Chapter 12 - Legislation

Control of bills

When a bill has been introduced into the Senate it is under the control of the Senate and may be considered and dealt with as the Senate decides.

Although for some purposes the standing orders refer to the senator in charge of an item of business (for example, in standing orders 67 and 97(3) relating to postponing orders of the day), a senator who has introduced an item of business is not in charge of it in the sense that the senator can determine its fate; that is for the Senate to decide.

In relation to bills, the standing orders do not distinguish between senators in charge of bills and other senators, so that any senator can move the various motions for the passage of a bill (the only exception is the procedure for the limitation of debate on urgent bills: see below). The Senate may therefore not only reject or defer a bill, but proceed with it in spite of the wishes of the senator, whether a minister or a private senator, who introduced it. The situation which occurred in the Senate on 5 and 10 October 1950, of an order of the day relating to a government bill not being called on because a minister did not wish it to be called on, was clearly contrary to the standing orders (see ASP, 6th ed., pp 546-9; also Chapter 8, Conduct of Proceedings, under Rearrangement of business and Suspension of standing orders).

Thus a government bill may be brought on by the non-government majority (25/10/1989, J.2147-8; 26/10/1989, J.2156-7; 30/11/1995, J.4300; 1/12/1995, J.4345-6). In 1988 the Senate made a special order that a private senator’s bill was to take precedence until a minister made a speech on the second reading (15/12/1988, J.1324). In 2000 the Senate gave a private senator’s bill, the Human Rights (Mandatory Sentencing of Juvenile Offenders) Bill, precedence over all government business, passed it and sent messages urging its consideration to the House, where it was suppressed by the government (13/3/2000, J.2428; 3/4/2000, J.2491, 2503). Bills have been deferred until draft regulations were tabled (5/11/1987, J.268), and until the Selection of Bills Committee reported (22/8/1990, J.227; 19/9/1990, J.294). A government bill may be discharged from the Notice Paper on the motion of a non-government senator (15/11/1995, J.4120). (See Supplement)

(See Supplement)

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