Chapter 11 - Questions seeking information

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Standing Orders

72 Questions without notice

(1) At the time provided questions may be put to ministers relating to public affairs.

(2) A question may be put to the President in relation to matters for which the President has responsibility.

(3) (a) The asking of each question shall not exceed one minute and the answering of each question shall not exceed 4 minutes.

(b) The asking of each supplementary question shall not exceed one minute and the answering of each supplementary question shall not exceed one minute.

(4) (a) After question time motions may be moved without notice to take note of answers given that day to questions.

(b) A senator may speak for not more than 5 minutes on such a motion.

(c) The time for debate on all motions relating to answers to questions without notice on any day shall not exceed 30 minutes.

(amended 13 February 1997, 10 March 2009)

73 Rules for questions

(1) The following rules shall apply to questions:

questions shall not contain:

(a) statements of fact or names of persons unless they are strictly necessary to render the question intelligible and can be authenticated;

(b) arguments;

(c) inferences;

(d) imputations;

(e) epithets;

(f) ironical expressions; or

(g) hypothetical matter;

questions shall not ask:

(h) for an expression of opinion;

(i) for a statement of the government’s policy; or

(j) for legal opinion;

questions shall not refer to:

(k) debates in the current session; or

(l) proceedings in committee not reported to the Senate.

(2) Questions shall not anticipate discussion upon an order of the day or other matter which appears on the Notice Paper.

(3) The President may direct that the language of a question be changed if it is not in conformity with the standing orders.

(4) In answering a question, a senator shall not debate it.

74 Questions on notice

(1) Notice of a question shall be given by a senator signing and delivering it to the Clerk, fairly written, printed, or typed. Notice may be given by one senator on behalf of another.

(2) The Clerk shall place notices of questions on the Notice Paper in the order in which they are received.

(3) The reply to a question on notice shall be given by delivering it to the Clerk, a copy shall be supplied to the senator who asked the question, and the publication of the reply is then authorised.

(4) A senator who has received a copy of a reply pursuant to this standing order may, by leave, immediately after questions without notice, ask the question and have the reply read in the Senate.

(5) If a minister does not answer a question on notice asked by a senator within 30 days of the asking of that question, or if a question taken on notice during a hearing of a legislative and general purpose standing committee considering estimates remains unanswered 30 days after the day set for answering the question, and a minister does not, within that period, provide to the senator who asked the question an explanation satisfactory to that senator of why an answer has not yet been provided:

(a) at the conclusion of question time on any day after that period, the senator may ask the relevant minister for such an explanation; and

(b) the senator may, at the conclusion of the explanation, move without notice––That the Senate take note of the explanation; or

(c) in the event that the minister does not provide an explanation, the senator may, without notice, move a motion with regard to the minister’s failure to provide either an answer or an explanation.

(amended 13 February 1997, 8 September 2003, 9 November 2005, 14 August 2006: with effect from 11 September 2006, 27 June 2012: with effect from the first sitting day in 2013)

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