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. [Read more…]


Turnbull Recalls Parliament On April 18 And Moves Budget To May 3; Threatens Double Dissolution On July 2 If Bills Not Passed

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has dramatically seized the political initiative in his confrontation with the Senate by advising the Governor-General to recall Parliament on April 18 and threatening a double dissolution election on July 2 if industrial legislation is not passed.

Turnbull made his announcement at a 10.30am press conference. He said he had advised the Governor-General under Section 5 of the Constitution to recall Parliament. This overrides a motion passed by the Senate on Friday that prevented a recall before May 10.

  • Watch Turnbull

Parliament will prorogued on April 15 and then summoned again for a new session on April 18. Prorogation clears the Notice Paper. [Read more…]


Dissolutions, Prorogations and a Mea Culpa

I learned a timely lesson earlier today.

Sitting in my car after leaving an appointment, I looked at Twitter to see if any there was any news of interest.

A number of media outlets and journalists were tweeting that a 19-gun salute was about to take place, at 4.59pm to be precise, outside Parliament House in Canberra.

Then I managed to forget things I used to know and proceeded to make a fool of myself. Well, I could argue only half a fool, but that’s a bit like being half mad or half pregnant.

I took issue with statements by others that the prorogation of Federal Parliament was about to take place. I was wrong. The Parliament was prorogued at 4.59pm. Here’s the explanation from the Parliamentary Education Office. Thanks to @2ricz.

Before dissolving the House of Representatives, the Governor-General issues a proclamation proroguing the Parliament. Prorogation is an ancient power of the British Crown adopted in the Australian Parliament as the means of bringing a session of Parliament to a close. A prorogation may take place separately from an election, but this rarely happens now except for ceremonial purposes. For example, in 1974 and 1977 the Parliament was prorogued when the Queen visited Australia which enabled Her Majesty to attend and open Parliament. When an election is called, the Prime Minister usually announces a dissolution and prorogation of Parliament at the same time before they are formalised by the Secretary to the Governor-General in a public ceremony in front of Parliament House. After the Parliament is prorogued and the House of Representatives dissolved, bills and other business before the House of Representatives and the Senate lapse and will need to be reintroduced. The government becomes a caretaker government and, by convention, does not make major decisions. The sittings of the Senate are terminated, but Senate Committees may still operate.

I took issue with statements by others that the Parliament was dissolved at 5.00pm. I was right. The House of Representatives was dissolved at 5.00pm but the Senate wasn’t. The Senate is only dissolved when there is a double dissolution and that hasn’t happened since 1987.

I took issue with the assertion that Parliament was “deferred”. I was right. As @ljLoch tweeted, whilst that might be a nice concept, Parliament is never deferred.

The lesson? As that old saying goes, sometimes it’s better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.