President of the Senate (Australia)

The President of the Senate is the presiding officer of the Australian Senate, the upper house of the Parliament of Australia.

President of the Senate
Incumbent
The Hon Scott Ryan

since 13 November 2017
StyleThe Honourable
AppointerElected by the Senate
Inaugural holderSir Richard Baker
Formation9 May 1901
DeputySenator Sue Lines
SalaryA$369,674
Websiteaph.gov.au
This article is part of a series on the
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The position is provided for by Section 17 of the Constitution of Australia. The Senate elects one of its members as president at the start of each new term, or whenever the position is vacant. This is usually—though not necessarily—a member of the party or coalition that holds the most seats in the Senate. The largest party in the Senate is not always the governing party, as government is determined by the House of Representatives. The President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives may consequently be from different parties.

The President of the Senate's primary task is to maintain parliamentary procedure in the chamber during legislative sessions. Unlike the Speaker of the House, he or she votes as an ordinary member during general debate, and has no casting vote in the case of a tie. The President of Senate has also various administrative and ceremonial duties, sharing responsibility for the management of Parliament House and other parliamentary facilities and services with the Speaker of the House.

Election

Constitutional provisions

Section 17 of the Constitution of Australia provides:[1]

The Senate shall, before proceeding to the despatch of any other business, choose a senator to be the President of the Senate; and as often as the office of President becomes vacant the Senate shall again choose a senator to be the President. The President shall cease to hold his office if he ceases to be a senator. He may be removed from office by a vote of the Senate, or he may resign his office or his seat by writing addressed to the Governor-General.

Process

The President is elected by the Senate in a secret ballot. The Clerk conducts the election. The Presidency has always been a partisan office and the nominee of the government party has nearly always been elected—although this cannot be guaranteed since the government of the day does not necessarily have a majority in the Senate. The President is assisted by an elected Deputy President. The traditional practice has been that the government nominates a Senator to be elected as President, and the Opposition nominates a Senator to be Deputy President. If there are no other nominations, no election is required, however the Australian Greens in 2005 and again in 2007 put forward Senator Kerry Nettle as a rival candidate when the position of President was vacant. Neither Government nor Opposition Senators supported that candidacy.[2]

Role

Parliamentary duties

The President's principal duty is to preside over the Senate, to maintain order in the Senate, uphold the Standing Orders (rules of procedure) and protect the rights of backbench Senators. He or she is assisted by the Deputy President and a panel of Acting Deputy presidents, who usually preside during routine debates.

Although the President does not have the same degree of disciplinary power as the Speaker does, the Senate is not as rowdy as most Australian legislative chambers, and thus his or her disciplinary powers are seldom exercised.

Unlike the Speaker the President has a deliberative, but not a casting vote (in the event of an equality of votes, the motion fails). This is because the Senate is in theory a states' house, and depriving the President of a deliberative vote would have robbed one of the states or territories one of its Senators' votes.

Administrative duties

The senate president is the chief executive of the Department of the Senate, which is one of the four parliamentary departments. He or she chairs the department's budget committee and oversees its organisational structure. The president also co-administers the Department of Parliament Services (DPS) with the Speaker of the House of Representatives.[3]

Ceremonial duties

The President of the Senate is ranked highly in the Commonwealth Table of Precedence, either before or after the Speaker of the House of Representatives depending on seniority. He or she participates in the state opening of parliament, represents the parliament on overseas visits, and receives visiting delegations from other countries (and other distinguished visitors).[3]

Salary

As with all other parliamentarians, the President of the Senate's salary is determined by the Remuneration Tribunal, an independent statutory body. As of 1 July 2019, the base salary for senators is A$211,242. The President is entitled to an additional "salary of office" comprising 75% of the base salary ($158,432), making for a total salary of $369,674 per annum. He or she also receives the various other entitlements and allowances available to senators.[4]

List of Presidents of the Senate

The position of President of the Senate has been disproportionately held by Senators representing the least populous states and territories. There have been 25 presidents of the Senate since 1901. Of these 15 have come from the least populous states (Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania) or the Australian Capital Territory, and 10 have come from the three most populous states (New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland). All senate presidents have been members of major parties, though not necessarily the governing party.

# Name Party State Term start Term end
1Sir Richard Baker Free TradeSouth Australia9 May 190131 December 1906
2(Sir) Albert Gould Free Trade /
Anti-Socialist
New South Wales20 February 190730 June 1910
 Liberal
3Harry Turley LaborQueensland1 July 19108 July 1913
4Thomas Givens LaborQueensland9 July 191330 June 1926
 National Labor
 Nationalist
5Sir John Newlands NationalistSouth Australia1 July 192613 August 1929
6Walter Kingsmill NationalistWestern Australia14 August 192930 August 1932
 United Australia
7Patrick Lynch United AustraliaWestern Australia31 August 193230 June 1938
8John Hayes United AustraliaTasmania1 July 193830 June 1941
9James Cunningham LaborWestern Australia1 July 19414 July 1943
10Gordon Brown LaborQueensland23 September 194319 March 1951
11Ted Mattner LiberalSouth Australia12 June 19517 September 1953
12(Sir) Alister McMullin LiberalNew South Wales8 September 195330 June 1971
13Sir Magnus Cormack LiberalVictoria17 August 197111 April 1974
14Justin O'Byrne LaborTasmania9 July 197411 November 1975
15(Sir) Condor Laucke LiberalSouth Australia17 February 197630 June 1981
16(Sir) Harold Young LiberalSouth Australia18 August 19814 February 1983
17Doug McClelland LaborNew South Wales21 April 198323 January 1987
18Kerry Sibraa LaborNew South Wales17 February 198731 January 1994
19Michael Beahan LaborWestern Australia1 February 199430 June 1996
20Margaret Reid LiberalACT20 August 199618 August 2002
21Paul Calvert LiberalTasmania19 August 200214 August 2007
22Alan Ferguson LiberalSouth Australia14 August 200725 August 2008
23John Hogg LaborQueensland26 August 200830 June 2014
24Stephen Parry LiberalTasmania7 July 20142 November 2017
25Scott Ryan LiberalVictoria13 November 2017Incumbent

Deputy President

As well as a president, the Senate also elects a Deputy President, whose formal title is Deputy President and Chairman of Committees. Until 1981, the title was just Chairman of Committees; it was changed "to reflect more accurately the nature of the office in practice". The position is not provided for by the constitution, but instead by the Senate's standing orders – it was borrowed more or less directly from the colonial legislative councils.[5] The deputy president's main tasks are to preside over committees of the whole and to serve as presiding officer when the President of the Senate is absent.[6][7]

List

There have been 36 Deputy Presidents of the Senate, two of whom served multiple non-consecutive terms.[8]

# Name Party State Term start Term end
1Robert Best ProtectionistVictoria9 May 190131 December 1903
2William Higgs LaborQueensland16 March 190431 December 1906
3George Pearce LaborWestern Australia21 February 190713 November 1908
4Henry Dobson Anti-SocialistTasmania25 November 190830 June 1910
 Liberal
5David O'Keefe LaborTasmania1 July 191030 July 1914
6George Henderson LaborWestern Australia9 October 191430 June 1917
 National Labor
 Nationalist
7John Shannon NationalistSouth Australia12 July 191730 June 1920
8Thomas Bakhap NationalistTasmania21 July 192030 June 1923
9John Newlands NationalistSouth Australia5 July 192330 June 1926
10William Plain NationalistVictoria1 July 192630 June 1932
 United Australia
11Herbert Hays United AustraliaTasmania1 September 193223 September 1935
12Burford Sampson United AustraliaTasmania24 September 193530 June 1938
13James McLachlan United AustraliaSouth Australia1 July 193830 June 1941
14Gordon Brown LaborQueensland1 July 194122 September 1943
15Ben Courtice LaborQueensland23 September 19431 November 1946
16Theo Nicholls LaborSouth Australia6 November 194619 March 1951
17George Rankin CountryVictoria12 June 195130 June 1953
18Albert Reid CountryNew South Wales8 September 195322 May 1962†
19Gerald McKellar CountryNew South Wales7 August 196221 December 1964
20Tom Drake-Brockman CountryWestern Australia16 March 196511 November 1969
21Tom Bull CountryNew South Wales25 November 196930 June 1971
22Edgar Prowse CountryWestern Australia17 August 197131 December 1973
23James Webster Country /
National Country
Victoria5 March 197421 December 1975
Tom Drake-Brockman National CountryWestern Australia17 February 197630 June 1978
24Douglas Scott National CountryNew South Wales15 August 197810 December 1979
25Ron Maunsell National CountryQueensland19 February 198030 June 1981
26Doug McClelland LaborNew South Wales20 August 19814 February 1983
27David Hamer LiberalVictoria21 April 198330 June 1990
28Mal Colston LaborQueensland21 August 199016 August 1993
29Noel Crichton-Browne LiberalWestern Australia17 August 19939 May 1995
30Margaret Reid LiberalACT9 May 199520 August 1996
Mal Colston IndependentQueensland20 August 19966 May 1997
31Sue West LaborNew South Wales6 May 199730 June 2002
32John Hogg LaborQueensland19 August 200225 August 2008
33Alan Ferguson LiberalSouth Australia26 August 200830 June 2011
34Stephen Parry LiberalTasmania4 July 20116 July 2014
35Gavin Marshall LaborVictoria7 July 20149 May 2016
36Sue Lines LaborWestern Australia30 September 2016Incumbent

See also

References

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