Lapsed bills

When the House is dissolved or prorogued all proceedings come to an end and all bills on the Notice Paper lapse. If it is desired to proceed with a bill that has lapsed following a dissolution, a new bill must be introduced, as there is no provision for proceedings to be carried over from Parliament to Parliament. However, both Houses have provisions for the resumption of business that has lapsed due to a prorogation of Parliament.[399]

Any bill which lapses by reason of a prorogation before it has reached its final stage may be proceeded with in the next session at the stage it had previously reached, provided that a periodical election for the Senate or a general election has not taken place between two such sessions. (The proviso in relation to a general election is necessary because on occasions the Parliament has been prorogued prior to the House being dissolved for the purpose of an election.) A further proviso is that the House in which the bill originated must agree to the resumption of proceedings. The procedure is as follows:

  • If the bill is in the possession of the House in which it originated and has either not been sent to the other House[400] or, if it has been sent, has been returned by message,[401] it may be proceeded with by a resolution of the originating House, restoring it to the Notice Paper. The stage which the bill had reached at prorogation may be made an order of the day for the next sitting[402] or for a specified future day.[403] Speaker Holder, in a private ruling, held that a bill cannot be proceeded with on the day of the resolution to restore, as it must first be restored to and printed on the Notice Paper.[404] More recently, bills have been proceeded with immediately after the House has agreed to a motion that the proceedings be resumed immediately at the point where they were interrupted.[405]
  • If the bill is in the possession of the House in which it did not originate, it may be proceeded with by resolution of the House in which it is, restoring it to the Notice Paper, if a message has been received from the originating House requesting resumption of consideration.[406] The House may agree to a single motion requesting the Senate to resume consideration of multiple bills, with the proviso that the House’s request be conveyed to the Senate in a separate message for each bill.[407] The House orders consideration of messages requesting resumption of consideration to be made an order of the day for the next sitting (the most common practice) or for a specified future day. In the case of a private Senator’s bill, if the motion for the consideration of the message is moved by a private Member, the bill is restored to the Notice Paper under Private Members’ Business.[408]

Bills appropriating revenue and moneys are deserving of special consideration in this context. The Constitution provides:[409]

A vote, resolution, or proposed law for the appropriation of revenue or moneys shall not be passed unless the purpose of the appropriation has in the same session been recommended by message of the Governor-General to the House in which the proposal originated.

On occasions when the House has agreed to resume consideration of a lapsed bill appropriating revenue or moneys which, of constitutional necessity, originated in the House, and in respect of which a message from the Governor-General recommending an appropriation had been announced in the previous session, a new message is announced.[410] This has occurred before the motion to resume proceedings was moved,[411] and immediately after the motion to restore was agreed to.[412] A new message is also announced when the House requests the Senate to resume consideration of a House bill involving an appropriation. In these cases the message has been announced prior to the moving of the motion requesting the Senate to resume consideration of the bill.[413] Senate requests for resumption of consideration do not relate to appropriation bills (or taxation bills) as these are bills which the Senate may not originate.

Motions to resume proceedings on bills interrupted by prorogation and motions to request the Senate to resume consideration may be debated. Any bill so restored to the Notice Paper is proceeded with in both Houses as if its passage had not been interrupted by a prorogation and, if finally passed, is presented to the Governor-General for assent. If the House in which the bill originated does not ask for the resumption of proceedings, the bill may be reintroduced.[414]

In 1990 the Senate, following suspension of its standing orders, sent a message requesting the House to resume the consideration of a bill which had lapsed in the House at the dissolution of the previous Parliament. The House returned a message to the Senate to the effect that the request was irregular in that it requested action prevented by the standing orders of the House and accepted parliamentary practice, and suggesting that the Senate should introduce the bill again and transmit it to the House in accordance with normal procedures. The Senate subsequently acted as suggested.[415]

Bills lapsed because of lack of quorum

Proceedings on bills (or other business) adjourned because of a lack of quorum are regarded as having lapsed. Proceedings adjourned by a count out may be resumed at a later sitting, on motion moved on notice, at the point where they were interrupted.[416]