The Chair of Committees in the Legislative Council is also
elected by fellow Members through the process of a ballot.
He or she takes the Chair at the Table of the Council whenever
the Council goes into Committee to consider a Bill in detail.
In the absence of the Presiding Officer, the Chair of Committees
performs the duties and exercises the authority of the President.
The Chair of Committees needs to have a sound knowledge
of the rules which
govern procedure, particularly during Committee stage consideration
of a Bill. The
particular rules which are applied to sittings of the Council
are known as Standing Orders. Specific Standing Orders
are applied during Committee stage consideration of a Bill
it is the responsibility of the Chair of Committees to
ensure that the appropriate Standing Orders are adhered
During the Committee stage, amendments can be made to a
Bill. In some cases
several amendments can be proposed to one clause of a
Bill and the Chair of Committees at this time must ensure,
the first instance, that the amendments are acceptable
to the Chair and, further, that proper procedure is followed
to allow the amendments to be debated and voted upon.
The Chair of Committees continues in office until death,
retirement or removal by the vote of an absolute majority
of the Council.
of the Government
of the Government in the Legislative Council
The Hon. Leonie Hiscutt, MLC
The Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council
is an elected Member who is appointed by the Premier of the
The Leader is the Government’s appointed representative
in the Legislative Council who is responsible for the passage
of Government legislation through the Council. The Leader
and his or her Deputy represent all Ministers who sit in
the Assembly and their respective portfolios, e.g. Justice,
Health, Education and Primary Industries. Officers from these
various Departments are usually present in the Chamber during
consideration of Legislation applicable to their own Department.
Advisers, as they are more commonly known within the Parliament,
are present to assist the Leader and Deputy with queries
raised by Members during the various stages of consideration
of a Bill.
The Leader decides the order in which legislation will
considered and also suggests the sitting schedule of the
The Leader and Deputy have their own office staff consisting
of a Senior Private Secretary, Parliamentary Adviser,
Electorate Officer and Secretarial Assistant. They are
permitted on the floor of the Council during sitting
times to assist the Leader with procedural motions and
of information to allow the Leader to adequately and
accurately present Government legislation to the Legislative
for its consideration.
Clerk of the Legislative Council
The Clerk of the Council is appointed by Letters Patent issued by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and is the Permanent Head and Chief Executive of the staff of the Legislative Council.
The Clerk is responsible for ensuring that the correct procedure is observed during the passage of legislation and may be called upon to advise the President on the interpretation of Standing Orders and Parliamentary practice. The Clerk is also responsible for the preparation of the Notice Paper and the compilation of the Votes and Proceedings, the official record of proceedings in the Council.
The Clerk Tables Papers in the Council and reads aloud the titles of Bills as each stage is agreed to by the Council.
It is the Clerk who must prepare and certify to the accuracy of Bills agreed to by both Houses, before they are submitted for Royal Assent by the Governor.
The Clerk is assisted in the administration of the House by the Deputy Clerk.
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Clerk of the Legislative Council
Mr David Thomas Pearce.
Usher of the Black Rod
The Black Rod
is a symbol of authority of the Legislative Council as
a formal arm of the Parliament. It is made of
ebony and carved gold with a lion holding the motto of the
Order of the Garter – ‘Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense’ (meaning ‘evil
to him who evil thinks’). The history of Tasmania’s
Black Rod itself is obscure. It is in all respects a replica
of the House of Lords Rod and it is assumed that it was originally
a gift from Westminster.
The Black Rod
The Usher of
the Black Rod at the Governor’s command,
summons the House of Assembly Members to the Legislative
Council Chamber to hear the Governor’s speech opening
the Parliament following a State election. This position
can be traced back through the Westminster Parliament, London,
to the year 1348 and the foundation of the Order of the Garter.
the Middle Ages, the Usher of the Black Rod acted as the
King’s ceremonial bodyguard at the Palace of
Westminster; King and Parliament working together in the
same buildings. When King Henry VIII took over Cardinal Wolsey’s
former residence as his new London Palace, the Usher of the
Black Rod remained at Westminster and it was from this time
that the more modern role of this position was developed.
The Usher of the Black Rod in the House of Lords, London,
still takes an active part in ceremonies surrounding the
ancient Order of the Garter.
The Tasmanian Black Rod has no similar connection with this
order of chivalry. This position, however, is closely related
to its London counterpart, in that he or she is the personal
attendant upon the Sovereign or her representative at the
of Parliament. The Usher of the Black Rod at the direction of the President has
responsibility for the maintenance of order and security in the Chamber and the
Legislative Council Parliamentary precinct.
At the commencement and termination of each sitting of
the Council, the Usher of the Black Rod precedes the President
to and from the Chamber.
Legislative Council sittings are often held concurrently
with those of the House of Assembly.
Council’s sitting days are usually Tuesday, Wednesday
and Thursday. The Council, however, may sit on other days
depending upon the pressure of business.
Order of Business
A sitting day commences with prayers read by the President.
The President then refers to a printed paper containing Notices
of Motion and Orders of the Day.
Questions by Members given on Notice appear on the Notice
Paper. Standing Orders are used to make provision for Questions
to be asked without Notice.
Papers are laid upon the Table of the Council by the Clerk
and these Papers, which include such documents as Regulations,
Municipal By-laws and reports from the Government instrumentalities
are available for perusal by Members, and having been
Tabled, become public documents.
Ministerial statements are occasionally made following
Questions and Answers to Questions.
Messages from the House of Assembly or from the Governor
may be read at any time by the President. Those from
the Governor take precedence over all other business.
Orders of the Day
Tabling of Papers, the work of the Council proceeds according
to the Orders of the Day as printed on
the Notice Paper. Tuesday is reserved for Private Members’ business,
when the consideration of Private Members’ Motions
or Bills, takes precedence over Government business. On Wednesday
and Thursday, however, the Leader of the Government determines
the order of Government business in the Council.
Government Bills usually emanate from the Lower House.
Bills, however, may originate and be introduced in the Upper
Each Bill progresses through six stages in each House. These
(ii) First Reading: Stages (i) and (ii) formal introduction;
(iii) Second Reading: debate on the general principles of
(iv) Committee Stage: consideration by a Committee of the
Whole Council of each
clause in detail;
(v) Adoption of report by the Committee;
(vi) Third Reading: usually a formal reading, but further
debate may arise, or
Bill may be recommitted to the Committee stage for reconsideration.
becoming an Act a Bill must receive Royal Assent from the
Governor on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen.
debate upon Bills, the President, or Chair of Committees
(when the House is resolved into a Committee) is in control
of proceedings and all speakers
must address themselves to the “Chair”. The Standing Orders of
the Council provide strict
guidelines regarding the conduct of business of the Council.
by the Council are arrived at by a vote of the Members,
for or against a Motion. The President or
Chair of Committees will put the Question and will declare
whether ‘ayes’ or ‘noes’ are in the
majority. A Member who voted in the minority as declared,
may request a Division to have votes recorded.
The Bells of
the Council are rung for three minutes to summon Members
into the Chamber whereupon the doors are locked.
Those Members who are voting ‘aye’ seat themselves
to the right of the ‘Chair’ and the ‘noes’ to
the left of the ‘Chair’. Tellers are appointed
to record the names of Members voting on each side. After
reporting to the President or Chair of Committees, as the
case may be, the result of the Division is announced.
The Committee System
System plays an important part in the Legislative Council’s
role as a House of Review, in that it enables detailed
examination of selected matters or issues, the results
of which are subsequently reported to the Council, forming
an important extra element in our democratic system.
Standing Committees are appointed to regulate some of the
functions of the Council. These include the Committee of
Privileges and the Standing Orders Committee. The House of
Assembly appoints similar Committees. Three Parliamentary
Standing Committees are established by their own Statute.
These are the Public Works, Public Accounts and Subordinate
Legislation Committees. The Members of these Committees are
drawn from both Houses of the Parliament.
Joint House Sessional Committees are appointed to administer
services relating to Parliament House and grounds and the
provides a research and information service to Members
and Officers of the Parliament.
A Select Committee on Printing is appointed by the House
In keeping with the
traditional role of the Legislative Council as a House
of Review, Select Committees are periodically
established to inquire into matters of public
importance. Select Committees are ideal vehicles for objective
inquiries into these
matters and, in some cases, for gaining further information
relating to Legislation before the House.
A Committee is always required to make its report to
the Council and until it does so, the report is strictly
Its Terms of Reference are contained in the resolution appointing
it. Under Standing Orders it has powers to send for persons,
papers and records.
to the individual Legislative Council Select and Standing
Committees, there is one committee known as
the ‘Committee of the Whole’, in which all Members
can take part. This committee looks at every piece of legislation
which comes before the Council and examines each part of
it. It is presided over by the Chair of Committees.
During this time Members may speak three times on each
clause of a Bill if they feel it necessary in a debate,
a little less formal than some other procedures.
All Legislative Council debates including Committees
of the Whole are open to the media and the public.
Attendants in the Legislative Council
Council Attendants prepare the Chamber for each sitting
day. The daily Order of Business (Notice
Paper) and all Bills and Papers which are necessary during
a day’s sitting are distributed to Members in the Chamber.
Division is called in the Chamber, the Attendants open
all the doors leading into the Chamber while the Division
Bells ring. After the Division Bells have stopped ringing,
and at a command from the President, they lock all the
anyone leaving or entering the Chamber. The Attendants
re-open the doors once the Division and the counting of
the Chamber, Attendants perform general messenger and other
duties as well as assisting the Usher of the
Black Rod with the maintenance of order within the Council
which also involves a security function.
Reporting Service is responsible for the recording and
production of transcripts of Parliamentary speeches, debates
and questions. These reports are printed in a publication
known as Hansard, which is available to the public by visiting
the Parliament’s website at Http://www.parliament.tas.gov.au.
Further information can be obtained by contacting the Legislative
telephone (03) 6212 2300.
Information about the progress of Bills through the Tasmanian
Parliament can be obtained through the Bills and Papers
Office on telephone (03) 6212 2310.
Tours of Parliament House, including the Legislative Council
are held on non- sitting days at 10.00 a.m. and 2.00 p.m.
Additional information can be obtained by visiting the
Parliament’s Website at http://www.parliament.tas.gov.au.