Chapter 27 - Addresses to the Queen or the Governor-General

171  Making of address

An address to the Queen[1] or the Governor-General shall be proposed on motion after notice in the usual manner.

Amendment history

Adopted: 19 August 1903 as SO 356 but renumbered as SO 352 for the first printed edition

1989 revision: Old SO 366 renumbered as SO 171 ; expression considerably simplified and language modernised; old SO 367 referring to addresses of congratulations or condolence to members of the Royal Family deleted


An address is the means by which the Senate communicates formally with the Queen or the Governor-General. The purpose of SO 171 is to prescribe the method for initiating an address, by motion after notice. The motion for an address may be debated and amended. It may also be moved by leave if there has been insufficient time to give notice. Most addresses to the King or Queen have been addresses of congratulations or sympathy.[2] The only significant departure from this model was an address in 1905 conveying a resolution supporting home rule for Ireland.[3]

Most addresses to the Governor-General have been addresses-in-reply to the speeches given by Governors-General at openings of Parliament. See SO 3 for arrangements for an address-in-reply. On three occasions, addresses-in-reply were directed to the Queen after she opened sessions of Parliament in person in 1954, 1974 and 1977. See Australian Senate Practice, 6th edition, pp.935–36, for a list of addresses to the Governor-General other than addresses-in-reply to an opening speech. Constitutionally or politically significant addresses include the following:

  • 1904 – requesting recognition of the constitutional fact that the provision of revenue and grant of supply is a joint act of both Houses;[4]
  • 1914 – two addresses, one requesting publication of the communications between the government and the Governor-General concerning the proposed simultaneous dissolution of both Houses under s.57 of the Constitution, and the second asking the Governor-General to submit to the electors six constitution alteration proposals passed by the Senate in accordance with s.128 of the Constitution but not passed by the House of Representatives;[5]
  • 1931 – urging that the Governor-General refuse to approve regulations in the current session that were the same in substance as regulations already disallowed by the Senate.[6]

There have been no addresses to the Governor-General of this kind since 1931.

Section 72 of the Constitution provides that a Justice of the High Court or other federal court shall not be removed “except by the Governor-General in Council, on an address from both Houses of the Parliament in the same session, praying for such removal on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity”. Such an address has been contemplated only once since Federation and proceedings towards such an address on the part of the Senate were never concluded. For an account of the inquiries into the conduct of Mr Justice Murphy, see Odgers’ Australian Senate Practice, 12th edition, chapter 20, under “Inquiries into conduct of a judge”.