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§ 99. “Shall become Vacant.”

The Queensland Constitution Act, 1867, sec. 23, provides that if a member of the Legislative Council should, for two successive sessions of the Legislature of the colony, fail to give his attendance in the Council without the permission of Her Majesty or of the Governor of the Colony, signified by the Governor to the Council, his seat in the Council shall become vacant. A Councillor absented himself during the whole of three sessions, having previously obtained leave of absence for a year, which period of time, in the event, covered the whole of the first and part of the second session. The Privy Council held that his seat was vacated on the ground that the permission did not cover two successive sessions. (Att. -Gen. [Queensland] v. Gibbon, 12 App. Cas. 442.)

Vacancy by absence.

20. The place of a senator shall become vacant if for two consecutive months of any session of the Parliament he, without the permission of the Senate, fails to attend the Senate.

CANADA.—The place of a senator shall become vacant … if for two consecutive sessions of the Parliament he fails to give his attendance in the Senate.—B.N.A. Act, 1867, sec. 31.

HISTORICAL NOTE.—A similar clause is in the Constitutions of all the Australian colonies. In the Commonwealth Bill of 1891, the clause was the same except that the absence specified was “for one whole session of the Parliament,” and that the permission of the Senate was to be “entered on its journals.” (Conv. Deb., Syd. [1891], p. 611.) At the Adelaide session, 1897, it was introduced in the same words. In Committee, on Mr. Gordon's motion, “two consecutive months of any session” was substituted for “one


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whole session” (Conv. Deb., Adel., p. 680.) At the Sydney session, a suggestion by the Tasmanian House of Assembly to substitute “thirty consecutive sitting days in any session” was negatived. At the Melbourne session, after the fourth report, the words “entered on its journals” were omitted.

Vacancy to be notified.

21. Whenever a vacancy happens in the Senate, the President, or if there is no President or if the President is absent from the Commonwealth the Governor-General, shall notify the same to the Governor of the State in the representation of which the vacancy has happened.

HISTORICAL NOTE.—The clause in the Commonwealth Bill of 1891 was substantially in the same words, and was adopted verbatim at the Adelaide session (1897). (Conv. Deb., Adel., p. 680.) At the Sydney session Mr. Glynn suggested that there should be a resolution of the Senate declaring the vacancy. This, however, was thought unnecessary. The word “forthwith,” before “notify,” was omitted as unnecessary. (Conv. Deb., Syd. [1897], pp. 990–1.) At the Melbourne session, before the first report, a drafting amendment was made.

Quorum100.

22. Until the Parliament otherwise provides, the presence of at least one-third of the whole number of the senators shall be necessary to constitute a meeting of the Senate for the exercise of its powers.

UNITED STATES.—A majority of each House shall constitute a quorum to do business; but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the attendance of absent members, in such manner, and under such penalties, as each House may provide.—Const. Art. I., sec. 5, sub-s. 1. CANADA.—Until the Parliament of Canada otherwise provides, the presence of at least fifteen senators, including the Speaker, shall be necessary to constitute a meeting of the Senate for the exercise of its powers.—B.N.A. Act, 1867, sec. 35.

HISTORICAL NOTE.—In the Commonwealth Bill of 1891 the clause was in the same form, with the addition, after “senators,” of the words “as provided by the Constitution.” At the Adelaide session, 1897, the clause was introduced in the same form, except that the words “until the Parliament otherwise provides” were omitted. In Committee, on Mr. Gordon's motion, the words “as provided by this Constitution” were omitted. (Conv. Deb., Adel., p. 682.) At the Sydney session, on the motion of Mr. Higgins, the words “until the Parliament otherwise provides” were inserted. (Conv. Deb., Syd. [1897], pp. 991–2.)

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