Legislation, or future laws, start in draft form called a Bill. Bills may be initiated in either the Legislative Assembly or the Legislative Council unless they are Money Bills. However, most Bills are introduced into the Legislative Assembly, the House in which the Government is formed and in which most Ministers sit.
Most of the Bills are Government Bills and are introduced by the Minister whose portfolio responsibilities cover the subject matter of the Bill. Bills that are introduced by a non-ministerial Member are known as a Private Member's Bill.
A Bill must pass through a number of stages in both Houses before it becomes an Act and so part of the law of the State.(17)
Introduction and First Reading. The House must grant permission to a Member to introduce a Bill and then the Clerk of the House reads the title of the Bill.
Second Reading. The responsible Minister or Member in charge of the Bill delivers the second reading speech which outlines the general context of the Bill. This is followed by a general debate on the legislation. Following this debate a vote is taken for the Bill to proceed to the next stage.
Consideration in Detail and the Committee of the Whole. The Bill is considered in detail, often clause-by-clause. In the Legislative Assembly this is called the Consideration in Detail stage. In the Legislative Council this is called the Committee of the Whole stage. Amendments to the Bill may be moved. In either House a Bill may be referred to a Standing Committee for detailed examination, which then reports back to the House.
Third Reading. This is usually a just a formality, although there is provision for further debate.
The Bill is then transmitted to the other House of Parliament where it passes through the same stages. If the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly cannot agree on the final form of the Bill each of them can appoint a number of members to meet and attempt to resolve the disagreement. This is known as a Conference of Managers. In the event of a continuing disagreement the Bill does not proceed.
After a Bill has been passed by both Houses of Parliament and certified as correct by the Clerk of the Parliaments it is presented to the Governor for Royal assent. Once the assent is given, the Bill is an Act. Unless otherwise stated in the Act, the legislation will come into effect on the 28 days after the assent is given.(18)
Before some bills may be presented to the Governor for Assent, they require the approval of electors at a State referendum. The Bills that need such approval are set out in section 73(2) of the Constitution Act 1889. To date this has not taken place but it would be required if there was a proposal to abolish the Office of the Governor, or reduce (or abolish) the membership of either House of the Parliament.