Opening of the 44th Parliament

Proceedings in the Senate

Morning proceedings

The Senate met at 10.30 am. The Clerk of the Senate, Dr Rosemary Laing, read the proclamation calling Parliament together. The Usher of the Black Rod announced the arrival of the Deputy of the Governor-General, the Honourable Robert French AC, Chief Justice of the High Court, who then requested the Black Rod to summon the members of the House of Representatives.


The Usher of the Black Rod then commenced the long walk to the House of Representatives chamber.


Members of the House of Representatives assembled in the Senate chamber, where the Deputy formally declared the 44th Parliament open.


The Deputy was then escorted from the chamber by the Usher of the Black Rod, and members of the House of Representatives returned to the other place.


Once members had left the chamber, Senators Sam Dastyari and Mehmet Tillem were sworn in to fill the vacancies in the states of New South Wales and Victoria.

Following this, senators representing the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, Senators Kate Lundy, Zed SeseljaNova Peris and Nigel Scullion, were sworn in.

The senators were asked to sign the Test Roll and the Senators' Roll. Section 42 of the Constitution requires every senator before taking his or her seat to make and subscribe before the Governor-General (or a person authorised by him or her) an oath or affirmation of allegiance. The Test Roll is a record of this.

The Senators' Roll is a record of information required to be kept by standing order 45. It includes the names of senators, the dates of election, of taking the oath or affirmation, of ceasing to be a senator and the cause.

More information on the Senators' Roll and the Test Roll can be found in Chapter 7 of the Annotated Standing Orders of the Australian Senate.

The sitting of the Senate was then suspended. 

Afternoon proceedings

The Senate resumed after 3.00 pm.

The arrival of Her Excellency the Governor-General, the Honourable Quentin Bryce AC CVO was announced. The Governor-General directed the Usher of the Black Rod to advise members of the House of Representatives that she desired their presence in the Senate chamber.


The Usher of the Black Rod then returned to the House of Representatives chamber, this time knocking three times on the chamber doors. After opening and then closing the door, the Serjeant-at-Arms was directed by the Speaker to admit the Black Rod, who then delivered the Governor-General's message.

This echoes a custom dating back to England in the 1600s which is a show of the refusal by the House of Commons to be entered by force by the monarch or one of their servants.


The members of the House of Representatives again walked to the Senate chamber where the Governor-General delivered her address. At the conclusion of the speech (copies of which were presented to the President and the Speaker) a 19 gun artillery salute was fired.


Members of the House of Representatives then returned to their chamber, and the Senate was suspended.

Sitting resumed at 5.00 pm, and the Senate proceeded to normal business, including establishing the next day of sitting, and the presentation of documents.