Summary information on parliamentary government, elections and periods in office

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Summary information on Parliamentary Government in New South Wales

Parliament is the key institution in the system of representative government in the state of New South Wales. It is the link between democratic elections and the formal machinery of state government, and the forum through which government is held accountable to the people of New South Wales; see parliamentary system. Although the general role of parliament is clear, the structure and operation of parliament in New South Wales has a number of distinctive features:

Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council

These two chambers of the New South Wales Parliament have very different histories and perform different functions. The relations between the chambers have sometimes been stormy and there were several attempts to abolish the Legislative Council before its reconstitution as a directly elected chamber in 1978.

The Legislative Assembly has been the most important link between the people of New South Wales and their government since the members of the Legislative Assembly were first elected in 1856. Under a parliamentary system, governments must gain and maintain support from a majority of members elected to the Legislative Assembly.

The Legislative Council began as an advisory body to the governor of the colony of New South Wales, and predates the coming of self-government for the colony in 1856.

The New South Wales Legislative Assembly and parliamentary support for governments

This website has information on the New South Wales Legislative Assembly and the pattern of support that governments have had in the Assembly since 1856. The information is summarized in the table and subject headings set out below:

Sources and references

The summary information on this page has been compiled from records in the Australian Government and Politics Database at the University of Western Australia. The individual records for each general election and period in office in New South Wales -- available through this website -- include references to sources and references. The Government of New South Wales sponsored a wide range of publications on New South Wales politics and government as part of the celebrations in 2006 for 150 years of self-government in New South Wales, (see Sesquicentenary of responsible government in NSW), which provide more detailed information on the history, politics and government of New South Wales than is available from this website.

Much more information on parliament in New South Wales can be found in David Clune and Gareth Griffith, Decision and Deliberation: The Parliament of New South Wales 1856-2003, (Sydney: Federation Press, 2006, ISBN 186287591X); and Anne Twomey, The Constitution of New South Wales, (Sydney: Federation Press, 2004, ISBN 1862875162) which are the sources for much of the material on this webpage.