Nepali parliamentarians learn about parliamentary systems and procedures of Australian parliaments

December 4, 2023


Nepali parliamentarians who had recently visited the Australian federal and provincial parliaments, returned to Nepal equipped with valuable insights into best practices. They have committed to share their learning, observations and best practices to their fellow MPs, parliament and try to implement some of the best practices in their respective parliaments.

A high-level delegation of Nepali parliamentarians including  Speakers and Deputy Speakers of Provincial Assemblies (PAs) led by Chairperson of the National Assembly Ganesh Prasad Timilsina had visited Australian federal and provincial parliaments for five days from November 26 to December 1 2023.

During the learning visit, the Nepali delegation of parliamentarians had visited Parliament of New South Wales (NSW) in Sydney, Parliament of Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly (ACTLA) in Canberra, Federal Parliament of Australia in Canberra and Parliament of Victoria in Melbourne.

Nepali MPs raised queries about implementation of parliamentary democracy and federalism and other practical issues, and also observed “Question Time” in the parliaments. The leadership of the Australian parliaments had briefed the visiting team about various aspects including annual calendar-based parliament functions, the committee system, the fiscal issue, women's inclusion in parliament and government, system of revenue collection and distribution, system of post-legislative scrutiny.

Krishna Prasad Dhital, Speaker of Gandaki Provincial Assembly (PA) shared that the provincial governments of Australia are more powerful than the local level governments and the federal government. Though the federal government has its power on security, financial and international affairs, except these, all other power related to development work lies on the provincial governments. He said, "I observed that the provinces are more powerful in Australia which is a good practice." 

Nanda Gurung, Speaker Karnali PA said, “Based on the learning from Australia, she will discuss with political leadership and government to amend the Rules of Procedure of Karnali PA to establish a Child Care Centre  in Karnali PA.”

Babita Kumari Raut Ishar, Deputy Speaker Madhesh PA said the visit was highly fruitful and instrumental to learn about the best parliamentary practices of Australia. She observed that the way of conducting parliamentary business in Australia is very useful to reflect on. "I observe good coordination and cooperation between MPs, parliament secretariat and  staff in regard to smooth functioning of the House," she said. She found that the practice of implementation of annual calendar in the PAs is more effective and it is one of a significant learning to Nepali MPs.

Menuka Khand KC, Deputy Speaker Lumbini PA said, "We got good opportunity to directly observe the parliamentary session in all parliaments we visited,".  "In Nepal we have practice that if a question is raised by an MP, it will be answered by the Chief Minister or Minister within seven days, however, in Australia, we observed that the questions raised in the parliament are answered  immediately," she added. She also learned that the provincial parliaments in Australia are bicameral. She also found that though provision of women's representation is not mentioned in constitution, more than 50 percent of women are directly elected in the parliamentary elections in Australia and they have similar figure of representation in the cabinet as well.

Bhim Bahadur Bhandari, Speaker of Sudurpaschim PA said he found that the committees' functioning is more systematic and stronger in all the parliaments in Australia. The directives of committees are mandatorily responded by the government within 4 months with the actions taken by the government to address the directives. Most of the committees’ directives are agreed upon by the government and shared in the parliament. Mentioning that there is mandatory legal of provision organizing the annual meeting between the Speakers and Deputy Speakers of the federal and provincial parliaments in Australia, he stressed on the need of making such provision in Nepal as well.  

The international learning visit of Speakers and Deputy Speakers provided them an opportunity to observe the functioning of parliamentary systems in Australia, both in terms of their core parliamentary procedures and committee system, regardless of their jurisdiction. Moreover, the visit contributed to strengthening bilateral relationships between Nepali and Australian counterpart Speakers and Deputy Speakers to exchange knowledge and the best practices.

Australia is a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy, comprising six states and ten territories. It is ethnically diverse and multicultural, the product of large-scale immigration. The Parliament of Australia (officially the Federal Parliament, also called the Commonwealth Parliament) is the supreme legislative branch of the government of Australia. It consists of three elements: the monarch represented by the governor-general, the Senate, and the House of Representatives. The parliaments of the Australian states and territories are legislative bodies within the federal framework of the Commonwealth of Australia. All the parliaments are based on the Westminster System, and each is regulated by its own constitution. Queensland and the two territories have unicameral parliaments, with the single House being called the Legislative Assembly. The other states have a bicameral parliament, with a lower house called the Legislative Assembly (New South Wales, Victoria, and Western Australia) or the House of Assembly (South Australia and Tasmania), and an upper house called the Legislative Council.

The Nepali visiting team of MPs comprised of NA Chairperson Ganesh Prasad Timilsina, Deputy Speaker of Koshi PA Sirjana Danuwar, Deputy Speaker of Madhesh PA Babita Kumari Raut Ishar, Deputy Speaker of Bagmati PA Apsara Chapagai Khatri, Speaker of Gandaki PA Krishna Prasad Dhital, Deputy Speaker of Lumbini PA Menuka Khand KC, Speaker of Karnali PA Nanda Gurung and Speaker of Sudur Paschim PA Bhim Bahadur Bhandari.

The learning visit was organized by the federal parliament secretariat as part of sharing knowledge and global best practices of parliamentary system and procedures among MPs. The visit was technically supported by UNDP’s Parliament Support Project with financial contribution from the Government of Norway.