Tabling in Parliament
Specific legislation controls the tabling of subordinate legislation and some reports by committees, agencies and statutory offices are required by law to be tabled in Parliament within certain timeframes. Other papers are tabled as a matter of practice or convention to keep Parliament informed of important ministerial decisions or to facilitate informed debate on important issues.
Parliamentary papers are usually tabled on every Tuesday that Parliament is sitting, but they can be tabled on Wednesday and Thursday, if specifically requested. While the preference is often for a report to be tabled in both Houses of Parliament on the same day, there are occasions when only one of the Houses of Parliament is sitting on a particular day, in which case documents are tabled on different days.
Regulations and rules are tabled after they have been published in the Government Gazette. This occurs on the next available Tuesday that Parliament is sitting.
Cabinet Office coordinates the tabling of subordinate legislation and other parliamentary papers. Subordinate legislation that is made by the Governor in Executive Council is tabled automatically; other papers must be sent by ministers’ offices to Cabinet Office for processing.
Procedure for Tabling
Three copies of each document, plus a copy on a CD/USB, must be provided to Cabinet Office with a covering minute specifying the date/s that the item is to be tabled in Parliament. One copy of the document is tabled in each House, and the Opposition receives the third copy. Cabinet Office does not retain any copies of the documents. The electronic copy is provided to the House of Assembly.
Documents can be tabled in one House on one day and in the other House on another day, when they are next sitting. However, the preference is for the document to be tabled in both Houses on the same day, thus the importance of specifying a particular date in the covering minute.
All documents to be tabled must be received by Cabinet Office no later than 5.00pm the day before the item is to be tabled. Items should be marked “Attention: Senior Executive Council Clerk”. If an item that must be tabled on a particular day is not received within timeframes, alternative arrangements will need to be discussed with Cabinet Office.
When Parliament is sitting, Cabinet Office provide advice to ministers’ chiefs of staff and Parliamentary officers about the items to be tabled by all ministers in both Houses.
Advice is also provided when there are no items to be tabled.
Amendment after Tabling
Generally, once a document has been tabled in Parliament, the originating agency should not add to, delete from, or amend it in any way. If any change must be made after the document has been tabled, the additional material is required to go through the same tabling procedure as the original document. Alternatively, if the error is in an annual report, it, may be corrected in the annual report for the following year.
Acts Assented to
After Acts have received assent, messages are sent to each House of Parliament advising that assent has been given. The messages in relation to assent are prepared by Cabinet Office and are presented to both Houses of Parliament on the next available Tuesday that Parliament is sitting.