Role of a Senator

The role of a Senator is to:

  • Represent the views of their state in the Senate;
  • Scrutinise the work of the Government;
  • Introduce and debate legislation;
  • Work on Senate Committees to analyse information from community organisations, lobby groups and members of the public on specific issues or legislation;
  • Present petitions; and,
  • Take part in Senate Estimates hearings. 

Passing and debating bills

Most bills are introduced into the House of Representatives and then sent to the Senate. Bills may commence in the Senate, except for money and tax bills. 

Most bills are introduced by government ministers; however, other members of parliament can introduce their own bills, known as private members' or private senators' bills.

There are a number of stages that a bill must go through before it becomes a law:

 Senate Process1a

Source: Parliamentary Education Office

A bill will become law when it has been passed, in identical form, in both Houses of Parliament and given Royal Assent by the Governor-General.

Senate Estimates

One of the functions of the Parliament is to scrutinise the work of the Executive Government (Cabinet and Ministry, led by the Prime Minister). While the Government is responsible for raising and spending public money, it cannot spend money without the approval of both houses of Parliament. Through estimates hearings, the Parliament can find out how the Government plans to raise and spend money. On this basis, the Parliament may chose to approve or reject government spending across certain areas.

Senate Estimates hearings occur three times a year - in February, May (following the Budget) and October.

Petitions

A petition is a request by a group of citizens for the Senate to note a certain issue or take action to resolve it.

Petitions also need to be formatted in a specific format, otherwise the Senate won’t accept them. If you would like Stirling to submit a petition on your behalf, please contact his electoral office prior to collating the petition.