By now, you would (we hope) be aware of the new ministry sworn in by the Governor last Tuesday. For the next Parliament, we now know that we will have four ministers in the Legislative Council, two of whom are female. If you followed our previous post, your next question might be: ‘how can the Legislative Council have a ministry before confirming its membership?’ Well, we cannot, but the newly elected Government can.
Section 35 of the Constitution Act 1902 stipulates that ministers are to be appointed by the Governor. In practice, these appointments are made on the advice of the Premier who is the leader of the Government in the Legislative Assembly. While you might have been led to believe (not by us obviously!) that ministers must be elected representatives, there is actually no such constitutional requirement. Therefore, as you have seen this week, the new ministry is born and sworn in before election results are finalised. Having said that, to date no minister has been appointed who has not been a member of either the Council or the Assembly.
You might wonder: if the Government is formed in the Assembly, why does the Government appoint ministers from the Council? Well, while there is no requirement to appoint a minister in the Legislative Council, it is important to have a minister to manage the government agenda, answer questions and provide clarification on policies. As a result, ministers and their representatives in the House, the Parliamentary Secretaries, maintain a roster to ensure a government presence in the House at all times.
Hopefully we have explained why the ministers of the Legislative Council can be announced ahead of confirmation of its membership. Now, stay tuned; we will update you on the Council membership next week, when the Electoral Commissioner presses the button to allocate the final preferences!