How laws are made
Laws are made by Parliament. Ministers are each responsible for developing and implementing laws relating to their areas of responsibility. These areas are known as a minister’s ‘portfolio’.
Queensland has only one parliamentary chamber, which means that there is no house of review (or senate) as in other Australian states and in Federal Parliament. This means that a Bill can become law without having to pass through the second chamber.
Parliament can make and change laws and the government can make ‘rules’ to regulate those laws.
The difference between Parliament and the government is that Parliament is made up of members of all political parties, whereas the government is formed by the party with the majority in Parliament.
Making and changing laws
In Queensland the process for making a law varies depending on the type of bill introduced who introduces it and whether the bill is urgent.
A bill is a proposal for a law—either a new law or a change to an existing law—placed before the Parliament for its consideration. The majority of bills introduced into the Parliament are government bills, which ministers are responsible for introducing. Individual Members of Parliament (MPs) can also introduce bills, which are known as Private Members’ Bills.
Before a government bill is introduced in Parliament:
- the need for a new law is identified
- the minister receives Cabinet authority to draft a bill
- Cabinet approves the bill.
Once this has occurred, there are seven stages through which a bill must pass:
- Presentation, explanatory speech, and first reading
The minister presents the bill to the House and tables a copy of the bill, Explanatory Notes, and Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights, and then nominates a parliamentary committee to examine the bill. The minister delivers a speech (known as the Explanatory Speech) explaining principles and policies underpinning the Bill. The short title of the bill is read a first time.
- Committee consideration
The nominated committee considers the bill and has up to six months to prepare a report on that bill, unless there is a resolution by the House or by the Committee of the Legislative Assembly that the time period be altered.
- Committee report
The committee tables the report and the bill is placed on the Notice Paper for the second reading debate.
- Second reading
The minister moves that the bill be read a second time. The minister then has an opportunity to speak to the bill and also to the committee report. The Shadow Minister responds. The second reading debate continues with contributions from government and non-government members. The minister concludes the second reading debate. After agreement is reached that the bill be given a second reading, the Clerk reads the short title of the bill a second time.
The Legislative Assembly debates the clauses of the bill. Amendments may be moved at this time. The Speaker or Deputy Speaker usually presides from the Table of the House.
- Third reading
The Clerk reads the short title for a third and final time. The long title of the bill is agreed to.
- Royal assent
Two copies of the bill are presented to the Governor by the Clerk of the Parliament for Royal Assent. Upon assent, the bill becomes an Act of Parliament, and the Act becomes law.