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Factsheet No. 2 - What does the the Legislative Assembly Do?

Factsheet No. 2 - What does the the Legislative Assembly Do?

​The Legislative Assembly of New South Wales was established in 1856 with the introduction of Responsible Government, where the government is drawn from and responsible to the Parliament. It is the House where the Government is formed and where the Premier of NSW sits. The Legislative Assembly's special role stems from its representative nature, it being directly elected by the people since its inception. This fact sheet gives an overview of those things that the Legislative Assembly does to uphold the principles of "…peace, welfare and good government…" for NSW.​

The NSW Parliament is a 'bicameral' parliament, which means that it has two Houses, the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council.


The Legislative Assembly has four main functions:

  • To represent the people
  • To form the Executive Government
  • To make laws
  • To consider the Government's requests for money
  • Other functions

Representing the people

The Members of the Legislative Assembly are elected by the people. NSW is divided into 93 electorates, with one Member representing each electorate. Members of the Assembly are elected for four year terms under a system of 'Optional Preferential Voting'[1].

There are a number of ways that Members can represent their constituents and communities and raise matters of concern in the House.  Two ways they can do this are Private Members Statements and Community Recognition Statements.  As representatives of their electorates, it is the role of Members to raise issues that concern their constituents and communities in the Parliament.  Private Members' Statements are five-minute statements about a matter of concern to the Member's electorate or constituents. Community Recognition Statements are one-minute statements congratulating or acknowledging the achievements of people or groups in their community.

Forming the Executive Government

The leader of the party or parties that has a majority of Members elected to the Legislative Assembly is commissioned by the Governor to form the Executive Government.  The Executive Government remains in office for as long as it commands the confidence of the Legislative Assembly.  By convention the Premier is a member of the Legislative Assembly.

Making laws

The Parliament makes laws by passing bills. A bill is a proposed law that is presented to a House of Parliament. In a bicameral Parliament, to become an Act a bill must pass through both Houses in the same form and be assented to (or approved) by the Governor. The exception to this are bills that appropriate money or impose taxes ('money bills'), which may be sent to the Governor for assent even if the Legislative Council does not pass them.

Bills may be introduced in either the Legislative Assembly or the Legislative Council, although money bills can only be initiated in the Assembly.

Ministers introduce Government bills as part of the Government's legislative program, while Private Members' bills can be introduced by any other Member (NB: There are also Private Bills affecting the interests of companies and individuals).

The majority of bills that are passed by the Parliament are Government bills.

Approving the Government's requests for money

The Legislative Assembly is responsible for considering the Government's requests for money. The Government must introduce any legislation appropriating money for expenses, such as the Annual State Budget or legislation imposing new taxes or levies, in the Legislative Assembly.

Other functions

Other important functions of the Legislative Assembly are to scrutinise the activities of the Government and make it accountable to the people of NSW, and to advise the Government on public policy.

Members of the Legislative Assembly do this by:

  • Debating bills and motions;
  • Asking questions of Ministers (either written questions or oral questions asked during Question Time);
  • Moving motions in the House that raise concerns or express opinions;
  • Raising matters that concern their electorates or affect their constituents, by making Private Members' Statements or discussing Matters of Public Importance;
  • Serving on parliamentary committees that examine and report on a wide-range of matters;
  • Presenting petitions to the Assembly on behalf of constituents; and
  • Examining documents that are required to be tabled in the Assembly, such as annual reports of government departments and agencies.

[1] Optional Preferential Voting is the method of voting whereby a voter indicates an order of preference for the candidates on the ballot paper. For more information on Optional Preferential voting, see the NSW Electoral Commission website​.