Chapter 31 - Conduct of senators and rules of debate

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Standing Orders

184 Order maintained by President

(1) Order shall be maintained in the Senate by the President.

(2) Whenever the President rises during a debate, a senator then speaking or offering to speak shall sit down, and the Senate shall be silent, so that the President may be heard without interruption.

(3) When the President is putting a question a senator shall not walk out of or across the chamber.

185 Conduct of senators

(1) A senator shall acknowledge the chair on entering or leaving the chamber.

(2) A senator shall not pass between the chair and a senator who is speaking, nor between the chair and the table.

(3) A senator on entering the chamber shall take the senator’s place, and shall not stand in any of the passages.

186 The call to speak

(1) A senator desiring to speak shall rise and address the President.

(2) Subject to the practices of the Senate relating to the call to speak, when 2 or more senators rise together to speak, the President shall call upon the senator who, in the President’s opinion, first rose in the senator’s place.

187 Speeches not to be read

A senator shall not read a speech.

188 Right to speak

(1) Unless otherwise provided, a senator may speak once:

(a) on a question before the Senate;

(b) on an amendment; and

(c) in reply, where a reply is permitted.

(2) In committee, senators may speak more than once.

189 Time limits on speeches

(1) Subject to other time limits specified, a senator shall not speak for more than 20 minutes in any debate in the Senate. A senator may move that that time limit be extended by not more than 10 minutes, and such a motion shall forthwith be put without debate.

(2) Where a right of reply is allowed in a debate a senator speaking in reply shall speak for not more than 20 minutes.

(3) In committee a senator shall not speak for more than 15 minutes at a time on any question, but where the speech of a senator is interrupted by this provision, and no other senator rises to speak, the senator so interrupted may continue to speak for a further 15 minutes but no longer continuously on a question.

(amended 13 February 1997)

190 Personal explanations

By leave of the Senate, a senator may explain matters of a personal nature, although there is no question before the Senate, but such matters may not be debated.

191 Explanation of speeches

A senator who has spoken to a question may again be heard, to explain some material part of the senator’s speech which has been misquoted or misunderstood, but shall not introduce any new matter, or interrupt any senator speaking, and no debatable matter shall be brought forward or debate arise on such an explanation.

192 Reply

(1) A reply may be made by a senator who has made a substantive motion to the Senate on which debate is allowed, but not by a senator who has moved an amendment or the previous question.

(2) The reply of the mover of the original question shall close the debate.

193 Rules of debate

(1) A senator shall not reflect on any vote of the Senate, except for the purpose of moving that the vote be rescinded.

(2) A senator shall not refer to the Queen, the Governor-General or the Governor of a state disrespectfully in debate, or for the purpose of influencing the Senate in its deliberations.

(3) A senator shall not use offensive words against either House of Parliament or of a House of a state or territory parliament, or any member of such House, or against a judicial officer, and all imputations of improper motives and all personal reflections on those Houses, members or officers shall be considered highly disorderly.

194 Relevance and anticipation

(1) A senator shall not digress from the subject matter of any question under discussion, or anticipate the discussion of any subject which appears on the Notice Paper.

(2) This standing order shall not prevent discussion on the address-in-reply of any matter, or of any matter on the Notice Paper and not discussed during the preceding 4 weeks.

195 Question may be read

A senator may require the question to be read by the Clerk at any time during a debate, but not so as to interrupt a senator speaking.

196 Tedious repetition

The President or the Chair of Committees may call the attention of the Senate or the committee, as the case may be, to continued irrelevance or tedious repetition, and may direct a senator to discontinue a speech, but that senator may require that the question whether the senator be further heard be put, and then that question shall be put without debate.

197 Interruption of speaker: points of order or privilege

(1) A senator shall not interrupt another senator speaking, except:

(a) to call attention to a point of order or privilege; or

(b) to call attention to the lack of a quorum.

(2) A senator may draw attention at any time to a point of order or a matter of privilege arising in the proceedings then before the Senate.

(3) A question of order or a matter of privilege so raised suspends the consideration and decision of every other question until determined.

(4) On a question of order being raised the senator called to order shall sit down.

(5) The President may hear argument on the question, and may determine it forthwith, or at a later time, at the President’s discretion.

(6) Time taken in raising and determining points of order during a debate shall not be regarded as part of the amount of time allowed for a senator to speak in a debate or ask a question or for a debate.

(amended 13 February 1997)

198 Objection to ruling

(1) If an objection is taken to a ruling or decision of the President, such objection must be taken at once and in writing, and a motion moved that the Senate dissent from the President’s ruling.

(2) Debate on that motion shall be adjourned to the next sitting day, unless the Senate decides on motion, without debate, that the question requires immediate determination.

199 Closure of debate

(1) The motion that the question be now put is not open to debate or amendment and shall be forthwith put by the President and determined.

(2) If the motion that the question be now put is carried, the Senate shall vote on the question immediately before it without further debate or amendment.

(3) A motion that the question be now put may not be moved by a senator, other than a minister, who has spoken in the debate or who has previously moved that motion.

200 Putting of question ends debate

A senator may not speak to any question after it has been put by the President and the vote commenced.

201 Adjournment of debate

(1) A debate may be adjourned on motion or by the granting of leave for a senator to continue the senator’s speech, either to a later hour of the same day or to any other day.

(2) A motion to adjourn a debate is not open to debate or amendment.

(3) When a debate is adjourned, by motion or by the granting of leave for a senator to continue the senator’s speech, the resumption of the debate shall be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting without any question being put, unless a motion is agreed to fixing another time for the resumption of the debate.

(4) The senator on whose motion a debate is adjourned shall be entitled to be first heard on the resumption of the debate.

(5) If a motion for the adjournment of the debate on a question is negatived, the senator moving the motion may address the Senate at any time during the debate.

(6) A motion for the adjournment of a debate may not be moved by a senator, other than a minister, who has spoken in the debate or who has previously moved the adjournment.

202 Interruption by adjournment of Senate

If a debate is interrupted by an adjournment of the Senate, the debate shall be an order of the day for the next day of sitting.

203 Infringement of order

(1) If a senator:

(a) persistently and wilfully obstructs the business of the Senate;

(b) is guilty of disorderly conduct;

(c) uses objectionable words, and refuses to withdraw such words;

(d) persistently and wilfully refuses to conform to the standing orders; or

(e) persistently and wilfully disregards the authority of the chair,

the President may report to the Senate that the senator has committed an offence.

(2) If an offence has been committed by a senator in a committee of the whole, the chair may suspend the proceedings of the committee and report the offence to the President.

(3) A senator who has been reported as having committed an offence shall attend in the senator’s place and be called upon to make an explanation or apology, and then a motion may be moved that the senator be suspended from the sitting of the Senate. No amendment, adjournment or debate shall be allowed on such a motion, which shall be immediately put by the President.

204 Suspension of senator

(1) The suspension of a senator on the first occasion shall be for the remainder of that day’s sitting, on the second occasion for 7 sitting days, and on the third or any subsequent occasion for 14 sitting days, where such suspensions occur within the same calendar year.

(2) A senator who has been suspended shall not enter the chamber during the period of the suspension. If a senator enters the chamber during the senator’s suspension, the President shall order the Usher of the Black Rod to remove the senator from the chamber.

205 Quarrels between senators

The Senate may intervene to prevent the prosecution of a quarrel between senators arising out of debates or proceedings of the Senate or of a committee.

206 Disobedience of orders

If a senator wilfully disobeys an order of the Senate, that senator may be ordered to attend the Senate and may be taken into custody.

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