Why and how are laws reformed?
The usual path of a bill.
Parliamentary Education Office (peo.gov.au)
This diagram illustrates the usual path of a bill through the Australian Parliament to become Australian law.
In the House of Representatives a bill goes through the following stages:
- 1st reading—the bill is introduced to the House of Representatives.
- 2nd reading—members debate and vote on the main idea of the bill.
- House committee (optional stage)—public inquiry into the bill and reporting back to the House.
- Consideration in detail (optional stage)—members discuss the bill in detail, including any changes to the bill.
- 3rd reading—members vote on the bill in its final form.
The bill is passed in the House of Representatives and sent to the Senate.
Senate referral—the Senate may refer the text of the bill to a Senate committee for inquiry (this can happen while the bill is in the House).
In the Senate a bill goes through the following stages:
- 1st reading—the bill is introduced to the Senate.
- 2nd reading—senators debate and vote on the main idea of the bill.
- Senate committee (optional stage)—public inquiry into the bill and reporting back to the Senate.
- Committee of the whole (optional stage)—senators discuss the bill in detail, including any changes to the bill.
- 3rd reading—senators vote on the bill in its final form.
- The bill is passed in the Senate.
The bill is given Royal Assent—The Governor-General signs the bill.
The bill becomes an Act of Parliament—a law for Australia.
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Laws made by the Australian Parliament can be changed in 2 ways; repealed – undone or removed – and amended – changed.
There are many reasons why the Parliament might agree to repeal or amend an existing law; the law may be outdated or the government may want a change in policy.
The Parliament must follow a detailed process when making a law, repealing or changing a law.