What is instructing?

Clients who ask the Parliamentary Counsel’s Office (PCO) to draft legislation for them are called instructors and their requests, which set out what they would like written, are called instructions.

What can be instructed to draft?

You may instruct us to draft the following—

  • Bills for Acts of Parliament for the Government and amendments for those Bills,
  • non-Government Bills for Acts of Parliament for individual members of Parliament and amendments for those Bills,
  • regulations and other statutory instruments for Government Departments and agencies and rules for courts and tribunals,
  • environmental planning instruments for the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces and local councils under delegation from the Minister.

We don’t draft legislation for members of the public. If you are a member of the public, you should contact your local member of Parliament or the relevant Minister or Government Department to suggest changes to legislation.

Learn more about legislative programs

How do you instruct us?

We require written instructions to be sent to parliamentary.counsel@pco.nsw.gov.au.

Here are some basic tips for instructing us—

  • Provide your initial instructions in writing and not verbally.
  • Tell us about approvals you’ve received to have the legislation drafted by us.
  • Don’t tell us what words to use. Instead, tell us the issues you want to deal with and why they need to be dealt with.
  • Provide us with references to any cases or reports that generated the proposal. Also, provide us with any relevant legal advice you may have received about it.
  • Tell us about required time frames for completion.

What does the drafting process involve?

Depending on the complexity of the matter, a drafting project has one (or sometimes 2 or more legislative drafters) allocated to prepare the drafts of the new legislation.

The drafting process, step by step

1 Drafting instructions are received and allocated to a legislative drafter.
2 The instructor is emailed information about the allocation, including details of the legislative drafter and the legislative drafter’s supervisors.
3 The legislative drafter reviews the instructions, considering legal issues and asking questions (as part of the first draft or in other communications with the instructor).
4 The first draft is provided to the instructor for review.
5 Several drafts may go backwards and forwards between the legislative drafter and instructor while issues are determined and questions about the policy are considered.
6 The instructor agrees that the legislation is settled and is ready for review.
7 There is a legal check by another legislative drafter. As part of the drafting process, in addition to crafting the policy into law, the legislative drafter must consider whether the matter is legally sound. This includes how the new legislation will operate with existing legislation as well as fundamental common law and constitutional rights. This legal check is a further review of these issues by another legislative drafter. Following the legal check, further information or drafts may be provided to the instructor to deal with issues that have been flagged.
8 Once any further changes are settled with the instructor, the draft will have one or more editorial checks. An editorial check is a quality assurance review completed by our Publication and Access team. It involves not only an editorial check for typos and other errors, but also a review of formatting and structure so that the legislation will appear correctly on the NSW legislation website . The check also ensures that the new legislation complies with our established drafting practices and standards.
9 Editorial changes are made and any final issues are clarified.
10 A final version of the new legislation is provided. For environmental planning instruments, regulations or other statutory instruments, the final version is emailed to the instructor for making. An opinion is usually provided by the Parliamentary Counsel with the final version advising that it may legally be made. For some statutory instruments, only a covering letter is provided saying it is suitable for publication.

For Bills, the final version is provided both to the person responsible for introducing the Bill and the Parliament.

Does the PCO provide instructor training?

We conduct training for Government instructors about how to instruct us.

Learn more about instructor training

Learning about our drafting practices

We have begun to publish information about our drafting practices. Currently, these are published on the NSW legislation website in our drafting practice document series and will be moved to this site when they are reissued.

Learn more about drafting practices (scroll down to the ‘Drafting practices’ heading).