Parliament Prorogued; New Session Starts On Monday

The Australian Parliament was prorogued at 5pm today.

The prorogation was authorised by the Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, on March 21, on the advice of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. The prorogation takes place under Section 5 of the Constitution. The prorogation documents are shown below.

A new session of Parliament will now start on Monday, April 18, at 9.30am. It will be opened by the Governor-General.

The prorogation means that the Notice Paper in each house has been wiped clean. All business listed on the Notice Paper has been terminated, although the Senate’s Standing Orders allow for the work of committees to continue.

The Parliament has been prorogued one minute before dissolution at each election since 1993, a practice that had not been followed since the 1920s. The last prorogation for a reason other than an election was in 1977, when it was used to enable the Queen to open Parliament.

The Turnbull government has released a programme of business for the Senate to consider from Monday. It includes the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Bill 2013 [No.2], the Building and Construction Industry (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2013 [No.2] and the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment Bill 2014 [No.3]. The draft programme is shown below.

The point of interest on Monday will be whether the Senate is prepared to follow the government’s program of business. Once it meets, the Senate is master of its own proceedings. It could choose not to debate the bills, or it could impose a time limit on debate. It could vote to adjourn, or introduce its own legislation.

With the ALP’s 25 votes and the Greens’ 10, any three of the eight crossbenchers can provide a blocking majority that will defeat the government’s 33 votes.

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