Private member’s bills are in the news today – and not just Petro Georgiou’s refugee legislation. Tasmanian Labor veteran Duncan Kerr introduced a private member’s bill yesterday to prevent parties or candidates from accepting donations from tobacco companies – read more here.

So what actually is a private member’s bill – and what’s likely to happen? First, some definitions.

A private member is any MP other than the Speaker, a minister or a parliamentary secretary. Everything you wanted to know about private members – but were afraid to ask – is available on the Parliament House website here.

And a private member’s bill is legislation covering anything other than legislation imposing or varying a tax or requiring the appropriation of revenue. Only the government can do that.

MPs can propose private member’s bills without approval from their parties because they’re doing it as private members. The bill then goes to the select committee to make sure it’s constitutional. If it gets a tick there, it then goes on the notice paper and the text of the legislation gets entered into Hansard on the next sitting day.

Private member’s bills get priority over other pieces of private member’s business, and at this stage the mover of the bill gets to speak on their legislation for five minutes, but that’s it.

Select committee approval simply puts the legislation on to the list of bills waiting to be debated and voted on – and the government schedules the legislative agenda. Unless they win the support of the government of the day, most private member’s bills vanish without trace.

And this is where the fun and games with Georgiou’s bills really begin.