Senate Routine of Business

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Senate Routine of Business as set out in standing order 57 and related orders, and including temporary orders and general times, and debating opportunities and time limits

Last updated: January 2018

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday

10 am

  • Prayers and acknowledgement of country
  • Documents
    (presented pursuant to SO 61)
  • Clerk's documents
  • Committees—proposals to meet SO 33(5)
  • General business orders of the day for consideration of bills#

12.20 pm

  • Government business only#

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, or if no motions to take note,
    1 hr 30 mins
  • Consideration of documents tabled earlier in the day
    SO 6130 mins
  • Ministerial statements
  • Committee memberships
  • Messages
  • Business of the Senate (if any)
  • Government business

6.30 pm

  • Sitting suspended
    (dinner break)

7.30 pm

  • Order of business continued

9.50 pm

  • Adjournment proposed
    40 mins

10.30 pm

  • Adjournment

12 pm

  • Prayers and acknowledgement of country
  • Documents
    (presented pursuant to SO 61)
  • Clerk's documents
  • Committees—proposals to meet SO 33(5)
  • Government business only

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, or if no motions to take note,
    1 hr 30 mins
  • 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 pursuant to SO 61)
  • Clerk's documents
  • Committees—proposals to meet SO 33(5)
  • Government business only

12.45 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, or if no motions to take note,
    1 hr 30 mins
  • 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
  • Committees—proposals to meet SO 33(5)
  • Government business only#

11.45 am

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

12.45 pm

  • (Non-controversial) government business only

2 pm

  • Questions
  • Motions to take note of answers—30 mins
  • Tabling and consideration of committee reports
    SO 62(4)1 hr
  • Ministerial statements

Not later than 4.30 pm

  • Business of the Senate (if any)
  • General business
    (notices of motion and orders of the day) SO 59(b)

Not later than 6 pm

  • General business continued, consideration of documents
    SO 61(3)1 hr

Not later than 7 pm

  • Consideration of committee reports and government responses, and Auditor-General's reports
    SO 62(1)1 hr

8 pm

  • Adjournment proposed
    40 mins

8.40 pm

  • Adjournment

General times

Times of meetings of the Senate

Monday 10 am to 6.30 pm,
7.30 pm to 10.30 pm

Tuesday 12 pm to adjournment#

Wednesday 9.30 am to 8 pm

Thursday 9.30 am to 8.40 pm

Closing 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.

Extensions of time for a committee to report (routine)

The form, signed by the chair of the committee, is to be lodged by hand with the sub Table Office by 5 pm on a sitting day.

Notices of motion

(Brief Guide No. 8 – Notices of Motion ◊)

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 11.30 am on Thursday.

Notifications authorising committees to meet during the sitting of the Senate

The form, signed by the chair of the committee, is to be lodged by hand with the sub Table Office by 5 pm on a sitting day.

Petitions

(Brief Guide No. 7 – Petitions ◊)

Must be lodged with the Table Office by:

  • 9 am on a day on which the Senate sits at 12 pm; and
  • 5 pm of the working day prior to the Senate sitting at 9.30 am and 10 am.

Questions on notice

(Brief Guide No. 6 – Questions ◊)

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.

Debating opportunities and time limits

(Brief Guide No. 2 – Rules of debate ◊)

Adjournment of the Senate

Monday and Thursday 10 mins SO 54(5)#
Tuesday 5 min | 10 mins SO 54(5) & (6)#
Wednesday 5 mins SO 54(5)#
Limits for debate: 40 mins (Monday, Wednesday and Thursday), no limit on debate (Tuesday)

Bills

(Brief Guide No. 16 – Consideration of legislation ◊)

1° of non-amendable bill 15 mins SO 112(2)
20 mins SO 189(1)
In committee
–Extension of time (possible)
15 mins
15 mins
SO 189(3)
            SO 189(3)
20 mins SO 189(1)
Selection of Bills Committee—adoption of report 5 mins SO 24A(7)
Limit for debate: 30 mins
Reference of a bill to a committee 5 mins SO 115(6)
Limit for debate: 30 mins

Committee reports and government responses

(Brief Guide No. 11 – Opportunities for debating documents and reports ◊)

Motion to take note (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) 10 mins SO 62(4)
Limit for debate: 1 hr
Resumption, including Auditor-General's reports (Thursday) 10 mins SO 62(1) & (2)
Limit for debate: 1 hr
Motion moved by leave 10 mins SO 169(2)
Limits for debate: 30 mins per motion, 1 hr for all motions

Debate

General
–Extension of time (possible)
20 mins
10 mins
SO 189(1)
            SO 189(1)
In committee
–Extension of time (possible)
15 mins
15 mins
SO 189(3)
            SO 189(3)
In committee
Extension of time (possible)
15 mins
15 mins
SO 189(3)
            SO 189(3)
In reply 20 mins SO 189(2)

Documents

(Brief Guide No. 11 – Opportunities for debating documents and reports ◊)

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
Motion moved by leave 5 mins SO 169(2)
Limits for debate: 15 mins per motion, 30 mins for all motions

Matters of Public Importance/Urgency

(Brief Guide No. 9 – Matters of public importance and urgency ◊)

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

Ministerial statements 

Motion without leave 10 mins SO 169
Limits for debate: 30 mins per motion, 1 hr for all motions

Questions

(Brief Guide No. 6 – Questions ◊)

Without notice

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

Senators' statements

10 mins SO 57(2)

Suspension of standing orders

5 mins SO 209(4)
(Brief Guide No. 5 – Suspension of standing orders ◊) Limit for debate: 30 mins

Senate numbers

Quorum: 19 (25%) (one-quarter)
Absolute majority: 39 (51%)


SO Standing orders
#       Temporary order agreed to 7 December 2017
Brief Guides to Senate Procedure: www.aph.gov.au/Senate/guides
Incorporates changes up to 7 December 2017

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