Private Members’ Mondays

Order of business on Mondays

Time is reserved on each sitting Monday for non-government business as follows:

  • In the House
    • Petitions[5] (from 10 am for up to 10 minutes);
    • Committee and delegation business and private Members’ business (to 12 noon).[6]
  • In the Federation Chamber
    • Committee and delegation business and private Members’ business (from 11am to 1.30 pm, and from 4.45 pm to 7.30 pm).

There are no longer separate periods for committee business and private Members’ business. The amount of time available for the latter depends on the amount of committee business. This practice allows greater flexibility to accommodate the flow of committee report presentation, which is necessarily low at the beginning of a Parliament and tends to peak towards the end. Since the introduction of the modern form of private Members’ business in 1988, only in the most unusual circumstances has other business been given priority at the time for private Members’ business—and this has always been by agreement, not merely by government decision.[7] Sometimes, when the House has not met on a Monday of a sitting week, special arrangements have been made to enable some or all of the items normally dealt with on a Monday to be considered later.[8]

Selection and programming of business—role of the Selection Committee

The timetable for committee and delegation business and private Members’ business on Mondays, in the House and in the Federation Chamber, is the responsibility of the Selection Committee, which determines the order of consideration of matters, and the times allotted for debate on each item and for each Member speaking.[9]

The Selection Committee meets usually once each sitting week on Tuesday to consider committee and delegation business and private Members’ business. If necessary the committee can also meet on other days.

The Selection Committee reports its determinations regarding private Members’ and committee business to the House in time for them to be adopted and published on the Notice Paper of the sitting Thursday before the Monday being considered. The report is treated as adopted by the House on presentation and is printed in Hansard.[10]

The standing orders oblige the Selection Committee to give notices by private Members of their intention to present bills priority over other notices and orders of the day.[11] In other matters relating to the selection and programming of private Members’ business the following general principles have been followed:

  1. In formulating the priority to be given to items of private Members’ business the Selection Committee shall have regard to:
  1. the importance of the subject;
  2. the current level of interest in the subject;
  3. the extent of the current discussion on the subject both in the Parliament and elsewhere;
  4. the extent to which the subject comes within the responsibility of the Commonwealth Parliament;
  5. the probability of the subject being brought before the House by other means within a reasonable time; and
  6. whether the subject is the same, or substantially the same, as another item of business which has been debated or on which the House has already made a decision in the same period of sittings and, if so, whether new circumstances exist.
  1. The Committee shall accord priority to private Members’ business:
  1. with regard to the numbers of Members affiliated with each party in the House;
  2. in a way which ensures that a particular Member or the Members who comprise the Opposition Executive do not predominate as the movers of the items selected;
  3. in a way which seeks to ensure balance is achieved over each period of sittings;
  4. in a manner that ensures appropriate participation by non-aligned Members.
  1. When a private Member has the responsibility for the carriage of a bill transmitted from the Senate for concurrence, the bill shall be accorded priority following the question for the second reading being put to the House in the same way as a private Member’s bill originating in the House is accorded priority by standing order 41.
  2. Priority shall not be accorded to any item of private Members’ business if the matter should be dealt with by the House in another, more appropriate, form of proceeding.
  3. The general principles set out above shall be observed by the Selection Committee but nothing in the general principles shall be taken to prevent the Selection Committee departing from those general principles in order to meet circumstances, which, in its opinion, are unusual or special.
  4. These general principles shall continue in effect until altered by the House following a report from this or a future Selection Committee.[12]

Referral of business to the Federation Chamber

The Selection Committee selects private Members’ notices and other items of private Members’ and committee and delegation business for referral to the Federation Chamber, or for return to the House. Such a referral by determination of the Selection Committee, once the determination has been reported to the House, is deemed to be a referral by the House.[13]