Senate Routine of Business

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Senate Routine of Business as set out in standing order 57 and related orders

Incorporates changes up to 24 June 2021

10 am

  • Prayers and acknowledgement of country

    The bells ring for 5 minutes prior to the Senate meeting. Senators stand as the President is announced by the Black Rod.

    The President bows to each side of the chamber; senators return the bow.

    The President reads a prayer and makes an acknowledgement of country: standing order 50

  • Documents presented

    A list of documents to be presented (or 'tabled') will be attached to the Red. They include:

    • Annual reports of departments and agencies
    • Reports of the Auditor-General
    • Responses to Senate resolutions

    Debating opportunities and time limits

    Motion to take note (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday) 5 mins SO 61(3)
    Limit for debate: 30 mins
    Resumption (Thursday) 5 mins SO 61(3)
    Limit for debate: 1 hr (combined with committee reports and government responses)
    Motion moved by leave 5 mins SO 169(2)
    Limit for debate: 15 mins per motion, 30 mins for all motions

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure Nos 10 - Tabling of documents and 11 - Opportunities for debating documents and reports

    Lodgement times

    Documents to be received by the Sub-Table Office no later than 5 pm of the working day before the document is to be tabled.

  • Clerk's documents

    Tabling of documents required to be presented by Acts of Parliament.

    These include legislative instruments: eg regulations, determinations, rules, orders.

    The Senate may 'disallow' many regulations and similar instruments so that they cease to have effect. That process operates according to a time frame that begins on the day the instrument is tabled.

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure Nos 10 - Tabling of documents and 19 -  Disallowance

  • Committees—Proposals to meet

    Committees require leave of the Senate to hold public hearings and some private meetings when the Senate is sitting: standing order 33. Committees can, through their chairs, lodge forms asking for authorisation to meet. In practice, these are lodged with the Table Office by committee secretaries.

    Proposals to meet are listed on the Red. These are taken to be approved unless any senator requests that a proposal be put to a vote, in which case the President proposes the question 'that the committee be authorised to meet', which is determined by the Senate without amendment or debate.

    Lodgement times

    The form, signed by the chair of the committee, is to be lodged with the Sub-Table Office by 5 pm the working day prior to the Senate sitting.

  • Private senators’ bills

    Most bills considered by the Senate are government bills, introduced by ministers. However, time is set aside on Mondays to consider bills introduced by other senators ("private senators' bills"). Private senators' bills may also be considered on Thursday afternoon, at a time set aside for General business.

    The bill or bills to be considered are set by motion, usually moved by the Manager of Government Business, either during the previous sitting week or at the start of this item of business.

    Senators often seek to have the question put on different stages of the bill [standing order 199, closure of debate], or to adjourn debate to bring on another bill [standing order 201]. These motions may be moved by a senator who has not spoken in the debate, or by a minister, and are determined by majority decision.

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure Nos 16 - Consideration of legislation, 2 - Rules of debate, and 4 - Categories of business

    Debate time limits

    2nd reading 15 mins SO 189(1)
    In committee
    10 mins
    SO 189(3)
    3rd reading 15 mins SO 189(1)
    Reference of a bill to a committee 5 mins SO 115(6)
    Limit for debate: 30 mins

12.20 pm

  • Government business only

    Debate on motions moved by ministers. Most time is spent on consideration of government bills. Speaking lists are generally prepared by the Government Whip's office. Where the routine specifies government business "only", Government business takes precedence; in other cases the Senate may first have to deal with Matters of Privilege and Business of the Senate.

    See also Guides to Senate Procedure Nos 16 - Consideration of legislation and 4 - Categories of business

    Debate time limits

    Bills
    1st reading of non-amendable bill 15 mins SO 112(2)
    2nd reading 15 mins SO 189(1)
    In committee
    10 mins
    SO 189(3)
    3rd reading 15 mins SO 189(1)
    Reference of a bill to a committee 5 mins SO 115(6)
    Limit for debate: 30 mins
    Other motions
    General
    15 mins
    SO 189(1)
    In reply 15 mins SO 189(2)

1.30 pm

  • 2 minute statements

    Senators may speak for 2 minutes on topics of their choosing. A speaking list is prepared by the Government Whip's office.

2 pm

  • Questions

    Senators may ask Ministers questions relating to their ministerial responsibilities. The rules for questions are in standing order 73.

    Questions are allocated to parties approximately in proportion to their numbers in the Senate, and the order of questions is determined by the President. Senators given the call may ask one question followed by two supplementary questions.

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure No. 6 - Questions

    Time limits

    Primary question 1 min SO 72(3)
    Answering question 2 mins SO 72(3)
    Supplementary questions (2) 30 sec SO 72(3)
    Answering supplementary 1 min SO 72(3)

    Total time limit - approximately an hour, ending when the Leader of the Government asks "That further questions be placed on notice."

    Questions on notice - Lodgement times

    Questions on notice must be lodged with the Table Office no later than 5 pm on sitting days, and in non-sitting weeks by 2 pm on the Wednesday before the next day of sitting to be registered in the next Notice Paper.

  • Motions to take note of answers

    Debate on answers given at question time.

    A motion is moved in the form "that the Senate take note of the answer(s) given by ... to the question(s) asked by ...".

    Debate must be relevant to the motion moved.

    By convention, an initial motion is moved by an opposition senator, with the call alternating between opposition and government for the first 5 speakers. A cross bench senator is then given the call to either contribute to the initial debate or move a motion to note a different answer.

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure No. 6 - Questions

    Time limit

    Debate on motions relating to answers 5 mins SO 72(4)
    Limit for debate: 30 mins
  • Petitions

    The Clerk announces the presentation of petitions, which senators have lodged with the Senate Table Office.

    There is no opportunity to debate petitions. Senators commonly speak about petitions during the adjournment debate or senators' statements each day, or during other relevant speaking opportunities.

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure No. 7 - Petitions

    Lodgement times

    Petitions must be lodged with the Table Office by:

    • 9 am on a day on which the Senate sits at midday; and
    • 5 pm on the working day prior to the Senate sitting at 9.30 am or 10 am.
  • Notices of motion

    Decisions of the Senate begin as motions moved by senators. The first step is usually for a senator to give notice of intention to move a motion on a subsequent day. Notices can be handed to the Clerk or lodged with the Table Office before the time for notices each day. Senators may also choose to read out their notices at the relevant time (an attendant will then deliver them to the Clerk).

    Senators seeking to withdraw a notice of motion given on a previous day may do so at any time but ordinarily do so at this time.

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure No. 8 - Notices of motion

    Lodgement times

    Signed notices may be lodged with the Sub-Table Office, or the Clerk at the table, by 3.15 pm on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and by 11 am on Thursday.

  • Placing of business

    This item deals mainly with the postponement or rearrangement of business, including extending the time for committees to report.

    Postponements and extensions: Senators can lodge forms with the Table Office requesting that their notices be postponed to a future date. Similarly, committees can, through their chairs, lodge forms asking to extend their reporting dates. [In practice, these are lodged with the Table Office by committee secretariats.]

    If there is no time to lodge the relevant form, these matters may be dealt with by leave (that is, where no senator present objects).

    Proposals to postpone notices or extend reporting dates are listed on the Red and/or announced by the Clerk. These are taken to be approved unless any senator requests that a proposal be put to a vote, in which case the President proposes the question "that the item be postponed" or "the reporting date be extended", which is determined by the Senate without amendment or debate.

    Other matters that may be dealt with here include:

    • senators (usually whips) moving that leave of absence be granted to senators
    • ministers proposing particular items of business be dealt with during the time set aside for private senators' bills (Monday morning), non-controversial government business (Thursday lunchtime) and general business (Thursday afternoon).

    Lodgement times - Extensions of time for a committee to report

    The form, signed by the chair of the committee, is to be lodged with the Sub-Table Office by 5 pm.

  • Formal business

    This is a fast track method for dealing with some types of motions allowing votes to be taken on motions listed on the Notice Paper, provided no senator objects to proceeding this way: standing order 66.

    In theory, formal motions are voted on "without amendment or debate", but in practice these can occur by leave (that is, where no senator present objects).

    It is common for there to be divisions during this time.

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure Nos 4 - Categories of business and 8 - Notices of motion

  • MPI or urgency motion

    Discussion or debate on a matter lodged by letter to the President of the Senate in accordance with standing order 75. The first proposal received after 8.30 am is put to the Senate. Where more than one proposal is lodged with the Sub-Table Office (SG.105) at the same time, the matter is determined by lot. The proposal to debate or discuss the matter must be supported by five or more senators (including the proposer) when the President reports the proposal to the Senate.

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure No. 9 - Matters of public importance or urgency

    Time limits

    All speakers 10 mins SO 75(7)
    Limit for debate: 1 hr, or 1 hr 30 mins if no motions are moved after question time to take note of answers

    According to the standing orders each senator may speak for up to 10 minutes. In practice, the allocation is often varied by informal agreement between the parties, and the agreed time is shown on the speech timers in the Senate.

  • Consideration of documents tabled earlier in the day

    Debate on documents presented at the start of the day's sitting, which are listed on the Red.

    The Chair will generally indicate which documents are being considered. Senators may move motions in the form "That the Senate take note of the document", or may speak to that motion if another senator has already moved it. Debate on one document must be completed, or adjourned to another day, before the Senate moves to the next document.

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure No. 11 - Opportunities for debating documents and reports

    Time limits

    Motion to take note (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday) 5 mins SO 61(3)
    Limit for debate: 30 mins
    Motion moved by leave 5 mins SO 169(2)
    Limit for debate: 15 mins per motion, 30 mins for all motions
  • Ministerial statements

    Ministers may make statements to the Senate about any matter within their responsibilities. The making or tabling of ministerial statements typically occurs at this point in the day, but may occur at other times when no other business is before the Senate.

    Senators may move motions in the form "That the Senate take note of <the statement>", or may speak to that motion if it has already been moved. Debate on one statement must be completed, or adjourned to another day, before the Senate moves on to the next.

    See also Guides to Senate Procedure Nos 10 - Tabling of documents and 11 - Opportunities for debating documents and reports

    Time limits

    Motion to take note 10 mins SO 169
    Limit for debate: 30 mins per motion, 1 hr for all motions
  • Committee memberships

    The Senate determines which senators will be appointed to Senate and joint committees. The President reports letters from party leaders and independent senators proposing to appoint or discharge senators to committees, and calls on a minister to move a motion to give effect to those proposals. Such motions are moved by leave (unanimous consent of all senators present), but it is rare for leave to be denied as these motions are not usually controversial.

    The text of the motion will be linked from the Dynamic Red prior to being moved, or will be available from the Table Office or chamber attendants. Although listed on the Red at the times shown, motions about committee membership may also be moved at other times.

    If there are two or more candidates vying for a spot on a committee, a ballot is held at a time determined by the President to suit the convenience of the Senate. 

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure No. 14 - Committee membership

  • Messages

    The two Houses formally communicate to each other by messages signed by the President or the Speaker. Sometimes these messages will be for information only, but many of them request the concurrence of one House in the work of the other (for instances, messages asking the Senate to consider bills passed by the House).

    The President generally reports messages from the House at the times shown, although messages may be reported at other times to suit the convenience of the Senate or the government's program.

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure no. 18 - Communication between the Houses - dealing with messages

  • Business of the Senate (if any)

    Presentation of reports and debate on motions given precedence above government business. Business is generally listed on the Red and may include the types of business listed below.

    Matters of Privilege: proposals to refer matters to the Privileges Committee. An item will only fall into this category if the President has determined that the matter should have special priority under standing order 81

    Business of the Senate orders requiring the presentation of committee reports. If reports are tabled at this time, senators require leave if they wish to move motions to take note. By convention, the content of reports on legislation is debated when the subject legislation is itself before the Senate, so leave to take note at this point will ordinarily be refused.

    Disallowance motions: either notices of motion to disallow instruments, or orders of the day to resume debate on such motions. These debates are subject to the general rules of debate, with up to 15 minutes per speaker and no overall time limit. Sometimes - particularly when it is the last day to determine the disallowance motion - the Senate may impose a strict time limit.

    Committee references: either notices of motion to refer matters to committees, or order of the day to resume debate on such motions. These debates are typically subject to the general rules of debate, with up to 15 minutes per speaker and no overall time limit. The exception is to proposals to refer bills to committees, which have a 30 minute time limit, with 5 minutes per speaker: standing order 115(6). In practice, these motions are routinely fast-tracked as formal business.

    See also Guides to Senate Procedure Nos 4 - Categories of business, 13 - Referring matters to committees, 19 - Disallowance, and 20 - Parliamentary privilege

    Time limits

    General
    15 mins
    SO 189(1)
    In reply 15 mins SO 189(2)
    References to committees 5 mins SO 115(6)
  • Government business

    Debate on motions moved by ministers. Most time is spent on consideration of government bills. Speaking lists are generally prepared by the Government Whip's office. Where the routine specifies government business "only", Government business takes precedence; in other cases the Senate may first have to deal with Matters of Privilege and Business of the Senate.

    See also Guides to Senate Procedure Nos 16 - Consideration of legislation and 4 - Categories of business

    Debate time limits

    Bills
    1st reading of non-amendable bill 15 mins SO 112(2)
    2nd reading 15 mins SO 189(1)
    In committee
    10 mins
    SO 189(3)
    3rd reading 15 mins SO 189(1)
    Reference of a bill to a committee 5 mins SO 115(6)
    Limit for debate: 30 mins
    Other motions
    General
    15 mins
    SO 189(1)
    In reply 15 mins SO 189(2)

9.50 pm

  • Adjournment proposed

    The motion "That the Senate do now adjourn" is proposed from the chair and may be debated. Senators may address any topic they choose.

    Time limits

    Monday 10 mins SO 54(5)
    Limit for debate: 40 mins

     

10.30 pm - Adjournment

Midday

  • Prayers and acknowledgement of country

    The bells ring for 5 minutes prior to the Senate meeting. Senators stand as the President is announced by the Black Rod.

    The President bows to each side of the chamber; senators return the bow.

    The President reads a prayer and makes an acknowledgement of country: standing order 50

  • Documents presented

    A list of documents to be presented (or 'tabled') will be attached to the Red. They include:

    • Annual reports of departments and agencies
    • Reports of the Auditor-General
    • Responses to Senate resolutions

    Debating opportunities and time limits

    Motion to take note (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday) 5 mins SO 61(3)
    Limit for debate: 30 mins
    Resumption (Thursday) 5 mins SO 61(3)
    Limit for debate: 1 hr (combined with committee reports and government responses)
    Motion moved by leave 5 mins SO 169(2)
    Limit for debate: 15 mins per motion, 30 mins for all motions

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure Nos 10 - Tabling of documents and 11 - Opportunities for debating documents and reports

    Lodgement times

    Documents to be received by the Sub-Table Office no later than 5 pm of the working day before the document is to be tabled.

  • Clerk's documents

    Tabling of documents required to be presented by Acts of Parliament.

    These include legislative instruments: eg regulations, determinations, rules, orders.

    The Senate may 'disallow' many regulations and similar instruments so that they cease to have effect. That process operates according to a time frame that begins on the day the instrument is tabled.

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure Nos 10 - Tabling of documents and 19 -  Disallowance

  • Committees—Proposals to meet

    Committees require leave of the Senate to hold public hearings and some private meetings when the Senate is sitting: standing order 33. Committees can, through their chairs, lodge forms asking for authorisation to meet. In practice, these are lodged with the Table Office by committee secretaries.

    Proposals to meet are listed on the Red. These are taken to be approved unless any senator requests that a proposal be put to a vote, in which case the President proposes the question 'that the committee be authorised to meet', which is determined by the Senate without amendment or debate.

    Lodgement times

    The form, signed by the chair of the committee, is to be lodged with the Sub-Table Office by 5 pm the working day prior to the Senate sitting.

  • Government business only

    Debate on motions moved by ministers. Most time is spent on consideration of government bills. Speaking lists are generally prepared by the Government Whip's office. Where the routine specifies government business "only", Government business takes precedence; in other cases the Senate may first have to deal with Matters of Privilege and Business of the Senate.

    See also Guides to Senate Procedure Nos 16 - Consideration of legislation and 4 - Categories of business

    Debate time limits

    Bills
    1st reading of non-amendable bill 15 mins SO 112(2)
    2nd reading 15 mins SO 189(1)
    In committee
    10 mins
    SO 189(3)
    3rd reading 15 mins SO 189(1)
    Reference of a bill to a committee 5 mins SO 115(6)
    Limit for debate: 30 mins
    Other motions
    General
    15 mins
    SO 189(1)
    In reply 15 mins SO 189(2)

1.30 pm

  • 2 minute statements

    Senators may speak for 2 minutes on topics of their choosing. A speaking list is prepared by the Government Whip's office.

2 pm

  • Questions

    Senators may ask Ministers questions relating to their ministerial responsibilities. The rules for questions are in standing order 73.

    Questions are allocated to parties approximately in proportion to their numbers in the Senate, and the order of questions is determined by the President. Senators given the call may ask one question followed by two supplementary questions.

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure No. 6 - Questions

    Time limits

    Primary question 1 min SO 72(3)
    Answering question 2 mins SO 72(3)
    Supplementary questions (2) 30 sec SO 72(3)
    Answering supplementary 1 min SO 72(3)

    Total time limit - approximately an hour, ending when the Leader of the Government asks "That further questions be placed on notice."

    Questions on notice - Lodgement times

    Questions on notice must be lodged with the Table Office no later than 5 pm on sitting days, and in non-sitting weeks by 2 pm on the Wednesday before the next day of sitting to be registered in the next Notice Paper.

  • Motions to take note of answers

    Debate on answers given at question time.

    A motion is moved in the form "that the Senate take note of the answer(s) given by ... to the question(s) asked by ...".

    Debate must be relevant to the motion moved.

    By convention, an initial motion is moved by an opposition senator, with the call alternating between opposition and government for the first 5 speakers. A cross bench senator is then given the call to either contribute to the initial debate or move a motion to note a different answer.

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure No. 6 - Questions

    Time limit

    Debate on motions relating to answers 5 mins SO 72(4)
    Limit for debate: 30 mins
  • Petitions

    The Clerk announces the presentation of petitions, which senators have lodged with the Senate Table Office.

    There is no opportunity to debate petitions. Senators commonly speak about petitions during the adjournment debate or senators' statements each day, or during other relevant speaking opportunities.

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure No. 7 - Petitions

    Lodgement times

    Petitions must be lodged with the Table Office by:

    • 9 am on a day on which the Senate sits at midday; and
    • 5 pm on the working day prior to the Senate sitting at 9.30 am or 10 am.
  • Notices of motion

    Decisions of the Senate begin as motions moved by senators. The first step is usually for a senator to give notice of intention to move a motion on a subsequent day. Notices can be handed to the Clerk or lodged with the Table Office before the time for notices each day. Senators may also choose to read out their notices at the relevant time (an attendant will then deliver them to the Clerk).

    Senators seeking to withdraw a notice of motion given on a previous day may do so at any time but ordinarily do so at this time.

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure No. 8 - Notices of motion

    Lodgement times

    Signed notices may be lodged with the Sub-Table Office, or the Clerk at the table, by 3.15 pm on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and by 11 am on Thursday.

  • Placing of business

    This item deals mainly with the postponement or rearrangement of business, including extending the time for committees to report.

    Postponements and extensions: Senators can lodge forms with the Table Office requesting that their notices be postponed to a future date. Similarly, committees can, through their chairs, lodge forms asking to extend their reporting dates. [In practice, these are lodged with the Table Office by committee secretariats.]

    If there is no time to lodge the relevant form, these matters may be dealt with by leave (that is, where no senator present objects).

    Proposals to postpone notices or extend reporting dates are listed on the Red and/or announced by the Clerk. These are taken to be approved unless any senator requests that a proposal be put to a vote, in which case the President proposes the question "that the item be postponed" or "the reporting date be extended", which is determined by the Senate without amendment or debate.

    Other matters that may be dealt with here include:

    • senators (usually whips) moving that leave of absence be granted to senators
    • ministers proposing particular items of business be dealt with during the time set aside for private senators' bills (Monday morning), non-controversial government business (Thursday lunchtime) and general business (Thursday afternoon).

    Lodgement times - Extensions of time for a committee to report

    The form, signed by the chair of the committee, is to be lodged with the Sub-Table Office by 5 pm.

  • Formal business

    This is a fast track method for dealing with some types of motions allowing votes to be taken on motions listed on the Notice Paper, provided no senator objects to proceeding this way: standing order 66.

    In theory, formal motions are voted on "without amendment or debate", but in practice these can occur by leave (that is, where no senator present objects).

    It is common for there to be divisions during this time.

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure Nos 4 - Categories of business and 8 - Notices of motion

  • MPI or urgency motion

    Discussion or debate on a matter lodged by letter to the President of the Senate in accordance with standing order 75. The first proposal received after 8.30 am is put to the Senate. Where more than one proposal is lodged with the Sub-Table Office (SG.105) at the same time, the matter is determined by lot. The proposal to debate or discuss the matter must be supported by five or more senators (including the proposer) when the President reports the proposal to the Senate.

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure No. 9 - Matters of public importance or urgency

    Time limits

    All speakers 10 mins SO 75(7)
    Limit for debate: 1 hr, or 1 hr 30 mins if no motions are moved after question time to take note of answers

    According to the standing orders each senator may speak for up to 10 minutes. In practice, the allocation is often varied by informal agreement between the parties, and the agreed time is shown on the speech timers in the Senate.

  • Consideration of documents tabled earlier in the day

    Debate on documents presented at the start of the day's sitting, which are listed on the Red.

    The Chair will generally indicate which documents are being considered. Senators may move motions in the form "That the Senate take note of the document", or may speak to that motion if another senator has already moved it. Debate on one document must be completed, or adjourned to another day, before the Senate moves to the next document.

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure No. 11 - Opportunities for debating documents and reports

    Time limits

    Motion to take note (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday) 5 mins SO 61(3)
    Limit for debate: 30 mins
    Motion moved by leave 5 mins SO 169(2)
    Limit for debate: 15 mins per motion, 30 mins for all motions
  • Tabling and consideration of committee reports and government responses

    On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, time is available for presenting and debating committee reports and government responses to committee reports. These generally are listed on the Red, although other reports and government responses will occasionally be presented.

    Generally, reports are tabled by or on behalf of the committee chair, who would usually move a motion to take note of the report (although any senator may move that motion). Other senators may speak to the motion, for up to 10 minutes. Where there are numerous reports on any given day, the Whips' office may make informal arrangements to allocate speaking times. When that happens, precedence in debate may be given to members of the relevant committee ahead of other senators.

    Government responses to committee reports may also be presented by a minister at this time, generally after reports are presented, and may be debated on the same terms.

    Finally, reports and responses presented out of session will be called on for debate. These will be listed on the Red.

    Note that reports on bills referred through the Selection of Bills Committee are not listed for tabling and debate at this time. By convention, the content of such reports is debated when the subject legislation is itself before the Senate. If committee reports are tabled at some other time in the program, leave would be required to move to take note.

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure Nos 10 - Tabling of documents and 11 - Opportunities for debating documents and reports

    Time limits

    Motion to take note (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) 10 mins SO 62(4)
    Limit for debate: 30 mins
  • Ministerial statements

    Ministers may make statements to the Senate about any matter within their responsibilities. The making or tabling of ministerial statements typically occurs at this point in the day, but may occur at other times when no other business is before the Senate.

    Senators may move motions in the form "That the Senate take note of <the statement>", or may speak to that motion if it has already been moved. Debate on one statement must be completed, or adjourned to another day, before the Senate moves on to the next.

    See also Guides to Senate Procedure Nos 10 - Tabling of documents and 11 - Opportunities for debating documents and reports

    Time limits

    Motion to take note 10 mins SO 169
    Limit for debate: 30 mins per motion, 1 hr for all motions
  • Committee memberships

    The Senate determines which senators will be appointed to Senate and joint committees. The President reports letters from party leaders and independent senators proposing to appoint or discharge senators to committees, and calls on a minister to move a motion to give effect to those proposals. Such motions are moved by leave (unanimous consent of all senators present), but it is rare for leave to be denied as these motions are not usually controversial.

    The text of the motion will be linked from the Dynamic Red prior to being moved, or will be available from the Table Office or chamber attendants. Although listed on the Red at the times shown, motions about committee membership may also be moved at other times.

    If there are two or more candidates vying for a spot on a committee, a ballot is held at a time determined by the President to suit the convenience of the Senate. 

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure No. 14 - Committee membership

  • Messages

    The two Houses formally communicate to each other by messages signed by the President or the Speaker. Sometimes these messages will be for information only, but many of them request the concurrence of one House in the work of the other (for instances, messages asking the Senate to consider bills passed by the House).

    The President generally reports messages from the House at the times shown, although messages may be reported at other times to suit the convenience of the Senate or the government's program.

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure no. 18 - Communication between the Houses - dealing with messages

  • Business of the Senate (if any)

    Presentation of reports and debate on motions given precedence above government business. Business is generally listed on the Red and may include the types of business listed below.

    Matters of Privilege: proposals to refer matters to the Privileges Committee. An item will only fall into this category if the President has determined that the matter should have special priority under standing order 81

    Business of the Senate orders requiring the presentation of committee reports. If reports are tabled at this time, senators require leave if they wish to move motions to take note. By convention, the content of reports on legislation is debated when the subject legislation is itself before the Senate, so leave to take note at this point will ordinarily be refused.

    Disallowance motions: either notices of motion to disallow instruments, or orders of the day to resume debate on such motions. These debates are subject to the general rules of debate, with up to 15 minutes per speaker and no overall time limit. Sometimes - particularly when it is the last day to determine the disallowance motion - the Senate may impose a strict time limit.

    Committee references: either notices of motion to refer matters to committees, or order of the day to resume debate on such motions. These debates are typically subject to the general rules of debate, with up to 15 minutes per speaker and no overall time limit. The exception is to proposals to refer bills to committees, which have a 30 minute time limit, with 5 minutes per speaker: standing order 115(6). In practice, these motions are routinely fast-tracked as formal business.

    See also Guides to Senate Procedure Nos 4 - Categories of business, 13 - Referring matters to committees, 19 - Disallowance, and 20 - Parliamentary privilege

    Time limits

    General
    15 mins
    SO 189(1)
    In reply 15 mins SO 189(2)
    References to committees 5 mins SO 115(6)
  • Government business

    Debate on motions moved by ministers. Most time is spent on consideration of government bills. Speaking lists are generally prepared by the Government Whip's office. Where the routine specifies government business "only", Government business takes precedence; in other cases the Senate may first have to deal with Matters of Privilege and Business of the Senate.

    See also Guides to Senate Procedure Nos 16 - Consideration of legislation and 4 - Categories of business

    Debate time limits

    Bills
    1st reading of non-amendable bill 15 mins SO 112(2)
    2nd reading 15 mins SO 189(1)
    In committee
    10 mins
    SO 189(3)
    3rd reading 15 mins SO 189(1)
    Reference of a bill to a committee 5 mins SO 115(6)
    Limit for debate: 30 mins
    Other motions
    General
    15 mins
    SO 189(1)
    In reply 15 mins SO 189(2)

7.20 pm

  • Adjournment proposed

    The motion "That the Senate do now adjourn" is proposed from the chair and may be debated. Senators may address any topic they choose.

    Time limits

    Tuesday 5 min | 10 mins SO 54(5) & (6)
    Limit for debate: no limit

     

Adjournment

9.30 am

  • Prayers and acknowledgement of country

    The bells ring for 5 minutes prior to the Senate meeting. Senators stand as the President is announced by the Black Rod.

    The President bows to each side of the chamber; senators return the bow.

    The President reads a prayer and makes an acknowledgement of country: standing order 50

  • Documents presented

    A list of documents to be presented (or 'tabled') will be attached to the Red. They include:

    • Annual reports of departments and agencies
    • Reports of the Auditor-General
    • Responses to Senate resolutions

    Debating opportunities and time limits

    Motion to take note (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday) 5 mins SO 61(3)
    Limit for debate: 30 mins
    Resumption (Thursday) 5 mins SO 61(3)
    Limit for debate: 1 hr (combined with committee reports and government responses)
    Motion moved by leave 5 mins SO 169(2)
    Limit for debate: 15 mins per motion, 30 mins for all motions

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure Nos 10 - Tabling of documents and 11 - Opportunities for debating documents and reports

    Lodgement times

    Documents to be received by the Sub-Table Office no later than 5 pm of the working day before the document is to be tabled.

  • Clerk's documents

    Tabling of documents required to be presented by Acts of Parliament.

    These include legislative instruments: eg regulations, determinations, rules, orders.

    The Senate may 'disallow' many regulations and similar instruments so that they cease to have effect. That process operates according to a time frame that begins on the day the instrument is tabled.

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure Nos 10 - Tabling of documents and 19 -  Disallowance

  • Committees—Proposals to meet

    Committees require leave of the Senate to hold public hearings and some private meetings when the Senate is sitting: standing order 33. Committees can, through their chairs, lodge forms asking for authorisation to meet. In practice, these are lodged with the Table Office by committee secretaries.

    Proposals to meet are listed on the Red. These are taken to be approved unless any senator requests that a proposal be put to a vote, in which case the President proposes the question 'that the committee be authorised to meet', which is determined by the Senate without amendment or debate.

    Lodgement times

    The form, signed by the chair of the committee, is to be lodged with the Sub-Table Office by 5 pm the working day prior to the Senate sitting.

  • Government business only

    Debate on motions moved by ministers. Most time is spent on consideration of government bills. Speaking lists are generally prepared by the Government Whip's office. Where the routine specifies government business "only", Government business takes precedence; in other cases the Senate may first have to deal with Matters of Privilege and Business of the Senate.

    See also Guides to Senate Procedure Nos 16 - Consideration of legislation and 4 - Categories of business

    Debate time limits

    Bills
    1st reading of non-amendable bill 15 mins SO 112(2)
    2nd reading 15 mins SO 189(1)
    In committee
    10 mins
    SO 189(3)
    3rd reading 15 mins SO 189(1)
    Reference of a bill to a committee 5 mins SO 115(6)
    Limit for debate: 30 mins
    Other motions
    General
    15 mins
    SO 189(1)
    In reply 15 mins SO 189(2)

12.15 pm

  • Senators' statements

    Senators may speak for up to 10 minutes on topics of their choosing. A speaking list is prepared by the Government Whip's office.

1.30 pm

  • 2 minute statements

    Senators may speak for 2 minutes on topics of their choosing. A speaking list is prepared by the Government Whip's office.

2 pm

  • Questions

    Senators may ask Ministers questions relating to their ministerial responsibilities. The rules for questions are in standing order 73.

    Questions are allocated to parties approximately in proportion to their numbers in the Senate, and the order of questions is determined by the President. Senators given the call may ask one question followed by two supplementary questions.

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure No. 6 - Questions

    Time limits

    Primary question 1 min SO 72(3)
    Answering question 2 mins SO 72(3)
    Supplementary questions (2) 30 sec SO 72(3)
    Answering supplementary 1 min SO 72(3)

    Total time limit - approximately an hour, ending when the Leader of the Government asks "That further questions be placed on notice."

    Questions on notice - Lodgement times

    Questions on notice must be lodged with the Table Office no later than 5 pm on sitting days, and in non-sitting weeks by 2 pm on the Wednesday before the next day of sitting to be registered in the next Notice Paper.

  • Motions to take note of answers

    Debate on answers given at question time.

    A motion is moved in the form "that the Senate take note of the answer(s) given by ... to the question(s) asked by ...".

    Debate must be relevant to the motion moved.

    By convention, an initial motion is moved by an opposition senator, with the call alternating between opposition and government for the first 5 speakers. A cross bench senator is then given the call to either contribute to the initial debate or move a motion to note a different answer.

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure No. 6 - Questions

    Time limit

    Debate on motions relating to answers 5 mins SO 72(4)
    Limit for debate: 30 mins
  • Petitions

    The Clerk announces the presentation of petitions, which senators have lodged with the Senate Table Office.

    There is no opportunity to debate petitions. Senators commonly speak about petitions during the adjournment debate or senators' statements each day, or during other relevant speaking opportunities.

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure No. 7 - Petitions

    Lodgement times

    Petitions must be lodged with the Table Office by:

    • 9 am on a day on which the Senate sits at midday; and
    • 5 pm on the working day prior to the Senate sitting at 9.30 am or 10 am.
  • Notices of motion

    Decisions of the Senate begin as motions moved by senators. The first step is usually for a senator to give notice of intention to move a motion on a subsequent day. Notices can be handed to the Clerk or lodged with the Table Office before the time for notices each day. Senators may also choose to read out their notices at the relevant time (an attendant will then deliver them to the Clerk).

    Senators seeking to withdraw a notice of motion given on a previous day may do so at any time but ordinarily do so at this time.

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure No. 8 - Notices of motion

    Lodgement times

    Signed notices may be lodged with the Sub-Table Office, or the Clerk at the table, by 3.15 pm on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and by 11 am on Thursday.

  • Placing of business

    This item deals mainly with the postponement or rearrangement of business, including extending the time for committees to report.

    Postponements and extensions: Senators can lodge forms with the Table Office requesting that their notices be postponed to a future date. Similarly, committees can, through their chairs, lodge forms asking to extend their reporting dates. [In practice, these are lodged with the Table Office by committee secretariats.]

    If there is no time to lodge the relevant form, these matters may be dealt with by leave (that is, where no senator present objects).

    Proposals to postpone notices or extend reporting dates are listed on the Red and/or announced by the Clerk. These are taken to be approved unless any senator requests that a proposal be put to a vote, in which case the President proposes the question "that the item be postponed" or "the reporting date be extended", which is determined by the Senate without amendment or debate.

    Other matters that may be dealt with here include:

    • senators (usually whips) moving that leave of absence be granted to senators
    • ministers proposing particular items of business be dealt with during the time set aside for private senators' bills (Monday morning), non-controversial government business (Thursday lunchtime) and general business (Thursday afternoon).

    Lodgement times - Extensions of time for a committee to report

    The form, signed by the chair of the committee, is to be lodged with the Sub-Table Office by 5 pm.

  • Formal business

    This is a fast track method for dealing with some types of motions allowing votes to be taken on motions listed on the Notice Paper, provided no senator objects to proceeding this way: standing order 66.

    In theory, formal motions are voted on "without amendment or debate", but in practice these can occur by leave (that is, where no senator present objects).

    It is common for there to be divisions during this time.

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure Nos 4 - Categories of business and 8 - Notices of motion

  • MPI or urgency motion

    Discussion or debate on a matter lodged by letter to the President of the Senate in accordance with standing order 75. The first proposal received after 8.30 am is put to the Senate. Where more than one proposal is lodged with the Sub-Table Office (SG.105) at the same time, the matter is determined by lot. The proposal to debate or discuss the matter must be supported by five or more senators (including the proposer) when the President reports the proposal to the Senate.

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure No. 9 - Matters of public importance or urgency

    Time limits

    All speakers 10 mins SO 75(7)
    Limit for debate: 1 hr, or 1 hr 30 mins if no motions are moved after question time to take note of answers

    According to the standing orders each senator may speak for up to 10 minutes. In practice, the allocation is often varied by informal agreement between the parties, and the agreed time is shown on the speech timers in the Senate.

  • Consideration of documents tabled earlier in the day

    Debate on documents presented at the start of the day's sitting, which are listed on the Red.

    The Chair will generally indicate which documents are being considered. Senators may move motions in the form "That the Senate take note of the document", or may speak to that motion if another senator has already moved it. Debate on one document must be completed, or adjourned to another day, before the Senate moves to the next document.

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure No. 11 - Opportunities for debating documents and reports

    Time limits

    Motion to take note (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday) 5 mins SO 61(3)
    Limit for debate: 30 mins
    Motion moved by leave 5 mins SO 169(2)
    Limit for debate: 15 mins per motion, 30 mins for all motions
  • Tabling and consideration of committee reports and government responses

    On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, time is available for presenting and debating committee reports and government responses to committee reports. These generally are listed on the Red, although other reports and government responses will occasionally be presented.

    Generally, reports are tabled by or on behalf of the committee chair, who would usually move a motion to take note of the report (although any senator may move that motion). Other senators may speak to the motion, for up to 10 minutes. Where there are numerous reports on any given day, the Whips' office may make informal arrangements to allocate speaking times. When that happens, precedence in debate may be given to members of the relevant committee ahead of other senators.

    Government responses to committee reports may also be presented by a minister at this time, generally after reports are presented, and may be debated on the same terms.

    Finally, reports and responses presented out of session will be called on for debate. These will be listed on the Red.

    Note that reports on bills referred through the Selection of Bills Committee are not listed for tabling and debate at this time. By convention, the content of such reports is debated when the subject legislation is itself before the Senate. If committee reports are tabled at some other time in the program, leave would be required to move to take note.

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure Nos 10 - Tabling of documents and 11 - Opportunities for debating documents and reports

    Time limits

    Motion to take note (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) 10 mins SO 62(4)
    Limit for debate: 30 mins
  • Ministerial statements

    Ministers may make statements to the Senate about any matter within their responsibilities. The making or tabling of ministerial statements typically occurs at this point in the day, but may occur at other times when no other business is before the Senate.

    Senators may move motions in the form "That the Senate take note of <the statement>", or may speak to that motion if it has already been moved. Debate on one statement must be completed, or adjourned to another day, before the Senate moves on to the next.

    See also Guides to Senate Procedure Nos 10 - Tabling of documents and 11 - Opportunities for debating documents and reports

    Time limits

    Motion to take note 10 mins SO 169
    Limit for debate: 30 mins per motion, 1 hr for all motions
  • Committee memberships

    The Senate determines which senators will be appointed to Senate and joint committees. The President reports letters from party leaders and independent senators proposing to appoint or discharge senators to committees, and calls on a minister to move a motion to give effect to those proposals. Such motions are moved by leave (unanimous consent of all senators present), but it is rare for leave to be denied as these motions are not usually controversial.

    The text of the motion will be linked from the Dynamic Red prior to being moved, or will be available from the Table Office or chamber attendants. Although listed on the Red at the times shown, motions about committee membership may also be moved at other times.

    If there are two or more candidates vying for a spot on a committee, a ballot is held at a time determined by the President to suit the convenience of the Senate. 

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure No. 14 - Committee membership

  • Messages

    The two Houses formally communicate to each other by messages signed by the President or the Speaker. Sometimes these messages will be for information only, but many of them request the concurrence of one House in the work of the other (for instances, messages asking the Senate to consider bills passed by the House).

    The President generally reports messages from the House at the times shown, although messages may be reported at other times to suit the convenience of the Senate or the government's program.

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure no. 18 - Communication between the Houses - dealing with messages

  • Business of the Senate (if any)

    Presentation of reports and debate on motions given precedence above government business. Business is generally listed on the Red and may include the types of business listed below.

    Matters of Privilege: proposals to refer matters to the Privileges Committee. An item will only fall into this category if the President has determined that the matter should have special priority under standing order 81

    Business of the Senate orders requiring the presentation of committee reports. If reports are tabled at this time, senators require leave if they wish to move motions to take note. By convention, the content of reports on legislation is debated when the subject legislation is itself before the Senate, so leave to take note at this point will ordinarily be refused.

    Disallowance motions: either notices of motion to disallow instruments, or orders of the day to resume debate on such motions. These debates are subject to the general rules of debate, with up to 15 minutes per speaker and no overall time limit. Sometimes - particularly when it is the last day to determine the disallowance motion - the Senate may impose a strict time limit.

    Committee references: either notices of motion to refer matters to committees, or order of the day to resume debate on such motions. These debates are typically subject to the general rules of debate, with up to 15 minutes per speaker and no overall time limit. The exception is to proposals to refer bills to committees, which have a 30 minute time limit, with 5 minutes per speaker: standing order 115(6). In practice, these motions are routinely fast-tracked as formal business.

    See also Guides to Senate Procedure Nos 4 - Categories of business, 13 - Referring matters to committees, 19 - Disallowance, and 20 - Parliamentary privilege

    Time limits

    General
    15 mins
    SO 189(1)
    In reply 15 mins SO 189(2)
    References to committees 5 mins SO 115(6)
  • Government business

    Debate on motions moved by ministers. Most time is spent on consideration of government bills. Speaking lists are generally prepared by the Government Whip's office. Where the routine specifies government business "only", Government business takes precedence; in other cases the Senate may first have to deal with Matters of Privilege and Business of the Senate.

    See also Guides to Senate Procedure Nos 16 - Consideration of legislation and 4 - Categories of business

    Debate time limits

    Bills
    1st reading of non-amendable bill 15 mins SO 112(2)
    2nd reading 15 mins SO 189(1)
    In committee
    10 mins
    SO 189(3)
    3rd reading 15 mins SO 189(1)
    Reference of a bill to a committee 5 mins SO 115(6)
    Limit for debate: 30 mins
    Other motions
    General
    15 mins
    SO 189(1)
    In reply 15 mins SO 189(2)

7.20 pm

  • Adjournment proposed

    The motion "That the Senate do now adjourn" is proposed from the chair and may be debated. Senators may address any topic they choose.

    Time limits

    Wednesday 5 mins SO 54(5)
    Limit for debate: 40 mins

8 pm - Adjournment

9.30 am

  • Prayers and acknowledgment of country

    The bells ring for 5 minutes prior to the Senate meeting. Senators stand as the President is announced by the Black Rod.

    The President bows to each side of the chamber; senators return the bow.

    The President reads a prayer and makes an acknowledgement of country: standing order 50

  • Clerk's documents

    Tabling of documents required to be presented by Acts of Parliament.

    These include legislative instruments: eg regulations, determinations, rules, orders.

    The Senate may 'disallow' many regulations and similar instruments so that they cease to have effect. That process operates according to a time frame that begins on the day the instrument is tabled.

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure Nos 10 - Tabling of documents and 19 -  Disallowance

  • Committees—Proposals to meet

    Committees require leave of the Senate to hold public hearings and some private meetings when the Senate is sitting: standing order 33. Committees can, through their chairs, lodge forms asking for authorisation to meet. In practice, these are lodged with the Table Office by committee secretaries.

    Proposals to meet are listed on the Red. These are taken to be approved unless any senator requests that a proposal be put to a vote, in which case the President proposes the question 'that the committee be authorised to meet', which is determined by the Senate without amendment or debate.

    Lodgement times

    The form, signed by the chair of the committee, is to be lodged with the Sub-Table Office by 5 pm the working day prior to the Senate sitting.

  • Government business only

    Debate on motions moved by ministers. Most time is spent on consideration of government bills. Speaking lists are generally prepared by the Government Whip's office. Where the routine specifies government business "only", Government business takes precedence; in other cases the Senate may first have to deal with Matters of Privilege and Business of the Senate.

    See also Guides to Senate Procedure Nos 16 - Consideration of legislation and 4 - Categories of business

    Debate time limits

    Bills
    1st reading of non-amendable bill 15 mins SO 112(2)
    2nd reading 15 mins SO 189(1)
    In committee
    10 mins
    SO 189(3)
    3rd reading 15 mins SO 189(1)
    Reference of a bill to a committee 5 mins SO 115(6)
    Limit for debate: 30 mins
    Other motions
    General
    15 mins
    SO 189(1)
    In reply 15 mins SO 189(2)

11.15 am

  • Petitions

    The Clerk announces the presentation of petitions, which senators have lodged with the Senate Table Office.

    There is no opportunity to debate petitions. Senators commonly speak about petitions during the adjournment debate or senators' statements each day, or during other relevant speaking opportunities.

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure No. 7 - Petitions

    Lodgement times

    Petitions must be lodged with the Table Office by:

    • 9 am on a day on which the Senate sits at midday; and
    • 5 pm on the working day prior to the Senate sitting at 9.30 am or 10 am.
  • Notices of motion

    Decisions of the Senate begin as motions moved by senators. The first step is usually for a senator to give notice of intention to move a motion on a subsequent day. Notices can be handed to the Clerk or lodged with the Table Office before the time for notices each day. Senators may also choose to read out their notices at the relevant time (an attendant will then deliver them to the Clerk).

    Senators seeking to withdraw a notice of motion given on a previous day may do so at any time but ordinarily do so at this time.

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure No. 8 - Notices of motion

    Lodgement times

    Signed notices may be lodged with the Sub-Table Office, or the Clerk at the table, by 3.15 pm on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and by 11 am on Thursday.

    Selection of Bills Committee report

    After the time for notices on any day (but typically on Thursday) the Chair of the Selection of Bills Committee may table the committee's report, recommending that bills be referred to legislation committees for inquiry and report. The Chair moves a motion to adopt the report, which may be debated [standing order 115(6)]. Senators often move amendments to the adoption motion, proposing to vary the committee's recommendations (eg to add or remove bills or alter the reporting date).

    Time limit

    Selection of Bills Committee—adoption of report 5 mins SO 24A(7)
    Limit for debate: 30 mins
  • Placing of business

    This item deals mainly with the postponement or rearrangement of business, including extending the time for committees to report.

    Postponements and extensions: Senators can lodge forms with the Table Office requesting that their notices be postponed to a future date. Similarly, committees can, through their chairs, lodge forms asking to extend their reporting dates. [In practice, these are lodged with the Table Office by committee secretariats.]

    If there is no time to lodge the relevant form, these matters may be dealt with by leave (that is, where no senator present objects).

    Proposals to postpone notices or extend reporting dates are listed on the Red and/or announced by the Clerk. These are taken to be approved unless any senator requests that a proposal be put to a vote, in which case the President proposes the question "that the item be postponed" or "the reporting date be extended", which is determined by the Senate without amendment or debate.

    Other matters that may be dealt with here include:

    • senators (usually whips) moving that leave of absence be granted to senators
    • ministers proposing particular items of business be dealt with during the time set aside for private senators' bills (Monday morning), non-controversial government business (Thursday lunchtime) and general business (Thursday afternoon).

    Lodgement times - Extensions of time for a committee to report

    The form, signed by the chair of the committee, is to be lodged with the Sub-Table Office by 5 pm.

  • Formal business

    This is a fast track method for dealing with some types of motions allowing votes to be taken on motions listed on the Notice Paper, provided no senator objects to proceeding this way: standing order 66.

    In theory, formal motions are voted on "without amendment or debate", but in practice these can occur by leave (that is, where no senator present objects).

    It is common for there to be divisions during this time.

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure Nos 4 - Categories of business and 8 - Notices of motion

  • Committee memberships

    The Senate determines which senators will be appointed to Senate and joint committees. The President reports letters from party leaders and independent senators proposing to appoint or discharge senators to committees, and calls on a minister to move a motion to give effect to those proposals. Such motions are moved by leave (unanimous consent of all senators present), but it is rare for leave to be denied as these motions are not usually controversial.

    The text of the motion will be linked from the Dynamic Red prior to being moved, or will be available from the Table Office or chamber attendants. Although listed on the Red at the times shown, motions about committee membership may also be moved at other times.

    If there are two or more candidates vying for a spot on a committee, a ballot is held at a time determined by the President to suit the convenience of the Senate. 

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure No. 14 - Committee membership

  • Messages

    The two Houses formally communicate to each other by messages signed by the President or the Speaker. Sometimes these messages will be for information only, but many of them request the concurrence of one House in the work of the other (for instances, messages asking the Senate to consider bills passed by the House).

    The President generally reports messages from the House at the times shown, although messages may be reported at other times to suit the convenience of the Senate or the government's program.

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure no. 18 - Communication between the Houses - dealing with messages

  • Business of the Senate (if any)

    Presentation of reports and debate on motions given precedence above government business. Business is generally listed on the Red and may include the types of business listed below.

    Matters of Privilege: proposals to refer matters to the Privileges Committee. An item will only fall into this category if the President has determined that the matter should have special priority under standing order 81

    Business of the Senate orders requiring the presentation of committee reports. If reports are tabled at this time, senators require leave if they wish to move motions to take note. By convention, the content of reports on legislation is debated when the subject legislation is itself before the Senate, so leave to take note at this point will ordinarily be refused.

    Disallowance motions: either notices of motion to disallow instruments, or orders of the day to resume debate on such motions. These debates are subject to the general rules of debate, with up to 15 minutes per speaker and no overall time limit. Sometimes - particularly when it is the last day to determine the disallowance motion - the Senate may impose a strict time limit.

    Committee references: either notices of motion to refer matters to committees, or order of the day to resume debate on such motions. These debates are typically subject to the general rules of debate, with up to 15 minutes per speaker and no overall time limit. The exception is to proposals to refer bills to committees, which have a 30 minute time limit, with 5 minutes per speaker: standing order 115(6). In practice, these motions are routinely fast-tracked as formal business.

    See also Guides to Senate Procedure Nos 4 - Categories of business, 13 - Referring matters to committees, 19 - Disallowance, and 20 - Parliamentary privilege

    Time limits

    General
    15 mins
    SO 189(1)
    In reply 15 mins SO 189(2)
    References to committees 5 mins SO 115(6)
  • Government business

    Debate on motions moved by ministers. Most time is spent on consideration of government bills. Speaking lists are generally prepared by the Government Whip's office. Where the routine specifies government business "only", Government business takes precedence; in other cases the Senate may first have to deal with Matters of Privilege and Business of the Senate.

    See also Guides to Senate Procedure Nos 16 - Consideration of legislation and 4 - Categories of business

    Debate time limits

    Bills
    1st reading of non-amendable bill 15 mins SO 112(2)
    2nd reading 15 mins SO 189(1)
    In committee
    10 mins
    SO 189(3)
    3rd reading 15 mins SO 189(1)
    Reference of a bill to a committee 5 mins SO 115(6)
    Limit for debate: 30 mins
    Other motions
    General
    15 mins
    SO 189(1)
    In reply 15 mins SO 189(2)

12.15 pm

  • Non controversial government business only

    Consideration of non-controversial government bills. Such bills are listed on the Order of Business (the Red) under 12.15 pm. After the consideration of non-controversial government bills, the Senate returns to considering other government business until 1.30 pm.

    Time limits

    1st reading of non-amendable bill 15 mins SO 112(2)
    2nd reading 15 mins SO 189(1)
    In committee
    10 mins
    SO 189(3)
    3rd reading 15 mins SO 189(1)

1.30 pm

  • 2 minute statements

    Senators may speak for 2 minutes on topics of their choosing. A speaking list is prepared by the Government Whip's office.

2 pm

  • Questions

    Senators may ask Ministers questions relating to their ministerial responsibilities. The rules for questions are in standing order 73.

    Questions are allocated to parties approximately in proportion to their numbers in the Senate, and the order of questions is determined by the President. Senators given the call may ask one question followed by two supplementary questions.

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure No. 6 - Questions

    Time limits

    Primary question 1 min SO 72(3)
    Answering question 2 mins SO 72(3)
    Supplementary questions (2) 30 sec SO 72(3)
    Answering supplementary 1 min SO 72(3)

    Total time limit - approximately an hour, ending when the Leader of the Government asks "That further questions be placed on notice."

    Questions on notice - Lodgement times

    Questions on notice must be lodged with the Table Office no later than 5 pm on sitting days, and in non-sitting weeks by 2 pm on the Wednesday before the next day of sitting to be registered in the next Notice Paper.

  • Motions to take note of answers

    Debate on answers given at question time.

    A motion is moved in the form "that the Senate take note of the answer(s) given by ... to the question(s) asked by ...".

    Debate must be relevant to the motion moved.

    By convention, an initial motion is moved by an opposition senator, with the call alternating between opposition and government for the first 5 speakers. A cross bench senator is then given the call to either contribute to the initial debate or move a motion to note a different answer.

    See also Guide to Senate Procedure No. 6 - Questions

    Time limit

    Debate on motions relating to answers 5 mins SO 72(4)
    Limit for debate: 30 mins
  • Reports and documents

    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.

    Time limits

    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 

  • Ministerial statements

    Ministers may make statements to the Senate about any matter within their responsibilities. The making or tabling of ministerial statements typically occurs at this point in the day, but may occur at other times when no other business is before the Senate.

    Senators may move motions in the form "That the Senate take note of <the statement>", or may speak to that motion if it has already been moved. Debate on one statement must be completed, or adjourned to another day, before the Senate moves on to the next.

    See also Guides Senate Procedure Nos 10 - Tabling of documents and 11 - Opportunities for debating documents and reports

    Time limits

    Motion to take note 10 mins SO 169
    Limit for debate: 30 mins per motion, 1 hr for all motions
  • General business debate

    Debate on motions or bills from private senators. The item or items for debate are set on the motion of the Manager of Government Business, following a schedule informally determined between non-government parties and independent senators.

    See also Guides to Senate Procedure No. 4 - Categories of business

    Time limits

    General
    15 mins
    SO 189(1)
    In reply 15 mins SO 189(2)
    Limit for debate: until 5.30 pm

5.30 pm

  • Adjournment proposed

    The motion "That the Senate do now adjourn" is proposed from the chair and may be debated. Senators may address any topic they choose.

    Time limits

    Thursday 5 min | 10 mins  SO 54(5) & (7)
    Limit for debate: 30 mins

     

6 pm - Adjournment

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday

10 am

  • Prayers and acknowledgement of country
  • Documents presented
  • Committees—proposals to meet SO 33(5)
  • Private senators' bills

12.20 pm

  • Government business only

1.30pm

2 pm

  • Questions
  • Motions to take note of answers 30 mins
  • Petitions
  • Notices of motion
  • Placing of business
  • Formal business
  • MPI or urgency motion
    SO 751 hr
  • Consideration of documents tabled earlier in the day
    SO 6130 mins
  • Ministerial statements
  • Committee memberships
  • Messages
  • Business of the Senate (if any)
  • Government business

9.50 pm

  • Adjournment proposed
    40 mins

10.30 pm

  • Adjournment

12 pm

  • Prayers and acknowledgement of country
  • Documents presented
  • Committees—proposals to meet SO 33(5)
  • Government business only

1.30 pm

2 pm

  • Questions
  • Motions to take note of answers 30 mins
  • Petitions
  • Notices of motion
  • Placing of business
  • Formal business
  • MPI or urgency motion
    SO 751 hr
  • Consideration of documents tabled earlier in the day
    SO 6130 mins
  • Tabling and consideration of committee reports
    SO 62(4)1 hr
  • Ministerial statements
  • Committee memberships
  • Messages
  • Business of the Senate (if any)
  • Government business

7.20 pm

  • Adjournment proposed
    No time limit
  • Adjournment

9.30 am

  • Prayers and acknowledgement of country
  • Documents presented
  • Committees—proposals to meet SO 33(5)
  • Government business only

12.15 pm

1.30 pm

2 pm

  • Questions
  • Motions to take note of answers—30 mins
  • Petitions
  • Notices of motion
  • Placing of business
  • Formal business
  • MPI or urgency motion
    SO 751 hr
  • Consideration of documents tabled earlier in the day
    SO 6130 mins
  • Tabling and consideration of committee reports
    SO 62(4)1 hr
  • Ministerial statements
  • Committee memberships
  • Messages
  • Business of the Senate (if any)
  • Government business

7.20 pm

  • Adjournment proposed
    40 mins

8 pm

  • Adjournment

9.30 am

  • Prayers and acknowledgement of country
  • Clerk's documents presented
  • Committees—proposals to meet SO 33(5)
  • Government business only

11.15 am

  • Petitions
  • Notices of motion
  • Placing of business
  • Formal business
  • Committee memberships
  • Messages
  • Business of the Senate (if any)
  • Government business

12.15 pm

  • Non-controversial government business only

1.30 pm

2 pm

  • Questions
  • Motions to take note of answers—30 mins
  • Reports and documents
    • Tabling and consideration of committee reports
    • Consideration of documents
    • Consideration of committee reports, government responses and Auditor-General's reports
      SO 61(3), 62(1)—1 hr
  • Ministerial statements
  • General business debate 

5.30 pm

  • Adjournment proposed
    30 mins

6 pm

  • Adjournment

Times of meetings

Monday 10 am to 10.30 pm

Tuesday midday to adjournment

Wednesday 9.30 am to 8 pm

Thursday 9.30 am to 6 pm

Senate numbers

Quorum: 19 (25%)
Absolute majority: 39 (50%+1)


SO Standing orders
Guides to Senate Procedure: www.aph.gov.au/Senate/guides