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Odgers' Australian Senate Practice Thirteenth Edition

Chapter 12 - Legislation

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Report from committee

A committee of the whole on a bill may report progress.126 Progress may be reported for a particular purpose, for example, until a minister answers questions or provides information.127

When the committee of the whole has completed its consideration of a bill, the Chair of Committees puts the question that this bill (or this bill as amended) be reported, and if that question is agreed to the President resumes the chair and the bill is reported to the Senate.128

On the motion for the bill to be reported an amendment may be moved to require the reconsideration of any clauses.129 This provides an opportunity for the committee, before the bill is reported to the whole Senate, to reconsider any parts of the bill. Clauses may also be reconsidered by leave.130

It is possible for the committee of the whole to negative the question that the bill as amended be reported. This would have the effect that the committee has declined to report the bill, and should logically occur only if the committee wishes to consider the bill further.

Where a bill is taken as a whole, questions are put that the bill stand as printed or that the bill as amended be agreed to. These questions may also be negatived, but this means that the committee has, in effect, rejected the whole bill. It is not logical that this should occur, because the opportunity to reject a bill completely is at the second reading, and if the committee of the whole has agreed to amendments it should not be rejecting the bill as amended. There have been occasions, however, of a bill being negatived in committee of the whole.131 If this occurs, the committee reports to the Senate that the bill has been negatived in committee and the Senate may adopt the committee's report, thereby agreeing with the action taken by the committee, or may recommit the bill to the committee.132 Rejection by the Senate of the question that the report of the committee be adopted would have the effect of recommitting the bill.133

A committee of the whole to which several bills have been referred may report separately on some of those bills, leaving the remainder for future treatment.134 When bills have been reported separately in this way, some may be proceeded with and others deferred.135 In effect, the committee decides to separate the bills, and the Senate may approve of that action by its treatment of the committee's report and its subsequent action in relation to the bills.

When a bill is reported by a committee of the whole, if it is proceeding under the deliberate traditional method the Senate must fix a future day for the adoption of the committee's report, but under the expeditious method, or if the bill has not been amended in committee, the motion for the adoption of the committee's report may be moved at once.136

The motion for the adoption of the committee's report may be debated, but it is not in order to revive the discussion which took place in the committee.137

The motion may also be relevantly amended. An amendment may:

  • express the Senate's opinion concerning a matter associated with the bill;138
  • declare the Senate's intention in making requests;139
  • seek to defer the bill;140
  • refer it to a standing or select committee;141
  • refer to a committee matters raised by amendments;142
  • make a standing order for documents;143
  • make an order for a report by a statutory authority;144
  • provide for the urgent despatch of a message.145