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Standing Orders Committee - Senate - Report - Sixth (Standing Order 64)


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THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

1972— Parliamentary Paper No. 178

The Senate

SIXTH REPORT FROM THE STANDING ORDERS COMMITTEE

Standing Order 64, withdrawal of Notice of Motion for the disallowance of Regulations and Ordinances, etc., and other matters

Laid on the Table by the President and

ordered to be printed 12 October 1972

COMMONWEALTH GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE CANBERRA: 1973

MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE

The President, Senator the Honourable Sir Magnus Cormack, k.b.e. (Chairman)

The Chairman of Committees, Senator E. W. Prowse

The Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator the Honourable Sir Kenneth Anderson, k.b.e.

Senator J. L. Cavanagh

Senator the Honourable V. C. Gair, Leader of the Democratic Labor Party in the Senate

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

Senator P. E. Rae

Senator L. D. Wilkinson

Senator R. G. Withers

Senator H. W. Young

P rinted by A uthority by the G overnm ent P rinter of the C om m onw ealth of A ustralia

Standing Orders Committee

Sixth Report

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

Item 1— Motion for adjournment to debate matter of urgency— Standing Order 64

2. Reference is made to the Fourth Report of the Standing Orders Committee, brought up on 17 August 1971, in which recommendations were made for amend­ ments to Standing Order 64 with respect to phraseology, notice and time limits.

3. The recommendations were considered in Committee of the Whole and, on 22 March 1972, the proposed amendments to Standing Order 64 were referred back to the Standing Orders Committee for further consideration.

4. Then, on 18 May 1972, the Senate agreed to the following resolution by 34 votes to 18:

‘That the Senate agrees in principle that Standing Order 64 relating to urgency motions should provide that the whole discussion on the subject should not exceed two hours.’ 5. The position, therefore, was that the Standing Orders Committee had for consideration—

(1) The Senate’s resolution that it agrees in principle that an urgency discussion should not exceed two hours:

(2) Other provisions in Standing Order 64, contained in its Fourth Report tabled on 17 August 1971, which were referred back to the Standing Orders Committee for further consideration, and which related to phraseology, speaking times, and notice.

6. Having considered these matters, the Standing Orders Committee reports:

(1) Phraseology—It will be recalled that the Standing Orders Committee, in its Fourth Report, considered a viewpoint that the phraseology of Standing Order 64 was unsatisfactory in that the motion ‘That the Senate at its rising adjourn to any day or hour other than that fixed for the next

ordinary meeting of the Senate, for the purpose of debating some matter of urgency’ could be interpreted as meaning that, if carried, the Senate should at the specified time at the next sitting then proceed to debate the

matter of urgency. While the Standing Order has never been so inter­ preted, the Committee believes that the meaning of the Standing Order could be better expressed. Accordingly, the following amendment is recommended:

‘Leave out ‘A motion without Notice, that the Senate at its rising adjourn to any day or hour other than that fixed for the next ordinary meeting ol the Senate, for the purpose of debating some matter of urgency,’, insert Ά matter of urgency may be debated on a motion without Notice, that the

Senate at its rising adjourn to any day or hour other than that fixed for the next ordinary meeting of the Senate. Such a motion’. Consequential amendment—Leave out ‘such Motion’ in line 6 of the Standing Order.

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(2) Time limit for whole discussion— In accordance with the Senate’s resolu­ tion of 18 May 1972 that the Senate agrees in principle that Standing Order 64 relating to urgency motions should provide that the whole discussion on the subject should not exceed two hours (in lieu of three

hours), it is recommended that Standing Order 64 be amended

accordingly. (Senator Cavanagh dissents.)

(3) Speaking times— Consistent with the proposed reduction in the time limit for the whole discussion from three hours to two hours, it is recommended that the speaking times be reduced by one third (i.e., thirty minutes to twenty minutes and fifteen minutes to ten minutes), that Standing Order 64 be amended accordingly, and that the Standing Orders Committee make a report to the Senate before the end of 1973 with

respect to the operation of the new rule. This resolution was agreed to by 4 votes to 3.

(4) Notice— In its Fourth Report the Standing Orders Committee suggested for consideration that the Senator proposing an urgency motion should give not more than 24 hours notice. The Committee now recommends that the Senator proposing the

urgency motion shall present to the President at least two hours before the time fixed for the meeting of the Senate a written statement of the matter proposed to be discussed.

Item 2— Withdrawal of notice of motion for the disallowance of Regulations, Ordinances, etc.

7. The Acts Interpretation Act and Acts relating to the various Australian Territories provide for either House of the Parliament to disallow Regulations or Ordinances.

8. The standard provision is:

If either House of the Parliament, in pursuance of a motion of which notice has been given within fifteen sitting days after any regulations have been laid before that House, passes a resolution disallowing any of those regulations, any regulation so disallowed shall thereupon cease to have effect.

9. If, at the expiration of fifteen sitting days after notice of a motion to disallow any regulation has been given in a House of the Parliament, being notice given within fifteen sitting days after the regulation has been laid before that House:

(a) the notice has not been withdrawn and the motion has not been called on; or

(b) the motion has been called on, moved and seconded and has not been withdrawn or otherwise disposed of,

the regulation specified in the motion shall thereupon be deemed to have been disallowed.

10. Senate Standing Order 109 provides that a Senator may withdraw a Notice of Motion standing in his name, when called on.

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11. On 27 August 1970, when a Senator indicated his intention to withdraw a notice of motion for disallowance, the point was made that, as a time limit was imposed for the giving of a notice of motion for disallowance, permitting a Senator

to withdraw his notice of motion after that time limit has expired may prejudice the right of another Senator who was relying upon the opportunity afforded by that notice of motion to express a view on the regulations.

12. The further point was made that it is important that if a notice is withdrawn it ought to be on the basis that any other Senator who would want to move on the matter during the course of the day would be able to do so.

13. On a later occasion a Senator indicated that he did not wish to proceed with a notice of motion for the disallowance of certain Regulations. Thereupon another Senator sought and was granted leave of the Senate to have the notice transferred to his name.

14. This was an effective way of overcoming the difficulty on that occasion, but it appears desirable that there should be established a clear right for any Senator to take over a notice of motion for disallowance when the Senator who gave notice indicates that he no longer wishes to proceed with it.

15. It is recommended that Standing Order 109 be amended as follows:

Present Standing Order:

‘109. After a Notice of Motion has been given, the terms thereof may be altered by the Senator delivering at the Table an amended Notice, either on the same day or any day prior to that for proceeding with such Motion, or he may withdraw the

same when called on.’.

Proposed amendment:

At end of Standing Order add—1: Provided that, upon a Senator not proceeding with a Notice of Motion for the disallowance of a Regulation or Ordinance or the disapproval of an Award or Instrument made under the authority of any Act which provides for the Award or Instrument being subject to disapproval by either House

of the Parliament, any Senator shall at his request have the Notice of Motion stand in his name.’

Item 3—Other matters

16. The Standing Orders Committee has also given consideration to a number of other matters, including aspects of the operation of the standing committee system. These matters require further consideration by the Committee and another report will be presented as soon as possible.

Magnus Cormack President of the Senate and Chairman of the Standing Orders

Committee