)
Adult female suffrage 1903
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 as the franchise was widened in some colonies and States. 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?

  • Tasmania is the only State to use the same electorates for both federal and State Lower House elections.
  • The number of representatives that each State and Territory is allowed in the Commonwealth House of Representatives is determined by their population. Although Tasmania's population entitles it to four representatives, it has five. This is because Section 127 of the Australian Constitution says that each of the six original States should have at least five representatives.
  • Its small population was a concern for Tasmanians during the constitutional conventions of 1898-99. Tasmania did not want the new federal Constitution to favour the larger, more populated States after federation.

Parliament of Tasmania

Tasmanian Electoral Commission

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