FPL Advisory’s Policy Analyst Emily Clifford explores five key steps involved with how policy becomes law in Victoria
How exactly does a policy idea become law? Not all policy reforms require legislation or even regulation but for those that do, it can be broken down into five basic steps.
1. Development of Policy
Development of policy begins with the idea to change current or create new law. Often these ideas are developed to reflect changing needs within a society and can be generated from a variety of sources, such as election commitments, the result of an inquiry or commission or through public service, public opinion or media. The policy idea with legislative reform is then negotiated through executive government and departmental processes to secure Cabinet Approval in Principal (AiP) which is considered the key decision to secure Cabinet support to introduce legislative reform.
2. Final Cabinet Approval
The policy reform is brought back to Cabinet in final legislative form (Bill at Cabinet or BAC) after drafting by the Office of Parliamentary Counsel. Cabinet will then approve the Bill to form part of the Government’s legislative agenda at a future parliamentary sitting date.
3. Parliamentary Debate
The drafted Bill is then introduced to Parliament by the responsible Minister or proxy on behalf of the Government. The Bill goes through a series of three readings that entail introducing the Bill by full title and outlining the Bill’s intentions. During the Second Reading the Bill is debated; this deliberation can provide key insight into the intention and purpose of the Bill and what is aimed to be achieved by passing it. During the final reading stage limited further Parliamentary examination occurs and the Bill is reviewed in its final form. Parliamentary Members vote on the Bill and if supported by a majority of members, the Bill will pass to the other House of Parliament for consideration. A Bill must pass through Both Houses of Parliament before it can become law.
4. Royal Assent
Once the Bill has been passed by both Houses of Parliament the Governor General of Victoria, representing the Queen, ‘assents’ to the Bill – this is a formal process that approves an act of legislature. Once Royal Assent has occurred, the Bill becomes an Act (although it does not necessarily come into operation immediately).
Once the Bill has commenced, it applies as law. Commencement occurs on a day specified in the Act or on ‘a day to be proclaimed’, the date decided upon by the Governor, acting on the advice of the responsible Minister. Often law will be followed by regulations which provide the detail of how the law will be applied.
Emily Clifford is a Policy Analyst at FPL Advisory.
FPL Advisory is a team of specialists resolving risks and creating opportunities with respect to government. We work with public sector and corporate clients to execute strategies for owning and managing change