Chapter 7 - Meetings of the Senate

Executive government’s power to determine sessions

Section 5 of the Constitution provides:

The Governor-General may appoint such times for holding the sessions of the Parliament as he thinks fit, and may also from time to time, by Proclamation or otherwise, prorogue the Parliament, and may in like manner dissolve the House of Representatives.

After any general election the Parliament shall be summoned to meet not later than thirty days after the day appointed for the return of the writs.

Under this section the Governor-General may terminate a session of the Parliament by proroguing it, and may then appoint the time for its next meeting. In practice these powers are exercised on the advice of the government.

When the Governor-General has specified a time for commencing a session of the Parliament, a formal opening of Parliament takes place. The procedures for the opening of Parliament vary according to whether the opening follows a prorogation of a session of Parliament, or a dissolution of the House of Representatives or of the two Houses under section 57 of the Constitution (for dissolutions of both Houses see Chapter 21, under Disagreements between the Houses).

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