On Thursdays an hour is set aside in the afternoon for the tabling and consideration of committee reports followed by further debate on reports, government responses, documents and Auditor-General's reports tabled on previous sitting days and reserved on the Notice Paper. Senators may speak for 5 minutes on any document or report reserved on the Notice Paper.
The Chair will typically call on documents "page-by-page" by reference to their numbers on the Notice Paper. Senators should seek the call and indicate to the chair which document they wish to speak to.
Generally there will already be motions to take note listed in the Notice Paper. (Technically these are "orders of the day" for the resumption of debate on motions previously moved.) Senators can speak to that motion. Occasionally reports and documents will be listed on the Notice Paper for consideration, and no motion will be listed. In that case, a senator wishing to speak to a document should seek the call and move a motion to take note to commence the debate. In practice, senators seek the call and speak, and the Chair will make sure the procedural intricacies are dealt with.
Debate on one document must be completed, or adjourned to another day, before the Senate moves to the next document.
10 minutes per contribution on presentation of a committee report, 5 minutes per contribution on a document or report reserved on the Notice Paper; 60 minutes total.
Key phrases for debating documents, etc:
- I move to take note of the document/report: commences debate
- I also wish to take note of the document/report: continues debate on the same document
- [at the end of a contribution] If no other senator wishes to speak, then I seek leave to continue my remarks: adjourns the debate until the next sitting Thursday
- [if not speaking] I move that the debate be adjourned: adjourns the debate until the next sitting Thursday
- [from the Chair] The time for this debate has expired. Senator, you will be in continuation when the debate resumes [ie the following Thursday]
Senators will often be prompted by the Chair - "Would you like to seek leave to continue your remarks?" in order to keep the document on the Notice Paper for other senators to speak on a later date. The customary response is "Yes, Chair, I seek, leave to continue my remarks".
See also Guides to Senate Procedure Nos 10 - Tabling of documents and 11 - Opportunities for debating documents and reports