Chapter 9 - Times of sittings and routine of business

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Standing Orders

55 Times of meetings

(1) The days and times of meeting of the Senate in each sitting week shall be:

Monday 12.30 pm – 6.30 pm, 7.30 pm – 10.30 pm

Tuesday 12.30 pm – adjournment

Wednesday 9.30 am – 8 pm

Thursday 9.30 am – 8.40 pm.

(2) The President, at the request of an absolute majority of the whole number of senators that the Senate meet at a certain time, shall fix a time of meeting in accordance with that request, and the time of meeting shall be notified to each senator.

(3) For that purpose a request by the leader or deputy leader of a party in the Senate shall be deemed to be a request by every senator of that party.

(4) A request may be made to the President by delivery to the Clerk, who shall immediately notify the President.

(5) If the President is unavailable, the Clerk shall notify the Deputy President, or, should the Deputy President be unavailable, any one of the Temporary Chairs of Committees, who shall be required to summon the Senate on behalf of the President, in accordance with this standing order.

(amended 13 February 1997, 4 September 1997, 7 December 1998, 28 August 2002, 14 May 2003)

56 Conduct of business

A motion connected with the conduct of the business of the Senate may be moved by a minister at any time without notice.

57 Routine of business

(1) The routine of business shall be:

(a) On Monday:

(i) Government business only

(ii) At 2 pm, questions

(iii) Motions to take note of answers

(iv) Petitions

(v) Notices of motion

(vi) Postponement and rearrangement of business

(vii) Formal motions – discovery of formal business

(viii) Any proposal to debate a matter of public importance or urgency

(ix) Government business

(x) At 9.50 pm, adjournment proposed

(xi) At 10.30 pm, adjournment.

(b) On Tuesday:

(i) Government business only

(ii) At 2 pm, questions

(iii) Motions to take note of answers

(iv) Petitions

(v) Notices of motion

(vi) Postponement and rearrangement of business

(vii) Formal motions – discovery of formal business

(viii) Any proposal to debate a matter of public importance or urgency

(ix) Government business

(x) At 6.50 pm, consideration of government documents for up to 30 minutes under standing order 61

(xi) At 7.20 pm, adjournment proposed

(xii) Adjournment.

(c) On Wednesday:

(i) Government business only

(ii) At 12.45 pm, matters of public interest

(iii) At 2 pm, questions

(iv) Motions to take note of answers

(v) Petitions

(vi) Notices of motion

(vii) Postponement and rearrangement of business

(viii) Formal motions – discovery of formal business

(ix) Any proposal to debate a matter of public importance or urgency

(x) Consideration of committee reports under standing order 62(4)

(xi) Government business

(xii) At 6.50 pm, consideration of government documents for up to 30 minutes under standing order 61

(xiii) At 7.20 pm, adjournment proposed

(xiv) At 8 pm, adjournment.

(d) On Thursday:

(i) Petitions

(ii) Notices of motion

(iii) Postponement and rearrangement of business

(iv) Formal motions – discovery of formal business

(v) Consideration of committee reports under standing order 62(4)

(vi) Government business

(vii) At 12.45 pm, non-controversial government business only

(viii) At 2 pm, questions

(ix) Motions to take note of answers

(x) Any proposal to debate a matter of public importance or urgency

(xi) Not later than 4.30 pm, general business

(xii) Not later than 6 pm, consideration of government documents under general business

(xiii) Not later than 7 pm, consideration of committee reports and government responses under standing order 62(1)

(xiv) At 8 pm, adjournment proposed

(xv) At 8.40 pm, adjournment.

(2) On Wednesday, at 12.45 pm till 2 pm matters of public interest may be discussed by senators without any question before the chair, provided that a senator shall not speak for more than 15 minutes, and if a division is called for, the division shall be taken at a later hour of the day, not being earlier than 2 pm.

(3) If a division is called for on Thursday after 4.30 pm, the matter before the Senate shall be adjourned until the next day of sitting at a time fixed by the Senate.

(amended 13 February 1997, 7 December 1998, 28 August 2002, 14 May 2003, 10 March 2009, 12 March 2013)

58 Business of the Senate

The following business shall be placed on the Notice Paper as business of the Senate, and shall take precedence of government and general business for the day on which it is set down for consideration:

(a) A motion for leave of absence to a senator.

(b) A motion concerning the qualification of a senator.

(c) A motion to disallow, disapprove, or declare void and of no effect any instrument made under the authority of any Act of Parliament which provides for the instrument to be subject to disallowance or disapproval by either House of the Parliament, or subject to a resolution of either House of the Parliament declaring the instrument to be void and of no effect.

(d) An order of the day for the presentation of a report from a committee.

(e) A motion to refer a matter to a standing committee.

59 Government and general business

Government business shall take precedence of general business, except that general business shall take precedence of government business on Thursday at the time provided, for a period not exceeding 2½ hours, and general business orders of the day shall take precedence of general business notices of motion on alternate Thursdays.

(amended 13 February 1997)

60 Reports of committees—precedence

A motion for the consideration or adoption of the report of a committee of the Senate and any government statement on such a report shall take precedence of any other general business on the day on which it is set down for consideration.

61 Consideration of government documents

(1) (a) On Tuesday and Wednesday, documents presented by a minister shall be considered pursuant to this standing order at the time provided.

(b) Immediately after prayers on any day when consideration of government documents occurs, a minister may present documents by handing them to the Clerk without any announcement to the Senate, and the presentation of such documents shall be reported to the Senate by the President when the consideration of government documents is called on under this standing order.

(c) Documents presented on Monday may be considered on Tuesday after the documents presented on that day, and documents presented on Monday and Tuesday and not called on on Tuesday may be considered on Wednesday after documents presented on that day.

(2) When documents are called on by the President pursuant to this standing order a motion may be moved without notice that the Senate take note of one or several of them.

(3) The debate on any motion moved pursuant to this standing order shall be conducted as follows:

(a) a senator shall not speak for more than 5 minutes;

(b) if debate pursuant to this standing order is not concluded it shall be interrupted after 30 minutes;

(c) if the debate is adjourned or interrupted, the resumption of the debate shall be an order of the day for the Thursday of that week at the time for the consideration of government documents under general business, or, if it is so ordered, for the next day of sitting; and

(d) on Thursdays, at the time provided, when an order of the day is called on under this standing order senators who have previously spoken to that order of the day may speak again for not more than 5 minutes, and debate under this standing order at that time shall not exceed 60 minutes.

(4) Where a document is presented but is not called on under paragraph (1), the consideration of that document shall be made an order of the day for the next day on which general business is considered without any question being put, and where that order of the day is called on at that time, a motion may be moved without notice to take note of that document.

(5) Where consideration of a document is an order of the day in accordance with paragraph (4), it shall remain an order of the day for each succeeding day on which general business is considered till:

(a) the order of the day is called on and no motion to take note of the document is moved;

(b) a motion to take note of the document is determined; or

(c) the order of the day is discharged from the Notice Paper,

whichever first occurs.

(6) Where debates on motions moved under the provisions of this standing order are adjourned or interrupted and are called on in the normal course of business, senators who have spoken to the motions under the provisions of this standing order may speak again for the time allowed by the standing orders for that business.

(amended 13 February 1997, 11 May 2004)

62 Consideration of committee reports and government responses and Auditor-General’s reports

(1) Where in any week there are orders of the day for the resumption of debate on motions for the consideration or adoption of reports of committees or government responses to such reports:

(a) on Thursday at the time provided orders of the day relating to reports of committees or government responses presented to the Senate during that week shall be severally called on, in the order in which the respective reports or government responses were presented;

(b) if there are no orders of the day relating to committee reports or government responses presented during that week, or if debate on motions relating to such reports or government responses concludes before the expiration of 60 minutes, orders of the day relating to committee reports or government responses presented prior to that week shall then be severally called on in an order which is the reverse of the order in which the respective reports or government responses were presented;

(c) in any debate on such motions so called on, each senator may speak for not more than 10 minutes; and

(d) any debate pursuant to this standing order shall be interrupted at the expiration of 60 minutes.

(2) Reports of the Auditor-General in respect of which no motion is moved on their presentation, and orders of the day for adjourned debates on such reports, shall be placed on the Notice Paper for consideration on Thursday at the time for the consideration of committee reports and government responses under general business, after those reports and responses.

(3) Where debate on a motion under the provisions of this standing order is adjourned or interrupted, senators who have spoken to the motion under the provisions of this standing order may speak again to the motion for the time allowed by the standing orders when the debate on the motion is again called on in the normal course of business.

(4) (a) If a committee report is presented at the time provided on Wednesday or Thursday, a motion may be moved relating to the report.

(b) A senator speaking to such a motion shall not speak for more than 10 minutes, and debate on all such motions shall not exceed 60 minutes.

(c) If a debate is not concluded at the expiration of that time the debate shall be made an order of the day for Thursday at the time for consideration of committee reports.

(amended 14 October 1991, 13 February 1997, 10 May 2000)

63 Presentation of documents

Documents ordered to be presented, returns, and reports of committees may be presented at any time when no other business is before the Senate.

64 New business

No new business shall be commenced after the question for the adjournment of the Senate has been first put on any sitting day.

65 Government business on Notice Paper

Ministers may arrange the order of their notices of motion and orders of the day on the Notice Paper as they think fit.

66 Formal motions

(1) At the time provided for formal motions the President shall inquire with respect to each motion of which notice has been given for the day, at the request of the senator who gave the notice, whether there is any objection to its being taken as a formal motion, and if no objection is taken by any senator, the motion shall be deemed to be a formal motion.

(2) Formal motions shall take precedence of all other motions and orders of the day and shall be disposed of in the order in which they stand on the Notice Paper.

(3) A formal motion shall be put and determined without amendment or debate.

(amended 13 February 1997)

67 Postponement of business

A senator who wishes to postpone a notice or order of the day of which the senator is in charge shall, before the time for postponement of business, deliver to the Clerk written notification of the postponement. At that time the Clerk shall read a list of such items, and they shall then be taken to be postponed accordingly, but, at the request of any senator, the question for the postponement of an item shall be put to the Senate for determination without amendment or debate.

(amended 13 February 1997, 30 November 1999)

68 Interruption of business

(1) If any business before the Senate or a committee of the whole is interrupted by the operation of any standing or other order, such business may be dealt with at a later hour of the day, or shall be set down on the Notice Paper for the next day of sitting.

(2) Where an order of the Senate specifies a time for the consideration of a matter, at the specified time:

(a) if a question is before the Senate consideration of that question shall be interrupted, a senator speaking shall be taken to have leave to continue the senator’s speech, and resumption of debate on that question shall be made an order of the day for a later hour of the day without any question being put;

(b) if the Senate is in committee the chair shall report progress, and further consideration of the business before the committee shall be made an order of the day for a later hour of the day without any questions being put; or

(c) if a vote is being taken the vote shall be completed and the procedures in paragraph (a) or (b) then followed as appropriate.

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