Do members of parliament get a copy of the bill before it is first read by the Clerk?

Thanks for your question.

The short answer is not necessarily. Bills – proposed laws – are prepared either by the government, or a non-government senator or member. Bills do not have to be handed out before being introduced to Parliament but it can be helpful to do so.

Once a minister or the private member or senator has presented the bill to Parliament, the bill becomes a public document. At this stage it is made available on the Australian Parliament website and copies of the bill are handed out to senators and members.

Very importantly, all bills must be accompanied by a document called an explanatory memorandum outlining the intentions of the bill. Together these documents explain the purpose, general ideas and effect of the bill.

Usually debate will not begin for a few weeks after the bill is introduced, giving senators or members time to study the bill before speaking and voting on it. This pause in proceedings also allows for public discussion and response.