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Odgers' Australian Senate Practice Thirteenth Edition

Chapter 10 - Debate

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Motions debatable

Every motion moved in the Senate may be debated before the question on the motion is put to a vote, except where the standing orders explicitly provide that a question is to be decided without debate.

The following motions may not be debated:

  1. (a) formal motions under SO 66
  2. (b) to determine the postponement of business for which the senator in charge has lodged a postponement notification under SO 67
  3. (c) for the first reading of bills, except bills which the Senate may not amend, under SO 112(1)
  4. (d) for a bill to be considered an urgent bill under SO 142(1)
  5. (e) for the chair to report progress and ask leave for the committee of the whole to sit again under SO 144(6)
  6. (f) that an objection to a ruling by the chair requires immediate determination under SO 198(2)
  7. (g) for an extension of time for a senator to speak under SO 189(1)
  8. (h) for a debate to be adjourned under SO 201(2)
  9. (i) for the closure of a debate under SO 199(1)
  10. (j) for a senator to be suspended from the sitting of the Senate, in case of disorder, under SO 203(3)
  11. (k) for the business of the day to be called on, moved during discussion of a matter of public importance, under SO 75(8).


Committee reports, on their presentation, are also not debatable.[2] Special provision for debate on committee reports is made by standing order 62, and committee reports are also frequently debated by motions moved by leave.


Personal explanations and explanations of speeches made in the course of debate are not debatable.[3]

Debate must be directed to a motion, and without a motion there can be no debate. The only exceptions to this rule are in explicit provisions in the standing or other orders of the Senate which provide that debate may proceed without a question before the chair, for example, on a matter of public importance proposed under standing order 75.

Some motions are designed as vehicles for debate without calling upon the Senate to make any decision, for example, motions to take note of documents. Such motions, however, may be the subject of amendments which call upon the Senate to make decisions,[4] for example, to endorse or repudiate the contents of a document.

Sometimes motions are debated together.[5]

2. SO 39.
3. SO 190, 191.
4. See Chapter 9 under Amendments.
5. See Chapter 8, Conduct of proceedings, under Items of business taken together.