Making Laws

Parliament is the law-making body which determines the rules of the society by which people live.

David Solomon, 1986
Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee public hearing held in Canberra on 1 March 2007

Photographs by DPS AUSPIC

The two houses of the Parliament, the Senate and the House of Representatives, are partners in the making of laws, as no law can be made without the agreement of the majority of members in each. The Queen, represented in Australia by the Governor-General, gives formal assent to legislation, and is also part of Parliament:

Section 1

The legislative power of the Commonwealth shall be vested in a Federal Parliament, which shall consist of the Queen, a Senate, and a House of Representatives, and which is hereinafter called 'The Parliament' or 'The Parliament of the Commonwealth'

The Australian Parliament makes laws for the 'peace, order, and good government' of Australia, in areas defined by the Constitution as being of national responsibility:

Section 51

51. The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to:

Trade and commerce ... Taxation... Bounties ... Borrowing money ... Postal, telegraphic, telephonic ... services ... naval and military defence ... Lighthouses, lightships, beacons and buoys Astronomical and meteorological observations Quarantine Fisheries ... Census and statistics Currency, coinage, and legal tender Banking ... Insurance ... Weights and measures Bills of exchange and promissory notes Bankruptcy and insolvency Copyrights, patents of inventions and designs, and trade marks Naturalisation and aliens Foreign corporations ... Marriage Divorce ... parental rights, and the custody and guardianship of infants Invalid and old-age pensions The provision of maternity allowances, widows' pensions, child endowment, unemployment, pharmaceutical, sickness and hospital benefits, medical and dental services ..., benefits to students and family allowances The service and execution ... of civil and criminal process ... The people of any race for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws Immigration and emigration The influx of criminals External affairs The relations of the Commonwealth with the islands of the Pacific The control of railways with respect to transport for ... naval and military purposes ... Railway construction and extension ... Conciliation and arbitration ... Matters in respect of which this Constitution makes provision until the Parliament otherwise provides ...