Chapter 14 - Motions and questions

87    Rescission of order

An order, resolution, or vote of the Senate may be rescinded, but not during the same session unless 7 days’ notice is given and at least one-half of the whole number of senators vote in favour of its rescission, except that to correct irregularities or mistakes one day’s notice shall be sufficient.

Amendment history

Adopted: 19 August 1903 as SO 127

1989 revision: Old SO 134 renumbered as SO 87; language simplified


Rescission is a very rarely used procedure. It has a lengthy notice requirement (except in cases of mistakes) and requires the support of an absolute majority of senators. Its application is limited because it would be unusual for the Senate to annul or quash a decision as if it had never been made, which is the effect of a rescission. In most cases it is sufficient to vary a previous decision or, in the case of an order of continuing effect, to halt its operation from a particular day. Rescission does not apply where an amended decision is to have prospective effect only. It requires retrospective application, hence its limited use. For example, a motion pursuant to s.48 of the Legislative Instruments Act 2003, required before a disallowed instrument may be remade, is not regarded as a rescission motion within the terms of SO 87. It has prospective effect only and therefore does not require the special notice specified.[1]

See Odgers’ Australian Senate Practice, 12th edition, pp.181 –82 for further commentary, including the observation that it was once thought that the inclusion of the phrase “unless otherwise ordered” was necessary to enable a decision to be amended, rather than rescinded and replaced. This practice has not been followed in recent decades.