Opening of a new Parliament
The following procedures are followed for the opening of the first session of a new Parliament following a dissolution of the House of Representatives or of both Houses and a subsequent election.
A “Welcome to Country” ceremony is conducted by local Indigenous people.
At the hour (usually 10.30 or 11 am) named in the Governor-General’s proclamation, the President takes the chair (except following a dissolution of the Senate when there is no President) and the Clerk of the Senate reads the Proclamation summoning Parliament.
The Governor-General appoints one or more persons, usually justices of the High Court, as deputies in relation to certain aspects of the opening of Parliament. The deputies attend and request the attendance of the Members of the House of Representatives in the Senate chamber. When the members of the House of Representatives have assembled in the Senate chamber, the Clerk of the Senate then reads the commission appointing the deputies.
The senior deputy then announces that after members of the House of Representatives, senators representing the territories and any new senators appointed to fill casual vacancies have been sworn and the House has elected a Speaker, “the causes of His/Her Excellency calling this Parliament will be declared by him/her in person at this place” later that day. The deputy then retires and subsequently proceeds to the House of Representatives to administer the prescribed oath or affirmation to members of that House.
Should there be no President in office the senior deputy administers the oath or affirmation of allegiance to senators taking their seats for the first time (for an ordinary general election the territory senators and any appointees to casual vacancies).
If there is a President in office, the President ordinarily administers the oath or affirmation to such senators; the commission to administer the oath or affirmation is usually given by the Governor-General to the President following the election of a senator to that office.
The President (or the Clerk if there is no President) tables the certificate of election of territory senators and certificates of the filling of vacancies, if any. Senators taking their seats for the first time then come to the Table to be sworn or make an affirmation and to sign the oath or affirmation form.
Except at openings of Parliament subsequent to a dissolution of both Houses, it is normally the case that the only senators taking their seats for the first time and requiring to be sworn at the opening of Parliament are senators representing the territories and senators appointed to fill casual vacancies. Procedures for the swearing of senators newly elected to fill periodical vacancies are described below and in Chapter 6, Senators.
If the office of President is vacant on the opening of Parliament, the Senate then proceeds to elect a President. After the President has been elected, the Leader of the Government in the Senate announces when and where the Governor-General will receive the President.
The sitting of the Senate is then suspended until such time as the Governor-General has appointed to declare in person the reasons for calling the Parliament together (that is, to make the opening speech).