Fact Sheet F1
Summary: Presenting a document to Parliament is called ‘tabling’ and ensures documents are officially publicly released. Most tabling is legally required. All tabled documents are listed in the Legislative Assembly’s minutes. When tabled, a document is publicly available and may be available online. The Assembly gives some documents a special status which protects the authors from being sued. These are called parliamentary papers
To comply with the law
Some Acts of Parliament require documents to be tabled. This is the most common reason for tabling and most annual reports of public organisations fall into this category.
Example record of documents tabled under Acts of Parliament
DOCUMENTS TABLED UNDER ACTS OF PARLIAMENT —
The Clerk tabled the following documents in accordance with Acts of Parliament:
Anti-Cancer Council Victoria — Report 2008 (two documents)
By the Governor’s direction
The Governor can require documents to be tabled. This is known as ‘by command’ of the Governor. Reports of the Supreme Court, County Court and Magistrates’ Court are tabled by command.
The Governor receives the report first. The relevant minister then contacts the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly to arrange its tabling.
Example record of a document tabled by command
DOCUMENT BY COMMAND OF THE GOVERNOR —
Mr Pakula presented by Command of the Governor:
County Court of Victoria — Report 2013–14
With the Assembly’s permission
Even if a report or document does not have to be tabled by law, it can still be tabled if the Legislative Assembly agrees. This is known as the Assembly ‘giving leave’ to table a document.
Example record of a document tabled by leave of the Legislative Assembly
UNIVERSITY OF DIVINITY — Report tabled by leave (Mr Merlino).
Parliamentary committee reports
Members of Parliament form committees that examine and report on topical issues. These committees gather information from the public, government departments, and representatives of business and other organisations. This allows committee members to be better informed and to promote public interest and debate on an issue.
Committees then prepare reports which are tabled in Parliament. Parliamentary committee reports are given protection from litigation, which is explained below.
Find out more: Fact Sheet G2: Parliamentary Committees.
Example record of parliamentary committee reports
FAMILY AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE — Ms Edwards, Chair, presented an interim report from the Family and Community Development Committee on the Inquiry into Abuse in Disability Services, together with appendices and transcripts of evidence.
Ordered to be tabled and the report and appendices published.
PUBLIC ACCOUNTS AND ESTIMATES COMMITTEE — Mr Pearson, Chair, presented from the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee, the 2015–16 Budget Estimates Hearings Alert Report together with appendices.
Ordered to be tabled and published.
Annual reports of public organisations
Most government departments and public organisations (for example hospitals and universities) must table annual reports. These reports contain financial and operational information for the past 12 months.
Example record of annual reports
DOCUMENTS TABLED UNDER ACTS OF PARLIAMENT — The Clerk tabled the following documents in accordance with Acts of Parliament:
Australian Centre for the Moving Image — Report 2008–09
Deakin University — Report 2009
Intellectual Disability Review Panel — Report 2008–09
Melbourne Water Corporation — Report 2008–09
Royal Children’s Hospital — Report 2008–09
Reports by independent officers of Parliament
The Victorian Ombudsman, the Auditor-General and some other independent officers of the Parliament regularly table documents. These documents are normally reports on investigations or inquiries they have carried out. The reports are generally given protection from litigation, which is explained below.
A petition is a request for action by the Legislative Assembly from anyone living in Victoria. Petitions may only be tabled in the Assembly by a member of Parliament.
Find out more: Fact Sheet G1: Petitions.
Example of petitions presented to the Legislative Assembly
PETITIONS — The Clerk announced that the following petitions had been lodged for presentation:
Funding for Regional Roads in Western Victoria — Requesting that the Legislative Assembly calls on the Government to provide funds for rural and regional roads in western Victoria, bearing 715 signatures (Ms Kealy)
Public Transport in Sandringham — Requesting that the Legislative Assembly calls on the Minister for Public Transport to maintain and improve the delivery of reliable public transport services within the Sandringham electorate, bearing 352 signatures (Mr Thompson, Sandringham).
Petitions ordered to be tabled.
Statement of compatibility: Human Rights and Responsibilities
A statement of compatibility with the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 must accompany every bill. The statement explains how the bill is compatible with human rights set out in the Act.
The minister tables the statement just before making the second reading speech. Hansard records the statements and they are available from the Procedure Office or from our website.
Regulations and official notices
All statutory rules (regulations or similar rules made under an Act’s authority) are tabled. Often a document has to be tabled to comply with the law. For example, when councils amend planning schemes, the amendments must be tabled within time limits.
Sometimes tabling is a trigger for members to consider taking action about an official decision. The Governor may, for example, have made an order on a minister’s recommendation. It is tabled and Parliament then has a set time period to disallow the order.
Example record of these documents
Environment Protection Act 1970 — Order declaring Waste Management Policy (Used Packaging Materials) (Government Gazette S94, 28 March 2006)
Planning and Environment Act 1987 — Notices of approval of amendments to the following Planning Schemes;
Bayside — C46
Casey — C46
Statutory Rules under the following Acts:
Associations Incorporation Act 1981 — SR 8
Co-operatives Act 1996 — SR 9
Some documents tabled in the Legislative Assembly are known as parliamentary papers. This means they are covered by parliamentary privilege and the authors cannot be sued over the contents.
A document can only be made a parliamentary paper if the Assembly agrees. Members vote on the motion that the document ‘be published’. This does not mean that Parliament actually organises the publication, but that it is published with Parliament’s authority. That authority gives it legal protection.
The Assembly only agrees to make a report a parliamentary paper if it needs legal protection. Common examples are reports from the Auditor-General and the Ombudsman.
Contact the Assembly Procedure Office on 03 9651 8563 if you are preparing a report for tabling which, you believe, needs protection.
Agencies and departments must provide hard copies of the document, along with a letter from the relevant minister asking for tabling. For some reports the Parliament also needs an electronic copy.
For delivery cut-off times and other details, call the Legislative Assembly Procedure Office on 03 9651 8563.
Tabling takes place when the Legislative Assembly deals with administrative matters, known as formal business. Wednesdays and Thursdays start with formal business. On a Tuesday, the Assembly starts with question time, and then deals with formal business.
Most of the documents must be tabled to comply with the law. The Clerk tables these documents by presenting the documents and announcing details to the Chamber.
When a member wants to table a document that is not covered by legislation, the member asks permission from the Assembly. If no member in the Chamber disagrees, the member gives the document to the Clerk.
Parliamentary committees regularly table reports. A committee member, normally the Chair or Deputy, presents these reports.
Documents tabled by command of the Governor are presented by a minister, usually the Attorney-General.
The Parliament usually publishes tabled reports on its tabled documents database.
The Legislative Assembly Procedure Office also has copies of parliamentary committee reports and reports by independent officers of Parliament. These are available to members of Parliament and their staff and, if stocks permit, to the public.
The Procedure Office is open to the public. Call 03 9651 8563 to check the availability of tabled documents.
Many agencies also put copies of their reports on their own website after they have been tabled. You can also approach them directly, especially if you need a hard copy.
- Last Updated: Thursday, 12 January 2017 09:57