Making a law
Video Duration: 3 min 18 Size: 18.4Mb
A straightforward look at the process of law-making in the federal Parliament. This video is the second in an online series explaining how Parliament works. Future videos in this series include a variety of parliamentary topics such as the role of parliamentary committees.
Making a law
NARRATOR: One of the main roles of the Parliament is to make laws for the people of Australia.
Section 51 of the Constitution of Australia.
NARRATOR: Under Australia’s Constitution, the federal Parliament makes laws on important national matters such as defence; immigration; taxation; and even marriage.
Examples of Bills: Archives Amendment Bill 2008; Tax Laws Amendment (Budget Measures) Bill 2008; Australian Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Authority Bill 2008.
NARRATOR: A proposal for a new law, or a change to an old one, is called a bill. Most bills are introduced into the Parliament by government ministers and usually begin here in the House of Representatives.
THE HON. KEVIN RUDD MP, PRIME MINISTER: I introduce, with some pride, to the House, the Australian Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Authority Bill 2008.
NARRATOR: Once a bill is introduced, members can debate the bill and then vote on it.
Examples of members debating the bill in the House of Representatives: The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP, Leader of the Opposition; the Hon. Justine Elliot MP, Minister for Ageing; the Hon. Peter Dutton MP, Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing.
THE HON. ANNA BURKE MP, DEPUTY SPEAKER: All of those of that opinion say aye, to the contrary no, I think the ayes have it.
NARRATOR: If the bill is agreed to in one house, it is sent to the other house – in this case, the Senate – where a similar process is followed.
Senator the Hon. John Hogg, President of the Senate, receives a message from the House of Representatives forwarding the Australian Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Authority Bill 2008.
Examples of senators debating the bill in the Senate: Senator Mathias Cormann; Senator the Hon. Jan McLucas.
SENATOR GARY HUMPRIES, ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: I think the ayes have it. Clerk.
The Clerk reads out the title of the bill.
NARRATOR: Members and senators can suggest amendments to a bill, if they think it needs changing. These amendments are also debated and voted on.
Examples of members and senators moving amendments to various bills: the Hon. Chris Pyne MP, Manager of Opposition Business; Senator Christine Milne.
THE HON. BRUCE SCOTT, ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER: Question is that the amendments be agreed to.
SENATOR GUY BARNETT, ACTING CHAIR OF COMMITTEES: All of that opinion please say aye, against say no. I think the ayes have it.
NARRATOR: About half of all bills are investigated more closely through the work of parliamentary committees. Either house of Parliament can send a bill to a committee for detailed examination.
Examples of several parliamentary committees including: Senator Glenn Sterle, Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Inquiry into the Water Amendment Bill 2008.
NARRATOR: A committee might suggest changes to a bill or make other recommendations.
Examples of several committee reports, one opened to the recommendations page.
NARRATOR: This process helps the Parliament make better informed decisions.
Example of members and senators discussing committees in the chambers: Jennie George MP, Member for Throsby; Senator Annette Hurley, Senator for South Australia.
NARRATOR: The final stage of making a law is approval by the Governor-General, on behalf of the Queen. Before giving royal assent to a bill, the Governor-General must be satisfied that it has passed both houses of Parliament.
Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia signing a bill.
After the bill is signed, it becomes a law—called an Act of Parliament.
Examples of Acts of Parliament: National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Amendment Act 2008; Schools Assistance Act 2008; Australian Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Authority Act 2008.
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