11 Duty of Chairman
The Chairman of Committees shall take the chair of the committee at the table whenever a committee of the whole is constituted.
Adopted: 19 August 1903 as SO 28
1989 revision: Old SO 28 renumbered as SO 11
The Deputy President and Chairman of Committees takes the chair in committee of the whole at the table between the clerks (Photo courtesy of AUSPIC)
Once the Senate had agreed to establish as a permanent office the position of Chairman of Committees, it followed universal practice in adopting a standing order providing for the Chairman to take the chair whenever a committee of the whole convened. The chair taken is “at the table”, between the two clerks at the table.
In recent years it has become common for the chair of a committee of the whole to be taken by whichever temporary chair is performing duty as acting Deputy President at the time. In these cases, the temporary chair simply moves from the President’s chair to the lower chair. In other circumstances, when the President is in the chamber, the President waits until the Chairman of Committees or another temporary chairman comes forward before vacating the chair. Similarly, when a committee of the whole is required to report to the Senate, the same senator may do double duty in leaving the chair at the table and taking the President’s chair. These practices are pragmatic adaptations to the increasing demands on senators on sitting days, including on those rostered for chair duty.