Chapter 17 - Orders of the day

97    Disposal of orders

  1. Orders of the day shall be called on and disposed of in the order in which they stand on the Notice Paper.

  2. If, at the adjournment of the Senate, any orders of the day on the Notice Paper have not been called on or determined, they shall be set down on the Notice Paper as business for the next sitting day.

  3. An order of the day, in the absence of the senator in charge of it, may, at the request of that senator, be moved or postponed by any other senator.

  4. An order of the day may be discharged by motion on notice whether or not it has been debated.

Amendment history

Adopted: 19 August 1903 as SOs 153, 154, 155 and 156 (corresponding to paragraphs (1) to (4))

1989 revision: Old SOs 160 to 163 combined into one, structured as four paragraphs and renumbered as SO 97; language simplified and modified to reflect actual practice


Orders of the day

Orders of the day are listed in the Notice paper in the order they will be dealth with

The first two paragraphs of SO 97 mirror provisions found in SO 80 relating to the disposal of motions. Orders of the day are placed on the Notice Paper, subject to the operation of various standing orders but generally in the order in which they came into existence, except for government business orders of the day which, in accordance with SO 65, may be rearranged on the Notice Paper in any order the government sees fit (see SOs 65 and 80).

In the 1989 revision, which included the removal of superfluous and overlapping provisions, old SO 159 was deleted and the only detail not covered elsewhere was incorporated into paragraph (1) in the phrase “called on and”. Another aim of the revision was to align the standing orders with actual practice where there had been divergence. In its earlier form, paragraph (2) provided that a motion not reached on any day rolled over to the next sitting day but went to the end of the list of “regular Business of that day”. The revision made explicit the longstanding practice of keeping orders in their relative positions on the Notice Paper.[1]

Unlike a notice of motion which is under the control of the senator who gave it and can be amended, postponed or withdrawn by that senator before it is moved, an order of the day belongs to the Senate which has ordered that it be considered on a particular day. Although a senator is in charge of it for the purpose of guiding it through the Senate, and can request another senator to do so in his or her stead, that senator may not unilaterally withdraw it. It must be formally discharged from the Notice Paper by motion on notice. The precursor to paragraph (4) included the qualification “although it has been debated”. This was changed in the 1989 revision to “whether or not it has been debated” which clarifies its application to any order of the day on the Notice Paper.

Edwards, in the 1938 MS, reported on a curious practice that:

… seems to have grown up in the Senate that when it is desired to discharge an Order of the Day a motion is made “that the Order of the Day be read and discharged”. Upon this motion being passed the Clerk then rose in his place and read out the Order of the Day from the Notice Paper – a rather meaningless process, because the Order of the Day then immediately disappeared. It is difficult to find a reason for this custom, and accordingly the practice has now been altered. Where an Order of the Day has been debated, however, it will have been read at the commencement of the debate.