Last week was the final sitting week for the Legislative Council in 2019. Let’s look at some key stats to see how 2019 measured up against previous years!
2019 was an election year which meant the House did not start sitting until May. For this reason there were fewer sitting days – 35 – compared with the 48 sitting days in 2016, 2017 and 2018. However, the House packed in a lot of business during this time, sitting on average 9.21 hours per day rather than the 7.5 to 8 hrs per day in previous years.
The House sat past midnight six times, but due to a sessional order was forced to adjourn by 12.30 am, so no incredibly late nights of 3 or 4 am as in previous years.
Following the election, the new makeup of the House played a big role in dictating the business considered and what was agreed to. The Government now requires the votes of five members from other parties to implement its legislative agenda. This has resulted in a substantial drop in the number of Government bills passing and an increase to the number of amendments to bills being agreed to.
A big innovation at the start of the sitting year was reforming private members’ business day (read this blog post for the details). Private members’ business day is now longer and, thanks to short form motions, items can be debated and passed in a more expedient fashion. This means that more motions by private members are being debated rather than passing through formal business (a procedure where motions can be agreed to without any amendment or debate).
Of particular note were the number of private members’ business motions to order the production of government papers. The Legislative Council has the power to order government documents in order to scrutinise government decisions and hold the government to account. During the previous Parliament very few orders for papers were agreed to. But there has been a huge increase thanks to the change in numbers in the House. In fact, 2019 stands as the second highest year ever for orders for papers, only second to the 56 orders in 2006.