Rules and democratic decision making
Inquiry: How are laws developed in Australia?
Unit length: Three (3) lessons
- Students will be able to confidentially identify why we have laws, where the ideas come from, and how new laws are passed in the Assembly.
- Where ideas for new laws can come from and how they become law (ACHASSK146)
- Work in groups to generate responses to issues and challenges (ACHASSI130)
- Use criteria to make decisions and judgements and consider advantages and disadvantages of preferring one decision over others (ACHASSI131)
Resources you'll need for this unit:
The lesson plans are designed to be completed after students have read the story (or viewed the film/play) as they will need to be familiar with the characters and plot to understand and complete the activities.
Learning objective: By the end of the lesson the students will have identified what a rule is.
Curriculum links: ACHASSK146, ACHASSI130, ACHASSI131
Resources: My new law worksheet (worksheet one).
Class discussion on laws to establish prior learning—suggested prompt questions:
- What is a law? Can students provide examples of laws that affect them? (Possible examples include: 40km/hr school speed zones; compulsory wearing of bicycle helmets; wearing a seat belt in cars; and movie/TV classifications indicating suitable shows they can watch).
- Why do we have laws? (Keep order in society) What would happen if we didn’t have laws? (Chaos—for example, imagine there were no road rules, no speed limit, no stop or give way signs, and you could drive on any side of the road!)
Students to individually identify one thing that they would like to do to improve the society they live in and write it down. Students should list two reasons why they think it is important to create a new law for this idea. Teacher could model an example by listing an idea that they would like to become law, alternatively use example provided for Mrs Crumb based on her policies in Mr Stink (worksheet one).
Form different sized groups of students (each group represents a political party). Groups look at the individual students’ suggested laws to:
- identify any that are similar (could these ideas be combined to make one new law?);
- discuss the advantages and advantages of each suggested law; and
- decide which two ideas the group thinks are most important, and why they would like them to become new laws.
Each group to report back to the class on the ideas they would like to become a new law and why.
After hearing about rules from their own and other groups, what do they think a rule is? Students should be able to identify that a rule is an accepted instruction that sets out the way things are done, and tells you what you are allowed or not allowed to do in an activity. Keep information on worksheet 1 for next lesson.
Learning objective: By the end of the lesson the students will be able to outline how new laws are passed in the Assembly.
Curriculum links: ACHASSK146, ACHASSI130, ACHASSI131
Revisit previous lesson where ideas for proposed for new laws were discussed.
These ideas are known as a policy. In David Walliams’ novel Mr Stink, Mrs Crumb is standing for election to be a member of parliament. Her 20 policies (ideas for laws) are outlined on pg 84-87 (teacher could read a selection of these to the students).
Class discussion based around what a policy is (a plan of action adopted by an individual or group), where do these ideas come from (Mrs Crumb’s life experiences) and why does Mrs Crumb have these as her policies (her ideas for how to improve society)? This is the first part of the legislative process—where an idea (policy) becomes the basis for the development of a Bill that can be introduced into a parliament to become an Act.
Imagine Mrs Crumb has been elected and now wants her policies to become new laws. There are a number of steps she must take for this to happen.
Provide students with background to the Bill—the particular example for this lesson will be Mrs Crumb’s policy no. 1—‘A curfew to be introduced to ensure all children under 30 are not allowed out after 8pm and are preferably in bed with lights out by 9pm.’ (pg 82, teacher can select a different policy or use a student policy developed from the previous lesson to discuss, depending on the required focus).
- Assume that Mrs Crumb is part of the Government. She has taken her policy to her party which has decided to introduce a new Bill. The party has made a change to the Bill as members felt that people who were 30 years old were no longer children (reflects how changes are made after consultation with party members as demonstrated in previous lesson). The new Bill will aim to introduce the curfew for children who are under 14 years.
- The proposed Bill now is that ‘a curfew to be introduced to ensure all children under 14 years are not allowed outside after 8pm and are in bed with lights out by 9pm’.
- Allocate roles to reflect the minority government of the Legislative Assembly (see resource 1 with teacher notes).
- The role play commences at the ‘Agreement in Principle’ stage, the Government has already presented the Bill on a previous occasion.
- The Government supports the Bill. The Opposition will not be supporting the Bill and crossbench members can decide their own position as they hold the balance of power.
- Organise classroom to look like the chamber before commencing role play, students move to their positions except for Speaker and Sergeant-At-Arms (refer to role play).
- Give all students five minutes so they can write a sentence or two on why they either support the Bill (Government) or oppose it (Opposition). Crossbench members will need to decide their position before writing their sentences (supporting or opposing). These become the speeches as part of the role play.
- Members may only speak once during the debate. Time limits can be imposed if required.
- Members who are speaking (except for the Speaker) must stand up. They must say thank you Mr or Madam Speaker (depending if the Speaker is a male or female student).
Conduct the role play (resource two)
Government, through its ministers, proposes most of the new Bills that are debated in the Assembly. Members of the Assembly that are not ministers can also propose Bills, these are known as Private Members Bills. All Bills are debated in the Assembly chamber and must be passed by a majority of members to become an Act (a law) of the ACT.