Parliamentary committees have their own language which can sometimes be hard to understand. This glossary lists a number of words used by committees and explains what they mean.  

To view the Parliament's general glossary please visit:

Acts of Parliament (an Act)

An Act of Parliament (also called a statute or primary legislation) is a law made by the Parliament. All Acts start as Bills introduced into the Parliament. When a Bill has been agreed by the Parliament and received Royal Assent by the Governor, it becomes an Act.


A proposed change to the wording of a Bill or motion that a committee is considering or recommending.

Appropriation Bill

A Bill that authorises the executive (usually the Treasurer) to pay an amount from the consolidated fund. A Bill that potentially increases an existing appropriation, extends the objects and purposes of an existing appropriation, or alters the destination of an existing appropriation will itself amount to an Appropriation Bill. The annual Appropriation Bills which authorise the normal expenditure of government for each year are called the budget. Details of the Government’s spending plans are set out in the Budget papers that are included with each annual Appropriation Bill.


A proposal for a new law or a change to an existing law. A Bill may be introduced into the Parliament by a Government Minister (Government Bill), or a Member of Parliament who is not a Minister (Private Member’s Bill). For a Bill to become a law (an Act), it needs to be passed by the Parliament and receive Royal Assent.


A committee proceeding where representatives of a government department or entity provide information on a Bill or matters under examination by a committee.


The process for preparing and documenting the government’s economic policies and spending plans each year, resulting in the introduction of Appropriation Bills and the delivery of the associated Budget papers.

Budget papers

Documents that provide an overview of the government’s revenue and expenses and the proposed expenditure on physical assets, such as rail projects and property by each government department.

Casting vote

A vote by a committee chairperson to decide a matter when the result of a vote is equal (eg three votes for and three votes against).


A clause is part of a Bill. A Bill is made up of individual clauses which may be debated separately in Parliament. Any clause can be removed or amended - and new clauses may be added - before a Bill is passed. If a Bill becomes an Act of Parliament its clauses become the sections of the Act.

Clerk of the Parliament

The most senior permanent official of the Parliament who advises on procedure and records the decisions of the Parliament, and is the Chief Executive Officer of the Parliamentary Service.


A group of Members of Parliament who are delegated a task to do by the Legislative Assembly. In Queensland, there are three types of committees - portfolio, select and statutory. See definitions below.

Committee chairperson

Each committee has a chairperson, who is responsible for chairing committee meetings, briefings and hearings.

Committee deputy chairperson

Each committee has a deputy chairperson, who is responsible for chairing committee meetings, briefings and hearings, if the chairperson is unavailable.

Committee proceedings

A meeting, hearing or briefing of the committee.

Committee report

At the end of a committee’s inquiry, it will publish a report outlining its key findings. Committee reports may include recommendations or comments from the committee to the government or a Minister.

Committee secretariat

A small team that works for a committee. Secretariats support a committee by drafting reports, providing the committee with procedural advice, research and information, and arranging briefings and hearings.

Committee secretary

A parliamentary officer that the Clerk of the Parliament has appointed to assist a committee.

Committee - Portfolio committee

Portfolio committees examine legislation (Bills and subordinate legislation) and scrutinise the activities of government, including proposed expenditure through the Estimates process.

Committee - Select committee

Select committees are established on a temporary basis by an order of the House to inquire into specific select issues. For example, in 2016, a select committee was established to conduct an inquiry into the re-emergence of pneumoconiosis in Queensland coal mine workers.

Committee - Statutory committee

Statutory committees are established by statute (an Act), eg the Committee of the Legislative Assembly, Ethics Committee and Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee.

Delegated legislation

See definition of subordinate legislation.

Dissenting report

If a committee member disagrees with one, some or all of a committee’s recommendations contained in the committee’s report, the member can provide a ‘dissenting report’ to the committee’s report, including their findings and reasons.


The sums of money (Budget) the government proposes it will need to spend to provide works and services during a financial year. The term ‘Estimates’ also refers to the inquiries undertaken by committees into the proposed Budget for each portfolio area, including the hearings held to question the relevant Ministers and departmental staff.


Information (including views, opinions, feedback and recommendations) given in writing or in person to a committee.

Explanatory notes

Documents produced by government departments (for Government Bills) or Members of Parliament (for Private Members’ Bills) that explain the purpose of a Bill or subordinate legislation. All Bills and subordinate legislation must have accompanying explanatory notes.

Fundamental legislative principles

Fundamental legislative principles (FLPs) are the principles relating to legislation that underlie a parliamentary democracy based on the rule of law. The principles include that legislation must have sufficient regard to the rights and liberties of individuals and the institution of Parliament. Portfolio committees are responsible for examining whether Bills and subordinate legislation have sufficient regard to the FLPs.

Government member

A member from the party who forms government, currently the Australian Labor Party.

Government response

A Government Minister’s response to recommendations contained in a committee’s report. Government Ministers are required to respond to a committee report that recommends that the government or Minister take, or not take, particular action within 3 months after the report is tabled. The Minister may table an interim response, but must table a final response within 6 months of the tabling of the report.


The Governor of Queensland is the representative of Queensland’s head of state, the Queen. The Governor has a number of duties, including granting Royal Assent to Bills passed by the Legislative Assembly (see definition of Royal Assent).

Governor in Council

The Governor acting with the advice of Executive Council (Government Ministers) to give legal authority to actions or decisions of the Executive Government under Acts of Parliament or the Constitution, eg making subordinate legislation.


A committee proceeding where stakeholders and members of the public may present information or opinions about a Bill or other matter that the committee is examining. Hearings may be held in public or private. Public hearings may be attended by the public and may be watched live on the Parliament’s website. The transcript and video of the hearing is also available on the Parliament’s website following the hearing. Private hearings (in camera hearings) may be held by committees in certain circumstances, eg to discuss confidential or sensitive information. The public are not allowed to attend private hearings, the hearings are not broadcasted and the transcript is not published.


A word often used to refer to the Legislative Assembly.

Human rights statements and certificates

Documents produced by government departments (for Government Bills) or Members of Parliament (for Private Members’ Bills) that accompany Bills and subordinate legislation to explain any human rights issues.


An investigation by a committee. Inquiries are conducted on Bills or areas of policy the government or committee thinks the committee should investigate.

Interim committee report

A committee report on an inquiry which updates Parliament, but is not its final report. At this point the committee may release some, or all, of the information that it has received on the inquiry which was previously confidential.


Permission granted by the committee, eg ‘leave’ to table a document during a committee proceeding.


Another word for laws. Acts are called ‘primary legislation’, while subordinate legislation is legislation made by a person or organisation other than the Parliament, such as a Minister or a government agency, using powers delegated by the Parliament in an Act.

Legislative Assembly

The sole House of the Parliament of Queensland, made up of the 93 Members.

Member of Parliament (MP)

A person elected to the Legislative Assembly.

Non-government member

A member who is not from the party which forms government, e.g. a member of the Liberal National Party, Katter’s Australian Party, Queensland Greens and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party.

Opposition member

A member from the party which forms the ‘Official Opposition’, currently the Liberal National Party.


In Queensland, the Parliament is made up of the Legislative Assembly and the Queen’s representative, the Governor.

Parliamentary privilege

Includes, protection of a person providing information in a submission (that is accepted and published by a committee) or at a hearing so that the information given cannot be used against the person to form the basis of legal proceedings (criminal or civil), including defamation, breach of confidentiality, or perjury. See the 'Guide to making a submission' under the Guidelines link for more information.

Point of Order

A question to the chairperson as to whether proceedings in a meeting, briefing or hearing comply with rules (eg the Standing Orders).

Private Member's Bill

A Bill introduced by an individual Member of Parliament other than in the role of Premier or a Minister. The Member of Parliament may be a member of the government, but more usually is from the opposition, a minor party or an independent.


Everything that is said and done in committees.

Public gallery

The public seating area in each committee room.


Uploading a document to the committee’s website to make it publicly available.


The minimum number of committee members that must be present for a committee’s proceedings to be valid. Currently, a committee meeting has quorum if at least 4 committee members are present.

Readings (of a Bill)

The formal three stages of a Bill's passage through the Parliament, includes the First Reading - permission to introduce the Bill, usually followed by referral of the Bill to a committee; the Second Reading - debate on the Bill's underlying principles after the committee has tabled the report on its inquiry; and the Third Reading - the final stage prior to the Bill being passed.


Committees can include recommendations in their reports. These recommendations are usually to the Queensland Government. Examples of recommendations are that a Bill be passed, a Bill be amended or that the government consider introducing reforms in a certain area.


Editing a document, before publication, usually to remove confidential information. Committees sometimes agree to redact a document to protect a person’s privacy or remove information that cannot or should not be published.


A referral of a Bill or policy inquiry to a committee.


Legislation made by a person or organisation, such as the Minister or a government agency (not the Parliament), using powers delegated by the Parliament in an Act.

Royal Assent

This occurs when the Governor of Queensland, on behalf of the Queen, provides assent to a Bill. The Governor signs two parchment copies of the Bill. This is the point when a Bill becomes an Act or law.


When a committee uses its power to initiate an inquiry about a policy matter for consideration. For example, during the 56th Parliament the former Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee of its own motion decided to conduct an investigation of the closure of the Earle Haven residential aged care facility.

Standing Orders

The written rules, agreed by the Legislative Assembly, which govern the procedures and conduct of the Legislative Assembly and committees.

Statement of reservation

If a committee member agrees with one, some, or all of a committee’s recommendations in a report, but wishes to qualify or clarify their support or provide their reasons for support, the member may make a ‘statement of reservation’ to the committee’s report.


A statute is more commonly known as an Act, which is a written law passed by a legislative body.

Sub judice

If a particular criminal case or matter is under trial or being considered by a judge or court, the details cannot be referred to in oral or written evidence to a committee until a verdict and sentence have been announced, so that court proceedings are not jeopardised.


Committees can appoint a sub-committee, which must include at least three of its members, and refer to a sub-committee any of the matters the committee is empowered to consider. A sub-committee must have a chairperson and a deputy chairperson. A sub-committee meeting has quorum when the majority of its members are present.


A submission is usually a written document presenting a person’s or an organisation’s opinions and recommendations on a Bill or an issue being considered by a committee. Submissions can also be made orally or by video. See the 'Guide to making a submission' under the Guidelines link for more information.

Subordinate legislation

The term subordinate legislation, or delegated or secondary legislation, refers to legislation made by a Minister, department or other statutory body, under a power given by an Act (primary legislation). The most common types of subordinate legislation are: regulations, proclamations that provide for the commencement of Acts, rules, and by-laws.


The term used when a Member of Parliament formally presents a document to the Legislative Assembly. The term is also used when a committee member, or witness, presents a document to a committee during a committee proceeding.

Tabled document

A document tabled in the House or during a committee proceeding.

Taking a question on notice

If a question is not able to be answered during a briefing or hearing, the committee may agree to a witness providing the information requested in writing by a specified date. This is called taking a question on notice.

Terms of reference

When the Legislative Assembly refers a policy inquiry to a committee, the Assembly will usually provide the committee with terms of reference, which will outline the issue the committee has been directed to address and include guidance on how the committee should undertake its work. A committee may also provide its own terms of reference when it decides to undertake an inquiry.


A written record of what was said during a public or private hearing or briefing.


A person who gives evidence to a committee at a public or private hearing or briefing.