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House of Assembly chamber circa 1928.
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Speakers' chair in 1889
The House of Assembly, or lower house, is one of the two chambers of the Parliament of South Australia. The other is the Legislative Council. It sits in Parliament Housemarker in the state capital, Adelaidemarker.


The House of Assembly was created in 1857, when South Australia attained self-government. The development of an elected legislature - although only men could vote - marked a significant change from the prior system, where power had been concentrated in the hands of the Governor and the Legislative Council, which was appointed by the Governor.

In 1894, the House of Assembly granted women the right to vote - the second place in the world to do so after New Zealandmarker in 1893, and the first to allow them to stand for election.

The House of Assembly has 47 members, each coming from a single-member constituency. These are commonly known as seats, and are intended to represent approximately the same population in each electorate. Voting is by the preferential system, as with the equivalent federal chamber, the Australian House of Representatives. All members face re-election approximately every four years. The most recent election was held on March 18 2006.

Most legislation is initiated in the House of Assembly. The party or coalition with the most seats in the lower house is invited by the Governor to form government. The leader of that party subsequently becomes Premier of South Australia, and their senior colleagues become ministers responsible for various portfolios. As Australian political parties traditionally vote along party lines, most legislation introduced by the governing party will pass through the House of Assembly.

As with the federal parliament and Australian other states and territories, voting in the Assembly is compulsory for all those over the age of 18. Voting in the House of Assembly had originally been voluntary, but this was changed in 1942.

Current Distribution of Seats (2006-2010)

Party Seats held
Australian Labor Party 28                                                        
Liberal Party of Australia 14                                                        
National Party of Australia 1                                                        
Independents 4                                                        

Previous Distribution of Seats (2002-2006)

Party Seats held 2002-2006 Assembly
2002 2006
Australian Labor Party 23 22                                            
Liberal Party of Australia 20 20                                            
National Party of Australia 1 1                                            
Independents 3 4                                            

  • Kris Hanna was elected as a Labor member in 2002, but defected first to the Greens and later became an independent.

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