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The Origins of the Queensland Parliament

The Queensland Parliament can trace its origins back to the British parliamentary or Westminster system. Because Britain was the colonising nation and the majority of Queensland’s early settlers were of British ancestry, it was a natural consequence that the colony’s legislature would be based on the British model.

The term "parliament" is derived from the French word "parler" (to speak or parley) and was first used by Matthew Paris of St Alban’s to describe a great council of prelates, earls and barons in the 13th century. Meetings were held at the Palace of Westminster, which was the monarch’s residence from the reign of Edward the Confessor (1042–1066) to Henry VIII (1509–1547). Over the succeeding years, the British Houses of Parliament were established on the site (hence the term Westminster system).

By the 19th century, the British Parliament had asserted its authority over the monarch and had evolved into the constitutional institution not far removed from its present day format. The British Parliament is comprised of two Houses of Parliament – the House of Lords (Upper House) and the House of Commons (Lower House). A Cabinet-led Government headed by a Prime Minister has responsibility for passage of the nation’s laws and control over the Government’s finances.