Before the Governor-General’s speech is reported to the Senate formal business may be transacted, petitions may be presented and notices given, and documents laid on the table. This standing order embodies a traditional assertion of the right of the Senate to transact some business before the opening speech is considered. The President then reports to the Senate the speech of the Governor-General. A motion for an address-in-reply to the speech may then be made, or the consideration of the speech may be made an order of the day for a future time.
While precedence is given to the address-in-reply debate until the adoption of the resolution, the standing orders permit formal business to be transacted. Formal business which may be entered upon includes questions (without notice and on notice), the fixing of days and hours of meeting, the appointment of standing committees, motions for the printing of documents and matters which come within the category of Business of the Senate. A matter of privilege may also be raised. The standing order is also usually suspended to allow other business to be transacted before the address-in-reply is passed.
Standing order 194(2) exempts the debate on the address-in-reply from the usual requirements concerning relevance and anticipation and permits debate on any matter.
Amendments may be moved to the motion for the address-in-reply, and on several occasions have been agreed to.
When the address has been agreed to, a motion is made that it be presented to the Governor-General by the President and any senators who may wish to accompany the President. This motion is usually moved by the Leader of the Government in the Senate. After the motion is carried, the President informs the Senate when the Governor-General is able to receive the address, and invites senators to be present on the occasion.
At Government House, the usual place for presenting the address, the President and accompanying senators and officers are received by the Governor-General. The President reads the address and presents it to the Governor-General who makes a reply. The President then introduces accompanying senators and officers to the Governor-General. At the earliest convenient opportunity the President reports to the Senate the presentation of the address and the reply of the Governor-General.