Chapter 12 - Legislation

Revival of bills

A bill which has lapsed because of a prorogation of the Parliament before it has been finally passed by the Senate may be revived in the following session, subject to certain limitations (SO 136; for prorogation, see Chapter 7, Meetings of the Senate under Meetings after prorogation or dissolution of House).

If a bill has been referred to a committee at the time of prorogation, and the committee is empowered to meet after a prorogation the committee may report on the bill, but the bill has to be revived by the Senate before it can proceed.

If a bill which has originated in the Senate was still in the Senate or a Senate committee at the time of prorogation the Senate may restore the bill to the Notice Paper and resume consideration of it at the stage it had reached at that time. If such a bill has been sent to the House of Representatives, the Senate may send a message to the House asking the House to resume consideration of the bill.

A bill which has been received from the House of Representatives may be restored to the Notice Paper, provided that a message is received from the House asking the Senate to resume consideration of the bill.

These procedures ensure that a bill is not revived except on the initiative of the House in which the bill originated.

The overriding limitation on this procedure is that it may not be employed if a general election for the House of Representatives or a Senate election has intervened between the two sessions. The rationale of this rule is that a bill which has been agreed to by one House should not be taken to have been passed again by that House if the membership of that House has changed. The procedure may be employed, however, if it is done in such a way that it is clear that both Houses have agreed to the bill with their current membership before the bill proceeds to the Governor-General.

With this principle in mind, bills have been revived after elections by suspension of the prohibition in the standing orders (22/4/1983, J.39; 22/2/1985, J.43; 20/3/1985, J.100; 9/5/1990, J.39-40; 1/6/1990, J.198; 1/5/1996, J.61-2).

On 23 August 1990, pursuant to a suspension of standing orders, the Senate forwarded a message to the House of Representatives asking the House to resume consideration of the End of War List Bill which the Senate had passed in the previous Parliament. On 13 September a message was received from the House of Representatives indicating that the House declined to consider the bill on the basis that the standing orders of the House prohibit the revival of a bill passed in a previous Parliament. In a statement to the Senate, Senator Boswell, who had moved the motion for the request to the House, explained that the House of Representatives standing order, and its Senate equivalent which the Senate had suspended in making its request to the House, were intended to safeguard the principle that a bill not be forwarded for assent unless the two Houses as currently constituted had agreed to it. Senator Boswell had waited until the newly-elected senators had taken their seats before moving the motion for resumption of consideration of the bill, thereby ensuring that, if the House of Representatives passed the bill, the two Houses as currently constituted would have agreed that it should pass. Senator Boswell stated that the House of Representatives had mistaken the standing order for the principle it was meant to safeguard. Senator Boswell reintroduced the bill on 18 September, and it was immediately passed through all stages. The bill was therefore again sent to the House of Representatives, but the government did not provide time for it to be debated (23/8/1990, J.235; 13/9/1990, J.264; 18/9/1990, J.283).

An appropriation bill (see Chapter 13, Financial Legislation) may be revived in the same way as other bills (ruling of President Baker, SD, 30/8/1905, pp 1627-34).

A bill can be revived and its consideration resumed by the Senate even if it has been negatived at any stage (Hindmarsh Island Bridge Bill 1996, 25/3/1997, J.1757; retirement savings account bills, 12/5/1997, J.1885; Productivity Commission bills, 30/10/1997, J.2773; Interactive Gambling (Moratorium) Bill 2000, 5/12/2000, J.3730-1; Workplace Relations Amendment (Codifying Contempt Offences) Bill 2003, 21/6/2004, J.3561; National Health Amendment (Pharmaceutical Benefits—Budget Measures) Bill 2002, 24/6/2004, J.3682; Superannuation Laws Amendment (Abolition of Surcharge) Bill 2005, 10/8/2005, J.895). For a bill negatived at the second reading, revived and taken together with other bills, see Superannuation (Surcharge Rate Reduction) Amendment Bill 2003, 10/9/2003, J.2329. For a bill negatived at the first reading and revived, see Marriage Amendment Bill 2004, 13/8/2004, J.3927-8. (See Supplement)

In December 2004 a constitution alteration bill, which had in effect been rejected when it did not gain the support of an absolute majority of the Senate in May 2003, was restored to the Notice Paper with consideration to be resumed at the beginning of the committee stage, but as amended in its previous consideration (1/12/2004, J.166).

Motions for reviving bills require notice, and are debatable. If a motion for restoring a bill to the Notice Paper is not agreed to, the bill may be reintroduced afresh.

Following the Senate practice, the Native Title Amendment Bill 1997 was revived in the House of Representatives in July 1998 after the government had initially rejected Senate amendments and laid the bill aside, and further amendments were made for the Senate’s consideration (3/7/1998, VP 3202-4). This enabled the bill to be passed by the Senate.

When a bill is restored to the Notice Paper, so that consideration of it may be resumed at the stage it had reached in a previous session or Parliament, and the order for the consideration of the bill is called on, a senator who spoke on that stage of the bill in the previous session or Parliament may speak again. The order is not an order for the resumption of an adjourned debate, but an order for consideration of a bill at a particular stage. Therefore, if a bill is restored at the second reading stage, the mover of the original motion for the second reading may speak to the second reading, and in reply if they indicate that they again have carriage of the bill.

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