Places in chamber
Each senator has a designated seat in the Senate chamber, with a desk.
Standing order 48 prescribes rules relating to senators’ seating. The front seats on the right of the President are reserved for ministers, while the front seats on the left of the President are reserved for leaders of parties and senators designated as having responsibility for particular matters. In relation to seats other than front seats, senators are entitled to retain the seats occupied by them at the time of their taking their seats for the first time after their election so long as they continue as senators without re-election. Subject to any order of the Senate, any question relating to the occupation of seats by senators is determined by the President.
In practice senators sit in party groups, and seating arrangements are made by party whips, subject to the approval of the President. Members of the government party or parties sit to the President’s right behind the ministers, and members of the Opposition party or parties sit to the left of the President behind Opposition senators designated as shadow ministers. Members of minority parties and independent senators sit on the cross-benches, that is, on the seats located on the curve of the horseshoe-shaped banks of seats.
A resolution passed in 1986 allows opposition speakers leading for the opposition to speak from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition’s place (18/9/1986, J.1214).
Senators may not have on their desks items which are objectionable to other senators (ruling of President Kingsmill, SD, 24/5/1932, pp 1231, 1239).
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