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Standing Orders - Senate Standing Committee - Report - 1st for 62nd Session (1985), dated 15 October 1985


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The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia

SENATE STANDING ORDERS COMMITTEE

First Report, 15 October 1985

Second Report, 14 November 1985

Sixty-Second Session

Presented and ordered to be printed 15 October and 14 November 1985

Parliamentary Paper No. 504/1985

Parliamentary Paper No. 504/1985

The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia

SENATE STANDING ORDERS COMMITTEE

First Report, 15 October 1985

Second Report, 14 November 1985

Sixty-second Session

The Commonwealth Government Printer Canberra 1986

© Commonwealth of Australia 1986 ISBN 0 644 04849 2

Printed by Authority by the Commonwealth Government Printer

THE SENATE

STANDING ORDERS COMMITTEE

FIRST REPORT FOR THE SIXTY-SECOND SESSION

15 OCTOBER 1985

.

CONTENTS

Page

Consideration of Standing Orders Committee Reports 1

Standing Order 406: Reading of Speeches 3

Standing Order 363: Tabling of Documents Quoted by

Ministers 4

Pecuniary Interests of Senators 7

Attachment A - Consideration of Standing Orders Committee

Reports - Proposed Sessional Order 8

Attachment B - Standing Order 406 - 1st Report,

61st Session - October 1983 9

. - -

'

THE SENATE

8/h

STANDING ORDERS COMMITTEE

REPORT TO THE SENATE

The Standing Orders Committee has the honour to report to the

Senate that it has considered the following matters and agreed to

report upon them as follows.

Consideration of Standing Orders Committee Reports

1 The Committee is concerned with the time taken to deal with

reports from the Committee. At the end of the sixty-first

session of the Parliament in October 1984 items contained in

the First, Second and Third Reports of the Committee for

that session had not been resolved, and accordingly do not

appear on the Notice Paper of the current session. The First

and Second Reports were presented in October 1983 and the

Third in June 1984.

2 The Committee considers that it is irrational for the Senate

to continue to transact its business while recommendations

relating to the manner in which it conducts its business are

allowed to remain unattended for such long periods of time.

It appears to the Committee that this situation arises from

the practice of having Ministers take the necessary steps

for the consideration of the reports, and the consequent

2.

listing of the reports in Government Business. This means

that the reports must compete with other Government Business

for available time.

3 The Committee considers that recommendations by the Standing

Orders Committee should properly be regarded as Business of

the Senate and have the precedence over Government and

General Business which is given to matters classified as

Business of the Senate.

4 The Committee also believes that it would be appropriate for

the consideration of its reports to be facilitated by

listing as Business of the Senate only those items involving

recommendations for amendments to the Standing or Sessional

Orders or resolutions to be passed by the Senate. Other

matters, including those involving recommendations or

suggestions as to interpretations and rulings to be adopted

by the Chair, need not be given precedence and, indeed, need

not be considered by the Senate at all unless they arise for

consideration in the normal course of business. They might

appropriately be left to the President, or other occupant of

the Chair, to apply when circumstances require.

5 The Committee therefore recommends the following procedure

for the consideration of Standing Orders Committee reports:

(a) recommendations by the Standing Orders Committee

for new Standing or Sessional Orders, amendments

to Standing or Sessional Orders, resolutions or

other actions by the Senate, be given the

precedence over Government and General Business

accorded to other Business of the Senate by

Standing Order 66A; and

3.

(b) items in Standing Orders reports not involving

recommendations for action by the Senate be

considered at the normal time for consideration of

committee reports.

6 The Standing Orders Committee will facilitate this procedure

by clearly dividing its reports into items recommending

action by the Senate and items not recommending action by

the Senate.

Where the Standing Orders Committee advises the President

that a particular interpretation or ruling should be made,

the Committee or the President will inform the Senate of

that advice at an appropriate time.

8 A proposed sessional order embodying this procedure appears

in attachment A, and is recommended for adoption.

9 The Committee suggests that, if the Senate adopts this

sessional order, items in Standing Orders Committee reports

which have not yet been dealt with should be considered in

accordance with the sessional order.

Standing Order 406: Reading of Speeches

10 In its First Report for the sixty-first session in October

1983, the Committee presented, following a debate on the

question of the reading of speeches, a proposed amendment of

Standing Order 406 which would reflect the practice whereby

some exceptions are recognised to the prohibition contained

in the Standing Order.

11 The proposed amendment would have added the following words

to the Standing Order -

": Provided that this Standing Order shall

not apply to a Senator when that Senator is

4.

(a) moving a motion for the second

reading of any Bill or speaking to such a motion as first speaker for the Opposition or a minority group;

(b) making a Ministerial statement or a statement on behalf of a Committee;

(c) making a response to a statement

referred to in paragraph (b), as first speaker for the Opposition or a minority group; or

(d) speaking as first speaker on any

matter of public importance or

moving a motion to debate a matter of urgency, pursuant to Standing Order 64."

12 After debate on this proposal on 6 September 1984, the

matter was referred back to the Committee for further

consideration. Attached as attachment B are the relevant

extracts from the Committee's report and the Senate debates.

13 After further consideration of the question of what

exceptions to the prohibition, if any, should be recognised

by the Standing Order, the Committee concluded that the

additional words proposed above should be adopted with the

omission of paragraph (d). The Committee considers that this

amendment of the Standing Order would embody the principle

that the only occasions on which a relaxation of the rule is

appropriate are occasions of a Senator making a statement

w’hich is not the Senator's personal statement but is

intended to express the considered position of the Senator's

government or party.

Standing Order 363: Tabling of Documents Quoted by Ministers

14 In its Second Report for the sixty-first session, on

20 October 1983, the Standing Orders Committee referred to

the question of interpretation which arises in relation to

Standing Order 364, which is as follows:

"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.".

The question referred to by the Committee is whether a

successful motion under the Standing Order requires a

Senator to table the original of any document quoted

regardless of whether it is in the Senator's possession in

the chamber, or whether it requires only the tabling of a

document in the possession of the Senator and actually used

to make the quotation in the course of the speech. The

Committee concluded that the better interpretation, in spite

of certain precedents to the contrary, is that the procedure

requires the tabling only of a document actually in the

Senator's immediate possession, and that if the Senator does

not have the document, compliance with a successful motion

under the Standing Order is not possible.

A similar question arises in relation to Standing Order 363,

which is as follows:

"A Document relating to public affairs quoted from by a Minister of the Crown, unless

stated to be of a confidential nature, or such as should more properly be obtained by Address, may be called for and made a public Document.".

Usually there is no motion moved under this Standing Order;

the Minister is simply asked to table the document quoted,

and the Minister usually accedes to such a request (Odgers,

Australian Senate Practice, 5 ed., 1976, p. 590). This

compliance by Ministers now often leads to them tabling

their speech notes, which they have not "quoted" in the

dictionary sense of that term. The development of this

practice, as it has recently been applied, particularly to

6.

answers by Ministers during question time, can be seen to be

based on a misinterpretation of the Standing Order and may

be a misuse of it.

18 Like many other Senate Standing Orders, Standing Order 363

is intended to provide for an unwritten rule of the House of

Commons. That rule is that a Minister may not read or quote

from a despatch or other state paper not before the House,

unless the Minister is prepared to lay it upon the table.

Speakers' rulings have indicated that the rule applies to

public documents only (which clearly means documents

relating to public matters) and not to confidential

documents or documents of a private nature, and a Minister

is allowed to indicate that documents are confidential. The

rule extends to documents cited but not to correspondence

merely summarised. The rationale of the rule is that the

House should not be asked to take into account the contents

of a document unless the document is actually before it

(Erskine May, Parliamentary Practice, 19 ed., p. 431,20 ed.,

1983, pp. 433-34 ) .

19 The relevant Commons rulings were made before the adoption

of the Senate Standing Orders in 1903, and would have been

known to the President and members of the first Senate. In

its report recommending the adoption of the Standing Orders

in 1903, the Standing Orders Committee noted that the

particular Standing Order in question was new but reflected

the practice prevailing in the States. The Standing Order

was adopted without debate.

20 The terms of Standing Order 363 confirm that its purpose is

to give expression to the Commons rules, with the one

important modification that it provides for the Senate to

determine, upon a motion, whether a quoted document should

be tabled, and does not rely upon enforcement of the rule by

the Chair. The principle that the rule relates to public

documents is more clearly expressed in the phrase "relating

7.

to nublic affairs", and the provision for the Minister to

state that a quoted document is of a confidential nature or

ought more properly to be obtained by address also reflects Commons rulings.

21 Those rulings and the terms of the Standing Order clearly

indicate that it is intended to apply only to a document

relating to public affairs which is actually quoted by a

Minister in the course of the Minister's remarks, and has no

application to speech notes used by a Minister. The

Committee has advised Mr President to rule accordingly.

Pecuniary Interests of Senators

22 On 20 October 1983 the Senate agreed to a resolution

relating to the declaration by Senators of their private

interests, and requested the Standing Orders Committee to

consider changes to the Standing Orders which might be

required to give effect to the resolution.

23 The Committee has considered this matter on a number of

occasions. There are fundamental unresolved policy questions

in relation to the matter which are appropriate for

consideration by Senators and perhaps further consideration

by the Senate before the Committee can usefully pursue the

matter further. The Committee has asked the party leaders to

report to it on their consideration of those matters.

Douglas McClelland

Chairman

8.

ATTACHMENT A

CONSIDERATION OF STANDING ORDERS COMMITTEE REPORTS

PROPOSED SESSIONAL ORDER

(1) Recommendations by the Standing Orders Committee for new

Standing or Sessional Orders, for amendments to Standing or

Sessional Orders, for resolutions or for other action by the

Senate, shall be placed on the Notice Paper as Business of

the Senate, and shall take precedence of Government and

General Business for the day on which they are set down for

consideration.

(2) Parts of reports by the Standing Orders Committee to which

paragraph (1) does not apply may be considered in accordance

with the Sessional Order relating to the consideration of

committee reports.

ATTACHMENT B STANDING ORDERS COMMITTEE 1ST REPORT, 61ST SESSION - OCTOBER 198 i

12. The Committee has considered this matter and believes

that it would be appropriate for the Presiding

Officers to be authorized to grant access to evidence

taken in camera or documents submitted on a

confidential or restricted basis subject to the same

restriction as is embodied in the Archives Bills 1983,

namely, that such material must be at least thirty

years o l d . This would mean that in camera evidence or

documents submitted on a confidential or restricted

basis which are less than thirty years old could be

released only by a resolution of the relevant House or

both Houses, as appropriate. The Committee considers

that, because of the damage which may be done to

individuals by the publication of such evidence or

documents, any publication of material less than

thirty years old should be undertaken only by such

deliberate decision.

?■

13. The Committee therefore recommends the adoption of the

resolution contained in Attachment C . The proposed

resolution restates the provision of the 1980

resolution and makes it clear that that resolution

applies to material not previously published by the

Senate or a c o m m i t t e e . The proposed resolution would

also seek the concurrence of the House of

Representatives in respect of joint committees.

STANDING ORDER 406: READING OF SPEECHES

14. On 26 August 1982 the Senate had an extensive debate

on Standing Order 406, which prohibits the reading of

speeches. The debate was initiated by a motion ·

would have had the effect of requiring the President

to enforce the Standing Order strictly, excep

relation to second reading speeches introducing Bills,

statements made by Senators when tabling repo

statements by Chairmen on behalf of commi :

Senate rejected the motion, and also rejected an

10.

amendment which would have had the effect of repealing

Standing Order 406 and thereby allowing the reading of

s p e eches. During that debate, it was suggested that

the matter might appropriately be considered by the

Standing Order C ommittee, and it was subsequently

raised in the C o m m i t t e e .

15. The Committee has therefore given consideration to the

possibility of amending the Standing Order so as to

recognize explicitly those occasions, at present

sanctioned by practice, when a Senator may read a

s p e e c h . It was put to the Committee that it is ,not_

desirable to have an explicit standing order which is

not applied on particular occasions unless those

occasions are recognized by the Standing Order itself.

16. Attachment D contains a proposed amendment to the

Standing Order whereby the principal occasions upon

which practice sanctions the reading of speeches might

be recognized by the Standing Order. The Committee

presents this proposed amendment of the Standing

Or d e r , not as a recommendation but for the Senate's

consideration.

Douglas McClelland

Chairman

7428 7445 7457

11.

ATTACHMENT D

PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO STANDING ORDER 406

At end of Standing Order 406, add:

Provided that this Standing Order shall not apply

to a Senator when that Senator is

(a) moving a motion for the second reading of any

Bill or speaking to such a motion as first speaker

for the Opposition or a minority group;

(b) making a Ministerial statement or a statement on behalf

of a C o m m i t t e e ;

(c) making a response to a statement referred to in

paragraph (b), as first speaker for the Opposition

or a minority group; or

(d ) speaking as first speaker on any matter of public

importance or moving a motion to debate a matter

of u r g e n c y , pursuant to Standing Order 64.

7430

618 SENATE 6 September 1984 Standin)· Orders Committee

12 .

Item 4. Proposed amendment to Standing Order 406.

Senator ROBERTSON (Northern Territory) (10.12) I would like to speak briefly to this item before I move the suggested recommendation. 7 he Committee has given consideration to the possibility of amending standing order 406 so as to recognise explicitly those occasions of present sanction by practice where an honourable senator may read his speech. The Committee presents a proposed amendment to the Standing Orders to cover such occasions for the Senate's consider­ ation as attachment D to the report. I do not in­ tend to read through it.

Senator Peter Rae You are speaking

extempore?

Senator ROBERTSON - Exactly. I suggest that the Senate accept the proposed amendment as put forward by the Standing Orders Com­ mittee. I move:

At the end of standing order 406. add:

*: Provided that this Standing Order shall not apply to a Senator when that Senator is (a) moving a motion for the second reading of any Bill or speaking to such a motion as first speaker for the

Opposition or a minority group; (b) making a Ministerial statement or a statement on behalf of a Committee; (c) making a response to a statement referred to in

paragraph (b), as first speaker for the Opposition or a minority group; or (d) speaking as first speaker on any matter of public importance or moving a motion to debate a matter

of urgency, pursuant to standing order 64.

S e n a t o r M A C K L I N ( Q u e e n s l a n d )

(10.13)—The terms of the motion which Senator Robertson has moved, are, I think, slightly mis­ leading. It is not, in fact, currently the practice that honourable senators covered by the situ­ ations outlined in the motion are able to read their speeches. Let me consider the motion in detail.

Paragraph (a) provides that standing order 406 shall not apply to an honourable senator when that honourable senator is: moving a motion for the second reading of any Bill or speaking to such a motion as first speaker for the Oppo­ sition or a minority group;

13.

Standing Orders Committee

Indeed, I he practice of the Senate has been that the mover of a motion for the second reading of any Bill, whether that person be a Minister or a

member of the Opposition or from any other group in the Senate, may proceed to read the sec­ ond reading speech on the Bill. 1 think that the wording of that paragraph is ambiguous because I believe that it suggests that a response to such a motion would be included in paragraph (a). I do not think that was really the intention. I think that the way that paragraph has been worded gives it a wider application than I believe was ac­

tually the intention. 1 think that the intention was, in fact, to propose what is currently the practice in the Senate. That would extend, for example, in the case of the Australian Democrats, to every lime we spoke. We would be able to read speeches. I do not think that was the intention of

the Standing Orders Committee. I think that what is proposed here may be going beyond that. Para­ graph (b) states:

making a Ministerial statement or a statement on behalf of a Committee;

Thai is definitely part of the conventions that cur­ rently exist in this place. I believe that it is import­ ant that they continue and that they be written into the Standing Orders in the way described here. I believe that a ministerial statement or a statement on behalf of a Committee often may have to be word exact. That seems to me to be the criterion that we ought to seek in regard to where we depart from the current standing order. The second reading speech is now really part of statute and becomes part of the interpretation of the Bill before the courts. That is why it should be read. It is an extremely important part of the Bill now. whereas previously when the Standing Orders were first drawn up. the second reading speech was not part of the Bill or the interpretation of the Bill. It is no longer possible for a Minister or any­ body else to engage in an extempore speech in re­ lation to a Bill because it is now part of the statu­ tory requirements.

Similarly, in regard to paragraph (b) I think it is often of extreme importance that the Minister making a ministerial statement be word perfect because many ministerial statements are ex­ tremely important and really ought to be delivered in a "much more deliberate way than would be the case with an extempore speech.

I really think that paragraph (c) goes beyond anything that has ever occurred previously. Para­ graph (c) states: making a response to a statement referred to in para­ graph (b), as first speaker for the Opposition or a minority group

6 September 19X4 SENATE r,|9

That, indeed, duplicates the second part of para­ graph (a) and extends far beyond any convention in this place what has been accepted by the Senate up to date. I believe that it is an unjustified exten­ sion in that I thought that what the Standing Orders Committee was seeking to do was, in fact,

to try to write standing order 406 what had been the case.

Paragraph (d) would be in conflict with para­ graph (c) if both were allowed to stand. However, in some ways it would probably be acceptable But again I suggest that it goes beyond what is cur­ rently the case. I say that it is in some way accept­ able because while matters of public importance

have tended to be less and less matters of public importance over the past few years and have be­ come matters of political importance, I dare say that still under the Standing Orders we may from time to time actually hear a matter of public importance. Hence it may very well be that if the matter is a matter of public importance, the first speaker may wish to read his speech. I do not

think that 1 would necessarily dissent from that However, I think that in the current climate it is rather odd because matters of public importance are no longer really matters of public importance but rather matters of political importance

The moving of a motion to debate a matter of urgency—this relates to paragraph (d) falls under the same rubric as matters of public import­ ance and, 1 think, probably could be dealt with in the same way. I would be loath to accept para­ graph (d). Hence, I intend to move that attach­

ment D to the report of the Standing Orders Com­ mittee, be amended so as to delete the words in paragraph (a), ‘or speaking to such a motion as first speaker for the Opposition or a minority group' and to delete paragraphs (c) and (d) so that the motion would read:

Provided that this Standing Order shall not apply to a Senator when that Senator is (a) moving a motion for the second reading of any Bill:

(b) making a Ministerial statement or a statement on behalf of a Committee

T h erefore. 1 move: Paragraph (a), leave out all words after Bill', and para graphs (c) and (d). S e n ato r P E T E R RAE (Tasm ania) (10.17) I

believe th at it would be unfortunate if this matter, to which S enator M acklin has taken objection, were debated in detail in the cham ber tonight rath er than be sent back to the Standing Orders C om m ittee for reconsideration I believe that S enator M acklin has made some pomts which

w arrant consideration. I support the idea that the

620 SENATE 6 September 1984 Standing Orders Committee

proposed amendment to standing order 406 be reconsidered rather than the chamber debating it now. Senator Macklin has moved, in effect, that the recommendation in relation to the proposed amendment to standing order 406 be referred back to the Standing Orders Committee for re­ consideration. A further recommendation can then come forward. I believe that it is unwise to try to draft standing orders in the Committee of the Whole. It is rather better to take the view around the chamber, send the matter back, and come up with something which may accom­ modate the general view. I therefore support the proposal.

Senator MISSEN (Victoria) (10.19) —I cer­ tainly support Senator Peter Rae's proposal, pro­ vided we have the opportunity of telling the Standing Orders Committee what we think about

this matter so that it has the ambit view. As I understand it, it will not cut off debate. I am in general support of Senator Macklin. But, of course, my objection goes very deep because I fear that I have spawned the monster which is now be­ fore us. I think it was I who originally moved to try to stop the reading of speeches and made the original proposal that we should enforce the Standing Orders, that they should not be a dead letter. Actually, to see the first two parts in gen­ eral, perhaps with the deletion of what Senator Macklin has moved, is all right. That at least shows the present situation. Of course, the last two positions add widely to the fact that there will be a lot more read speeches. I do not resile from the position I took a couple of years ago that the reading of speeches is an abomination generally in this chamber and that we should not be following the House of Representatives down the path to doom. I see that I cannot look for any comfort from the Standing Orders Committee because ob­ viously that Committee is not seized with the danger there. I think what I will look for is the coming of television to the Parliament. We will find then that people will not dare to read speeches in the way that sometimes happens.

I must say that there has been a very consider­ able improvement in the situation. I think there is much less reading of speeches, and I believe this happens with greater experience of new senators. When they have been here for a while they are prepared to abandon the tight effect of speaking from something prepared by them or somebody else, something which ties them down and does

not allow them to engage in argument or allow the interruption of interjections. Despite the homilies in the Standing Orders about how wicked inter­ jections are, I believe they are part and parcel of

Parliament. To the degree that interjections do

not become abusive they are valuable. I believe that the colour of parliamentary debate is greatly restricted by the reading of speeches. Moreover, it means that honourable senators come into this chamber and take no notice of the person who has spoken before them. They do not alter their speeches in any way and thus do not engage in de­ bate. I think that has been one of the troubles of the other House for some years.

The Standing Orders Committee has not come to the view that it should enforce this standing order and has come back with this proposal, which I think really compounds the situation. One can imagine Senator Macklin, perhaps being quite happy with something that seems to be in his best interests to have if he wants to read material at any time. The real purpose of the reading that is allowed and which has been allowed is, as he has said, the major nature of second reading speeches and ministerial statements, where the accuracy of the statement is important and may be relied on by the public and, to some extent, in the interpret­ ation of statutes. However, the other provisions

(c) and (d) do not have that basis. They have a basis whereby replies will be made without the colour and force which would otherwise appear. Very few people are able to read speeches well. Naturally, the debate takes on a very dull tone. 1 see no rescue, from my point of view, from any­ where but the televising of Parliament, which I hope will come, and which would naturally re­ quire the use of notes and certainly not the use of

read material.

Senator Watson—Continuous televising?

Senator MISSEN—Perhaps I should not stray into that argument tonight. Yes, 1 think there could be continuous televising.

Senator Childs—And action replays?

Senator MISSEN—Perhaps that could be speeded up so that we only took the highlights, using the interesting parts and leaving out the dull parts. I think there are a lot of problems with it, but we will come to it. We will catch up with the Japanese and others in due course. However, that is not the immediate subject of this debate. I wel­ come the fact that this matter may go back to the Standing Orders Committee for further consider­ ation. If the Senate is to put this into the Standing Orders, I hope it will not extend the range of read speeches, and perhaps ideas such as Senator

Macklin’s can be given very close consideration..

Senator PETER BAUME (New South Wales) (10.25)—In the last few moments of this debate I will be brief. I would not like the Senate Standing Orders Committee when it reconsiders the matter

15.

Standing Orders Committee

6 September 1984 SENATE 621

to think that its approach has not found some sup­ port around the chamber. I acknowledge the force of the arguments in relation to proposals (c) and (d). 1 think they are matters which need to be

looked at again. As 1 read the proposed amend­ ment to standing order 406, 1 see something quite different from my colleagues. I see an attempt to

provide that all speeches, except those that are listed here, are not to be read. It is an attempt to give some extra capacity to the Chair to enable it to say that the speech which is being given does

not fall within certain classes designated here. I see this as a means by which we can hope to see standing order 406 applied more effectively.

Identifying certain conditions where speeches can be read gives us a capacity to be rather more diligent in trying to observe standing order 406. I recall some of the debates which have taken place here when honourable senators have stood up and said that they want standing order 406 ignored completely. This attempt to go down this road is

in fact the first time I have seen a proposal from the Standing Orders Committee to the Senate which will put teeth into the Standing Orders. I support the reference being sent back to the Standing Orders Committee. I hope the Com­ mittee can deal with it expeditiously. I like the Committee's approach, and I look forward to see­ ing the proposed standing order soon.

Senator ROBERTSON (Northern Territory) (10.27)—As the senator representing the Senate Standing Orders Committee, I indicate that cer­ tainly we will not oppose the motion that this matter be referred back to the Committee. How­ ever, the point has to be made that this surely

must be a most ineffective way of operating. We must find some other way of getting an input from the Senate before going back to the Committee. It is rather disturbing and frustrating for the Com­ mittee to spend some time, as we did, on trying to draft something and taking into account the com­ ments made when the matter was debated pre­ viously, and to have the first speaker stand up and say that the matter ought to be referred back to

the Committee. I accept the point Senator Macklin made and ■ the reason why he made it. However, I make the point, and I will be raising it with my colleagues on the Standing Orders Committee, that we must

find some other way of operating, otherwise we will never achieve any change in our Standing Orders. With the greatest of respect, it is quite clear that basically the honourable senators who have spoken in this debate tonight are those who sit around the table of the Standing Orders Com­

mittee trying to work out these things—although there have been other contributions. It is a great pity to me that we have not had a great many more honourable senators sitting in the chamber tonight or that we cannot program the debate at a time when it would excite a little more enthusi­

asm. This is the skeleton on which we work. These set the guidelines that we must follow.

I would like to speak at some length on this, but I simply say for the benefit of those other senators on the Committee who are sitting in the

chamber—1 appreciate the comments made by Senator Baume—that we must find some better way of bouncing these ideas off. After all, there is

no attempt by the Standing Orders Committee to impose anything at all. There is an attempt to come up with a form of words on the basis of what has been said before which might be found accept­ able to the Senate. Again, it is very disturbing that

when I am trying to have something to say, I keep glancing at the clock because 1 have only two or three minutes in which to present a case. I think that illustrates what I have been trying to say. I support Senator Macklin’s proposal to have this

matter sent back to the Committee.

Senator MACKLIN (Queensland) (10.28) —Time is short, so it might facilitate matters if I seek leave to withdraw my previous amendment.

Amendment—by leave—withdrawn.

Motion—by leave—withdrawn.

Senator MACKLIN—I move.

That the proposed amendment to standing order 406, as set out in Attachment D to the Standing Orders Com­ mittee report, be referred back to the Standing Orders Committee for further consideration.

Senator PETER RAE (Tasmania) (10.29) I support the motion and I also support what Senator Robertson has said. I hope we can work out a better way. The reason I called a quorum to­

night was because I had a misunderstanding that we were to debate an important and serious mat­ ter. The Scrutiny of Bills Committee matter is im­ portant and serious and ought to be discussed with every honourable senator having the opportunity to be here and knowing that the matter is to be brought on. I guess the misfortune was that the matter came on with honourable senators not pre­ pared to debate it. I totally support the prop­ osition that we have to work out a better system. I suggest that maybe the party rooms could be used as a better filter system in that we could schedule, through the managers of business in the Senate, the bringing on of Standing Orders Committee re­ ports to ensure that they are discussed in the party rooms, with the Independent senator being given notice, before they are brought on for debate

I could not agree m ore th at the present system is not entirely satisfactory. I join Senator Robert­ son as one o f those who sit around in the Senate Standing O rders C om m ittee and try to do some­ thing useful for the sake o f the efficiency o f this place. I support the motion.

Q uestion resolved in the affirmative.

Resolutions reported; report adopted

■ ·

. ·

THE SENATE

STANDING ORDERS COMMITTEE

SECOND REPORT FOR THE SIXTY-SECOND SESSION

14 NOVEMBER 1985

.

■ ■ ' *

■:

THE SENATE

STANDING ORDERS COMMITTEE

SECOND REPORT OF THE SIXTY-SECOND SESSION

9/h

The Standing Orders Committee has the honour to report to the

Senate that it has considered the matter referred to it by the

Senate on 16 October 1985, namely, the procedure proposed by

Senator Siddons with respect to the introduction of Bills in the Senate, and reports as follows.

Presentation of Plans for Bills

1. On 16 October 1985 Senator Siddons attempted to follow a new

procedure for the initiation of legislation in the Senate.

He attempted to present to the Senate a plan for a Bill and

to move a motion for a resolution that a Bill be brought in

in accordance with the plan. It was his intention to make a

speech in support of his plan for the Bill, and to have the

debate on the motion adjourned and made an Order of the Day

under General Business for the next day of sitting. If the

motion were passed, it would then be an order of the Senate

for him to bring the Bill in in accordance with the plan.

The Standing Orders provide that a Bill may be brought in

pursuant to order, but this procedure is not now used. Leave

of the Senate would have been required for him to present

the plan, because Senators other than Ministers may not

present papers without leave except by order of the Senate,

and he also required leave to move his motion without

notice. Leave was refused, Senators indicating a wish v,

further consider the proposed procedure, and the matter was

referred to the Committee.

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2. Senator Siddons presented to the Committee documents which

indicated the nature of his proposal and the reasons for it.

He had been advised by one of the Senate's consultant

draftsmen that it would take considerable time to draft a

Bill which he had proposed relating to youth employment. It

was then suggested to him that if he wished to lay his

proposal before the Senate without waiting for the Bill to

be drafted he could attempt to adopt the procedure already

outlined. This also would avoid the use of scarce

legislative drafting resources in preparing a complex Bill

which may not be acceptable to the Senate, by giving some

indication whether the Senate would consider the proposed

Bill before those resources were employed in preparing it.

3. The proposed procedure depended upon leave of the Senate

being granted, and it is, of course, always for Senators to

determine whether leave should be granted.

4. Having considered the proposed procedure, the Committee

advises that it would not be in the best interests of the

proper conduct of the proceedings of the Senate for the

procedure to be permitted.

5. The Senate now invariably permits a motion for leave to

introduce a Bill to be dealt with as a formal motion, so

that a Senator may introduce a Bill on the day after he has

given notice of motion. The Committee considers that, while

this is a desirable practice to allow Senators every

opportunity to place legislative proposals before the

Senate, it would not be desirable to extend the same

indulgence to the introduction of plans for Bills or other

matters. The procedure proposed by Senator Siddons would

involve a further inroad upon the regular conduct of the

Senate's business. Should a Bill be introduced by the

proposed procedure, it would also involve, in effect, a

duplication of the second reading debate, which would be

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conducted once on the motion that the Bill be brought in and

again on the motion for the second reading of the Bill when it is introduced.

6. A more important consideration underlying the Committee's

advice is that there are existing procedures which could be

used to initiate a Bill without first having it drafted, and

which do not involve any alteration of the regular conduct

of business. These procedures include:

(a) giving notice of a motion for an order that a Bill

be brought in, indicating in the terms of the

motion the major provisions of the Bill;

(b) giving notice of a motion for an order that a plan

for a Bill be presented to the Senate; and

(c) giving notice of a motion to refer to a standing

committee a proposal for a Bill.

The last-mentioned procedure would be particularly apt

because of the effective manner in which the standing

committees have considered Bills in the past, and it could

be supported by the Senator who wishes to initiate the Bill

attending the committee or being added to its membership and

laying all relevant documents before it.

7. The Committee therefore suggests that Senators wishing to

initiate legislative proposals make use of the existing

procedures, and that the Senate not embark upon the

innovation proposed by Senator Sidaons.

Douglas McClelland Chairman

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