It’s been a challenging years so far, but the House has still managed to deal with a significant amount of business. Let’s have a look at some key statistics to see how the first half of 2020 is shaping up!

Sitting days

COVID-19 arrangements required the House to suspend business for a period (see Special Adjournment of the House) – in total, the House missed six scheduled sitting days. However, members have worked hard to resolve the business prevented by pandemic isolation with the House sitting passed 10.00 pm on six of the eight sitting days since parliament was recalled this year. More than half of the these sittings continued until midnight.

Government Legislation

The new composition of the House following last year’s election has continued to influence trends in the passage of legislation in the Upper House. As readers will be aware, the Government currently needs the votes of five members from other parties to pass its legislative agenda.

Government Bills Graph* Year to date

So far this year 14 bills have been passed, one of which originated in the Council. While the graph above shows that the number of government bills agreed to has reduced this parliament, it also shows that most bills passed are amended. The graph below shows a breakdown of the number of amendments circulated, moved and agreed to.

Amendments to bills* Year to date

Private members’ motions

A notable trend for this year, continuing a trend from 2019, is a shift in the way the House considers private members’ motions – those not moved by a minister, usually by non-government members of the House.

The table below shows that  the number of motions passed  as formal business (without debate), has reduced dramatically, but the number of motions debated in the House has increased. This trend began in 2019 following the introduction the new “short-form format”. Under that sessional order, private member’ motions,  which would ordinarily be allocated up to 2 hours for debate, can be resolved in 30 minutes or less. The procedure has enabled the House to debate a greater volume of private members’ business. Further information about this  sessional order can be found in the sessional orders blog post of 15 August 2019.

Private Members Business* Year to date

The composition of the House has also influenced trends in the volume of petitions members have presented on behalf of constituents. Stay tuned for more on this in next week’s blog post!


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