Under what circumstances would standing orders be suspended and for what purpose?

A man in a black suit looks to his right while leaning on an ornate box. A microphone and papers are infront of him. People sit in green tiered seating behind him.

A member speaking at the Despatch Box in the House of Representatives.

DPS Auspic

A member speaking at the Despatch Box in the House of Representatives.

A man in a black suit looks to his right while leaning on an ornate box. A microphone and papers are infront of him. People sit in green tiered seating behind him.

DPS Auspic

Description

A member of the opposition appeals to the Speaker of the House of Representatives. He is speaking at the Despatch Box. 

Standing orders are the rules used to manage the work of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Along with the Australian Constitution and customs that have developed over many years, standing orders guide the way the Senate and House operate each day.

In the Senate and House it is not unusual for a particular standing order or all the standing orders to be suspended to permit a certain action or actions to be taken. Suspending standing orders allows parliamentary business to be carried out in a way which would not otherwise be allowed by the standing orders.

By suspending standing orders, senators and members might be able to:

  • grant unlimited or extended time for particular speeches.
  • permit the introduction of a bill – proposed law – which has not be scheduled for debate and enable its passage without delay.
  • consider certain bills together.
  • enable censure or other motions to be moved.
  • enable the introduction of new business after the usual time of adjournment – the end of a sitting day.

A motion to suspend standing orders must be passed by an absolute majority – more than half of the total membership of the Senate or House. 

In the House of Representatives, the procedure of moving for the suspension of standing orders is regularly used by the Opposition as an attempt to debate or highlight matters which it considers to be of national, parliamentary or political importance.