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Standing Orders Committee - Senate - Reports - (56th Session) - 2nd


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THE PA RLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH O F AUSTRALIA

1974-Parliamenta ry Paper No. 276

Senate Standing Orders Commit tee

Second Report

for Fifty-Sixth Session

NOVEMBER 1974

Laid on the Table by the President and ordered to be printed 28 November 1974

THE GOVERNMENT PRINTER OF AUSTRALIA

CANBERRA 19?5

MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE

The President (Senator the H onourable Justin O'Byrne), C hairman

The Chairman of Co mmittees (Senator J. J. Web ster)

The Leader of the G overnment in the Senate (Senator the H onourable Lionel Murphy , Q.C.)

The Manager of Government Bu siness in the Senate (Senator the Hon ourable D ouglas McClelland)

The Leader of the Oppo siti on in the Senate (Senator R. G. Withers)

Senator the Honourable Sir Magnus Cormack, K.B.E.

Senator the Honourable T. C. Drake-Brockman, D.F.C.

Senator A. T. Gietzelt Senator the Honourable I. J. Greenwood, Q.C.

Senator G. D. Mcintosh

Senator A . G . Poyser

CONTENTS

Item !- Questions directed to Chairmen of Committees

Item 2- How Division ma y be called for

Item 3-Duration of Division and Qu orum Bells

Item 4....:.. suspension of Standing Orders to eliminate delay in passage of Bills

Item 5- Calling of Committee meetings

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STANDING ORDERS COMMITTEE Second Report for 56th Session 1974

The Standing Orders Committee makes the following report and recommendations to the Senate:

Item /. Qu estions directed to Chairmen of Committees With the development of the Committee system, a practice has grown up of directing Questions without Notice to the Chairmen of Committees relating to the activities of their Committees. The Committee recommends that all such Questions should be upon Notice, unless by leave of the Senate. To formalise practice, and give effect to the recommendation, the following new Standing Order is recom " mended:

98A. Questions may be put to the Chairman of a Committee relating to the activities of that Committee. Provided that: (a) unless leave of the Senate is granted for them to be asked without Notice, such Questions may only be asked upon Notice;

(b) they shall not attempt to interfere with the Committee's work or anticipate its report; and (c) the Chairman shall answer such Questions only on the basis that he answers on behalf of the Committee and not of himself.

Item 2. How Division may be called for Standing Order 164 has in practice been interpreted to mean that only those Senators challenging the Chair's opinion may call for a Division; or, in other words, those agreeing with the decision of the Chair cannot force a Division on the

minority if they do not want one. To clarify the practice, the following new Standing Order is recommended : 164A. A Division shall be called for only by Senators who have given their voices against the majority as declared by the President .

Item 3. Duration of Division and Quorum Bells Because of extensions to the building involving rooms located some distance from the Chamber, it is recommended that the ringing of Division and Quorum Bells be extended from 2 to 3 minutes. It is also recommended, however, that time be saved by ringing the Division Bells for only one minute when there are successive

Divisions without intervening debate, such as when the Question is put following the application of the Closure. The following amendments to the Standing Orders are accordingly recom " mended:

Standing Orders 54, 57, 58, 173, 174 and 275, leave out 'two m inutes∑. insert 'three minutes'. Insert the following new Standing Order: 174A . When successive Divisions are taken, and there is no intervening debate

after the first Division, the Bells for the ensuing Division shall be rung for one minute only.

Item 4. Suspension of Standing Orders to eliminate delay in passage of Bills In its Fourth Report of Session 1970-72, the Committee referred to the practice of moving in connection with the passage of a Bill: 'That so much of the Standing

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Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.'

Whilst recognising that the Standing Orders were framed to prevent surprise and haste, the Committee considers that the continuation of the practice of regu " larly seeking suspension of the Standing Orders in connection with the consideration of Bills received from the House of Representatives is undesirable and that the procedure for expediting the passage of such Bills, when necessary, should be regulated by Standing Orders.

Accordingly, the following new Standing Order is recommended: 231A. With respect to Bills received from the House of Representatives , a Motion, that the Bill may be taken through all or its remaining stages without delay, may be moved by a Minister of the Crown at any time without Notice. Such a resolution shall suspend any requirements for the three readings of a Bill to take place on separate sitting days and Standing Orders 210 and 215 shall not apply.

So far as Bills initiated in the Senate are concerned, it is considered that any necessary expedition of their consideration should be sought by leave or by a suspension of the Standing Orders, as at present.

Item 5. Calling of Committee meetings The Standing Orders Committee considered the question of the calling of meetings of Committees and the absence of a rule for the requisitioning of meetings.

The following new Standing Order is recommended: 297 A. Notice of meetings subsequent to the first meeting shall be given by the Clerk attending the Committee: (a) pursuant to resolution of the Committee; (b) on instructions from the Chairman; or (c) upon a request by a Quorum of Members of the Committee. Provided that, in Committees consisting of less than seven Senators, the request is made by not less than three Members of the Committee.

Commencement

The Standing Orders Committee suggests that the proposed changes have a trial period. Accordingly, it is recommended that the foregoing amendments to the Standing Orders operate initially as a Sessional Order and, unless otherwise ordered, that they become amendments to the Standing Orders at the end of six months.

28 November 1974

(R74/1668)-H & I

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JUSTIN O'BYRNE President of the Senate and Chairman of the Standing Orders

Committee

Code: pp 276/74 Recommended retail price 12c