18 Legislative Process

It is important to understand how legislation is made. This knowledge will assist you in research tasks such as:

  • tracking proposed legislation prior to enactment
  • locating parliamentary documents needed in statutory interpretation.

Commonwealth legislative process

The passage of a Bill through Parliament is similar in most common law jurisdictions. The Commonwealth process is as follows:

  • introduced to Parliament by the Minister responsible (may be introduced in either the House of Representatives or the Senate)
  • read for the first time
  • read for a second time – explanatory speech and debate
  • proceeds to Committee stage (optional) — consideration and report from the relevant committee
  • moves to consideration in detail (optional) — Bill considered clause by clause (amendments can be made at this time)
  • read for the third time — agreed to
  • considered by, and amendments agreed to, by the other House (bicameral Parliament)
  • receives Royal Assent — and is enacted.

The Parliament of Australia’s Infosheet 7 Making Laws describes how bills are proposed, considered and passed at a federal level.

Making a law in the Australian Parliament is a fact sheet explaining the law-making process in the Australian Parliament.

The legislative process in other jurisdictions

The passage of a Bill through parliament is similar in most common law jurisdictions. See further reading on the jurisdiction of your choice below:

One noteworthy difference is that the Queensland Parliament has abolished its Legislative Council and now use a unicameral (or one chamber) system. The diagram below reflects the typical passage of a Bill through the Queensland Parliament rather than the legislative process of a Parliament with two houses.

Diagram showing the consecutive stages of the Queensland Legislative process. Arrows show direction of the stages starting with a Bill being introduced to parliament. The Bill then has a first reading or explanatory speech. The Bill is then considered by a committee. The Bill then has a second reading in parliament. The content of the bill is considered in detail with debate and discussion. The Bill may then proceed to a third reading in parliament and if the bill passes it is given the royal assessment process and becomes enacted as a legal act in the Queensland jurisdiction.
Figure 3: The Queensland Legislative Process by UQ Library, UQ Legal Research Essentials, used under CC-BY-NC 4.0

Read more about Queensland’s parliamentary process in the Queensland Legislation Handbook or Queensland Parliament’s Factsheet 3.6 (PDF, 269KB).


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