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Legislature

Parliament is responsible for passing laws, adopting the state’s budgets, and exercising control of the executive government. It currently has a single chamber, the House of Representatives. Before 1951 there was a second chamber, the Legislative Council. The House of Representatives meets in Parliament House, Wellington.

Parliament House is the home of the House of Representatives Laws are first proposed to the House of Representatives as bills. They have to go through a process of approval by the House and governor-general before becoming Acts of Parliament (i.e. statutory law).

The lawmakers are known as members of Parliament, or MPs. Parliament is elected for a maximum term of three years, although an election may be called earlier in exceptional circumstances. Suffrage is nearly universal for permanent residents eighteen years of age and older, women having gained the vote in 1893. As in many other parliamentary systems of government, the executive (called “the Government”) is drawn from and is answerable to Parliament—for example, a successful motion of no confidence will force a government either to resign or to seek a parliamentary dissolution and an early general election.

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