ACT Legislative Assembly


CHAPTER 6

RULES OF DEBATE

This chapter sets out the procedures relating to the rules of debate, including time limits.

Order
Manner and right of speech
Matters not open for debate
Adjournment of debate
Time limits for debates and speeches
Closure
Privilege
Point of order and Speaker's ruling

Order

Order maintained by Speaker

37.     Order shall be maintained in the Assembly by the Speaker.

When Speaker rises

38.     Whenever the Speaker rises during proceedings, Members shall be silent and be seated, so that the Speaker may be heard without interruption.

Member speaking not to be interrupted

39.     When a Member is speaking, no other Member may converse or make any noise or disturbance to interrupt that Member.

Members to acknowledge the Chair

40.     Members shall acknowledge the Chair when entering or leaving the Chamber. (Amended 6 March 2008)   

Members passing through Assembly

41.     A Member may not pass between the Chair and any Member who is speaking, unless taking their seat at the central table. (Amended, 13 December 2016)

Manner and right of speech

Members rise to address Speaker

42.     Every Member desiring to speak shall rise and address the Speaker.

Indulgence to Members unable to stand

43.     By the indulgence of the Assembly, a Member unable conveniently to stand, by reason of sickness or infirmity, will be permitted to speak sitting.

Speaker calls on Members to speak

44.     When two or more Members rise to speak the Speaker shall call on the Member who, in the Speaker’s opinion, rose first. (Amended 6 March 2008)   

When Member may speak

45.     A Member may speak to any question before the Chair that is open to debate, when moving a motion that is open to debate, when moving an amendment, to ask or answer a question seeking information, when rising to order, or upon a matter submitted under standing orders, but not otherwise. [8]

Personal explanations

46.     Having obtained leave from the Chair, a Member may explain matters of a personal nature, although there is no question before the Assembly; such matters may not be debated.

Except to explain words

47.     A Member who has spoken to a question may again be heard to explain where some material part of that Member’s speech has been misquoted or misunderstood, but shall not introduce any new matter, nor interrupt a Member speaking, and no debatable matter may be brought forward nor may any debate arise upon such explanation.

Right of reply

48.     A reply shall be allowed to a Member who has moved a substantive motion or that a bill be agreed to in principle, and the reply shall be confined to matters raised during the debate.

Reply closes debate

49.     In all cases the reply of the mover of the original motion closes the debate.

Member may not speak after question put

50.     A Member may not speak to any question after it has been put by the Speaker and the voices have been given in the affirmative or negative. (Amended 6 March 2008)   

Allusion to previous debate or proceedings

51.     A Member may not allude to any debate or proceedings of the same calendar year unless such allusion is relevant to the matter under discussion.

Reflections upon votes

52.     A Member may not reflect adversely upon any vote of the Assembly, except upon a motion that the vote be rescinded. (Amended 6 March 2008)   

Use of Queen’s, Governor-General’s or Governor’s name

53.     A Member may not use the name of Her Majesty or her representatives in Australia disrespectfully in debate, nor for the purpose of influencing the Assembly in its deliberations.

Offensive words

54.     A Member may not use offensive words against the Assembly or any Member thereof or against any member of the judiciary. [9]

Personal reflections

55.     All imputations of improper motives and all personal reflections on Members shall be considered highly disorderly.

Speaker to intervene

56.     When any offensive or disorderly words are used, whether by a Member who is addressing the Chair or by a Member who is present, the Speaker shall intervene.

Speaker to determine offensive words

57.     When the attention of the Speaker is drawn to words used, the Speaker shall determine whether or not they are offensive or disorderly.

Members not to digress

58.     A Member shall not digress from the subject matter of any question under discussion:

provided that:

(a)     on a motion to adjourn the Assembly, irrelevant matters may be debated; and

(b)     on the motion for agreement in principle to appropriation bills for the ordinary annual services of the Executive, matters relating to public affairs may be debated.

Anticipating discussion

59.     A Member may not anticipate the discussion of any subject which appears on the Notice Paper: provided that, in determining whether a discussion is out of order on the ground of anticipation, regard shall be had by the Speaker to the probability of the matter anticipated being brought before the Assembly within a reasonable time.

Question may be required to be read

60.     Any Member may require the question or matter in discussion to be read by the Speaker at any time during the debate, but not so as to interrupt a Member speaking: provided that this standing order shall not apply when the terms of the question or matter have been circulated among Members.

Interruptions not allowed – exceptions

61.     A Member may not interrupt another Member whilst speaking, unless:

(a)     to call attention to a point of order;

(b)     to call attention to the want of a quorum; or

(c)     to move a closure motion.

Irrelevance or tedious repetition

62.     Having called the attention of the Assembly to the conduct of a Member who persists in irrelevance or tedious repetition of the Member’s own arguments or of the arguments used by other Members in debate, the Speaker may direct the Member to cease speaking.

Matters not open to debate

63.     The following matters are not open to debate, shall be moved without argument or opinion offered, and shall be put forthwith from the Chair without amendment:

(a)     motion for adjournment of debate (standing order 65);

(b)     motion to extend time for debate or speech (standing order 69);

(c)     motion that the question be now put (standing order 70);

(d)     motion that the bill (as amended) be agreed to (standing order 189); and

(e)     motion that a Member be suspended from the service of the Assembly (standing order 203).

Not to obstruct business

64.     Should any of the questions in standing order 63 be negatived, no similar proposal shall be received if the Speaker is of opinion that it is an abuse of the orders or forms of the Assembly or is moved for the purpose of obstructing business.

65.     Except for a Member who has spoken to the question, or who has the right of reply, any Member may move the adjournment of the debate, which question shall be put forthwith and determined without amendment or debate. If the question is resolved in the affirmative, the Speaker shall then put a question to fix the time for the resumption of the debate.

Member moving adjournment entitled to call

66.     The Member, upon whose motion any debate is adjourned by the Assembly, shall be entitled to speak first on the resumption of the debate.

If motion is negatived, mover may speak later

67.     In the event of a motion for the adjournment of the debate upon any question being negatived, the Member moving the motion for such adjournment may address the Assembly later in the debate.

Resumption of interrupted proceedings

68.     If the proceedings are interrupted by failure to obtain a quorum, the Speaker shall fix the time for the resumption of the debate on any business under discussion and not disposed of at the time of interruption. (Amended 6 March 2008)   

Time limits for debates and speeches

(Temporary order 9 December 2008. Adopted 22 March 2012)

69.     The maximum period for which a Member may speak on any subject indicated in this standing order, and the maximum period for any debate, shall not, unless otherwise ordered, exceed the period specified opposite to that subject in the following schedule. The Speaker may at his/her discretion direct the clock to be stopped. (Amended 6 March 2008)   

SubjectSpeakingTime
(a)     Election of Speaker, Chief Minister, Deputy Speaker or Leader of the Opposition (Amended 11 May 1989)
Each Member5 minutes
(b)     Motion for adjournment of the Assembly to terminate sitting (Amended 4 May 1995)
Whole debate no more than 30 minutes
Each Member5 minutes
(c)     Want of confidence motion provided under standing order 81
Mover20 minutes
Chief Minister or a Minister delegated20 minutes
Any other Member15 minutes
(d)     Bill be agreed to in principle  (Amended 10 March 2016)
Main Appropriation Bill for yearMover Mover not specified
First opposition member next speakingnot specified
First crossbench member next speakingnot specified
Any other Member15 minutes
Other billsMover20 minutes
First government or opposition member next speaking20 minutes
First crossbench member next speaking20 minutes
Any other Member15 minutes
Co-sponsored billsCo-sponsors20 minutes
First government or opposition member next speaking20 minutes
First crossbench member next speaking20 minutes
Any other Member15 minutes
Co-sponsors closing debate15 minutes
(e)     Detail stage of bill – each question before the Chair (Amended 10 March 2016)
Executive billsMinister in charge   

periods not specified

Any other Member – 2 periods each not exceeding10 minutes
An appropriation bill for the ordinary annual services of the yearMinister in Charge or Minister responsible for a department or appropriation unit

periods not specified

Any other Member – 2 periods each not exceeding (Amended 6 March 2008)

10 minutes
Other billsMember in charge

periods not specified

Any other Member – 2 periods each not exceeding10 minutes
Co-sponsored billsCo-sponsors

periods not specified

Any other Member – 2 periods each not exceeding10 minutes
(f)     Urgent bills (under standing order 192)
Bill be declared urgentWhole debate 15 minutes
Each Member5 minutes
Allotment of timeWhole debate 15 minutes
Each Member5 minutes
(g)     Matter of public importance (under standing order 79) (Amended 27 November 2012, 13 December 2016)
Whole discussion50 minutes
Each Member10 minutes
(h)     Suspension of standing orders (under standing order 272) (Amended 6 March 2008)
Whole debate15 minutes
Each Member5 minutes
(i)     Debates not otherwise provided for
Mover15 minutes
First government or opposition member next speaking15 minutes
First crossbench member next speaking15 minutes
Any other Member10 minutes
(j)     Extension of time – A Member may, by leave, be given an extension of time for one period which is half of the original period allotted. (Amended 6 March 2008

Closure

70.     After any question has been proposed from the Chair, a motion may be made by any Member, without notice, and whether any other Member is speaking or not, “That the question be now put”, and, unless it shall appear to the Speaker that such motion is an abuse of the rules of the Assembly, or an infringement of Members’ rights, the question “That the question be now put”, shall be put forthwith and determined without amendment or debate.

Privilege

71.     See Standing Order 276 (Standing order renumbered 6 March 2008)

Point of order and Speaker’s ruling

Point of order

72.     A Member may at any time raise a point of order which shall, until disposed of, suspend the consideration and decision of every other question.

Proceedings on question of order

73.     Upon a question of order being raised, the Member called to order shall cease speaking and sit and, after the question of order has been stated to the Speaker by the Member raising it, the Speaker shall rule on the matter.  The Speaker may at his/her discretion direct the clock to be stopped. (Amended 6 March 2008)


[8]  For those questions not open to debate see standing order 63

[9]  Section 14 of the Judicial Commissions Act 1996 states that: A Member of the Legislative Assembly shall not raise in the Assembly a matter that relates or may relate to the behaviour or physical or mental capacity of a judicial officer:- (a) except by way of a motion to have a specific allegation made in precise terms in respect of the judicial officer examined by a commission; and (b) unless that Member has given the Attorney-General not less than 5 sitting days notice of the motion and the Member has not been notified by the Attorney-General within that period in accordance with section 16 (2) that the Executive has been requested to appoint a commission to examine the allegation.

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Page last updated on 30 May 2016
2015 Legislative Assembly for the ACT