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Standing Orders Committee - Senate - Report - Second Report, May 1969


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THE PARLIAMENT O F THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA 1969-Par/iamentary Paper No. 37

The Senate

REPORT FROM THE

STANDING ORDERS COMMITTEE

DATED 21 MAY 1969

Laid on the Table by the President and

ordered to be printed 21 May 1969

COMMONWEALl'H GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE CANBERRA: 1969

MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE

The President, Senator the Honourable Sir Alister McMull in, K .C. M.G. (Chairman)

The Chairman of Committees, Senator T. C. Drake-Brockman, D. F.C.

The Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator the Honourable K. M. Anderson

The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator L. K. Murphy, Q.C.

Senator J. L. Cavanagh

Senator M. C. Cormack

Senator R. C. Cotton

Senator R . H. Lacey

Senator the Honourable R. C. Wright

Printed for the Government of the Commo nwealth by W . G . MUUAY at the Government PrintiDJ! Office. Canberra

THE SENATE

REPORT FROM THE STANDING ORDERS COMMITTEE

1. The Standing Orders Committee has considered certain rules and practi ces of the Senate and makes the following report.

Manner of asking Questions on Notice

2. Further to its Report of 4 March 1969, the Committee proposes th at Senators should indicate to the Clerk at the Table those Questions on Notice which it is desired be dealt with orally. What is proposed is that, before the meeting of the Senate each day, a list will be circulated in the Chamber setting

out the Questions for which answers are ready. Then, before Questi ons on Notice are called, Senators should advise the Clerk at the Table of th e numbers of any Questions nominated for oral answer. The President will call only those Questions-other Questions not nominated for oral answer

will be incorporated in Hansard.

3. No alteration of the Standing Orders is recommended at this stage. it being considered that the procedure proposed should first be tested during a trial period.

Standing Order 413

4. Standing Order 413 reads--No Senator shall allude to any debate of the same Session upon a Question or Bill not being then under discussion , nor to any speech made in Committee, except by the indulgence of the Senate for personal explanation.

5. It is considered that this rule is too restrictive and tends to prevent reference to relevant matters important to the Senate's role as a House of review.

6. It is recommended that the Standing Order be amended to read-No Senator shall allude to any debate or proceedings of the same sess ion unless such allusion be relevant to the matter under discussion.

7. The proposed new rule will allow relevant reference to any debates of the same Session, including speeches made in Committee.

Standing Order 416

8. Standing Order 416 reads--No Senator shall allude to any debate of the current Session in the House of Representatives, or to any Measure impending therein.

9. This rule has not been strictly observed, particularly since the introduction of the daily Hansard.

10. It is recommended that the Standing Order be amended by adding at the end thereof the words " , unless such allusion be relevant to the matter under di scussion".

11. The effect is to introduce into Standing Order 416 the same principle as that proposed to be applied to Standing Order 413, namely, that relevancy is the test so far as allusion to debates of the same session or to debates in the House of Representatives is concerned.

Disclosure of Select Committee evidence

12. In a Progress Report presented to the Senate on 26 March 1969, the Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources recommended that th e Standing Orders Committee urgently consider the Standing Orders relating to select committees, particularly Standing Orders 305 and 308.

13. The Select Committee's main concern is that the practice of allowing press reports of the evidence, and the supply of copies of the evidence to prospective witnesses and other persons at the discretion of the committee­ before the evidence is reported to the Senate-is in conflict with Standing Order 308, which reads-

The evidence taken by any Select Committee of the Senate and documt:n ts presented to such Committee, which have not been reported to the Senate, shall not be disclosed or published by any member of such Committee, or by any other person.

14. The Select Committee expressed the view that, with the development of the committee system in the Senate, it is essential that all Senate committee" follow a uniform procedure and that committees find no difficulty in inter­ preting the Standing Orders relating thereto. The Standing Orders Com­

mittee agrees.

15. In its consideration of the matter, the Standing Orders Committee notes that, in 1963, President Sir Alister McMullin held that, notwithstanding the prohibition in Standing Order 308, no disclosure or publication within th e meaning of that Standing Order is involved where evidence is made available

to prospective witnesses on the understanding that it is for their personal use only and that it is not to be published in the press or quoted from in a news­ paper or any other document.

16. The Standing Orders Committee ha al o taken note of secti on 2 ( 2. ) of the Parliamentary Papers Act, which reads-2. (2.) It shall be lawful for a Committee to authorise the publication of any document laid before it or of a ny evidence gi ve n before it.

17. The Standing Orders Committee has decided to defer further considera­ tion of this matter of the publication of select committee evidence until advice is available from the law officers as to th e powers of committees und er the Parliamentary Papers Act.

Senate Committee Room May 1969 '

!18419/69!-H

A. M . McMuLLIN, Chairman

Code: PP 37/69 Price J5c