A quick overview of key stats and facts from the Legislative Council’s work in 2020

What a year! The stats for 2020 are in and, as with many other parts of life, the year was an unprecedented one for the Legislative Council. Each and every week was notable for both the quantity and diversity of business considered.  Interested to see what the Council’s work involved? Let’s have a closer look…

Table of key Legislative Council statistics for 2020

Sitting days and hours 

Members in the ‘socially-distanced’ chamber, one of the COVID-safe arrangements implemented when the House resumed sitting

With the closure of the Parliament in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the passage of the special adjournment motion, it looked as though the Parliament would not sit again until September 2020. But with the COVID-19 situation ever changing, at the request of the Government, the President recalled the Council to sit on 12 and 13 May so that it could consider further emergency COVID-19 legislation. On the same day, the House agreed to a new sitting calendar, allowing it to resume a relatively normal schedule for 2020, with new COVID-safe arrangements in place.

In total, the Council sat for 38 days over 14 sitting weeks, including all four days of the reserve sitting week. This last week included one sitting ‘day’ which spanned a mammoth 32.5 hours, where members debated over 250 amendments to a single bill! With the Council engaged in complex matters, including a contempt motion, multiple censure motions and many hours in committee of the whole, post-midnight sittings also occurred fairly regularly in 2020, with 14 sitting days extending beyond midnight – pass the coffee!

Overall, the average length of a sitting day in 2020 was 11.7 hours, well above the 8.1 hour average in the four years to 2019.

During these hours, members asked a total of 815 questions without notice in the House and lodged 1775 written questions on notice (What’s the difference? Read here) The House also passed 44 Government bills (making amendments to 28 of them) as well as 8 Private Members’ Bills.

A huge increase in orders for papers

Along with more hours in the average sitting day, the House did more, more, more of almost everything. This included agreeing to more orders for papers than ever before. In fact, there was a 600 per cent increase in orders for papers agreed to under Standing Order 52 in 2020, compared to the average of the previous four years. Wondering what orders for papers are? Learn more here.

As we mentioned in last year’s statistics review, there’s been a huge increase in orders for papers agreed to in this Parliament, owing to the current composition of the House. This shows that even with the curveballs thrown by COVID, the House continued to take its role in scrutinising the Executive very seriously.

The figures in full

If you’re hungry for more info, here are all the key figures from the year:

Sitting days38
Average hours per sitting day11.7
Days sat past midnight14
Government bills passed44
Government bills amended28
Private members’ bills passed8
Amendments to bills circulated762
Amendments to bills moved742
Amendments to bills agreed to306
Private Members Business passed304
Standing Order 52 orders agreed to (orders for papers)116
Written questions1775
Questions without notice (questions asked in question time)815
Matters of Public Importance moved5
Disallowances moved3

Next week we’ll continue diving into other recent occurrences in the House – up first, the use of Standing Order 163!

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