Information Sheet 4 - Notice Paper

What is the Notice Paper?

The Notice Paper is an official document of the House which is issued on each sitting day, with the exception of the first sitting day of a new session. It shows all outstanding business on the Legislative Council's agenda and is prepared pursuant to Standing Order 5.10 which states that outstanding business before the House should be set out in the Notice Paper for the next day the House sits.

The Notice Paper sets out the order in which the Council's business should be transacted in accordance with the Sessional Orders which provide for precedence to be given to Government and General Business on certain days.

The Notice Paper's publication is authorised by the Clerk and in recent years has been printed on pink paper to distinguish it from other parliamentary documents.

What does the Notice Paper look like?

4-NoticePaperThe Notice Paper is divided into several principal sections, including:

  • Government Business;
  • General Business;
  • Statements on reports and papers; and
  • Questions on Notice.

In Government Business and General Business, items may be grouped under the sub-headings of Notices of Motion or Orders of the Day. A Notice of Motion is new business, of which notice to the House has been given by a Member, but which has not yet been before the House. Notices of Motion are required to be read aloud by Members during the time for giving notices each day and then appear in the following day's Notice Paper until they are moved or withdrawn by the Member.

Orders of the Day are items of business which have already been before the House and which the Council has ordered to be taken into consideration on a particular day.

Government Business

Government Business comprises any Bills or motions introduced by Members of the Government party. Standing Order 5.06 states that Government Business takes precedence over all other business, with the exception of the following business:

  • motions for the adoption of the Address in Reply to the Governor’s Speech (pursuant to Standing Order 1.10);
  • special business (pursuant to Standing Order 5.08); and
  • urgency motions (pursuant to Standing Order 6.09).

Government Business takes precedence, from the conclusion of Members’ Statements until the Adjournment on Tuesday, from the conclusion of General Business until the Adjournment on Wednesday, and from the conclusion of Members’ Statements until the Adjournment on Thursday, except for the time allowed for Questions which commences at 12.00 p.m. If the Council sits on Friday, Formal Business, Questions without Notice and Government Business are the only business transacted.

General Business

General Business is business initiated by non-Government Members of the Legislative Council. Under Standing Orders, General Business takes precedence over Government Business on Wednesdays with no overall time limit for General Business. There are, however, limits on the time that most General Business remains on the Notice Paper. A General Business Notice of Motion or Order of the Day, other than consideration of a Bill, will be discharged from the Notice Paper after it has been listed for twenty consecutive sitting days.1

Statements on reports and papers

At 5.30 p.m. on a Wednesday, precedence is given for up to 60 minutes once a week for Members to make statements on a report or paper which has been tabled in the Council. Members must give at least one day's notice of their intention to make a statement. The reports or papers proposed for discussion each Wednesday are listed on the Notice Paper. Members are limited to a maximum of five minutes when making such statements.

Questions on Notice

The Questions on Notice section is at the end of the Notice Paper. Questions on Notice are written requests for information directed to Ministers. (For more detailed information, refer to Legislative Council Information Sheet No. 3: Questions) Questions are lodged with the Table Office, checked by the Clerks and published in full on the Notice Paper in the order they were received by that Office. Standing Order 8.11 requires questions to be answered within 30 days. Answers are circulated in the House at the conclusion of Question Time each day. A list of the number of questions that have not yet been answered also appears in the Notice Paper.

Is there any other information in the Notice Paper?

The Deputy President and Acting Presidents are listed on the Notice Paper, as are the names of the Members appointed to any parliamentary committees.

The Sessional Orders regarding the House's sitting arrangements for each Session, including the times of the House's meetings and the routine of business, are also published in each Notice Paper.

Is the Notice Paper a step-by-step guide to how the day's business will be transacted?

Activities are grouped together on the Notice Paper to indicate whether they fall under the realm of Government, General or other business; however, the Notice Paper is not a complete guide to the business of the day. Much of the House's formal business, such as the reading of Messages from the Governor or the Assembly, the giving of notices, the presentation of petitions, the tabling of reports and other papers and the moving of various motions, are not listed.

Within each section, the Notice Paper sets out an order of business. However, this is not a definitive guide to the sequence that the House will follow as business may be rearranged with the agreement of the House. The order in which items in the General Business section are dealt with may also be altered if the House chooses to do so. For these reasons, on each sitting day a less formal document called the ‘daily blue' is produced. (This document has been produced since the Spring Session of 1981. Its title relates to the colour of the paper on which it is always printed.) This is an internal supplement to the Notice Paper, containing additional information about the day's business.

Will all the business listed in the Notice Paper be transacted by the Council on that sitting day?

While, theoretically, all of the business specified on the Notice Paper can be transacted on that day, in practice this does not occur. The Notice Paper usually lists considerably more business than can reasonably be transacted each sitting day. Therefore, many of the items will carry on to subsequent Notice Papers until they are completed, or disposed of.

Who prepares the Notice Paper?

Staff in the Table Office are responsible for preparing the Notice Paper progressively as the House proceeds through its business. Throughout the day, the document is checked by the Assistant Clerks, and once approved by the Clerk at the end of the day, it is then printed for distribution the next morning. At the end of each session all of the Minutes and the Notice Papers for the session are bound together in the Minutes of the Proceedings Bound Volumes.

History of the Notice Paper

The 'Notice Paper' is an informal name for the Notices of Motion and Orders of the Day, which is the full term used in reference to the sitting agenda. This was taken from the United Kingdom Parliament and remains the title used in the House of Lords. At the commencement of the Spring Session of 1977 the Legislative Council decided that the commonly used and simpler expression of Notice Paper should be adopted as the document's title. The Australian Senate also uses the term Notice Paper, although some of the other State legislatures have continued to use the longer title.

notice_paper_page1895

From 1851 until 1882, the Notice Paper was not a separate document, but appeared at the end of the Council's Minutes of the Proceedings, which is the formal record of the passage of business drawn up at the conclusion of each day. The practice of combining the documentation at all stages remains in use in the House of Lords today, which issues a Minutes and Orders of the Day containing both the Minutes of a sitting day and Notices for the next sitting day.

The Legislative Council, however, moved away from this system. After November 1882, the Notices of Motion and Orders of the Day did not appear in the bound volumes which provide the formal record of the Council's proceedings. This continued until June 1891, when the third session of the Fourteenth Parliament began. From this time the Legislative Council's Minutes of the Proceedings bound volumes again contained a record of the Notices of Motion and Orders of the Day . However, by this stage, the Notices of Motion and Orders of the Day were initially printed as a separate document, then bound with the Minutes of the Proceedings in the final official record.

Footnote

  1. The same limits apply to Government Business other than consideration of a Bill.

Prepared by: Table Office
Department of the Legislative Council
Parliament of Victoria
Re-issued March 2011