What is the Legislative Council?
I'm glad you asked! I think it's an important part of every Tasmania's civic duty to know more about their Parliament, how laws are made and who represents them.
Below are some extracts from the Tasmanian Parliamentary Library, which is very rich in resources for yourself, your family, your kids, or your school.
Remember that the Parliament also retains a House of Assembly Education Office. You can find out more details here.
The Tasmanian Parliament
Tasmania is the second oldest Australian settlement, having been established at Risdon Cove on the River Derwent by Lieutenant John Bowen in September 1803. Shortly after Hobart's settlement, Colonel William Paterson established a settlement on the Tamar River in the north of the island. Until 1812 the colony was divided into two counties and administered separately from Sydney.
In that year Colonel Thomas Davey was appointed the first Lieutenant-Governor of the whole colony. Van Diemen's Land, as it was then known, became a colony under its own administration on 3 December 1825. The colony was administered by the Lieutenant-Governor and a Legislative Council of six members.
In 1856 the name of the colony was changed to Tasmania. In the same year responsible government was established and the present bicameral Parliament met for the first time. The Tasmanian Parliament has consisted of two Chambers - the Legislative Council (upper House) and the House of Assembly (lower House) - since then. The House of Assembly is the House of government and the Party that has the support of the majority of Members in this Chamber generally forms the State Government. The Legislative Council is seen as a House of review. Its primary role is providing a check on, and balance to, the lower House by providing additional scrutiny of legislation and decisions of the Government-dominated House of Assembly.
The Legislative Council
The Tasmanian Legislative Council is the upper house of the Parliament of Tasmania in Australia. It is one of the two chambers of the Parliament, the other being the House of Assembly. Both houses sit in Parliament House in the state capital, Hobart. Members of the Legislative Council are often referred to as MLCs.
The Legislative Council has 15 members elected using preferential voting in 15 single-member electorates. Each electorate has approximately the same number of electors. A review of Legislative Council division boundaries is required every 9 years, the most recent was completed in 2017.
Election of members in the Legislative Council are staggered. Elections alternate between three divisions in one year and in two divisions the next year. Elections take place on the first Saturday in May. The term of each MLC is six years.
The Tasmanian Legislative Council is a unique parliamentary chamber in Australian politics in that historically it is the only chamber in any state parliament to be majority non-partisan, with most of its members being independents. However, after the 2021 elections in Derwent, Mersey and Windermere, the chamber is now majority-partisan with 9 of its 15 members affiliated with either the Liberal or Labor parties.
Unlike other Australian state legislatures, the House of Assembly is elected from multimember districts while the Legislative Council is elected from single-member districts. The reverse is the case in most of the rest of Australia; that is, the lower house is elected from single-member districts while the upper house is elected from multi-member districts.