How laws are made
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
- A minister draws up a Bill—a proposal for a new law or group of laws—and seeks approval from State Cabinet. The Bill has to fall within the minister’s area of responsibility.
- If Cabinet approves, the Parliamentary Counsel (an expert on drafting legislation) prepares the Bill, which is then presented to the Cabinet and all government members of Parliament.
- If approved, it is introduced into Parliament by the Minister for its ‘first reading’. At this stage the Bill is printed and copies distributed to all members of Parliament.
- The Bill then proceeds through a ‘second reading’ (at this stage the minister gives details of what the Bill is intended to achieve in the community) and then the Committee Stage. At this point, the Bill is discussed and debated by members, and sometimes changes are suggested and may be included in the Bill.
- The ‘third reading’ then takes place. This does not usually involve any further debate, and Parliament then votes. Once the government gets the Bill through all stages in Parliament, it is sent to the Governor for royal assent (agreement by the Queen’s representative). When assent is given, the Bill becomes the law and then, instead of being called a Bill, it is described as an Act of Parliament.