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Legislative Process

The legislative process refers to the passage of a bill (a proposed law) through Parliament to eventually become an statute or act of Parliament and is officially declared law.


8 steps in the legislative process

First Reading
Second Reading
Consideration in Detail
Third Reading
Second House
Royal Assent


Legislative Process Second Reading

This stage is usually where the most substantial debate occurs. This stage begins with the relevant minister (or private member) delivering a speech explaining the purpose of the Bill. The Minister presents an explanatory memorandum that includes the reasons for the bill and outlines its main provisions. Debate is usually adjourned and set down as an item of business for a future sitting. This pause provides for study of the bill and provides the opportunity for public discussion. The debate usually begins with the relevant opposition minister delivering the main opposition speech in response to the Bill. Government and opposition members then usually speak in turn. At the conclusion of the debate the house will vote for or against the continuation of the bill.


Committee stage - consideration in detail

This stage may be eliminated if the house unanimously agrees. The process of the committee of the whole house is:
• The Speaker (lower house) or the President (upper house) leaves the house and then the house is then said to be in committee.
• Each clause of the Bill is discussed in detail, clause by clause.
• Amendments are most likely to be made at this stage.

Adoption of the committee report – The speaker or president returns to their chair and asks the parliament to accept the committee’s report.


Legislative Process Third Reading

Here, the House will formally accept or reject the Bill as reported. This will include any amendments decided upon in the previous stage. There may be some further debate. As the government introduces most bills this stage is usually a
formality in the lower house because the government always has the majority here.


Legislative Process Step Second House

When the bill has been passed by the first house it will proceed to the next house. Here the bill will go through the three reading stages. When the bill is passed for the second time it is returned to the first house either with or without amendment. Both house must agree to amendments in identical form. The second house can reject the bill and when disagreements arise messages are passed between the houses so that an agreement can be reached.


Legislative Process Royal Assent

After both houses have approved a bill in the same form, it is sent to the Governor- General (or Governor in Victorian Parliament) for Royal assent. Once a bill receives royal assent it becomes an Act of Parliament. Whilst very much a formality, the Governor General can withhold Royal Assent.


Legislative Process Proclamation

After receiving Royal Assent the law will be published in the Government Gazette with the date of when the act will come into effect. From this date onwards the law must be followed by the public. If unstated, the act comes into operation 28 days later. The fact that the Bill has been passed is published in Hansard.


‘Oh no! Now we have to look at this bill clause-by-clause’ said Danielle, an exasperated member of the House of Representatives. Identify and describe the stage of the legislative process that Danielle is referring to.

The stage Danielle is referring to is known as ‘consideration in detail’. This is also called the ‘committee of the whole’ stage by the upper houses of Commonwealth and Victorian Parliament and involves parliament considering a bill in detail, clause-by-clause and any proposed amendments are debated.


You overhear your friend Georgie say that ‘once a proposed law has successfully passed through the upper house of Parliament it becomes a bill and the legislative process is finished’. Help Georgie out by outlining why this statement is incorrect.

3 errors

The first element of Georgie’s statement that is incorrect is her reference to the product of the legislative process as a ‘bill’. A bill is a proposed law which, if passed successfully through the legislative process, becomes a statute or act of parliament.

Secondly, a bill must be passed by both houses of parliament in order to proceed through the legislative process.

Lastly in claiming that the ‘process is finished’ after a bill is passed by the upper house of Parliament Georgie is neglecting to acknowledge that royal assent must be given in order for a bill to become an act of parliament.


Legislative Process Step 0

The legislative process (law-making by parliament) begins with a problem that has been identified in the community and which the government thinks should be addressed by a change in the law. Law-making is the main role of parliament.


Second reading statement of compatibility

The member of parliament introducing the Bill must lay before the house a statement of compatibility, which states whether the Bill is compatible with the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities, giving reasons. If, in the member’s opinion, any part of the Bill is incompatible with human rights, the nature and extent of this incompatibility must be explained during the second reading speech.

A Bill can still be passed if it is in some way not compatible with the Charter, but there would have to be exceptional circumstances.


Second reading scrutiny

Once the second reading speech is complete the senior legal adviser of the Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee examines all the clauses and schedules of each Bill.



The clerk of parliaments certifies the bill.


Introduction and first reading

The minister who wishes to introduce a Bill gives notice of his or her intention to bring the Bill into the house. The member in charge of the Bill reads the title of the Bill and moves ‘that the Bill be now read a first time’. There is no debate. Copies of the Bill and explanatory notes are circulated to all members of the house. The introduction and first reading are separate stages in the Commonwealth Parliament.


Explain the different types of committee stage and in which house each is used.

This stage is referred to as the committee stage in the legislative assembly.

This stage is referred to as the Committee of the Whole in the Legislative Council.

In the House of Representatives the committee stage includes the House Committee followed by consideration in detail.

In the Senate the committee stage includes the Senate Committee followed by consideration in detail.


How a law is made flowchart

Memorise it.

Going to Scotts on Saturday after seeing Logan on opening weekend. Amendment made on 23/9/17 (trial exams) - didn’t end up going to Scott’s

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