The Government of the Republic of Nauru

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How does a Bill get enacted by Parliament?

Development of policy


Proposed laws usually come from government, although it is also possible for private members to make their own legislative proposals.


The ideas behind government Bills may come from a range of different sources: they may be part of government policy including the 'platform' on which government members campaigned and were elected; they may come from suggestions by Members or the community; a Bill may be required in order for Nauru to comply with its international obligations; or the idea may originate from a government department, particularly in relation to routine administrative matters.


Drafting of Bill


Bills are drafted either by the Office of Parliamentary Counsel or by external legal consultants, and all Bills go through the Office of Parliamentary Counsel for final checking.


In the case of government Bills, usually the Minister who is responsible for the Bill gives notice of his intention to introduce the Bill at a future sitting, and the presentation of the Bill is then placed on the notice paper.


Parliamentary procedure

When a Bill is presented to the House, the Clerk announces the motion to present the bill as listed on the notice paper. The Member then stands and presents the Bill to the House, and hands a signed copy of the Bill to the Clerk, together with an explanatory memorandum. The Clerk reads out the short title of the Bill. This is known as the first reading. Copies of the Bill and the explanatory memorandum are then circulated to all Members. At this point the Bill becomes a public document.

'The next step usually happens immediately with the Minister moving that the Bill 'now be read a second time'. He or she then makes a speech (second reading speech) explaining the purpose, general principles and effect of the Bill. At the end of the Minister's speech, debate on the Bill is adjourned (deferred) and set down as an item of business for a future sitting. The purpose of this pause in proceedings is to give Members time to study the Bill and its effects before speaking and voting on it, and to provide the opportunity for public discussion and reaction.'

Department of the Australian House of Representatives, 'Making Laws', House of Representatives Infosheet No.7, September 2008.

The second reading debate usually occurs at the next sitting after the Minister has delivered the second reading speech, and is the debate on the motion moving that the Bill be read a second time. This is the stage at which the substantive debate on the merits of the Bill takes place. At the end of the debate a vote is taken, and if the motion for the second reading is passed, this means the House has agreed to the Bill in principle. The Clerk then stands and reads out the short title of the Bill for second time.


The Standing Orders provide that following the second reading of a Bill, it is referred to the Committee of the Whole for consideration in detail, but in most cases leave is granted to proceed immediately to the third reading. When this happens, the Minister moves that the Bill be read a third time. There is usually no debate on the third reading motion, and if the motion is passed, the Clerk stands and read the short title of the Bill for the third time. This means the Bill has been passed by the Parliament. In the case of the constitutional amendment Bills of 2009 the House resolved itself into the Committee of the Whole to consider the Bills in detail and to amend the Bills. The Committee of the Whole House comprises every Member of Parliament.

When a Bill has been passed, the Clerk must present a true copy of the Bill to the Speaker which is signed by the Clerk, and if he is satisfied that there are no irregularities, the Speaker will certify that the Bill has been duly passed by Parliament. The Bill becomes law when it receives the certificate of the Speaker.


Commencement of Acts


A law does not necessarily commence, or come into force, as soon as it has received the certificate of the Speaker - it may come into force on a later date if it is so specified in the commencement provisions of the law.


Summary - Government Bills


The following outlines the steps that the government takes for the introduction and passage of government bills. It is also possible for private members to introduce their own bills, in which case the procedure would be somewhat different, as the initiative would not emanate for government and there would be no need for Cabinet approval of the Bill.

  1. Proposed legislative initiative emanates from Department and/or Minister (on occasion as a result of public initiative/demand or advice from consultants or regional initiative)
  2. Department seeks preliminary input from Parliamentary Counsel on legal and technical aspects of the proposal, including how it fits within the existing legislative framework and any major issues or obstacles with the proposal
  3. Department prepares an internal memorandum on the relevant policy and proposal (with assistance from Parliamentary Counsel if required) and Cabinet in consultation with any other Government Members makes an informal decision whether or not to proceed with the legislative proposal
  4. If Cabinet in consultation with other Government Members has approved the legislative proposal, Department provides drafting instructions to Parliamentary Counsel
  5. Bill is drafted by Parliamentary Counsel on the basis of drafting instructions and provided to Department/Minister for comment and to Secretary for Justice and Border Control for review and information
  6. Second draft Bill prepared by Parliamentary Counsel on the basis of feedback from the Department, Minister and Secretary for Justice and Border Control
  7. Public consultation if warranted (Cabinet decides whether consultation on a particular Bill is warranted, taking into account advice from Parliamentary Counsel and Secretary for Justice and Border Control)
  8. Final Draft Bill prepared by Parliamentary Counsel taking into account input from public consultation (if any) and input from the Deptartment, Minister and Secretary for Justice and Border Control, the Secretary for Finance and the Chief Secretary relating to the second draft; explanatory memorandum and second reading speech also prepared by Parliamentary Counsel
  9. Final Cabinet Submission by line Ministry for Cabinet's final approval for the Bill to be introduced
  10. Bill introduced to Parliament by the relevant Minister and read a first time; second and third readings deferred until following sitting
  11. Bill read a second time and debated, Bill read a third time and passed by Parliament
  12. Act certified by Speaker and Clerk, copy provided to Justice Department, Supreme Court and the Department responsible for administering the Act, as well as to PacLII