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The Queensland Parliament’s activities in 2013

Parliament House 2013

With the new year upon us, it is timely to look back on the Queensland Parliament’s activities in 2013.

During 2013 there were 13 parliamentary sitting weeks as well as two weeks of Estimates Committee hearings.

A total of 71 Bills were introduced during the year with 59 of these being referred to the Parliament’s portfolio committees for examination. (Two of these 71 Bills were discharged under Standing Order 87 before committees had reported on them or the Parliament had considered them).

The Parliament passed 64 Bills into law during the year, with 18 of these Bills having been introduced in 2012 and 46 of them introduced in 2013. A further 23 Bills that were introduced during 2013 are awaiting consideration in 2014.

The consideration of Bills by the Parliament, that is, their introduction and debate by Members of Parliament, accounted for just over half of the Parliament’s sitting time during 2013. The chart below outlines the full breakdown of all business conducted in the Assembly during the year-

(Other parliamentary business includes matters of public interest, adjournment debate, disallowance of statutory instruments, address-in-reply and debate of committee reports etc.)

Question Time is the hour allocated each sitting day for Members of Parliament to ask Ministers questions relating to their Ministerial responsibilities. During 2013, a total of 660 questions were asked ‘without notice’ in Question Time. A further 884 questions were asked ‘on notice’, with Ministers having 30 calendar days to formally respond to these.

Parliament is also an important forum for Members to make statements about matters of importance. A total of 655 such statements were made by Members during 2013 with 305 of these being Ministerial Statements and 350 of the statements made by non-government and back-bench Members.

By tradition, Members of Parliament table petitions in Parliament, with each of these then forwarded to the relevant Minister for a response. Petitions are a means by which citizens can make requests direct to their Parliament. In 2013, 167 petitions were tabled with a total of 126,594 persons having signed these. In addition to these petitions, Members also tabled 2,280 documents during the year relating to matters referred to during their speeches. Each of these tabled documents are able to be accessed on-line via the Parliament’s Tabled Papers Database.

Committees examine Bills and other issues of importance by holding hearings, calling for submissions and receiving expert advice. As noted above, committees examined 59 Bills during the year. Other matters of importance that Committees inquired into during 2013 included:

Some of these inquiries above are on-going. Committees held 103 public hearings during 2013 with many of these being broadcast on the Parliament’s web site. Members of the public and stakeholder groups with an interest in any committee inquiries are encouraged to contact the relevant committee and get involved with these inquiries. Full details of all current committee inquiries and committee contact details are available on the Parliament’s web site.

Committees publish reports on their findings and where appropriate, make recommendations on how they believe proposed legislation can be improved. These reports are all publicly available and can be accessed from the Parliament’s web site.

Another function of the portfolio committees is to serve as the Estimates Committees during the Parliament’s annual budget process. Following the introduction in Parliament of the proposed budget for the upcoming year (the Appropriation Bill), each portfolio committee holds a hearing to scrutinise the proposed spending of the departments within its portfolio areas. This occurs in the Legislative Council Chamber at Parliament House with each Minister, their Director-General and other senior staff able to be questioned. The committees then report on their consideration of the estimates before the Parliament decides whether to grant supply by passing the Appropriation Bill. In 2013, the estimates hearings occurred over two weeks in July with the budget then passed during the following Parliamentary sittings in August.

The Parliament is scheduled to next meet from 11-13 February 2014.