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House of Representatives Practice, 6th edition – HTML version

10 - Legislation

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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.[458]

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[459] or, if it has been sent, has been returned by message,[460] it may be proceeded with by a resolution of the originating House, restoring it to the Notice Paper. For example, the Financial Corporations Bill 1973 was restored to the Notice Paper of the House.[461] In the Senate examples are the Estate Duty (Termination) Bill 1973 [1974] and the National Health Bill (No. 3) 1973 [1974] (both private Senators’ bills).[462] The stage which the bill had reached at prorogation may be made an order of the day for the next sitting[463] or for a specified future day.[464] 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.[465] More recently, a bill has 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.[466]
  • 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. Following prorogation of the lst Session of the 28th Parliament on 14 February 1974 the House requested the Senate to resume consideration of the Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill 1973 and the National Investment Fund Bill 1973,[467] and the Senate requested resumption of consideration of the Legislative Drafting Institute Bill 1973 and the Parliament Bill 1973.[468] 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.

Bills appropriating revenue and moneys are deserving of special consideration in this context. The Constitution provides:[469]

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.[470] This has occurred before the motion to resume proceedings was moved,[471] and immediately after the motion to restore was agreed to.[472] None of the bills on which the House has asked the Senate to resume consideration has involved an appropriation, but the matter has been canvassed in the Senate.[473] Senate requests for resumption of consideration do not relate to appropriation bills (or taxation bills) as they 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 re-introduced.[474]

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.[475]


458. S.O. 174; Senate S.O. 136. See Ch. on ‘The parliamentary calendar’ for the effect of prorogation and dissolution.
459. The Financial Corporations Bill 1973 lapsed at second reading stage at prorogation in 1974, VP 1974/32.
460. The Papua (British New Guinea) Bill 1904 lapsed at the stage of consideration in committee of Senate amendments, VP 1905/21.
461. VP 1974/32.
462. J 1974/24.
463. VP 1974/32; NP 4 (12.3.1974) 110.
464. VP 1908/17.
465. VP 1908/12; NP 3 (22.9.1908) 12.
466. VP 1993–95/2353–4; 2360–2.
467. VP 1974/32.
468. VP 1974/45.
469. Constitution, s. 56.
470. VP 1905/18; VP 1908/33.
471. VP 1905/21.
472. VP 1908/33.
473. S. Deb. (30.8.1905) 1628–34.
474. S.O. 174(d).
475. VP 1990–92/172, 196.