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Thursday, 8 February 2007
Page: 8

The SPEAKER (3:15 PM) —A number of questions concerning committee practice were raised in the House and in correspondence to me in December. The questions were raised in the context of the operation of the Family and Human Services Committee inquiry into work and family balance. As a result of those questions I asked the Deputy Speaker to consider issues of committee practice and procedure and advise me on whether action is required to clarify any aspects of committee practice.

The Deputy Speaker has reported that most of the matters raised in the case were issues of administrative practice which are not closely prescribed and any attempt to do so might unduly inhibit the flexibility of committees to adapt their operations to suit the particular nature of each inquiry. The Deputy Speaker has proposed that some general principles be developed to guide committees in making decisions about how they conduct their business.

I table the Deputy Speaker’s discussion paper, which canvasses issues of general principles of committee practice and avenues for committees to seek guidance when they are uncertain or if disagreements arise. A copy of the discussion paper will be sent to each member. I encourage members and staff to consider the proposals put forward in the discussion paper and send comments and suggestions to the Deputy Speaker or the Clerk Assistant.

On the basis of comments received the Deputy Speaker intends to refine the proposals and put them to the liaison committee of chairs and deputy chairs for discussion. I also intend to ask the procedure committee to look at the quorum requirements specified in standing orders 233 and 234(c) and the operation of standing order 242 on publication of evidence. Finally, I would like to thank the Deputy Speaker for his assistance in this matter and I look forward to a positive and constructive response to the discussion paper.