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About legislation and law-making

Laws are the formal rules that regulate our behaviour. Legislation is the law made by, or under the authority of, the Parliament. Legislation is also called statute law. In Queensland, the law is also made by the courts. Law made by the courts is known as common law.

The Office of the Queensland Parliamentary Counsel is responsible for drafting and publishing Queensland’s statute law.

Queensland Parliament House

Queensland's principal law-making body

The Parliament of Queensland is the principal law-making body for this State. The Parliament comprises the King (whose representative in Queensland is the Governor) and the Legislative Assembly, which consists of 93 elected members of Parliament.

Under the Constitution Act 1867, sections 2 and 2A, the Parliament of Queensland has the power to make laws for the peace, welfare and good government of the State. A law, called an Act, is made by the Parliament when a Bill for the Act is passed by the Parliament and, after its passage, is given assent by the Governor. The Constitution of Queensland 2001 and the Parliament of Queensland Act 2001 provide for matters related to the Parliament and its power to make laws.

Unlike other Australian States and the Commonwealth, Queensland has a unicameral (single chamber) Parliament. Other States have both a Lower House and an Upper House. Queensland’s Upper House, called the Legislative Council, was abolished in 1922.

Delegated law-making power

The Parliament delegates aspects of its law-making power to other entities, in particular, the Governor in Council (the Governor acting with the advice of the Executive Council of Queensland—see section 27 of the Constitution of Queensland 2001). Instruments made under this delegated power are called statutory instruments. Government Ministers, Directors-General of government departments or other entities, such as the Workers' Compensation Regulator or the South Bank Corporation, may also be delegated the power to make statutory instruments.

Subordinate legislation is a category of statutory instrument that, in general, is an instrument of a legislative character made by an entity exercising a delegated law-making power under the authority of an Act. The most widely used and known type of subordinate legislation is the regulation. There are other forms of statutory instruments including, for example, proclamations that commence provisions of an Act, rules (most commonly, rules of court), standards and notices.

The Statutory Instruments Act 1992 sets out procedures that must be followed after subordinate legislation is made for it to have effect as a law. 

The Parliament has oversight of all subordinate legislation and may disallow any instrument. After it is made, subordinate legislation must be tabled in the Legislative Assembly. All instruments of subordinate legislation are examined by a committee of members of Parliament, known as a portfolio committee. A vote in the Legislative Assembly is needed to disallow subordinate legislation.