After a federal election, the party or coalition of parties with the support of the majority of members elected to the House of Representatives becomes the Australian Government.
To remain in office the government must keep the support of the majority of members in the House.
If a government coalition decided they no longer wanted to work together—and this resulted in the government no longer having the support of the majority of members of the House—several things could happen;
- The former coalition partners might negotiate and come to a new coalition arrangement or a non-formal arrangement where one of the two parties agrees to support the other party to form government.
- If no agreement was made, one or both of the parties could negotiate with independent members, minor party members and/or the opposition in order to secure a new majority.
- If neither party was unable to secure a majority, the Governor-General could approach the Leader of the Opposition to see if they were able to secure the support of the majority of the House. If the Leader of the Opposition was able to secure a majority, the Governor-General could appoint the opposition as the government.
- If both the government and opposition did not have the support of the majority of members of the House, an election for the House of Representatives may then be held.
Although government is formed in the House of Representatives, there are also members of the government in the Senate. The government may or may not hold the majority of seats in the Senate.