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Decipher: Who Is Your Member of Parliament?

Talking to your local Member of Parliament is sometimes the best way to have your say in federal politics. But what is a Member of Parliament? How did they get to that position?

To answer some of these questions, we have created a fictional character. His name is Reginald Personson, and he lives in the town of Civilton, which is in the federal electorate of “Houghnice”.

Reginald and the Generally Pleasant Party

2-JointheGPPReginald Personson is an active and well respected member of his community.

Years ago, Reginald joined the local branch of the Generally Pleasant Party, as he was interested in many of their policies.

In the years since, Reginald has continued his involvement with the Generally Pleasant Party. He is quite well regarded by many members in the community, due to his pleasant nature and his willingness to listen to the problems of others.

The Federal Election is coming up. On election day, the members of the local community will elect their preferred candidate to represent them in the House of Representatives for the next three years.

The person representing an electorate in the House of Representatives is known as a Member of Parliament. In this case they would be the Member for Houghnice.

3-NewspaperAs Reginald is interested in running for Parliament, he decides to seek pre-selection as the Generally Pleasant Party‘s candidate.

Pre-selection is the process by which a political party selects which of its members will stand as its candidate at an election.

It is worth noting that every party has its own policy when it comes to pre-selections. For example, some parties may allow the entire membership a direct vote for their preferred candidate. Others may elect delegates to vote on behalf of the broader membership. Others still may allow the wider community to select their candidate in what is called a “primary.”

Election Time

4-BiscuitsThis year, Reginald wins the Generally Pleasant Party’s pre-selection. Reginald is excited about this, as he will have the resources of the wider Generally Pleasant Party at his disposal for his election campaign.

When the election is called, Reginald lodges his nomination to the electoral commission as the official candidate of the Generally Pleasant Party for the electorate of Houghnice.

Because he is the official candidate of the Generally Pleasant Party in Houghnice, the party’s name will appear next to his on the ballot paper, and he can use the party’s name in his electoral material.

5-RallyDuring the campaign, Reginald meets with people in his electorate and asks them what policies are important to them. He writes letters to the newspaper, appears in debates with other candidates, and the Generally Pleasant Party holds events such as barbecues and rallies to support him. Reginald talks to the people attending these events about how important he thinks niceness is to policy. Niceness is his area of expertise, and it is important to the people of Houghnice.

Reginald Personson is supported within his community, and the Generally Pleasant Party’s policies resonate with many of the people in Houghnice, who vote for Reginald as their preferred candidate.

Reginald is declared the winner, and when the Parliament next sits, he is sworn in as a Member of Parliament.

6-SpeechinParliamentAs the new Member for Houghnice, Reginald sits in Parliament with the Generally Pleasant Party, and represents the electorate of Houghnice. We will explore more of what Reginald’s new role will entail in a future blog post.

Who’s your local member?

If you have a concern regarding federal policy, often the best person to have represent your interests in Parliament is your local member. Do you know who your local member is?

In order to find out who your local member is, you must first know what electorate you live in. This is different to your city or town, as electorates are split up into (roughly) evenly populated geographical areas, so major cities will be made up of several electorates. You can enter your post code here to find your electorate.

Some Members of Parliament are high profile members, such as Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries. Do you know what your local member’s position within their party is?

To find out about how legislation is passed (the main responsibility of Members of Parliament), read through our previous Decipher blog post, How Is Legislation Passed?

Follow the link to read the next political Decipher blog post, Decipher: Parliamentary Committees

Written for Uniting for Change by Lachlan Macleod
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