|Congress of the United Cygnian States|
House of Representatives
since 6 February 1952
|Speaker of the House of Representatives||Anna Burke, Labour |
since 3 January 2017
|President of the Senate||Sue Lines, Labour |
since 3 January 2017
|Established||3 July 1793|
|Preceded by||Congress of the Empire|
|Members||386 (300 MCs, 86 Senators)|
|House of Representatives Political groups||HIM Government (154)|
HIM Most Loyal Opposition (140)
|Senate Political groups||HIM Government (35)|
HIM Most Loyal Opposition (32)
One Nation (2)
Liberal Democrat (1)
Palmer United (1)
|Last election||3 December 2016|
|Next election||5 December 2020|
|Federation Hall, Northam, TS|
The Congress of the United Cygnian States, commonly referred to as Congress or the Cygnian Congress, is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of Cygnia consisting of two chambers: the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in Federation Hall in Northam, TS. Both senators and representatives (also known as Members of Congress, or MCs) are chosen through direct election. Congress has 386 members: 300 MCs and 86 Senators. The Chancellor is traditionally the leader of the majority party in the House of Representatives.
The members of the House of Representatives serve four-year terms representing the people of a single constituency, known as a "Division", of which there are some 300. Divisions are apportioned to states by population using Federal Census results, provided that each state has at least one congressional representative. Each state, regardless of population and size, has four senators; territories have two each. Currently, there are 84 senators representing the 21 states, and another 2 representing Swan, the sole internal territory of Cygnia. Each senator is elected at-large in their state for an eight-year term, with terms staggered, so every four years approximately half of the Senate is up for election.
Article One of the Constitution states, "The legislative power of the Union shall be vested in a Federal Congress, which shall consist of a Senate, and a House of Representatives...". The Senate and the House are equal partners in the legislative process — legislation cannot be enacted without the consent of both chambers. However, the Constitution grants each chamber some unique powers. The Senate ratifies treaties, approves cancellarial appointments and serves as a house of review while the House is the originator of appropriation legislation. The House initiates impeachment cases, while the Senate decides them. A two-thirds vote of the Senate is required before an impeached person can be forcibly removed from office.
The term Congress can also refer to a particular meeting of the legislature. A Congress covers four years; the most recent one, the 58th Congress, began on 3 January 2017. The Congress starts on the third day of January every four years, and is formally dissolved on the first Friday of November three years after it begins. Members of the Senate are referred to as senators; members of the House of Representatives are referred to as MCs or Members.
The Federation Congress was first convened by King George III of the United Kingdom following his flight to the Cygnian colonies and the Proclamation of Federation in 1783. It was a gathering of representatives from the six British colonies in Australia.
The choice of title — Congress — was not considered to be a departure from the traditional Parliament. Rather, the term Congress was used to describe the new legislature as a homage to the Congress of 1781, a meeting of British Australia's governors and their aides, which resulted in the drafting of an early version of the Proclamation.
On 3 April 1785, the Federation Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, referring to the new nation as the "Kingdom of Cygnia". The Federation Congress became a permanent, unicameral body with members appointed by the state governments. The King became the head of state, and the legislature served as a collective executive body. The Chancellor — a title derived from the Lord Chancellor, the presiding officer of the British House of Lords — was elected by Congress to head the legislature, and he became the primary communicator of Congress' decisions to the King.
After the establishment of the Imperial Constitution in 1792, the Federation Congress was replaced by a bicameral legislature under the Westminster parliamentary system, although the name Congress was retained. The upper chamber, the House of Councillors, was an unelected body of members appointed by the King after nomination by the Chancellor. The lower chamber, the House of Representatives, was elected by the people, and the Constitution required that the Chancellor come from the House of Representatives.
To protect against abuse of power, each branch of government – executive, legislative and judicial – had a separate sphere of authority and could check other branches according to the principle of the separation of powers. Furthermore, there were checks and balances within the legislature since there were two separate chambers. The new government became active following the conclusion of the War of Independence in 1792.
The early years of the Congress were characterised by a power struggle between those who favoured a strict, explicit interpretation of the Constitution, and those who preferred a continuation of convention-filled British constitutional tradition. These groups coalesced into the Federalist and Tory parties respectively. With the passage of the Constitution and the Declaration of Rights, the Federalist movement's goals had been achieved, and the party's appeal faded as a result. After the 1808 federal election the Tories effectively dominated Cygnian politics for the next 20 years.
However, the election of the Federalists under Charles Grey to government marked a peaceful transition of power between the parties in 1829. Keith Marshall, 4th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, empowered the courts by establishing the principle of judicial review in law in the landmark case Worthington v Allison in 1803, effectively giving the Supreme Court a power to nullify congressional legislation.
1855 marked the beginning of what was known as the Democratisation Period, during which the citizenry became much more integrated into the political process, whereas before government had very much been the realm of the upper class and the aristocracy. The Fifth Amendment enacted in September 1855 introduced compulsory voting; pursuant to the Sixth Amendment, the enfranchised population was granted the final say on the adoption of constitutional amendments. The Speaker of the House became extremely powerful under leaders such as Thomas Redwood in 1890 and Jonathan Carr.
A system of seniority developed in the late 19th century – in which long-time Members of Congress gained more and more power – and encouraged politicians of both parties to serve for long terms. Committee chairmen remained influential in both houses well into the 20th century. Supreme Court decisions based on the Constitution's commerce clause expanded congressional power to regulate the economy.
More to come