Chapter 31 - Conduct of Senators and rules of debate

184  Order maintained by President

  1. Order shall be maintained in the Senate by the President.
  2. Whenever the President rises during a debate, a senator then speaking or offering to speak shall sit down, and the Senate shall be silent, so that the President may be heard without interruption.
  3. When the President is putting a question a senator shall not walk out of or across the chamber.

Amendment history

Adopted: 19 August 1903 as SOs 387 to 389 (corresponding to paragraphs (1) to (3)) but renumbered as SOs 383 to 385 for the first printed edition

1989 revision: Old SOs 397 to 399 combined into one, structured as three paragraphs and renumbered as SO 184; re-expressed consistently with other standing orders (by use of “shall not” instead of “No Senator shall”)


This standing order reflects universal practice, the aim of which is to reinforce the role of the Chair to maintain order. The President has a duty to intervene in proceedings to maintain order if necessary and, in performing this role, is not dependent on points of order being raised by senators.

The President maintains order in the Senate

The President maintains order in the Senate (Photo courtesy of AUSPIC)

Technologically, the President’s microphone in the chamber is always live and overrides that of any senator who may have the call. Thus the President may be heard above any other senator should there be a need to intervene or restore order.

Aside from his or her duty to maintain order, the President is entitled to speak on any question on the basis that the President exercises a deliberative vote like any other senator and is equally a representative of his or her state or territory.[1] When speaking in the Senate, the President speaks from the President’s chair. Edwards notes examples in his 1938 MS when President Givens spoke from (or, rather, beside) the chair on the Military Service Referendum Bill in 1916, and President Lynch, after removing his wig and gown, spoke on the National Health and Pensions Insurance Bill in 1938. Hansard noted that President Lynch spoke unrobed and beside the chair.[2] For Presidents speaking in committee of the whole, see SO 185.