How long do members of parliament usually debate bills before they vote on them?

Great question Timothy!

Thre is no set amount of time a bill can be debated in the Australian Parliament before it is voted on. 

Not every senator or member of the House of Representatives gives a speech on every bill – proposed law – but it is important they have the opportunity to do so.

The number of senators and members who decide to give a speech on a bill and how long the debate will go for can be influenced by:

  • how complex the bill is
  • how quickly the bill needs to be passed
  • the level of agreement for the bill.

As a result, some debates may be finished within 2 hours, while others may take over 50 hours (spread across many days, weeks or even months).

One of the shortest debated bills to pass the Parliament is the Criminal Code Amendment (Food Contamination) Bill 2018, sometimes referred to as the ‘Strawberries Bill’. It was debated, voted on and agreed to by both the Senate and House of Representatives on the same day.

One of the longest debated bills is the Native Title Amendment Bill 1997 which was debated for over 56 hours in the Senate.