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About Orders for Papers

About Orders for Papers


The Legislative Council has the power to order the production of state papers by the Executive Government. The basis of this power is the common law principle that the Houses of Parliament possess such inherent powers as are reasonably necessary for their effective functioning.

Procedures for the production of state papers

Any member of the House may propose a motion for an order for papers.  If the House agrees to the motion, the Secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet is advised of the order and coordinates the preparation of the papers – that is, the return to order. Returns can range from a single document to hundreds of boxes of documents.

The return to order may contain privileged and public documents. Privileged documents are available only to members of the Legislative Council. 

Claims of privilege

Any member may question whether the privileged documents should made public. The rules of the House provide a mechanism for an independent legal arbiter to recommend whether the documents should remain privileged or become public. It is ultimately for the House to determine.

Resources and publications concerning orders for papers 
New South Wales Legislative Council Practice, Chapter 17
Principles articulated by the Independent Legal Arbiters: The Hon Keith Mason AC QC and The Hon J C Campbell QC, dated October 2020
Viewing returns to orders
Documents returned to an order are accompanied by an index.  

The indexes are available online, in text searchable PDF. To locate an index, go to the Order for papers page. 

Public documents can only be viewed in the Council’s Procedure Office. 

The Procedure office is open between 9.00 am to 4.45 pm business days. It is advisable to contact the office on 9230 2749 to make an arrangement to view documents.

Before viewing documents, visitors are requested to sign a register to indicate that they agree to abide by certain rules.

Contact details
Phone: 9230 2655​
L[email protected]