How a Law is Made

One of Parliament’s major roles is to make laws. There are five key steps involved in making a law, which are outlined below. You can also watch our animation or view the flow chart to understand how Parliament makes laws.

1) Policy development

The first stage in the legislative process is developing an idea for new or changed laws. Ideas can be generated from a number of sources, including election commitments, lobby groups, public opinion, the media and the public service.

2) Draft Bill

This stage involves converting the policy idea into draft legislation that will eventually be placed before Parliament as a Bill. For the Government, the technical detail of each clause is drafted by the Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel (OCPC). Private Members must draft their own Bills, unless approval is given by the Premier for OCPC to draft the Bill on their behalf. Once the Member or Minister is happy with the draft Bill, it can be introduced into the Parliament.

3) Parliamentary process

A Bill can be introduced in either House but must be passed by both Houses before it can become a law. In each House, the Bill passes through a number of stages known as readings.

A summary of the readings is below. For greater detail on the stages of a Bill, see Legislative Assembly Fact Sheet 2: Stages of a Bill or Legislative Council Information Sheet 10: Bills.

Introduction and First Reading

The introduction is a formal stage at which the Member introducing the Bill reads the long title of the bill. At this stage, the Bill is still confidential and is not available in hard copy or on Parliament’s website.

Second Reading

The Clerk announces the Bill by reading its short title and the Member moves that it be read a second time. The Member then makes the second reading speech outlining the Bill’s intentions. Following the second reading speech, debate on the bill is adjourned to give Members time to study the Bill.

When the Bill is next called on for debate, Members can make speeches in support or against the Bill. At the conclusion of the second reading debate, Members vote on the Bill. If the Bill is supported by a majority of Members, it proceeds to the next stage.

Consideration in Detail (Legislative Assembly) or Committee of the Whole (Legislative Council)

This stage may be dispensed with if all members agree. It is generally used where amendments to the bill are moved or where, for example, the Opposition wishes to debate the clauses of the bill in detail or ask questions to the Member who introduced the Bill.

Third Reading

There may be some debate at the third reading stage but normally most of the debate will have already taken place. Once a Bill passes its third reading, it has passed through all stages in the House.

4) Royal Assent

Once a Bill has been passed by both Houses of Parliament in the same form, it is presented to the Governor of Victoria for Royal Assent.

5) Commencement

Some Bills come into operation immediately after they have received Royal Assent. Other Bills do not become operational until the commencement date, which is a future date specified in the Bill. Other Bills come into operation ‘on a day to be proclaimed’, which is a future date decided by the Governor, acting on advice of the responsible Minister.