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    2.8 Establishing a practical timetable

    Well-drafted laws are generally not conceived and drafted within a short period of time. A Bill, particularly a large, complex or controversial Bill, can take a long period to complete.

    It may take a year or more for the policy for a medium-sized Bill to be developed (that is, from being originally conceived to obtaining Cabinet’s approval to prepare the Bill). Large, complex or controversial Bills may take a very long time. While it may be a relatively swift task to identify the broad parameters of a Bill, it is a much lengthier task to identify the detail of a Bill in a way that ensures its objectives are achieved in a practical, effective and efficient way.

    In establishing a timetable for putting into place a new legislative scheme, sensible provision must be made for every step of the process. This involves consideration of realistic time periods for:

    •  initial development of policy
    • consultation, both within and outside government, as required (in particular as required by The Queensland Cabinet Handbook) and as otherwise considered appropriate
    • departmental and Ministerial approval of the Cabinet Authority to Prepare a Bill submission, including preparation of the drafting instructions for the Bill
    • Cabinet approval of the Authority to Prepare a Bill submission
    • drafting
    • final consultation
    • final drafting and preparation of the Bill for introduction, including preparation of the explanatory notes for the Bill
    • departmental and Ministerial approval of the Cabinet Authority to Introduce a Bill submission
    • Cabinet approval of the Authority to Introduce a Bill submission
    • passage through the Parliament, including referral to a portfolio committee for examination for a period up to 6 months
    • subsequent commencement and implementation.

    Provision of appropriate periods of time for all of these steps is essential for the effective and efficient progressing of the legislative scheme.

    Experience suggests that, unless a Bill is given particular priority, the following time periods are realistic indicators of the time requirements for the drafting components of a Bill:

    • for a small Bill (20 pages or less)—3 months
    • for a medium Bill (21–90 pages)—6 months
    • for a large Bill (over 90 pages)—12 months.

    In allowing sufficient time for the drafting of the Bill, it must also be remembered that the priority given to the drafting of the Bill depends on the Bill’s priority at a whole-of-government level.

    Drafting time also depends heavily on the quality of the drafting instructions. Detailed, well-considered drafting instructions will repay the initial cost of time and resources in their preparation by minimising the drafting time needed to produce a final draft (see Chapter 3).

    Well-drafted laws, which can be expected to result from an appropriate preparation period, bring other rewards to government and the community generally. They are more easily understood and offer certainty in their application. This generally attracts a higher level of compliance because people better understand what the law requires of them. It also leads to less frequent litigation and less of a burden on the court system.

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    Last updated:
    18 May, 2016
    Last reviewed:
    13 November, 2013