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Parliament in an election year

Terms of Parliament

Queensland has fixed four-year terms of Parliament. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, a term of parliament will continue for four years until it expires. When the Parliament expires it is referred to as a ‘dissolution’. A general election is held after the Parliament dissolves.


Dissolution of Parliament and general election

The polling day for ordinary general elections is the last Saturday in October in the fourth year after the previous general election.

The Governor must dissolve the Parliament 26 days before the polling day.

The Governor dissolves the Parliament by making a proclamation. The proclamation is published in the Queensland Government Gazette.


Effects of the dissolution of Parliament

The dissolution of the Parliament has the following effects:

  • All business before the House on the Notice Paper lapses, with the exception of notices of disallowance.
  • Any Sessional or other orders cease to have effect.
  • All committees, except for the Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee, cease to exist.

Bills passed by the Legislative Assembly prior to dissolution may still be presented for assent after dissolution. However, the practice is to try to ensure that all Bills passed during the session are assented to prior to the dissolution proclamation being signed.


Writ for election

At the same time as dissolving the Parliament, the Governor will issue a writ for the general election. This is also published in the Queensland Government Gazette. The writ is the authority for the Electoral Commission of Queensland to carry out the election. The writ includes the following information:

  • the day of the issue of the writ
  • the cut-off day for closing the electoral rolls
  • the cut-off date for candidate nominations
  • the polling day, and
  • the day the writ is to be returned.

The timeframes in the writ are set out in the Electoral Act 1992. Further information about voting and the conduct of elections can be found on the Electoral Commission of Queensland’s website.


After the election

The candidate who wins the majority of votes in each electorate becomes the Member of Parliament for that electorate. This is commonly referred to as winning a seat in Parliament.

The political party (or coalition of parties) that wins the majority of seats (at least 47) forms the Government. The leader of that party or coalition becomes the Premier.

The party (or coalition of parties) with the next highest number of seats forms the Opposition. The leader of that party (or coalition of parties) is called the Leader of the Opposition.

Any remaining members (whether they are in a political party or not) form what is called the ‘cross-bench’.

The results of the election are delivered to Parliament with the return of the writ, and are published in the Queensland Government Gazette.


The new term of Parliament

The Governor will make a proclamation to summons the new Parliament to meet at a date and time advised by the new government.

When the new Parliament meets for the first time after an election it is often referred to as the ‘Opening of Parliament’. The program usually occurs over a number of days and includes:

  • the official swearing in of members
  • the election of a Speaker of the House
  • the presentation of the Speaker to the Governor, and
  • the official opening by the Governor, and
  • the commencement of the debate replying to the Governor’s opening speech called the ‘Address in Reply’.


Sitting calendar

The calendar for the days the Parliament sits is issued by the member known as the ‘Leader of the House’. The calendar is only indicative and subject to change. The Parliament itself decides when its next sitting day will be when it determines its Sessional Orders and through special adjournments. Special adjournments are routinely agreed to on the last sitting day for the week and sets the date for the upcoming sitting week.


Further information

Terms of parliament and elections are governed by the Constitution of Queensland 2001 and the Electoral Act 1992.

Frequently asked questions during election periods are available here.

Further detail is also contained in the Parliamentary Procedures Handbook.


Get involved

The proceedings during the opening of parliament are available to view on Parliament TV. A transcript of the proceedings are also published online.


Timeline of events

Below is a breakdown of key events for Parliament during an election year.

Election Timeline


Click here for Frequently Asked Questions during an election period.