The second reading debate is a policy debate relating to the principles of a particular bill. A senator may speak for up to 20 minutes and make a further contribution if a second reading amendment is moved. The second reading debate is opened by a minister who outlines the policies of the bill, and is usually closed by a minister who may respond to issues raised during the debate. The debate culminates in a vote signifying that the bill is agreed to, or rejected, in principle.
Second reading amendments do not affect the text of a bill. The amendment is moved to the motion for the second reading ("That this bill be now read a second time"), and is generally used to express an opinion about the bill or related policy issues; to propose the reference of the bill or related matters to a committee; or to delay further consideration of the bill. In some circumstances the effect of the amendment, if agreed to, is to defeat the bill.
Brief Guide to Senate Procedure No. 16 - Consideration of Legislation
Senate Brief No. 8- The Senate and Legislation