Fact Sheet D1
Summary: Motions are proposals that the Assembly can make a decision on. Members can move motions on a variety of topics including parliamentary committees, to set the agenda for the week, or simply to note a certain event. This fact sheet gives members practical advice on moving, debating, and voting on motions in the Assembly.
|Debating a motion
Amending a motion
Adjourning or ending debate on a motion
Voting on a motion
The Legislative Assembly makes decisions by debating and voting on matters proposed by members. These proposals are called motions.
Even when members are debating a bill they are debating special types of motions.
To find out more about debating bills: Fact Sheet C1: How a Bill becomes Law.
This fact sheet focusses on the other types of motions the Assembly debates.
Usually, you must give notice to the Assembly that you plan to move a motion on a future sitting day. You can also ask for leave to move a motion immediately, see ‘Moving a motion — By leave’ below for more.
If you are not a minister you must give notice in writing. To do this, hand a copy of your notice of motion to the Clerks at the table before the Speaker calls for notices during formal business.
If you are a minister you must give notice of your motion verbally during formal business. You must also give a written copy of your notice to the Clerks at the table before the Speaker calls for notices. Once the Speaker calls for notices, seek the call to give your notice verbally, by reading it aloud.
All notices are published on the notice paper.
You must move your motion in order for it to be debated. You can move your motion in one of two ways, explained below.
If you have given notice of your motion, it will be listed on the notice paper, and you may be able to move and debate it (see ‘Giving notice of a motion’ above for more on giving notice).
If you are a minister your notice of motion is listed on the notice paper as ‘Government Business’. If you are not a minister your notice of motion is listed on the notice paper as ‘General Business’.
General Business is only debated if all Government Business is completed. This rarely occurs, so if you are not a minister it is very unlikely that you will be able to move and debate your motion.
To move your motion you must wait until the Assembly has completed or adjourned any items before it on the notice paper. Once this happens, the Chair will call you to speak. You may stand and move your motion by reading it as it is printed in the notice paper. You can now debate your motion.
You can move a motion without notice on the condition that all members agree to allow it. This is called getting ‘leave’. You can only do this during formal business, or when the Assembly is moving from one business item to another (sometimes called a ‘break in business’).
To move a motion by leave, you must seek the call and ask for leave to move your motion immediately by saying:
I move, by leave, that [insert motion here] OR
I seek leave to move that [insert motion here].
The Chair will ask members present if leave is granted. Leave is granted if no members oppose you moving your motion immediately. If leave is granted you can move and debate your motion immediately.
If any member disagrees, leave is not granted, and you cannot move your motion.You may still give notice of your motion on the next sitting day.
Your motion must:
- be framed in such a way that the Assembly can vote upon it
- be a single sentence
- refer to members by their proper titles
- be no longer than 50 words (unless it is a complex procedural motion or a motion to establish, appoint members to, or refer a matter to, a committee).
Your motion must not:
- relate to a matter before the courts
- be a series of questions
- be a statement
- be the same in substance as a motion already resolved during the current session, or already listed on the notice paper
- contain argument, evidence or statements supporting the substance of the motion
- contain offensive, disorderly or unbecoming words
- be frivolous or contain frivolous content.
The Clerks check notices of motion before they are published in the notice paper, and may amend notices at the Speaker’s direction.
Once you have moved a motion the Assembly can debate it, amend it, postpone it, and vote on it. General business motions (motions moved by anyone other than a minister) are rarely debated.
The time you can speak depends on the type of motion. See the table over page.
Types of motions and speaking times
Type of motion
Maximum time for mover
Maximum time for other speakers
|Substantive motions, for example:
||30 minutes, and 15 minutes to reply||30 minutes for responding lead speaker from government/opposition, 20 minutes for lead speaker from any other party, 10 minutes for any other member|
Procedural motions, for example:
Total debate time limited to 30 minutes
|Want of confidence motions||Unlimited||Unlimited for opposition lead speaker, one hour for lead speaker from any other party, 15 minutes for any other member|
|Address-in-reply to the Governor’s speech||20 minutes||20 minutes for seconder, 15 minutes for any other member|
You can move to amend a motion once it is being debated. Your amendments must be a proposal to:
- leave out certain words
- leave out words and insert other words in their place, or
- insert words.
You should give amendments to the Clerk in writing, and any amendment you propose must be relevant to the original motion.
If you wish to amend a motion please contact the clerks for advice.
See also for information on amending bills:
Fact Sheet C4: Amendments to Bills — A Practical Guide
Fact Sheet C5: Reasoned Amendments
You can ask the Assembly to adjourn (postpone) debate on a motion by moving the following motion:
I move that the debate be adjourned.
You do not need to give notice, but you can only move this motion when no other member is speaking, and only if a motion to adjourn debate has not been defeated in the last 15 minutes. If you have already spoken on the motion, you cannot move to adjourn debate.
If the Assembly disagrees with the motion to adjourn, then debate continues on the original motion.
This type of motion is commonly used when a member wants to postpone the second reading debate on a bill.
If you want the Assembly to end debate and decide on a motion immediately you can move a closure motion. You can move a closure motion at any time without leave, even when another member is speaking.
The only restrictions are that the motion:
1. cannot be moved if a previous closure motion has been defeated in the last 15 minutes
2. can only be moved if the Speaker or Deputy Speaker is in the Chair
3. must not be an abuse of the rules of the Assembly
4. must not deny the rights of the minority
5. must not be used to obstruct business.
You can move a closure motion by saying:
I move that the question be now put.
The Chair will only accept the closure motion if it does not violate points three to five above. This is entirely at the Chair’s discretion.
If the closure motion passes, the Chair will immediately ask the Assembly to decide on the original motion. If the closure motion does not pass, debate on the original motion continues.
The Assembly decides on a motion by voting on it. The Chair will ask the Assembly to vote on a motion, called ‘putting the question’ if one of the following things occurs:
- no member seeks the call to speak, that is, debate finishes
- the mover of the original motion has spoken in reply to the other speakers
- the Assembly agrees to a closure motion (see above)
- the agreed time allotted for debate has ended
- the government business program ‘guillotine’ time has arrived (see Fact Sheet A4: Government Business Program).
Find out more: Fact Sheet D2: Divisions
Voting on amendments to a motion
The Chair will put the question on each proposed amendment to the Assembly. For example, if an amendment sought to insert words the Chair would put the question:
That such words be inserted.
The Assembly decides on the amendment by voting on this question.
Once all amendments have been dealt with, the Chair puts the question on the original motion, including any amendments that were agreed to. Most often, this question is:
That the motion be agreed to.
- Last Updated: Thursday, 12 January 2017 09:54