Chapter 19 - Roll Call

108  Conduct of roll call

  1. When the order of the day for a roll call is read, the bells shall be rung as for a division.
  2. The names of all senators shall then be called by the Clerk in alphabetical order and senators present shall answer their names.
  3. The name of a senator who has not answered shall be called again, and if the senator does not then answer the President shall report the absence of the senator.

Amendment history

Adopted: 19 August 1903 as SO 278 (part) (corresponding to paragraph (2)) and 279 (part) (corresponding to paragraph (3)) but renumbered as SOs 274 and 275 for the first printed edition

1989 revision: Old SOs 286 and 287 combined into one, augmented by paragraph (1) based on practice and renumbered as SO 108


The 1989 revision recognised that when the order of the day for the roll call was read, the bells should be rung. Although this had not been included in any versions since 1903, it is clear from Australian Senate Practice that it was the practice to ring the bells before a call of the Senate.[1] The 1989 revision also made explicit the practice of the President reporting the absence of a senator.[2]

If a roll call were to occur nowadays, the following procedures would be likely:

  • the Clerk would read the order of the day for the roll call;
  • the bells would be rung for four minutes;
  • the President would request senators to answer their names when called by the Clerk;
  • the Clerk would call senators’ names in alphabetical order;
  • when all senators’ names had been called once, the President would inform the Senate either that all senators had answered their names or that all senators apart from identified exceptions had answered their names;
  • the President would then direct the Clerk to call again the names of senators who had not answered (or whose absence was not already covered by a motion granting leave).