Interesting question! All decisions of the Australian Parliament, in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, begin as motions. A motion is a formal proposal made by a member or senator asking the House of Representatives or Senate to take action of some kind. Decisions in the Parliament are made by agreeing to a motion. For instance, the House and the Senate pass bills (proposed laws) by agreeing to a series of motions. For example, ‘That the bill be now read a second time’. Motions are used to refer matters to a committee for investigation or to seek the support of the House or Senate for an issue of domestic or foreign policy or recognition of a particular achievement or event. Procedural motions help run the meetings of both chambers. For example, ‘That the debate be adjourned’, ‘That the business of the day be called on’, ‘That (an item of business) be postponed to the next sitting’.
In order for the House to consider a motion, firstly a member must move the motion and usually another member must second it. The Speaker then puts the motion, or question, to the House, which debates and votes on the question. If the House agrees to the motion, then all members of the House must accept that decision. A similar procedure is followed in the Senate.
To find out more about motions in the House, check chapter 10 of the Standing Orders (rules) of the House of Representatives. To find out more about motions in the Senate, check chapters 13 and 14 of the Standing Orders of the Senate.