162 One conference only
There shall be only one conference on a bill or other matter.
Adopted: 19 August 1903 as SO 340 but renumbered as SO 336 for the first printed edition
1989 revision: Old SO 350 renumbered as SO 162; minor simplification of language
Original SO 340 was the subject of a question from Senator Drake (Prot, Qld) as to why there should be a limit of one conference on any matter. It was a new provision and not modelled on the legislative assembly standing orders of either South Australia or NSW like all other elements of the procedures. Indeed, the South Australian House of Assembly adopted new standing orders relating to conferences between the Houses on 21 October 1903, copying the Senate’s limitation of one conference on each matter (new SO 264).
In answering Senator Drake, President Baker revealed his dismal view of the utility of the procedures:
Conferences have been found in England to be so unsatisfactory that they have been altogether abandoned, and they have not had a conference between the two Houses there for a great number of years – I think for 100 years. We must have some stage of the proceedings at which we shall finally agree or disagree. I am loth to mention the South Australian practice, because it has been so often referred to, but I may be permitted to say that in South Australia we found that a number of conferences served no good purposes, because the representatives of both Houses always put off coming to a final conclusion until the last conference. The object appeared to be for one side to hang on as long as possible in the hope that the other side might give way, and that resulted merely in a waste of time.
Notwithstanding these views, the Senate pressed on and adopted the conference procedures without further debate.