House of Representatives Practice, 6th edition – HTML version

5 - Members

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The Clerk of the House keeps a Members’ roll for each State which shows the name of the Member elected for each division, the dates of his or her election, of making the oath or affirmation, and of ceasing to be a Member, and the reason for cessation of membership.[121] On each day of sitting the names of Members who attend in the Chamber are taken by the Serjeant-at-Arms and the names of absent Members are recorded in the Votes and Proceedings.[122] A List of Members and an Attendance Roll are published in each sessional volume of the Votes and Proceedings.

A Member’s presence at a committee meeting or in the Federation Chamber alone is not counted for the purposes of recording attendance at a sitting of the House. This is because the record of attendance is maintained to record compliance with section 38 of the Constitution, which is only satisfied by attendance in the Chamber of the House—see ‘Absence without leave’ at page 155.

Leave of absence

A motion to grant leave of absence does not require notice, states the cause and period of leave (for individually identified Members), and has priority over all other business.[123] Leave is usually granted for reasons such as parliamentary or public business overseas, ill health or maternity/paternity.[124] A further motion may be moved to extend the period of leave.[125] During both World Wars leave for long periods was granted to several Members who were serving in the Armed Forces. There have been a few occasions when Members have been granted leave without having been sworn in. The longest period of absence was in relation to the Member for the Northern Territory (Mr Blain) who was granted leave, without having been sworn in as a Member, from 8 October 1943 to 26 September 1945 while he was a prisoner of war.[126]

A Member who has been granted leave of absence by the House is excused from the service of the House or on any committee. The leave is forfeited if the Member attends in the Chamber of the House before the end of the period of leave.[127] Another Member may be appointed to a committee to serve in the place of a Member granted leave of absence by the House.[128]

Service of the House means attendance in the Chamber,[129] and is interpreted as appearing on the floor of the Chamber—Members on leave may be present in the public gallery. Members have placed questions on the Notice Paper while on leave. However, they may not lodge notices while on leave, as these must be delivered to the Clerk at the Table in the Chamber. Members on leave have participated in committee proceedings. A committee chair granted maternity leave has continued to serve as chair and participate in committee business, for example by editing and approving the draft report. She did not attend committee meetings which were chaired by the Deputy Chair in her absence.

121. S.O. 25.
122. S.O. 27(c). The entry also indicates if an absent Member has been granted leave.
123. S.O. 26(a).
124. E.g. VP 2004–07/142; VP 2010–12/76. Leave has been granted for urgent private business, H.R. Deb. (17.10.1935) 833. Speaker Holder ruled in 1906 that leave of absence may be asked for any reason whatever, but that it is for the House to determine whether it shall be granted, H.R. Deb. (18.6.1906) 1430–31.
125. E.g. VP 2004–07/648.
126. VP 1943–44/29; VP 1944–45/21; VP 1945–46/37; VP 1945–46/260.
127. S.O. 26(b).
128. VP 1948–49/13.
129. S.O. 2.