Understanding a bill
Bills are made public at the second reading stage. You then have the chance to read the bill, and put your views to the minister and members. On this page, you can learn about the major parts of a bill.
On this page
The explanatory memorandum explains each clause in numerical order. It is not formally part of the bill.
Table of provisions
The table of provisions is like a table of contents. It gives a quick overview of the bill’s contents, and lets you easily locate clauses you may be interested in.
A longer bill can be divided into parts. Each part deals with a different aspect of the bill's subject matter. A part may also be split into divisions and subdivisions.
In the footer of the bill, you can find out whether it is an introduction print or amended print.
The introduction print is the first version of the bill. If the first House to consider the bill amends it, we print a new version, called the amended print.
The front page
The front page shows the House the bill was introduced in. If the bill is not a government bill, the name of the member introducing it is also shown.
Next, the short title is written. If the bill becomes an Act, the word 'Bill' in the short title will change to 'Act'.
The long title is written below the short title. This is a brief summary of the scope of the bill. If the bill becomes an Act of Parliament, the long title will be moved to an endnote at the back of the Act.
A preamble is an optional introduction. It gives reasons for the legislation, explains the context and clarifies its scope. When included, you will find it immediately after the long title.
Bills are divided into clauses, which are numbered and titled. Once a bill becomes an Act of Parliament, clauses are known as sections.
Clauses may be divided into subclauses, which in turn can be divided into subparagraphs. Clauses may also be grouped into chapters, parts, divisions and subdivisions.
Clause 1 sets out the bill's purposes. The clause can help you interpret the eventual Act.
Clause 2 is usually a commencement clause, outlining when the Act will come into operation. It is common for different sections of an Act to come into operation at different times.
Some provisions come into effect when they are proclaimed by the Governor. The bill may have an automatic commencement date which comes into effect if there is no proclamation.
If required, clause 3 contains specific definitions needed to understand the bill. These will be listed in alphabetical order and help avoid disputes over meanings.
Schedules appear after all the clauses. They are most commonly include consequential amendments to existing acts, as well as rules, maps, forms and fee scales.