Chapter 9 - Times of sittings and routine of business

68    Interruption of business

  1. If any business before the Senate or a committee of the whole is interrupted by the operation of any standing or other order, such business may be dealt with at a later hour of the day, or shall be set down on the Notice Paper for the next day of sitting.

  2. Where an order of the Senate specifies a time for the consideration of a matter, at the specified time:

    1. if a question is before the Senate consideration of that question shall be interrupted, a senator speaking shall be taken to have leave to continue the senator’s speech, and resumption of debate on that question shall be made an order of the day for a later hour of the day without any question being put;

    2. if the Senate is in committee the chairman shall report progress, and further consideration of the business before the committee shall be made an order of the day for a later hour of the day without any questions being put; or

    3. if a vote is being taken the vote shall be completed and the procedures in paragraph (a) or (b) then followed as appropriate.

Amendment history

Adopted: 11 June 1914, J.79–80, as SO 73A (corresponding to paragraph (1))


  • 1 August 1934, J.459–61 (to take effect 1 October 1934) (change in terminology from “Private” to “General” Business)
  • 2 December 1965, J.427 (to take effect 1 January 1966) (minor drafting change)
  • [3 November 1987, J.250 (sessional order providing for interruptions in various circumstances)]

1989 revision: Old SO 75 renumbered as SO 68; 1987 sessional order incorporated as paragraph (2) and language modernised


The practical basis for the adoption of this standing order in 1914 was expressed succinctly in the debate on the adoption of the Standing Orders Committee’s First Report (PP No. S.1 /1914) on 11 June 1914, the day after its presentation:

Senator GIVENS This alteration is to meet the case where, by reason of a debate having been interrupted by a suspension of the sitting, the business under discussion has dropped from the notice-paper. The new standing order will do away with the necessity of interrupting a debate in order that the business under consideration may be placed for a future occasion.

Senator MILLEN Does it drop off absolutely now?

Senator GIVENS Yes. If an honourable senator has possession of the floor and will not sit down so that an order may be made, the business drops off the notice-paper. The new standing order will get over that difficulty and keep the business on the notice-paper.[1]

In 1987, the Senate adopted a sessional order, incorporated into the 1989 revision, which provided detailed guidance on how particular circumstances would be dealt with when business was interrupted by the operation of any standing or other order. The underlying principle in most cases is that interrupted business is resumed at the next available opportunity, at the point at which it was interrupted, without the need for any additional action. The process is automatic.

For commentary on exceptions to this practice, see Odgers’ Australian Senate Practice, 12th edition, p.165.

Also see SO 202, interruption by adjournment of Senate.