Bills generating lengthy debates

You are currently viewing the Senate statistical archive. This site contains data to 31 December 2011. For information after that date, please see Senate StatsNet.

There are time limits for debate applying to each stage of a bill before the Senate. There are four opportunities for a senator to speak to a bill:

  • First reading - a senator may only debate the first reading of a bill if it is non-amendable under section 53 of the Constitution, and a time limit of 15 minutes applies. For all other bills, the first reading is not debatable.
  • Second reading - this stage of a debate is about the policy and principle of a bill, and each speaker has a time limit of 20 minutes*.
  • Committee of the whole - during this stage the bill is considered in detail and a senator may speak for up to 15 minutes* on any number of occasions. This enables a dialogue to develop between the minister responsible for the bill and other senators who may have amendments to or questions about the bill.
  • Third reading - this is the final opportunity for debating the bill and carries a time limit of 20 minutes* per speaker.

Debate on non-controversial bills usually takes a minimal amount of time. Lengthy debates are frequently historical debates. The following pages show details of bills considered by the Senate for longer than 5 hours, with a detailed breakdown of how much time was spent on each stage.

43rd Parliament — 28 September 2010 to 25 November 2011 (see StatsNet for later dates in the 43rd Parliament

42nd Parliament — 12 February 2008 to 19 July 2010

41st Parliament — 16 November 2004 to 17 October 2007

40th Parliament — 12 February 2002 to 30 August 2004

39th Parliament — 10 November 1998 to 27 September 2001

* These times were amended on 25 August 2020 to reduce speaking times to 15 minutes for second and third reading debates, and 10 minutes for committee of the whole. However, the above figures are applicable for the debates covered in this data.