Guide to the Senate Notice Paper

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The Notice Paper is issued each sitting day and contains details of business before the Senate.

Its structure is based on the four following types of business:

  • Matters of privilege take precedence over all other business and are listed at the beginning of the Notice Paper when they arise. They consist of notices of motion which the President has determined warrant such precedence and any orders relating to adjourned debates on such motions.
  • Business of the Senate has precedence over government and general business for the day on which it is listed. It includes disallowance motions, orders of the day for the presentation of committee reports, motions to refer matters to standing committees, motions for leave of absence for a senator and motions concerning the qualification of a senator.
  • Government business is business initiated by a minister including the consideration of government legislation. It takes precedence over general business except for a period of 2½ hours each week set aside on Thursdays for general business.
  • General business is all other business initiated by senators who are not ministers. It takes precedence over government business only as described above.

Within each of these categories, business consists of notices of motion and orders of the day:

  • Notices of motion are statements of intention that senators intend to move particular motions on the days indicated. They are entered on the Notice Paper in the order given and may be given jointly by two or more senators. Notices of motion are usually considered before orders of the day.
  • Orders of the day are items of business which the Senate has ordered to be considered on particular days, usually arising from adjourned debates on matters (including legislation) or requirements to present committee reports.

On days other than Thursdays, the Notice Paper records all business of the Senate and government business items, but ‘generally’ includes only new items of general business from the previous sitting day. On Thursdays, business relating to the consideration of government documents, committee reports and government responses to committee reports is published in full.

Other sections in the Notice Paper are as follows:

  • Orders of the day relating to committee reports and government responses and Auditor-General’s reports—adjourned debates on motions to consider or adopt committee reports and government responses. Auditor-General’s reports are automatically added to the Notice Paper except if they have had a motion moved on the day of tabling and that motion is resolved. These orders may be considered for up to one hour on Thursdays at the conclusion of general business. New items appear on the following day’s Notice Paper. The section is printed in full on Thursdays.
  • Orders of the day relating to government documents—adjourned debates on motions to take note of government documents. Such orders arise from consideration of the government documents presented on a particular day and include consideration of any documents not reached on the day. They are also listed for consideration for up to one hour on Thursdays during the consideration of general business. New items appear in the following day’s Notice Paper with the addition of any government documents for that week which have not had a motion moved to them. The section is printed in full on Thursdays.
  • Business for future consideration—lists any notice of motion or order of the day to be considered on a specific day in the future; for example, a committee report ordered to be presented on a specific date, or a notice of motion given for a day other than the next day of sitting.
  • Bills referred to committees—lists all bills or provisions of bills currently being considered by committees.
  • Questions on notice—includes the text of new questions on notice and lists the numbers of unanswered questions. It also includes the span of numbers for the questions which remain unanswered for 30 days or more.
  • Orders of the Senate—includes orders such as orders for production of documents and those relating to days of sitting for a period of sittings.
  • Contingent notices of motion—are statements of intention by senators that, contingent on a specified occurrence, they may move a motion, usually to suspend standing orders. These notices are grouped by subject.
  • Temporary chairs of committees—is a daily list of all senators appointed to take the chair in the absence of the President or Deputy President.
  • Categories of committees—is a daily list, categorised by type, of Senate and joint committees. Details of each committee appear in the committee section.
  • Committees—lists all Senate and joint committees, including membership, current inquiries and reports presented on or since the previous sitting day.
  • Senate appointments to statutory authorities—lists the statutory authorities on which the Senate is represented and details of representation.
  • Ministerial representation—lists Senate ministers and the portfolios they represent.

A calendar also appears on the back of the printed version of the Notice Paper showing the Senate sitting dates and dates of estimates hearings.

The ‘full’ Notice Paper

On the first day of the autumn and spring sittings a full Notice Paper is printed listing all outstanding business before the Senate, including the full text of all unresolved notices of motion and unanswered questions on notice. This edition is a complete reference to unresolved business from earlier in the session and is useful to keep.

All business before the Senate is published daily in the full online version of the Notice Paper, available on the Senate website.

Inquiries concerning the Notice Paper or business listed in it may be directed to the Senate Table Office on (02) 6277 3018.