Do you know that the Legislative Council does not just consider government initiated policies but it also considers bills and matters of concern raised by non-government members? In fact, the Thursday of each sitting week has been set aside for debate on items of business that are not part of the government’s legislative program.

Given that the House will commence its new sitting pattern from next week, to help you follow the proceedings, let us share with you a bit more about what this non-government business day is and how it differs from the last Parliament.

The Council’s sitting pattern for the 57TH Parliament shows time slots on Thursday shaded in orange for debate on ‘General Business’, also known as ‘Private Members’ Business’. Any member, including a minister in their private capacity, may initiate Private members’ business. Members use this allocated time to initiate their own bills, or raise matters of interests to them and to their achievements and concerns of their constituents.

During this Parliament, there are new features introduced to help deal with more items of business more quickly:

  • Longer overall debate time: Private members’ business will now be debated all day until 10.00 pm as opposed to 3.30 pm in the last Parliament. This extension of time nearly doubles the total debate time for private members’ business.
  • Private members’ statements: Half an hour has been set aside on Thursday afternoons to allow members (ministers and parliamentary secretaries excluded) to raise issues of concern to them or their constituents. Members have three minutes to make their statement.
  • Short form motions: Members can request to shorten the debate time for their motions (excluding bills). Instead of a two hour debate, the House may decide to only debate a motion for 30 minutes.

Watch the new Private Members’ Business day in action when the House resumes next week, and read the blog next Friday to find out what happened.