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    7.1 Legislation program

    A program of legislative proposals provides the necessary mechanism to facilitate:

    • prompt and efficient preparation of government Bills;
    • orderly consideration of Bills by Cabinet, Bills Committee and Caucus, having regard to policy priorities, administrative urgency, public commitment and other policy considerations;
    • planned introduction of Bills into Parliament with maximum opportunity for informed debate in the Parliament;
    • an even flow of legislation throughout Parliamentary sittings; and
    • coordination of principal and Subordinate Legislation so that policy objectives of the government are comprehensively and effectively addressed.

    These objectives are best met if legislative proposals are planned as far ahead as possible and the timing of Cabinet consideration and the drafting of Bills is planned to make maximum use of Parliamentary recesses and sittings.

    7.1.1 Formulation of a program

    Prior to each Parliamentary sitting, Ministers will be requested to confirm to the Leader of the House proposals for legislation to be introduced in the next sitting and to indicate the priority and urgency which the Minister attaches to each proposal.

    Ministerial legislative proposals are classified Cabinet-in-Confidence and are subject to the rules applying to the secure handling of Cabinet documents.

    Three levels of priority may be placed on proposed legislation:

    • "Essential for passage" status may be applied by the Leader of the House and Caucus where:
      • the originating Minister considers the passage of the Bill is essential for policy, legal or administrative reasons; and
      • that the consequences of not passing the Bill would amount to a serious policy omission or give rise to serious legal or administrative difficulties; and/or
    • "Desirable for passage" status may be applied where the policy is not yet broadly settled, or other contingencies must be met, eg. consultation needs to be concluded; or
    • "Introduction only" status is used when the government requires the Bill to "lie on the table" of the Legislative Assembly to allow public scrutiny of the proposed legislation during the sitting.

    In making proposals for priorities, consideration should also be given to the matters set out in Part 5 of the Standing Orders dealing with the legislative process. Part 5 provides that once a Bill is introduced it will be examined by a portfolio committee for up to six months unless:

    • the Committee of the Legislative Assembly determines that the Bill be reported on in a particular timeframe and advises the House accordingly;
    • a Minister or the Leader of the House moves that the Bill be reported on by a particular date;
    • a Minister or the Leader of the House moves that the Bill be declared urgent (so that the Bill may be expedited through all stages); or
    • the House otherwise orders.

    7.1.2 Core program

    The Leader of the House may make a recommendation to Cabinet on a core program of "essential for passage" legislation, comprising those Bills to which a high degree of importance is attached for policy, budgetary or legal reasons.

    Core program Bills should receive priority over other Bills with regard to the preparation of Cabinet submissions and drafting instructions, the forwarding of any further instructions required, and the drafting and printing of Bills.

    Cabinet may confirm the legislative program for each sitting. Cabinet may also set deadlines by which Authority to Prepare a Bill or Authority to Introduce a Bill submissions should be received. These dates vary depending on whether a Bill is intended for introduction and passage in a sitting or for introduction only.

    Ministers may bring forward Authority to Prepare a Bill or Authority to Introduce a Bill submissions, subject to the Premier's concurrence. A Bill's status on the legislative program for introduction and passage (or introduction only) depends on the submission being received by the relevant deadlines or by its priority.  It is the responsibility of Ministers and departments to ensure that proposals for Bills to be prepared for passage reach the Leader of the House in a timely manner.

    A decision by the Leader of the House or by Cabinet on a Bill's priority in no way constitutes approval in principle for the policy details underlying that Bill. Approval in principle for the policy is a separate process controlled collectively by Cabinet.

    7.1.3 Controlling the volume and quality of legislation

    Legislation is introduced only for those matters that are essential to the government's objectives and which cannot be achieved in other ways, bearing in mind legal requirements and Parliamentary obligations and conventions. The need for legislation must be reviewed carefully when a proposal is first formulated and the Authority to Prepare a Bill submission must include justification for legislation as the most appropriate means of proceeding.

    In general, legislation should only be recommended:

    • to redefine or extend existing rights or obligations;
    • to circumscribe or extend powers;
    • if there is a constitutional requirement;
    • to raise revenue; or
    • if it is justified for important policy reasons.

    To ensure the efficiency of new and amended regulation and avoid unnecessary compliance costs on business, community and government, and restrictions on competition, all Policy, Authority To Prepare, Authority To Introduce and Authority To Forward Significant Subordinate Legislation submissions must demonstrate consideration of regulatory best practice principles.

    The Queensland Government has committed to ensuring that all regulatory processes are consistent with the following COAG principles:

    • establishing a case for policy action before addressing a problem;
    • a range of feasible policy options must be considered, including self-regulatory, co-regulatory and non-regulatory approaches, and their benefits and costs
    • assessed;
    • adopting the option that generates the greatest net benefit for the community;
    • in accordance with the Competition Principles Agreement, legislation should not restrict competition unless it can be demonstrated that:
      1. the benefits of the restrictions to the community as a whole outweigh the costs, and
      2. the objective of the regulation can only be achieved by restricting competition;
    • providing effective guidance to relevant regulators and regulated parties in order to ensure that the policy intent and expected compliance requirements of the regulation are clear;
    • ensuring that regulation remains relevant and effective over time;
    • consulting effectively with affected key stakeholders at all stages of the regulatory cycle; and
    • government action should be effective and proportional to the issue being addressed.

    These principles are considered in greater detail in The Queensland Government Guide to Better Regulation. The consideration of these principles throughout the regulatory development process will assist in ensuring that the final regulatory proposal reflects regulatory best practice.

    7.1.4 The Queensland Government Guide to Better Regulation

    All departments, agencies and statutory bodies should consider the application of the Queensland Government Guide to Better Regulation when developing policy that may potentially lead to a regulatory response. The Guide outlines a sequence of policy development actions used to assess the need for, and impacts of, proposed regulation including Primary and Subordinate Legislation, and some quasi-regulation. The Guide aims to support Cabinet decision making by helping departments demonstrate proposed regulation is necessary, efficient and effective, and minimises regulatory burden on business, community and government. Departments are strongly encouraged to consider the application of the Guide early when developing policy and to have early and ongoing engagement with the Office of Best Practice Regulation (OBPR) within the Queensland Productivity Commission, Treasury Department, and the Department of the Premier and Cabinet to help ensure the best policy outcome.

    In departments’ application of the Queensland Government Guide to Better Regulation, certain documentation may be produced in the development of a regulatory proposal, such as a Preliminary Impact Assessment, Consultation RIS and/or a Decision RIS. Such documentation should be provided to OBPR for its assessment and, in the case of a RIS, attached to the relevant Cabinet submission (e.g. Policy, Authority to Prepare, Authority to Introduce, Authority to Forward Significant Subordinate Legislation). OBPR’s formal advice in relation to these documents (including advice that a RIS is not required) should also be attached to the Cabinet submission.

    Departments should be aware that, if required, a Consultation RIS has a minimum public consultation period of 28 days, and should factor this into the policy development, approval and drafting timeframes.

    Wherever possible, departments should quantify the compliance cost impacts of a regulatory proposal on business, the community or government. OBPR can provide departments advice on calculating compliance costs.

    For further details, please refer to The Queensland Government Guide to Better Regulation and OBPR.

    7.1.5 Monitoring the legislative program

    The Leader of the House will review the progress of the legislative program as a whole and of Bills included for each sitting. 

    Scheduling of the passage of the Bill will depend on a variety of factors including its urgency, status of other Bills listed for debate, and the volume of legislation required for passage.

    It should be noted that it is a minimum requirement under the Standing Orders and to enable proper scrutiny of a Bill for it to sit on the floor of the Parliament for at least 13 calendar days following introduction.

    However, it cannot be assumed that passage will occur following the minimum 13 calendar day requirement.

    Details of proposed passage and commencement dates should be included in the information that is regularly provided to the Premier concerning Ministers' legislative programs.  No public announcement about proposed passage and commencement dates for legislation should be made without the Premier's prior written approval.

    The Premier's approval of proposed passage and commencement dates must be included in the Authority to Introduce submission in the "Issues" section under the subheading, 'Approved Timing of Passage and Commencement'. The Parliamentary Liaison Officer must be consulted in relation to these matters.  Refer to Chapter 6.2.2 Departments and committees to be consulted.

    The Cabinet Secretariat may prepare Legislation Progress Reports for presentation to the Leader of the House showing the stage reached in the development of each legislative proposal. These reports may provide information on:

    • Bills which have received Authority to Prepare a Bill approval from Cabinet but have not yet been approved as Authority to Introduce a Bill;
    • the critical dates which should apply to elements of the legislative program;
    • the drafting status of each Bill and whether further instructions are required; and
    • Bills which have received Authority to Introduce a Bill approval but have not yet been introduced.

    On the basis of this information, Ministers may be asked by the Leader of the House, to advise Cabinet on the progress of particular Bills.

    Following Ministerial approval, CLLOs are responsible for providing the Cabinet Secretariat with updated information on the status of every Bill under their Minister's control.

    7.1.6 Late additions

    All legislation should be planned in time for inclusion in the legislative program. When a genuinely unforeseen Bill becomes necessary after Ministers have made their initial bids, the Minister responsible must seek approval from the Leader of the House for the inclusion of the Bill on the program. Late bids will then be discussed with the Premier. In the request the Minister should indicate:

    • that the need for legislation could not have been foreseen;
    • that the legislation is urgent and unavoidable; and
    • the Bill's priority relative to other Bills which the Minister has put forward and which Bill could be omitted if necessary to make way for the new Bill.

    7.1.7 Withdrawing a Bill

    A Minister wishing to withdraw a Bill from the program following Authority to Prepare approval from Cabinet should consult with the Leader of the House and the Premier.

    7.1.8 Altering the program status of a Bill

    A Minister who wishes to alter the program status of a Bill should seek endorsement from the Leader of the House. The circumstances surrounding the reason for the proposed change should be explained, together with implications if the Bill is not passed.

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    Last updated:
    10 August, 2020
    Last reviewed:
    4 July, 2017