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Process of lawmaking in Australia

It is often said that law making system in Australia is too complex as compared to other
western countries. When I started research on this topic and began to explore the steps after
which a bill can pass in the Australian parliament, I came across a system known as
"Westminster system"1 which consists of members that belongs to the parliament. In this
paper, I will try to discuss the steps after which a bill can pass in Australia while at the same
time will compare these steps with the steps being taken during US law making process. My
goal in this paper would be to compare both the processes and to reach on an unbiased, brief
.and concise conclusion
To achieve this goal, I have categorized my paper into three sections; first section will deal
with the process of law making in Australia, second will explore the US law making system
and third will compare both systems which then lead to a brief conclusion.


There are three levels where a bill can be proposed in order to transform it into a law: Federal
Parliament that proposes bills at National level, Six State who are responsible at State level
and local Councils that proposes or make laws on Regional level (Governing Australia: three
levels of law-making, Parliamentary education office). However, we will stick to just Federal
Parliament who makes law at National level.
A bill is any proposal of law to the government for consideration. It can be proposed by any
member of government or any member of parliament from any political party etc. There are
two categories of bill in Australia and these are Cabinet bills and Private member's bills. The
cabinet bills are those bills that are proposed by any member of cabinet and private member's
bills can be proposed by any member of parliament.
The West minster system consists of two houses Upper house and Lower House. Firstly, all
bills are introduced at lower level named as the "House of Representatives" because a vast
majority of government members belong to this house.
In order to introduce a bill in Parliament a person first has to do the read just the title of bill
which is called First reading. The bill then goes to the committee for consideration which is
made up of Government and Non Government members of Parliament. After consideration,
the Committee makes a report in six months and places it on Notice Board where the second
Reading takes place (Everyone's parliament, Queensland parliament). The Second Reading is
to explain the bill and the necessity of it, this step may also contains reasoning and questions
from other members who might ask the pros and cons of it and the benefits which can be
gained after its implications, this further leads to casting their votes which is the known as
Third Reading.
If the members of lower house support the bill then it may proceed to the upper house where
if the members agree to it, the process can be continued. It is important to note here that
A democratic parliamentary system of Government 1

members from both Houses should agree to the bill and all the amendments made by any
house member.
The last step is the approval from State Governor or Governor General whose duty is to
Assent the law. Once the bill is approved, it becomes act or statute.


In USA, a member of congress can only introduce a bill or legislation. First he/she reads the
proposal on Congress floor which is then deliver to committee for further inquiry of bill. The
committee inquires the bill completely and if not satisfied delay the hearing in orders to
gather more information. If the bill seems to be appropriate to the committees then it leads to
sub committees for further hearings. The next step is of voting on committee level where if
the bill passes may lead to full house and Senate. In full house and Senate, the bill is
reconsider and if it fails to meet the criteria then it is send back to committee or if it passes
the criteria then it is published on a blue paper by house which uses blue paper for approving
any legal document. It is important here to note that a bill that is passed in the House can be
different from the version being passed in the Senate. If there are any differences, then they
are been solved through joint committee. After resolution, the bill finally goes to president for
decision who if passes the bill, it can easily become a law. On the other hand, if he vetoes it
then a bill can be passed through over riding a Veto which requires two-thirds of members of
both Houses in support of the bill.
Comparison of Austrian and American law making process:
We have seen both law making processes and it is evident from above information that both
the systems are complex and constitutes of several steps but here pointing on only one system
would be inappropriate because the Australian system is known as hybrid of the US and
British system. Also, if we compare number of steps then US law making process seems to be
more complex because passing a bill requires approval first from committees then
subcommittees and after which a bill proceeds to house and Senate at the same time where
after several debates and voting, a single bill may lead to the president. The president then
may approve it or oppose it; an overriding of veto2 is also another process in passing a bill
where majority of members from both houses can pass the bill bypassing the approval from
While on the other hand, passing a bill in Australian Parliament is quite easy where a bill can
be passed after getting approval from lower and upper house of the Parliament. Therefore, it's
quite unfair to say that Law making is too complex in Australia.


A process when parliament bypasses decision of president by using two-thirds 2

majority tactic

After comparing both US and Australian law making systems, I can say that Australian law
making process is mixture of British and US systems as it constitutes of Parliament like
British system and Senate like US system. The steps been taken from proposition till
approval of a bill in Australian system are very few in numbers and duration which are
evident from three stages of reading that requires a very short span of time. On the other
hand, the US system of law making is very complex and time consuming as first bill has to be
present and get approved in different committees after which they get presented at House and
Senate level where after voting, a bill further leads to president level whom which the
approval or rejection is based.
Australian law makers on the other hand have picked up easy and simple steps from both US
and British law making system and have implemented them in their law making process.
Therefore, after exploring all the steps and comparing both systems, I reach on a conclusion
that both systems have their own strengths and weaknesses but if we see from complexity
point of view then I can say that there are very minute and few complexities in Australian law
making process if we compare with other processes and it is comprised of very easy, simple
and time saving steps.

Works cited
1. Mount, Steve. "Constitutional Topic: how a bill becomes a law". 3 Jan. 2011. Web. 27
Feb. 2011.
2. n.p. "Law- making in Australia". Skwrick interactive schooling. 12Aug. 2004. Web. 4
Oct. 2010.
3. Australia. Three levels of law-making. Parliamentary education Office, n.d. Web.
4. Australia. "The Legislative Process -The Making of a Law (simplified)". Queensland
Parliament, n.d. Web. Dec. 2012.
5. United Stated. "Steps in Making a Bill a Law: The Federal Legislative Process".
Naeyc, n.d. web.