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Queensland laws and how they are made

Why laws exist

Laws are the rules under which people carry out their daily lives. They cover almost everything we do, from driving a motor vehicle to attending school or going to a hotel.

There are safety regulations that protect people, such as regulations stating that, if your boat is towing a water-skier, you must have a driver and an observer.

There also are local council regulations called by-laws, such as littering by-laws, which result in a fine if you drop rubbish. These laws help protect our environment.

There are also laws to control shopping hours and even the types of goods sold in certain shops at certain times. For example, a chemist shop can open any time in Queensland, while a used car yard is restricted to certain days and hours.

Who is responsible for the laws

Many people believe that the Department of Justice and Attorney-General and the Queensland Police Service are responsible for all Queensland’s laws.

While the Queensland Police Service is responsible for enforcing many of Queensland’s laws, each government department also is responsible for laws that relate to its area of responsibility.

How Queensland laws are made

Parliament

The three levels of government—federal, state and local—all help make our laws, by-laws and regulations.

Laws are made by Parliament, which comprises the Governor (the Queen’s representative) and Legislative Assembly (the members of Parliament). Each minister is responsible for developing and administering laws relating to their area of responsibility (i.e. a minister’s portfolio).

Queensland has only a Lower House—the Legislative Assembly. This means there’s no house of review (Upper House) unlike other states and the Commonwealth Parliament.

In Queensland, Parliament can make and change laws.

Parliament comprises 89 members who are directly elected, with each member representing a state electoral district. The parliamentary members may be members of a political party.

The government is usually formed by the political party with a majority of members. Sometimes, no party has a majority in the Parliament, so two or more parties may form a partnership or coalition to form government.

The largest party other than the government is called the opposition.

Read more about how the Queensland Parliament works.

State Cabinet

Cabinet is the government's central decision-making body. The Premier and ministers are all members of the Cabinet. As the government leader, the Premier is the Cabinet chairperson.

Cabinet makes the government's most important decisions and sets priorities for governing Queensland. Some of the topics and issues discussed in Cabinet meetings include:

  • significant policy issues
  • proposed discussion papers
  • proposed major policy reviews
  • matters that have a major impact on the public or private sector
  • matters that have a major impact on the budget
  • proposals that need new or amended legislation
  • important appointments, such as appointing someone to a board or tribunal.

Cabinet has been part of the Queensland Constitution since 2000. Under the Constitution, Cabinet is responsible as a group to Parliament for its decisions. This is called ‘collective responsibility’.

Find out more about how Cabinet works and who is currently in the state Cabinet.

Ministers

Ministers belong to state Cabinet and each is responsible for one or more departments. The relevant minister develops the regulation and it is then made by the governor in council. The department then administers the regulation.

Parliament has passed various acts that ensure that government departments conduct their business properly and don’t abuse their power.

Read about the current ministers.

Governor

The governor, as the representative of the Queen who is the head of state in Queensland, does not participate in the political process. The governor’s main role is to ensure that Queensland continues to have a stable government that commands the popular support of the Parliament.

The governor also presides over meetings of, and takes the advice of, the Executive Council which comprised the ministers of the Crown. The governor-in-council formally approves certain decisions of the Cabinet and individual ministers.

It is a convention that a governor acts on the advice of the ministers of the Executive Council. Convention also allows a governor to be consulted, to encourage and to warn. Accordingly, in response to the ministerial advice, the governor may ask questions and seek further information.

Find out more about the governor’s role.

Searching the law directories

Use the following directories to search for local, state and national laws.

Queensland local laws

Search the directory of local laws adopted by Queensland’s local governments, including model, interim, subordinate and other types of local laws.

Queensland state laws

Search the Office of the Queensland Parliamentary Counsel to find current Queensland laws, including acts, bills, subordinate legislation and links to outdated laws.

Australian Government laws

Search the directory of Australian Government laws, find out how to read legislation and view a glossary of legal jargon.

Further information

Last updated
30 September 2014
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