On each sitting day a Notice Paper is issued showing all outstanding business on the Senate’s agenda. There is no Notice Paper for the first sitting day of a new session, as the business before the Senate lapses on the previous day. The full Notice Paper appears on the internet and an abbreviated version is issued in printed form.
In principle the business set out on the Notice Paper may be transacted on the day for which it is listed, which is usually the sitting day for which the Notice Paper is issued, and in the order indicated on the Notice Paper. Usually, however, the Senate has before it more business, particularly business initiated by senators who are not ministers, than can possibly be transacted over a session, and only a fraction of the business on the Notice Paper is reached on any sitting day. Business not reached remains on the Notice Paper for the next day of sitting and for each successive day until it is disposed of.
The Notice Paper shows the order in which the listed business should be transacted, in accordance with the rules relating to the order of business set out in standing orders.
Ministers, however, may arrange the order of items of government business on the Notice Paper, which usually consist of government bills, in the order they choose. This provision is used by the government to rearrange the order of government business from day to day, so that government business does not appear on the Notice Paper in the same order from day to day.
It is also open to the Senate to rearrange the order of business, and therefore the Notice Paper does not necessarily indicate the order in which business will be transacted.
Because of this, another, briefer document, the Order of Business, or Senate “Red”, is issued on each sitting day, showing the business which it is intended to deal with on that day and the order in which it is expected that business will be transacted. Even this document, however, is not an infallible guide, because some business may not be reached and the order of business may be rearranged during the day.
Although the Senate begins a new session after a prorogation with an empty Notice Paper, business which has lapsed because of a prorogation may be restored to the Notice Paper by motion on notice, and consideration of that business resumed where it was left off. It is the practice to restore such items of business to the Notice Paper at the beginning of each session.