Senate elects a new President

Today the Senate elected Senator Brockman as the 26th President of the Senate. The role of the President became vacant after Senator Scott Ryan retired on 13 October 2021.

As the presiding officer of the Senate, the President’s main function is to guide and regulate Senate proceedings.

The election of the new President was one of the Senate’s first items of business for the day, following the swearing in of two new senators. The standing orders, or the rules of the Senate, set out the process, which has been largely settled since 1901 when it was decided in the first official debate of the Senate. 

Votes being counted in the Senate chamber

The clerks of the Senate counting votes from a ballot to elect a new President, 18 October 2021 (Photo: AUSPIC)

The Leader of the Government in the Senate and Senator Waters both proposed candidates: Senator Brockman and Senator Faruqi respectively. Motions were moved proposing each candidate. When two or more candidates are nominated, senators vote by secret ballot. The Clerk acts as chair of the Senate to oversee this process. 

Before the vote was taken, each candidate made a short statement. The clerks then gave each senator a ballot paper to fill out and the votes were collected and counted under the supervision of other senators. 

Once the votes were counted, the Clerk announced that Senator Brockman had been elected as the new President by a vote of 45:7. Had the votes been tied, the vote would have been taken again, and if again there was an equality of votes, the Clerk would have determined ‘by lot’ which candidate should be withdrawn, by randomly removing the name of one senator from the ballot box, with the remaining senator becoming President. This has only happened once in the Senate’s history, in 1941. 

Senator the Hon Slade Brockman speaking in the Senate chamber

President of the Senate, Senator the Hon Slade Brockman, on his election as Senate President, 18 October 2021 (Photo: AUSPIC)

With the announcement of the outcome, Senator Birmingham escorted the new President to his Chair.  He thanked the chamber and acknowledged the importance of the role. The Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, the Leader of the Nationals in the Senate, the Leader of the Australian Greens in the Senate, Senator Patrick and the Deputy President all made statements wishing him all the best in the role and also paid tribute to former President Ryan.  

The Senate then paused its business so that the President could formally meet the Governor-General, accompanied by other senators.

When the Senate met again at 11.15 am, President Brockman immediately commenced performing his duties as President.

We’ll be spotlighting the President’s role in an upcoming post. Stay tuned! 

In the meantime, find out more about the election and role of the President of the Senate here:


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