Chapter 8 - Sittings, quorum and adjournment of the senate

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Standing Orders

49 Meeting of Senate

The bells shall be rung for 5 minutes prior to the time appointed for a meeting of the Senate, and the President shall then take the chair.

50 Prayer and acknowledgement of country

The President, on taking the chair each day, shall read the following prayer:

Almighty God, we humbly beseech Thee to vouchsafe Thy special blessing upon this Parliament, and that Thou wouldst be pleased to direct and prosper the work of Thy servants to the advancement of Thy glory, and to the true welfare of the people of Australia.

Our Father, which art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

The President shall then make an acknowledgement of country in the following terms:

I acknowledge the Ngunnawal and Ngambri peoples who are the traditional custodians of the Canberra area and pay respect to the elders, past and present, of all Australia’s Indigenous peoples.

(amended 26 October 2010)

51 Quorum at commencement of sitting

(1) If there is not a quorum present when the chair is taken at the time appointed for a meeting of the Senate, the bells shall be again rung for 5 minutes, and if there is still not a quorum present the President shall adjourn the Senate to the next sitting day.

(2) A senator having entered the chamber at or after the time appointed for the meeting of the Senate shall not withdraw until a quorum is formed or the Senate adjourned.

52 Quorum during sitting

(1) If it appears, on the report of a division of the Senate by the tellers, that a quorum is not present, the President shall adjourn the Senate till the next sitting day; and no decision of the Senate shall be considered to have been arrived at by such division.

(2) When the President is informed by the Chair of Committees that a quorum is not present, the bells shall be rung for 4 minutes; the President shall then count the Senate, and if no quorum is then present, shall adjourn the Senate till the next sitting day; but if a quorum is then present, the President shall leave the chair and the committee resume.

(3) If a senator draws attention to the lack of a quorum, the bells shall be rung for 4 minutes; the President shall then count the Senate, and, if a quorum is not present, shall adjourn the Senate till the next sitting day.

(4) When the attention of the President, or of the Chair of Committees, has been called to the absence of a quorum, a senator shall not leave the chamber until the Senate has been counted by the President.

(5) The doors of the Senate shall be unlocked when the President is counting the Senate.

(6) When the Senate is adjourned for lack of a quorum the names of the senators present shall be entered in the Journals.

(7) Time taken to form a quorum 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)

53 Adjournment of Senate

(1) Except where the standing orders provide for the President to adjourn the Senate without putting a question, the Senate can be adjourned only by its own resolution.

(2) The adjournment of the Senate may be moved at any time by or on behalf of a minister.

(3) The motion for the adjournment of the Senate may not be amended.

(4) On the question for the adjournment of the Senate matters not relevant to the question may be debated.

54 Adjournment without motion

(1) At the time specified for each sitting day, the President shall propose the question that the Senate do now adjourn, and that question shall be open to debate.

(2) If the Senate is in committee at that time, the chair shall leave the chair and report to the Senate, and on such a report being made the President shall forthwith propose the question that the Senate do now adjourn, and that question shall be open to debate.

(3) If the Senate or the committee is in division at that time the President shall not propose that question or the chair leave the chair till the result of the division has been declared.

(4) If the consideration of government documents under standing order 61 or the consideration of committee reports under standing order 62(1) concludes before the expiration of the times provided, the question for the adjournment shall then be proposed.

(5) Except on Tuesday debate on the question for the adjournment shall not exceed 40 minutes, and a senator shall not speak to that question for more than 10 minutes on any day. On Tuesday at the conclusion of debate, and on other days at the expiration of 40 minutes, at the conclusion of debate, or at the time specified for adjournment, whichever is the earlier, or if there is no debate, the President shall adjourn the Senate without putting the question.

(6) On the question for the adjournment of the Senate on Tuesday, a senator shall speak to that question for not more than 5 minutes, except in accordance with the following paragraphs:

(a) if no other senator wishes to speak for up to 5 minutes, a senator who has not already spoken may speak for up to 10 minutes; and

(b) if no other senator wishes to speak under paragraph (a), a senator who has not already spoken may speak for up to 20 minutes.

(amended 13 February 1997, 7 December 1998, 28 August 2002, 10 March 2009, 11 February 2014)

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