Parliament of Tasmania - HAEO - Visit

House of Assembly Education Office

Observe Parliament in Action

House of Assembly Public Gallery

House of Assembly Public Gallery

Schools are very welcome to visit Parliament House on a sitting day.  However, when Parliament is meeting, there are restrictions placed on the school programs. The following information is as a guide for teachers planning an excursion to observe the Parliament of Tasmania at work.

On sitting days, what school visit times are available?

On sitting days, the House of Assembly sits from 10 am and the Legislative Council usually from 11 am. Both Houses rise for a lunch break from 1 pm to 2:30 pm. The length of stay is at the discretion of the supervising teacher. As a guide, a suitable stay is about 30 minutes for primary students, 30 to 60 minutes for secondary students, and 60 minutes for Legal Studies classes.

What will be happening in the House of Assembly during a school visit?

While every sitting day in the House of Assembly is unique, there are certain procedures that give an inherent structure to the Chamber Order of Business. While subject to change, and by no means comprehensive, some of the business of the House of Assembly may include:

Government Business (dominate feature of any sitting day):

In the Parliament of Tasmania, as part of the Westminster parliamentary system, the Government of the day forms in the ‘lower House’, the House of Assembly. As Members of both the Executive and the Legislature, the relevant Government Ministers are responsible for introducing government business into the Parliament.


Bills for debate

Bills for debate

Government Bills:

The Government of the day, largely sets the items of business in the House of Assembly and this includes debate on Government Bills. In accordance with the Standing Orders, the Government determines when a Government Bill will be tabled in the House of Assembly and when it will be brought on for debate. The duration of a debate usually reflects the complexity and/or contested nature of the Bill.

Ministerial Statements:

A Minister may make a statement regarding any department over which they have the administration on an important public matter. Largely, this occurs during Government Business time, but Standing Order provisions exist for some degree of flexibility in the case of urgent Ministerial Statements.

Other Business:

Two of the key roles of the Parliament of Tasmania are to debate issues facing Tasmania, and to hold the Government of the day to account. As such, the House of Assembly allocates times during a sitting day, to non-government Members.


Daily Business known as ‘The Blues’

Daily Business known as ‘The Blues’

Question Time (sitting days from 10 am):

Question Time fulfils an important function of the Parliament of Tasmania, critical review and scrutiny of the Executive (Government). The majority of questions are asked by non-government Members directly to the relevant Minister or Premier, and are ‘without notice’, aiming to obtain information or press for action.

For schools observing Question Time in the House of Assembly, the recommended arrival time is 9:30 am. This allows time to clear security and listen to an introductory talk with an Education Officer, prior to the sitting commencing, ensuring a richer learning experience for students. The length of a school stay would be in response to the age and maturity of the students.

Matters of Public Importance (most sitting days from appx. 11:15 am):

Matters of Public Importance (MPIs) enable the House of Assembly to have a short debate on a noteworthy matter. With a strict time limit of seven minutes each for up to five Members, debate remains concise.

Private Members' Time (most sitting Wednesdays from 12:00 noon):

Private Members, or Members who are not Government Ministers, are given priority on Wednesday afternoons, to call on the business of the House.

Questions frequently asked by teachers

Will my class know the exact nature of the debate in advance?

Published every sitting day, the Order of Business lists the anticipated business before the House for that day. Pending motions and Bills are published on the Notice Paper (once the calendar has opened, click on the relevant date and the Notice Paper tab appears). Given the nature of parliamentary debate, the Order of Business can be subject to change without notice.

In a post-visit lesson, I want to replay the debate to my students to reinforce their learning about Parliament.  Is this possible?

Due to advances in digital technology, the House of Assembly debates are available to replay via the House of Assembly Chamber Proceedings, with the Legislative Council offering a similar broadcast service.

During our excursion, my class was welcomed by the Speaker from the Chair.  Will our welcome appear in Hansard?

As the official transcript of Parliament, Hansard records any welcome to special guests from either Presiding Officer, the Speaker of the House or the President of the Legislative Council. This means the welcome to the school will appear in Hansard. As a public document, teachers may wish to share this moment with their school community (e.g. via school newsletter).

For more information contact the House of Assembly Education Office.