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 under 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 —
Ms Hennessy presented by Command of the Governor:
County Court of Victoria — Report 2016–17
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 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 2019 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
PENALTY RATES AND FAIR PAY SELECT COMMITTEE — Ms Williams, Chair, presented the Final Report from the Penalty Rates and Fair Pay Select Committee, together with appendices, extract of proceedings, minority reports and transcripts of evidence.
Ordered to be published.
PUBLIC ACCOUNTS AND ESTIMATES COMMITTEE — Mr Pearson, Chair, presented a report from the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee on the
Ordered to be 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 under Acts of Parliament:
Australian Centre for the Moving Image — Report 2017–18
Deakin University — Report 2019
Disability Services Commissioner — Report 2017–18
Melbourne Water Corporation — Report 2017–18
Royal Children’s Hospital — Report 2017–18
Reports by independent officers of Parliament
The Victorian Ombudsman, the Auditor-General, the IBAC (anti-corruption) Commissioner 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.
Find out more: Fact Sheet H5: Independent Officers of Parliament.
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:
Beverley Hills Primary School — Requesting that the Legislative Assembly calls on the Government to commit to the funding required for the maintenance, repair and redevelopment of facilities at Beverley Hills Primary School, bearing 346 signatures (Mr Smith, Warrandyte).
Symour Train Line — Requesting that the Legislative Assembly calls on the Government to deliver 12 new trains for the Seymour train line to replace the diesel trains, reinstate a bunting maintenance yard at Seymour, introduce a fairer pricing system for residents from Kilmore to Seymour who travel to the city and commence track works to upgrade signals and improve or replace sections of the track, bearing 946 signatures (Ms Green).
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
Planning and Environment Act 1987 — Notices of approval of amendments to the following Planning Schemes:
Loddon — C40
Statutory Rules under the following Acts:
Children Youth and Families Act 2005 — SR 3
Wildlife Act 1975 — Wildlife (Prohibition of Game Hunting) Notice (Gazette S84, 8 March 2019)
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, the Ombudsman and parliamentary committees.
Tabling takes place when the Legislative Assembly deals with administrative matters, known as formal business. Each sitting day starts 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 document is considered tabled and 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.
Every sitting day, once documents have been tabled, we tweet from @VicParliament and update Assembly Live to let you know.
Once the documents are tabled they are publically available.
Use Parliament’s website to see what documents were tabled. Search the Votes and Proceedings or Hansard for a full list. Use the tabled documents database for a list of documents available online. Or phone the Legislative Assembly Procedure Office on 03 9651 8563 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Parliament publishes tabled reports on its tabled documents database.
Sometimes the Legislative Assembly Procedure Office has hardcopies available of parliamentary committee reports and reports by independent officers of Parliament.
The Procedure Office is open to the public. Call 03 9651 8563 or email email@example.com 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.
- Created: Wednesday, 25 March 2015 10:00
- Last Updated: Monday, 17 January 2022 12:54