History and purpose of the committee
The Legislation Committee was established on May 24 2001, in the first session of the Thirty Sixth Parliament, as part of a series of changes to the Legislative Council committee system. The Committee replaced the Legislative Council Standing Committee on Legislation (1989-2001).
Unlike scrutiny of legislation committees of other Australian Parliaments, in Western Australia:
- the scrutiny of legislation was divided between the Joint Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation (scrutiny of subsidiary legislation), the Committee (scrutiny of primary legislation) and the Legislative Council Standing Committee on Uniform Legislation and General Purposes (2002-2005)(scrutiny of uniform legislation); and
The primary function of the Committee was to consider and report on any bill referred by the Legislative Council. Most bills can be referred by the Legislative Council to its committees, the exceptions generally being appropriation, taxation and loan bills. The Committee was able to consider bills in more detail than would be possible in the limited time available in the Council itself, and to report its findings to the Council. The Committee could not itself amend a bill, but would often recommend amendments or further review of particular matters in its report to the Council. Under parliamentary convention, most inquiries of the Committee focused on the feasibility, clarity and technical competence of a bill rather than a bill's policy. Unless otherwise ordered by the House the Committee could not inquire into matters of policy raised by the bill.
Prior to a change of its terms of reference on April 11 2002 the Committee also considered and reported on uniform legislation. That responsibility was transferred to the Legislative Council Standing Committee on Uniform Legislation and General Purposes (2002-2005).
The Committee was terminated and replaced on August 17 2005 by the Legislative Council Standing Committee on Legislation, which was established on the same date.
- the Committee did not scrutinise all tabled bills as a matter of course - it only scruntised bills if they were specifically referred by the House.