Second reading

The second reading debate is a policy debate relating to the principles of a particular bill. A senator may speak for up to 20 minutes and make a further contribution if a second reading amendment is moved. The second reading debate is opened by a minister who outlines the policies of the bill, and is usually closed by a minister who may respond to issues raised during the debate. The debate culminates in a vote signifying that the bill is agreed to, or rejected, in principle.

Second reading amendments do not affect the text of a bill. The amendment is moved to the motion for the second reading ("That this bill be now read a second time"), and is generally used to express an opinion about the bill or related policy issues; to propose the reference of the bill or related matters to a committee; or to delay further consideration of the bill. In some circumstances the effect of the amendment, if agreed to, is to defeat the bill.

Committee of the whole

The committee of the whole process provides an opportunity for senators to consider bills in detail. Amendments moved in committee of the whole seek to change, delete or add words in the bill that may affect the final content of the law. Under section 53 of the Constitution the Senate cannot amend a bill imposing taxation, or a bill appropriating money for the ordinary annual services of government (an appropriation bill). It also may not amend a bill in a way which will increase any proposed charge or burden. If the Senate wishes to make such amendments, it must request the House of Representatives to amend the bill on its behalf.

Adoption of committee report

The adoption of this report occurs after the committee of the whole stage in the passage of a bill through the Senate. The committee reports to the Senate that it has considered the bill and has agreed to it with (or without) amendments. The adoption of the committee report is the stage at which the Senate determines whether to accept the bill as a prelude to the final vote, or to send it back for further consideration.

Amendments may be moved to the motion to adopt the report from the committee. Such amendments do not affect the text of the bill or bills, but typically propose the reference of related matters to committees, propose an order for the production of documents or express an opinion about the bill as it has emerged from the committee of the whole.