Odgers' Australian Senate Practice Thirteenth Edition

Chapter 10 - Debate

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New senator's first speech

Special conventions of debate apply to the first speech of a new senator. It is expected that the Senate chamber will be well attended for a first speech, and that the new senator will be heard without interjection or interruption. The corollary of this convention is that a first speech should not directly criticise other senators or otherwise provoke interjections or points of order. It is customary for other senators to congratulate a new senator on a first speech.

In recent years there has been a practice of passing a special order to allow senators to make their first speeches without any question before the chair. In the past it was the practice to rearrange business to bring on some item of business for the occasion of new senators' first speeches so that those senators would not be unduly restricted by the requirement of relevance. Orders of the day for the resumption of adjourned debates on matters such as the address-in-reply to the Governor-General's opening speech and motions to take note of budget statements were often employed for this purpose. There is no rule preventing senators from speaking before they officially make their first speeches.