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Odgers' Australian Senate Practice Thirteenth Edition

Chapter 18 - Documents tabled in the Senate

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Presentation of documents when Senate not sitting

Documents may be certified by the President, and on that certification are deemed to be presented to the Senate and their publication authorised.[69] This procedure is used for documents the President would normally present to the Senate when it is sitting, but only the President may exercise the power conferred by the provision.

Committee reports, government documents and reports of the Auditor-General may be presented to the President when the Senate is not sitting, and on presentation to the President are deemed to be presented to the Senate and their publication authorised.[70]

These procedures were used by way of special orders relating to particular reports over several years, and were adopted as permanent orders on 13 February 1991 on the recommendation of the Procedure Committee.[71]

The provision relating to committee reports is as follows:

If the Senate is not sitting when a committee has prepared a report for presentation, the committee may provide the report to the President or, if the President is unable to act, to the Deputy President, or, if the Deputy President is unavailable, to any one of the Temporary Chairs of Committees, and, on the provision of the report:

  1. the report shall be deemed to have been presented to the Senate;
  2. the publication of the report is authorised by this standing order;
  3. the President, the Deputy President, or the Temporary Chair of Committees, as the case may be, may give directions for the printing and circulation of the report; and
  4. the President shall lay the report upon the Table at the next sitting of the Senate.

The provision authorising the publication of a report attracts paragraph 16(2)(d) of the Parliamentary Privileges Act 1987, which provides that proceedings in Parliament includes the publication of a document by or pursuant to an order of a House or a committee, and the document so published.[72]

The provision relating to documents presented by ministers and reports of the Auditor-General is in similar terms.

69. SO 166(2).
70. SO 38(7), 166(2).
71. Second Report of 1990, PP 435/1990 pp. 11-2; Auditor-General’s reports were included by an amendment made on 27 May 1993, and President’s documents on 7 December 1998. Also see Annotated Standing Orders of the Australian Senate, under SO 166.
72. See Chapter 2, Parliamentary Privilege, under Preparation and publication of documents.