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Standing Orders - Senate Standing Committee - Reports of the Sixtieth Session - Fifth

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The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia


Fifth Report for the Sixtieth Session


November 1982

Presented and ordered to be printed 23 November 1982

Parliamentary Paper No. 313/1982

Parliamentary Paper No. 313/1982

The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia


Fifth Report for the Sixtieth Session


November 1982

The Commonwealth Government Printer Canberra 1983

© Commonwealth of Australia 1983

Printed by Authority by the Commonwealth Government Printer




The Standing Orders Committee has the honour to report to the Senate as follows.


1. In its Third Report for the Sixtieth Session, present­

ed to the Senate in April 1982, the Committee recommended that the procedure for the presentation of petitions be altered. The relevant paragraphs of the Committee's Report were as follows:

In considering the more effective use of the time available to the Senate, the Committee has also consid­ ered the- time taken on Tuesdays and Wednesdays by the reading of petitions .

The Committee recommends that the reading of the full text of petitions be abandoned, that ail petitions presented by Senators be lodged with the Clerk, and that the Clerk read a summary of the content of

petitions. It is accordingly recommended that the present sessional order governing the presentation of petitions be replaced by a new sessional order sec out in Appendix D. The adoption of this sessional order

would allow consideration in the future of any further changes to the procedure for the presentation of petit­ ions after the recommended procedure has been tried for a time.

If the new sessional order is adopted, Mr President will, as a matter of practice, have a list of all

petitions circulated to honourable Senators, and the texts of petitions referred to the relevant Standing Committees, so that , should those Committees wish to inquire into any particular petition, they may seek a reference from the Senate to do so.

2. The Committee's recommendation was extensively debat­

ed, and a number of honourable Senators expressed oppos­ ition to the proposed new procedure. At the end of the

debate, on 29 April 1982 , the matter was referred to the Committee for reconsideration .

3. The Committee has reconsidered the matter and finds no

reason to vary its recommendation. The Committee believes

that the Senate is not justified in spending the amount of time which is now devoted to the reading of petitions, in

view of the large amount of business with which the Senate has to deal. During the period from 17 August to 28 October 19 8 2, over 4^ hours, almost 3 per cent of the total time

available to the Senate during that period, was spent in the reading of petitions. The Committee considers that this time could be better spent. The argument which was raised

in the debate, that this would restrict the right of

citizens to have public recording of their petitions is not altogether valid, because the texts of petitions would be recorded in Hansard and would be circulated to all honour­

able Senators.

4. The Committee therefore again recommends that the Senate adopt the draft sessional order, containing the proposed procedures, as set out in the appendix to this


Harold Young Chairman

9 80 6


Proposed Sessional Order relating to the presentation of petitions.

Notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders, the procedure for the presentation of petitions is varied, as follows:

(1) A Senator wishing to present a petition shall lodge it with the Clerk.

(2) The Clerk shall make an announcement in respect of petitions lodged with him, indicating in respect of each petition the Senator who presents it, the number of signatures, the identity of the petitioners and the subject matter of the petition.

(3) Every petition so presented shall be deemed to have been received by the Senate unless a motion, moved forthwith, that a particular petition be not received, be agreed to.

(4) The terms of the petitions presented shall be printed in Hansard.