The parliamentary pipeline: How laws get made in New Zealand

You probably know that Parliament is where our laws are made - but how much do you know about how it happens? How does a law go from words on paper to being enforced by police? Newshub's Mitchell Alexander explains.

The law-making process begins when a 'bill', which is just another word for draft law, is brought before the House for debate.

They come in four types:

Government bills, which the Government drafts and introduces

Members bills, which any MP who is not a minister may draft and introduce.

Local bills, which the MP for the local area affected usually introduces

Private bills, which any MP can introduce on behalf of the individual person affected

After a bill is introduced to the house, the first major stage of the parliamentary pipeline is the first reading where the house debates the broad strokes of the bill.

Most draft laws will pass this stage fairly easily. The next stage - select committee is where a bill is most likely to undergo significant changes.

Select committees are essentially specialised groups of MPs appointed after each general election. Their job is to take a hard look at draft laws after their first reading and suggest changes.

During this process, members of the public can influence the proposed law by making submissions to the committee, and can even attend the select committee meetings.

After MPs on the committee consider suggestions, they make recommendations to the House. The bill now moves on for the next round of debate, its 'second reading'.

This time MPs examine changes suggested by the select committee as well as the principles of the bill.

If every member of the select committee agreed to a proposed change, it is automatically written into the bill. If the committee isn't divided over a suggested change, it gets put to a vote.

If the House votes the bill through its second reading, the next hurdle is the Committee of the Whole House.

This step is a slightly less formal debate - there's no time limit and the Speaker doesn't take the chair. Controversial bills might be before the House for several days. This is generally the last chance for serious changes to the bill.

The third reading is the last hurdle for a bill, with the House voting a straight yes or no after a debate of the bill in its final form.

Most bills usually pass this stage and go on to get the final seal of approval - royal assent. That’s when the Governor-General, acting for the Queen, signs the bill into law.

And there you have it - from just a thought in an MPs head all the way to being signed off by our head of state, that's how we make a law in New Zealand.

Watch the video for Mitchell's full explainer.

Ticked Off is an ongoing series keeping you in the know with what's going on in the political world.

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