The Role of a Legislative Councilor
The role of a Legislative Councilor is to:
- Represent the views of the state in the Legislative Council;
- Scrutinise the work of the Government;
- Introduce and debate legislation;
- Work on Select and Standing Committees to analyse information from community organisations, lobby groups and members of the public on specific issues or legislation;
- Present petitions;
- Attend regular public meetings
- Attend to Constituents (you!) e.g. Correspondence, Phone calls, Emails
Introducing and debating Legislation
What is a Bill?
A bill is a draft Act of Parliament, introduced by one of its members, which proposes to introduce or change a law. A Bill can be introduced into either house of Parliament except for Bills relating to money and tax. Although most bills are introduced by ministers, any member of Legislative Council may introduce a Bill. In the House of Assembly Bills must be introduced by a Minister.
There are multiple stages invovled in introducing or changing a law. A Bill only becomes law once it has completed all the stages, and been agreed to by both houses of parliament and assented to by the Governor. Once a Bill becomes law it is called an Act. The following information explains the stages of a Bill.
Stage 1: Introduction and First Reading
The Member will give notice to the Clerk of the house. The members request to introduce a new Bill will be on the next sitting days' Notice paper. On that day the member will present a copy of the proposed Bill to the house. The Clerk then proceeds to read out the long title of the Bill. This constitutes the first reading.
Stage 2: The Second Reading
The second reading may be moved immediately after the first reading or adjournerd to a later date. The second reading is when the principles of the Bill are debated and either agreed to or rejected. The member who introduced the Bill will make their main speech explaining the Bill inc. why its needed and what it hopes to achieve. The House can agree to wave the actual reading of the speech and have a copy inserted directly into Hansard for other members or the public to read and review at a later date. During the course of the second reading the prinicples of the Bill are debated and either agreed to or rejected by a vote. The debate may be adjourned to allow members time to study and research the purposed changes.
Once the debate is complete the Bill can move on to either a Committee Stage or directly to the 3rd reading. The Bill will go to a Committee Stage if there is tabled amendments or questions.
Stage 3: Committee Stage
The committe consist of ALL members of the house. In the Legislative Council the president leaves the chair and sitis next to the Clerks. This stage will examine the Bill in detail and amendments can be made by majority vote. Every clause is either agreed to, amended and agreed to, or rejected. Members may speak about each clause, more than once.
Some Bills may be referred to a Select Committee. The Select Committee usually comprises of 5 members and takes evidence and examines witnesses, reporting this information back to the house.
Stage 4: Third Reading
Members decide whether or not the Bill agreed to in the committee stage is now approved to become law. This stage is often a formality. The Bill must now go to the other house of Parliament for consideration where it will follow a similar process.
Stage 5: Consideration of Bill by other Chamber
The Bill goes through the same stages in the other house of Parliament before being passed into law. Any amendments made by the second house to the Bill will then go back to the originating house for consideration. If there is a disagreement on any amendments a conference of managers will be held with 5 representatives of each house. Conferences are usually successful in reaching a compromise. If one cannot be reached the Bill wil be laid aside in the second house. This means the Bill is on permanent hold and will not become law unless the house chooses to review and agree to the Bill. If it has been laid aside after a conference it is highly unlikely this will happen.
Stage 6: Assent to Bills
Once a Bill has passed both houses Royal arms copies are presented to the Governor for assent.
Once these stages have been completed, and the Governor has assented to the Bill, it converts to an Act of Parliament and becomes law.