Fact Sheet C5

Fact Sheet C5: Reasoned Amendments

 

Summary: A reasoned amendment sets out reasons for not agreeing to the principles of a bill. The amendment proposes withdrawing or redrafting the bill. A member must word it correctly, and comply with the Legislative Assembly's rules. After a member moves it, all members can debate both the bill and the amendment. If the Assembly agrees to a reasoned amendment, the bill lapses and does not progress any further.

Not for changing the wording of bills Checking a draft complies with the rules
What a reasoned amendment can propose Moving and debating a reasoned amendment
Examples of reasoned amendments

Effect of agreeing to a reasoned amendment

 

Not for changing the wording of bills

Reasoned amendments are not amendments to the wording of bills. Those amendments are often called 'House amendments'. Find out more: Fact Sheet C4: Amendments to Bills - A Practical Guide.

Instead, a reasoned amendment starts a broader discussion on alternative proposals. It deals with principles, rather than changes to the text of a bill.

There is one exception to this rule. An opposition member cannot amend a bill's wording to cause government spending. Only a minister can do so. In this situation, a member can move a reasoned amendment asking for changes which increase costs.

What a reasoned amendment can propose

A member usually moves a reasoned amendment during the second reading debate. They can also move it at the third reading stage, but this is unusual.

Members debate the question 'that this bill be now read a second time'. The amendment proposes deleting 'now read a second time' and inserting alternative wording.

There are three options for the replacement wording:

  • the government should withdraw and redraft the bill in line with an alternative principle, explained in the amendment
  • the Legislative Assembly does not pass the second reading until a specific event happens, such as community consultation or members receiving more information
  • the Assembly should postpone debating the bill indefinitely.

 

Examples of reasoned amendments

'This bill be withdrawn and redrafted to provide for the automatic renewal of firearm licences under Part 2, except in specific circumstances.'

'This House refuses to read this bill a second time until the Government commits to a further three year extension of the network tariff rebate that ensures country customers pay no more in distribution costs that their city counterparts.'

Checking a draft complies with the rules

The Speaker needs time to consider a draft reasoned amendment. Therefore, a member must give a draft to the Clerk at least two hours before debate on the bill starts. The Clerk discusses the draft with the Speaker.

The Speaker decides whether the amendment is valid by checking that it:

  • is relevant to the bill
  • does not make changes which could be made by amending the text of the bill
  • does more that simply reject the bill, without stating alternative proposals.

 

Moving and debating a reasoned amendment

A member moves a reasoned amendment by reading it out when debating the bill. At this point members in the Chamber get a copy. After this, members can debate both the bill, and the amendment.

Effect of agreeing to a reasoned amendment

If the Legislative Assembly agrees to an amendment, the bill lapses, and does not go ahead.

It is rare for the Assembly to agree to a reasoned amendment. The Assembly agreed to a reasoned amendment in 2014 but, before that, it last happened in 1933.

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