Forming Government and Passing Legislation: Activity Two

Passing a bill through the House of Representatives and Senate

1. Explain to students that they will be using a flow chart to record the steps involved in passing a bill through the House of Representatives and Senate. Ask students to also take down some brief notes associated with each of the steps.

Provide students with an A3 copy of the Pass the Bill flow chart. Using an interactive whiteboard or a data projector, show students the Parliamentary Education Office online interactive, Law making: Pass the Bill.

The headings for the steps in passing a bill used in the online interactive are recorded in this sample flow chart.

2. As a class, brainstorm a list of possible bills that could be proposed by either the government, the opposition or an Independent. For example:

  • extending the length of the school day
  • reducing the length of the school day
  • changing the school uniform
  • introducing/abolishing school uniforms.

The brainstormed bills need to be student-centered and have opposing points of view from a variety of people such as students, parents, teachers and the School Council. The tree diagram shows that there are nine possible voting outcomes for a Bill.

The number of MPs a party has will determine the success of the Bill. In most cases, a Bill will be proposed by the government and so its members will vote in favour of it – unless they are given a conscience vote.

Any MP can propose a Private Member’s Bill without the approval of their party as they doing this as a ‘private person’ rather than as a ‘party member’.

Additional background reading for the teacher on Private Members Bills can be found on What is a Private Members Bill?

3. Inform students that they will use the flow chart and tree diagram to create a script for a play that they will perform. Explain to students that they will write the:

  • government’s parts in the script if their party has won government
  • opposition’s parts in the script if they are in opposition
  • Independent part’s in the script if they are an independent.

Unlike scripts that are linear in structure, the students will be developing a script that asks the audience to make decisions about the direction the play will take using a ‘Choose your own adventure’ approach. This approach asks the audience to make a choice between two options. The students then perform that part of the script and continue with the play until the audience is asked to make another decision.

Points in the script that might ask the audience to make a decision about the direction of the play could include:

  • who is proposing the Bill (remember that it could be a Private Member’s Bill)
  • which Bill is being proposed
  • the order people are asked to speak to the House of Representatives Committee
  • the order people are asked to speak to the Senate Committee.

As a class, use a tree diagram to structure the play’s script.

4. Allocate different parts of the script for students to write based on the flow chart and tree diagram and the positions they hold in government or opposition. Provide time for the students to practice the play and finetune the play as necessary.

5. Ask each party to develop a series of questions and answers to test the audience’s knowledge of how legislation is passed. The quality of questions and answers (as well as the student’s ability to write a script based on the flow chart) can be used as a tool to assess the students’ knowledge and understanding of how government is formed and how legislation is passed.

Introduction | Activity OneActivity Three