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Primary Legislation - Making of an Act of Parliament

Page history last edited by Cecilia Tellis 12 years, 2 months ago



Generally a bill may be initiated in either House of the Parliament although in practice most bills originate in the lower House especially all financial bills. The bill drafted by the Office of Parliamentary Counsel and is introduced in the originating House by the initiating Member. Examination of the bill then proceeds through Parliament in three stages.


First Reading - permission is sought to introduce and proceed with the bill.  Copies of the bill are circulated to members after the first reading together with copies of the Explanatory Memorandum which set out clause by clause the content and purpose of the bill.


Second Reading - this is the most important stage of the bill. The initiating Minister explains the purpose of the bill and the general principles. A date is set down for future debate on the bill allowing for reflection by Members and the public on the contents of the bill. At the conclusion of debate on the bill with regard to its principles a vote is taken and consideration of the bill, clause by clause, follows. Detailed debate on each clause and amendments to a clause/s may not be necessary in which case the bill then proceeds directly to a Third Reading stage. A motion is moved to pass the bill which then proceeds to the next House (except for Queensland which is not bicameral) where the three stages are repeated.


When both Houses have passed the bill it is presented to the Governor-General for assent at which point it becomes known as an Act of Parliament, and the previous clauses of the bill are known as sections of the Act.


Commencement date

It is important to note that an Act may not become operative on assent, or enactment, as a particular date for commencement may be specified in the Act. If no commencement date is specified in an Act, it comes into effect on the 28th day after it receives assent.

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