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Standing Orders - Senate Standing Committee - Report of the Sixty-First Session - Second, dated October 1983


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The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia

SENATE STANDING ORDERS COMMITTEE

Second Report for the Sixty-first Session

October 1983

Presented and ordered to be printed 20 October 1983

Parliamentary Paper No. 111/1983

Parliamentary Paper No. 111/1983

The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia

SENATE STANDING ORDERS COMMITTEE

Second Report for the Sixty-first Session

October 1983

The Commonwealth Government Printer Canberra 1984

© Commonwealth of Australia 1984

Printed by Authority by the Commonwealth Government Printer

STANDING ORDERS COMMITTEE

SECOND REPORT FOR THE SIXTY-FIRST SESSION

1983

The Standing Orders Committee has the honour to report to

the Senate that it has considered a number of matters, and

has agreed to the following report on one of the matters

referred to it.

TABLING OF DOCUMENTS

PURSUANT TO STANDING ORDER 364

1. Standing Order 364 provides:

A Document quoted from by a Senator not a Minister of the Crown may be ordered by the Senate to be laid upon the Table; such Order may be made without Notice

immediately upon the conclusion of the speech of the Senator who has quoted therefrom.

2. On 18 May 1982 a motion pursuant to the Standing

Order was passed, requiring a Senator to table a

document from which he had quoted. The Senator did

not have the document in his immediate possession,

but tabled it after leaving the chamber to obtain it.

The question then was raised whether a motion passed

pursuant to the Standing Order requires a Senator to

table the original document in which the words quoted

actually appear, even if that document is not in his

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possession, or whether such a motion requires the

tabling only of the document actually in the

Senator's possession in the chamber when he speaks.

Following debate on this question, it was referred to

the Standing Orders Committee for consideration.

3. The proceedings on 18 May 1982 were in accordance

with similar proceedings in the past, which involved

a Senator obtaining and tabling documents he did not

have in his immediate possession when he spoke. This

precedent, and the problem of interpretation

involved, are referred to in Odgers1 Australian

Senate Practice, 5th ed. p .591.

4. Each of the two interpretations of the procedure

under the Standing Order involves difficulties. If

the procedure requires the tabling only of documents

actually in the immediate possession of a Senator,

the intention of the Standing Order, that a Senator

may be required by the Senate to produce a document

which he purports to quote, so that the accuracy and

context of the quotation may be ascertained, may be

frustrated by a Senator simply leaving outside the

chamber any document which he wishes to quote. On the

other hand, if the procedure requires the tabling of

the original document regardless of whether the

Senator has it in his immediate possession, a Senator

is prevented from quoting anything unless he can

bring it to the chamber with him and be able and

willing to table it, however voluminous, difficult to

produce or confidential it may be.

5. On balance, it would seem that the better inter­

pretation, in spite of the precedents referred to, is

that the procedure requires the tabling only of the

document actually in the Senator's immediate

possession, which means that if the quotation is

contained in speech notes or a copy of the original

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document, it is those notes or that copy which should

be tabled, and that if the Senator is quoting by

memory, he is clearly unable to comply with the order

of the Senate that the document be tabled. If other

Senators consider that a Senator may be making unfair

or improper use of quotations from a document which

he is not willing to produce, or misrepresenting the

contents of a document without giving the Senate an

opportunity to check the quotation, these are matters

which may be raised in debate.

The Committee recommends that the Standing Order be

so interpreted in future.

Douglas McClelland Chairman