Chapter 8 - Sittings, quorum and adjournment of the Senate

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54    Adjournment without motion

  1. At the time specified for each sitting day, the President shall propose the question that the Senate do now adjourn, and that question shall be open to debate.

  2. If the Senate is in committee at that time, the chairman shall leave the chair and report to the Senate, and on such a report being made the President shall forthwith propose the question that the Senate do now adjourn, and that question shall be open to debate.

  3. If the Senate or the committee is in division at that time the President shall not propose that question or the chairman leave the chair till the result of the division has been declared.

  4. If the consideration of government documents under standing order 61 or the consideration of committee reports under standing order 62(1) concludes before the expiration of the times provided, the question for the adjournment shall then be proposed.

  5. Except on Tuesday debate on the question for the adjournment shall not exceed 40 minutes, and a senator shall not speak to that question for more than 10 minutes on any day. On Tuesday at the conclusion of debate, and on other days at the expiration of 40 minutes, at the conclusion of debate, or at the time specified for adjournment, whichever is the earlier, or if there is no debate, the President shall adjourn the Senate without putting the question.

  6. On the question for the adjournment of the Senate on Tuesday, a senator who has spoken once subject to the time limit of 10 minutes may speak again for not more than 10 minutes if no other senator who has not already spoken once wishes to speak, provided that a senator may by leave speak for not more than 20 minutes on one occasion.

Amendment history

Adopted: 21 November 1989, J.2219, as SO 54 (corresponding to paragraphs (1) to (3)) (with effect from the first sitting day in 1990) (previously dealt with by sessional orders; incorporated into standing orders as part of the 1989 revision)

Amended:

  • [2 February 1994, J.1170–78 (adoption of sessional order, on a trial basis, providing for earlier, and definite, adjournment times on most days and a new routine of business; re-adopted on multiple occasions during 1996 – see SO 24A for a list of those occasions)]
  • 13 February 1997, J.1447 (to take effect 24 February 1997) (incorporation of 1994 reforms to hours of meeting, as modified by subsequent sessional orders; namely, addition of paragraph (4) relating to adjournment after the consideration of government documents and paragraph (5) relating to time limits; “put” replaced by “propose” in paragraphs (1) to (3))
  • 7 December 1998, J.287 (to take effect 15 February 1999) (providing for an open-ended adjournment debate on Monday)
  • 28 August 2002, J.685–86 (changing the open-ended adjournment from Monday to Tuesday)
  • [19 November 2002, J.1145 (adoption of temporary order allowing longer individual time limits on Tuesdays in specified circumstances)]
  • 10 March 2009, J.1658 (addition of paragraph (6) to provide conditionally for longer individual time limits on Tuesdays)

Commentary

On 2 February 1994 the Senate put in place sessional orders which provided for, among other things, definite adjournment times.[1] These orders provided for the chair to propose (rather than put) the question for the adjournment, and effectively restricted the adjournment debate to 40 minutes, with a time limit of 10 minutes per speaker. When debate concludes, or if there is no debate, the President declares that the Senate stands adjourned till its next scheduled meeting.

An amendment to paragraph (5) was agreed to on 7 December 1998, removing the time limit for the adjournment debate on Monday nights to allow an open-ended debate on one night each week.[2]

This paragraph was again amended on 28 August 2002[3] to change the unlimited adjournment to Tuesday night. On Mondays the adjournment was proposed at 9.50pm. When the proposal for this amendment was debated, the argument was put forward that an unlimited adjournment debate on Tuesdays would offer more senators the opportunity to speak at a more reasonable time of the evening.[4]

On 18 November 2002 the Procedure Committee tabled its Second Report of 2002[5] recommending that a temporary order be established to allow a senator who had spoken on the adjournment debate on Tuesdays to speak again after all senators had spoken, or, by leave, to speak for 20 minutes consecutively. This temporary order was first agreed to on 19 November 2002 and was adopted on a permanent basis on 10 March 2009 on the recommendation of the Procedure Committee in its First Report of 2009.[6]

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