Say I know of a law (could be any law but I’ll try to choose a recent one as the records don’t go back all that far) and say its the FAIR WORK ACT 2009. I found this through AustLii, now I want to find the bill that this act was created from, as well as any bills that lead to amendments to this act. This information cannot be found in the Act itself. I could do a search on AustLii for the Act Name minus the year and the word Act, and add the word Bill, but because I don’t know enough about parliamentary procedure I don’t know if this is the rule and all acts must be named the same as the bill, or this is just something commonly done. Ideally there should be some references in the database that link bills to an act (if it has been passed).
Now that I have located a Bill I can read the bill on AustLii, but I’ve heard that there are these things called “First Reading”, “Second Reading” and so on that happen in parliament that give the reasons for the introduction of a bill. I want to find that information. So I head over to openaustralia.org,
Because I’m not too familiar with parliamentary practice I don’t know where these first and second readings fit in. So I do a search for “FAIR WORK BILL 2009″ Second Reading”.
I have to manually look down the list for one that appears to be the second reading. Sure there may be technical reasons for this which may explain this but at first glance it seems that debates that are the Second Reading of a Bill appear to end with “: Second Reading”. Perhaps an advanced search could use this to determine if a debate is a Second Reading of a Bill or not. Looking at the XML data provided by OpenAustralia for that day you can see that the debate has a minor-heading of “Second Reading”, so sorting and searching by this attribute shouldn’t be too hard.
Admittedly I don’t know enough about the way parliament works. Are these second readings mandatory or just customary?