A law is a rule or set of rules passed by the Parliament and assented to by the Governor. Laws made by the Parliament (also known as 'legislation') include Acts and statutory instruments.
Law making in NSW follows a similar pattern to that used in most other Australian States, the Australian Federal Parliament and the British Parliament, where there is a bicameral or two house Parliament. Under a bicameral system, bills (or proposed laws) pass through several stages in both of the Houses of Parliament, before being sent to the Governor for assent. Bills that have received assent are known as Acts.
Bills can be introduced into either House of Parliament, with the exception of money bills (see below) which must originate in the Legislative Assembly. Bills introduced by ministers are considered during the time allocated for government business. Bills introduced by private members are considered during the time allocated for general business.
There are two types of public bills: Government public bills and private members’ public bills.
A draft bill is prepared by the Parliamentary Counsel acting under instructions from the minister and the minister's department. This draft may go through several revisions before being finally prepared for introduction to the Parliament.
Copies of draft bills are not available on the Parliament's website. However, some exposure drafts may be accessed from the Parliamentary Counsel's website. Any questions concerning draft bills should be referred to the office of the minister responsible for the bill.
A summary of the stages in the passage of legislation is below. For greater detail of the legislative process in each House see
Legislative Assembly Fact Sheet 6: Making Laws and
Chapter 12 of New South Wales Legislative Council Practice.
In the Legislative Assembly the bill is taken to have been read a first time after it has been introduced and the minister/member then makes a speech outlining the principles of the bill ( the second reading speech).
In the Legislative Council the Clerk will read the short title of the bill after it has been introduced and this is referred to as the First Reading. The minister/member will then proceed with his or her second reading speech.
After the second reading speech, unless Standing Orders have been suspended to allow urgent consideration of the bill, debate is then adjourned for five clear/calendar days.
If the House disagrees, then the bill is defeated.
If the House agrees, and there are no amendments proposed to the bill, the bill moves directly to the third reading stage. If there are amendments proposed to the bill, the bill proceeds to either the consideration in detail stage (LA) or committee stage (LC).
Where agreement cannot be reached, and the House of origin does not wish to lay the bill aside, a conference and joint sitting of both Houses can be held to discuss the bill. If necessary, the Legislative Assembly can then submit the bill to the people of NSW by referendum, under section 5B of the Constitution Act 1902.
Under section 5A of the Constitution Act 1902, the Legislative Assembly may direct that any bill appropriating revenue for the ordinary annual services of the Government may be presented to the Governor for assent where that bill has been rejected, not passed or amended by the Legislative Council without the agreement of the Legislative Assembly.
An Act comes into force 28 days after it is assented to, or on a day or days to be appointed by proclamation. A clause, stating whether the Act comes into force by assent or proclamation, usually appears at the beginning of each bill.
When an Act or clauses of an Act come into force by proclamation, this date is determined by the minister who, on behalf of the Governor, places an announcement in the Government Gazette shortly before the date of commencement. It should be noted that not all clauses of an Act will come into force at the same time.
The Government is required to lodge notification with the Parliament of all legislation remaining unproclaimed after 90 days.
Information about the commencement dates of Acts can be obtained from the Notification-Gazette section of the NSW Legislation website.
This video on the Passage of Legislation provides an overview on the passage of legislation through the Legislative Assembly.
Statutory instruments are rules, regulations, by-laws, ordinances, rules of the court or proclamations made under certain Acts. Statutory instruments are published in the Government Gazette or on the NSW Legislation website and a notice providing details of the instrument and gazette number is then tabled in both Houses of Parliament. Statutory instruments are not debated in the Parliament unless a member of either House lodges a motion to disallow part or all of that rule or instrument within 15 sitting days of the tabling of the notice.