Annotated Standing Orders of the Australian Senate

In 1901, the Senate adopted the standing orders of the South Australian House of Assembly on a temporary basis while it set about the task of developing its own rules. These were the standing orders that had been used at the Australasian Federal Conventions of 1897–98 and were familiar to the greatest number of senators, many of whom had been delegates to the conventions.

In 1903, the proposed standing orders were extensively debated and amended before being adopted on 19 August, with effect from 1 September. Over the years, new standing orders were added and existing ones were amended as the Senate adapted its procedures to deal with its expanding interests more effectively. In 1989, a major revision was undertaken to update and rationalise the standing orders, which have continued to evolve to meet emerging requirements.

Front cover of ‘Annotated Standing Orders of the Australian Senate’

These commentaries on the standing orders have been adapted from the book, Annotated Standing Orders of the Australian Senate, edited by Rosemary Laing. Each commentary provides the text of the standing order, its amendment history, and information about its origin, evolution, rationale and application. Cross references are included to significant commentary in Odgers’ Australian Senate Practice, edited by Harry Evans.

To purchase a copy of the Annotated Standing Orders of the Australian Senateclick here for the order form.

View as separate downloadable parts:

Chapter 1 - The opening of Parliament

1.     Proceedings on opening
2.     Governor–General’s speech
3.     Address–in–reply
4.     Opening of Parliament by the Queen

Chapter 2 - Office of the President

5.     Term of office
6.     Election of President
7.     Ballot
8.     Presentation to Governor–General

Chapter 3 - Deputy President and Chairman of Committees

9. Term of office
10. Appointment of Deputy President
11. Duty of Chairman
12.   Temporary Chairmen

Chapter 4 - Absence of President, Deputy President and officers

13.   Absence of President
14.   Absence of both officers
15.   Relief of President
16.   Absence of Clerk

Chapter 5 - Standing and Select Committees
Standing Committees
17.   Procedure
18.   Privileges
19.   Appropriations and Staffing
20.   Library
21.   House
22.   Publications
22A. Senators’ Interests
23.   Regulations and Ordinances
24.   Scrutiny of Bills
24A. Selection of Bills
25.   Legislative and general purpose
26.   Estimates
General Committee Provisions

27.   Membership
28.   Time for reporting
29.   Quorum
30.   Meetings
31.   Chairman
32.   Proceedings
33.   Meetings during sitting
34.   Powers
35.   Witnesses
36.   Public and private meetings
37.   Disclosure of evidence and documents
38.   Reports
39.   Proceedings on report
40.   Meetings with House of Representatives committees
41.   List of committees
42.   Joint committees

Chapter 6 - Journals and records of the Senate

43.   Publication of Journals and records
44.   Custody of records

Chapter 7 - Senators’ roll, attendance and places of senators

45.   Roll
46.   Attendance of senators
47.   Leave of absence to senators
48.   Senators’ seats

Chapter 8 - Sittings, quorum and adjournment of the Senate

49.   Meeting of Senate
50.   Prayer and acknowledgement of country
51.   Quorum at commencement of sitting
52.   Quorum during sitting
53.   Adjournment of Senate
54.   Adjournment without motion

Chapter 9 - Times of sittings and routine of business

55.   Times of meetings
56.   Conduct of business
57.   Routine of business
58.   Business of the Senate
59.   Government and general business
60.   Reports of committees—precedence
61.   Consideration of government documents
62.   Consideration of committee reports and government responses and Auditor–General’s reports
63.   Presentation of documents
64.   New business
65.   Government business on Notice Paper
66.   Formal motions
67.   Postponement of business
68.   Interruption of business

Chapter 10 - Petitions

69.   Presentation of petitions
70.   Form of petitions
71.   Content of petitions

Chapter 11 - Questions seeking information

72.   Questions without notice
73.   Rules for questions
74.   Questions on notice

Chapter 12 - Matters of public importance and urgency

75.   Proposal for debate

Chapter 13 - Notices of Motion

76.   Giving of notices
77.   Alteration and withdrawal of notices
78.   Disallowance motions

Chapter 14 - Motions and questions

79.   Notice required
80.   Disposal of motions
81.   Privilege motions
82.   Motions concerning contempts
83.   Moving of motions
84.   Putting of question
85.   Anticipatory motions
86.   Same question
87.   Rescission of order
88.   Leave of the Senate
89.   Superseded question

Chapter 15 - Amendments

90.   Moving of amendments
91.   Putting of amendments
92.   Same amendment
93.   Amendments to amendments

Chapter 16 - Previous question

94.   Form of previous question
95.   Determination of previous question

Chapter 17 - Orders of the day

96.   Source of orders
97.   Disposal of orders

Chapter 18 - Divisions

98.   Calling for divisions
99.   Voting by President
100. Voting in divisions
101. Taking of divisions
102. Recording of divisions
103. Points of order
104. Correction of divisions
105. Divisions in committee

Chapter 19 - Roll Call

106. Notice of order
107. Order for roll call
108. Conduct of roll call
109. Senators not present
110. Roll call for Constitution alteration bills

Chapter 20 - Bills

111. Initiation
112. First reading
113. Expedited proceedings on bills
114. Second reading
115. Committal
116. Consideration in committee
117. Order of consideration
118. Amendments in committee
119. Uncompleted proceedings in committee
120. Report from committee
121. Recommittal on report
122. Third reading
123. Recommittal on third reading
124. Corrections
125. Transmission to House of Representatives
126. House of Representatives amendments on bills originated in the Senate
127. Bill again returned from the House of Representatives
128. Bills received from the House of Representatives
129. Requests
130. Amendments changed to requests
131. Return of House of Representatives bill
132. Disagreement with Senate amendments
133. House of Representatives amendments to Senate amendments
134. Amendments after disagreement
135. Bills amending the Constitution
136. Lapsed bills
137. Presentation for assent
138. Amendments proposed by the Governor–General
139. Assent to bill
140. Requests on bills not amendable by the Senate
141. Requests not complied with
142. Limitation of debate on bills

Chapter 21 - Committees of the Whole

143. Appointment of committee
144. Proceedings in committee
145. Objection to chairman’s ruling
146. President to resume chair
147. Quorum
148. Report of committee

Chapter 22 - Instructions to Committees

149. Effect of instruction
150. Instructions on bills
151. Notice required

Chapter 23 - Communication between the two Houses

152. Methods of communication
153. Messages from the Senate
154. Communicating a resolution
155. Messages from the House of Representatives

Chapter 24 - Conferences

156. Request for conference
157. Appointment of managers
158. Sitting suspended
159. Time and place of conference
160. Proceedings at conference
161. Report of conference
162. One conference only

Chapter 25 - Ballots

163. Conduct of ballot

Chapter 26 - Tabling of documents

164. Order for the production of documents
165. Documents from the Governor–General
166. Other methods of tabling documents
167. Publication of tabled documents
168. Documents quoted in debate
169. Motions after tabling
170. Amendments after tabling

Chapter 27 - Addresses to the Queen or the Governor-General

171. Making of address
172. Presentation of address

Chapter 28 - Messages from the Governor-General

173. Presentation of message

Chapter 29 - Visitors

174. Distinguished visitors
175. Conduct of visitors

Chapter 30 - Witnesses

176. Summoning of witnesses
177. Senators as witnesses
178. Members or officers of the House of Representatives
179. Requests from the House of Representatives
180. Witnesses in prison
181. Protection of witnesses
182. Witnesses before the Senate
183. Evidence given elsewhere by senators or officers

Chapter 31 - Conduct of Senators and rules of debate

184. Order maintained by President
185. Conduct of senators
186. The call to speak
187. Speeches not to be read
188. Right to speak
189. Time limits on speeches
190. Personal explanations
191. Explanation of speeches
192. Reply
193. Rules of debate
194. Relevance and anticipation
195. Question may be read
196. Tedious repetition
197. Interruption of speaker: points of order or privilege
198. Objection to ruling
199. Closure of debate
200. Putting of question ends debate
201. Adjournment of debate
202. Interruption by adjournment of Senate
203. Infringement of order
204. Suspension of senator
205. Quarrels between senators
206. Disobedience of orders

Chapter 32 - Disputed Returns

207. Petitions disputing elections

Chapter 33 - Effect and suspension of standing orders

208. Powers, privileges and immunities not affected
209. Motion for suspension
210. Effect of suspension                        


Appendix 1—Chronology of Procedural Developments in the Senate

Appendix 2—Presidents of the Senate (1901–2009)

Appendix 3—Deputy Presidents and Chairmen of Committees (1901-2009)

Appendix 4―Clerks of the Senate and other senior officers

Appendix 5―Membership of the Standing Orders and Procedure Committees

Appendix 6―Printed editions of standing orders (1903–2009)

Appendix 7―Printed editions of rulings of the President of the Senate

Appendix 8―Editions of Australian Senate Practice

Appendix 9―Chronological list of Standing Orders Committee and Procedure Committee reports (with subjects covered)

Appendix 10―Amendments to standing orders (1903 – 2009)

Appendix 11―Major numbering changes affecting the standing orders

Appendix 12―The 1938 MS

Appendix 13―1903 debates—Responses to Blackmore’s queries on ss.17 and 23 of the Constitution

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