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10       COVID-19—Select Committee—Appointment

Senator Gallagher, moved—

(1)               That a select committee, to be known as the Select Committee on COVID-19, be established to inquire into and report on:

(a)                  the Australian Government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic; and

(b)                  any related matters.

(2)              That the committee present its final report on or before 30 June 2022.

(3)              That the committee consist of 7 senators, as follows:

(a)                  3 nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate;

(b)                  2 nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate;

(c)                  1 nominated by the Leader of the Australian Greens; and

(d)                 Senator Jacqui Lambie.

(4)             That:

(a)                  participating members may be appointed to the committee on the nomination of the Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate or any minority party or independent senator; and

(b)                  participating members may participate in hearings of evidence and deliberations of the committee, and have all the rights of members of the committee, but may not vote on any questions before the committee; and

(c)                  a participating member shall be taken to be a member of a committee for the purpose of forming a quorum of the committee if a majority of members of the committee is not present.

(5)              That the committee may proceed to the dispatch of business notwithstanding that not all members have been duly nominated and appointed and notwithstanding any vacancy.

(6)             That the committee elect as chair one of the members nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and as deputy chair a member nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

(7)              That the deputy chair shall act as chair when the chair is absent from a meeting of the committee or the position of chair is temporarily vacant.

(8)             That, in the event of an equality of voting, the chair, or the deputy chair when acting as chair, have a casting vote.

(9)             That the committee have power to appoint subcommittees consisting of 3 or more of its members, and to refer to any such subcommittee any of the matters which the committee is empowered to consider.

(10)          That the committee and any subcommittee have power to send for and examine persons and documents, to move from place to place, to sit in public or in private, notwithstanding any prorogation of the Parliament or dissolution of the House of Representatives, and have leave to report from time to time its proceedings and the evidence taken and such interim recommendations as it may deem fit.

(11)            That the committee be provided with all necessary staff, facilities and resources and be empowered to appoint persons with specialist knowledge for the purposes of the committee with the approval of the President.

(12)           That the committee be empowered to print from day to day such papers and evidence as may be ordered by it, and a daily Hansard be published of such proceedings as take place in public.

Debate ensued.

The Leader of the Australian Greens in the Senate (Senator Waters) moved the following amendment:

Omit all words after “That”, substitute:

(1)               Joint select committees be established, to be known as:

(a)                  the Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic Health Response; and

(b)                  the Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic Economic Response.

(2)              The Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic Health Response inquire into and report on:

(a)                  the measures taken by the Government to address the health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic;

(b)                  the operation and administration of:

(i)                    the National Cabinet;

(ii)                  the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee;

(iii)                the Office of the Chief Medical Officer;

(iv)                other entities and individuals advising the above;

(c)                  such other matters in relation to the Government’s response to the health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic as may be referred to it by either House of the Parliament; and

(d)                 any related matters.

(3)              The Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic Economic Response inquire into and report on:

(a)                  the measures taken by the Government to address the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic;

(b)                  the operation and administration of:

(i)                    the National Cabinet;

(ii)                  the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission;

(iii)                other entities and individuals advising the above;

(c)                  such other matters in relation to the Government’s response to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic as may be referred to it by either House of the Parliament; and

(d)                 any related matters.

(4)             Each committee present an interim report by 31 May 2021.

(5)              Each committee present its final report by the last sitting day in May 2022.

(6)             Each committee consist of 11 members as follows:

(a)                  2 Members of the House of Representatives to be nominated by the Government Whip or Whips;

(b)                  2 Senators to be nominated by the Government Whip or Whips;

(c)                  2 Members of the House of Representatives to be nominated by the Opposition Whip or Whips;

(d)                 1 Senator to be nominated by the Opposition Whip or Whips;

(e)                  1 Member of the House of Representatives or Senator to be nominated by the Leader of the Australian Greens;

(f)                   2 Members of the House of Representatives to be nominated by any minority group or independent; and

(g)                  1 Senator to be nominated by any minority group or independent.

(7)              In relation to the Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic Health Response, members and senators appointed to the committee must be those with backgrounds in the following fields:

(a)                  medicine;

(b)                  nursing;

(c)                  mental health;

(d)                 health policy;

(e)                  health administration;

(f)                   public health;

(g)                  allied health;

(h)                 aged care;

(i)                    disability services; and

(j)                    science and research.

(8)             If the House of the respective member to be appointed is not sitting and that House is not expected to meet for at least one week:

(a)                  members may be appointed to or discharged from either committee by nomination in writing to the President and the Speaker, with such change in membership to take effect from the time either presiding officer receives the written notification; and

(b)                  at the next sitting, the President and the Speaker shall report the change to their respective House.

(9)             If the House of the respective member to be appointed is sitting, every nomination of a member of either committee be notified in writing to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

(10)          The members of each committee hold office as a joint select committee until the House of Representatives is dissolved or expires by effluxion of time.

(11)            Each committee elect as chair an Opposition, minority group or independent member of either House.

(12)           Each committee elect as deputy chair a Government member of either House.

(13)           In relation to each committee, in the event of an equally divided vote, the chair, or the deputy chair when acting as chair, shall have a casting vote.

(14)          In relation to each committee, the deputy chair shall act as chair of the committee at any time when the chair is not present at a meeting of the committee, and at any time when the chair and deputy chair are not present at a meeting of the committee the members present shall elect another member to act as chair at that meeting.

(15)           In relation to each committee, three members of the committee constitute a quorum of the committee, provided that in a deliberative meeting the quorum shall include one Government member of either House and one non-Government member of either House.

(16)          Each committee:

(a)                  have power to appoint subcommittees consisting of three or more of its members and to refer to any subcommittee any matter which the committee is empowered to examine; and

(a)                  appoint the chair of each subcommittee who shall have a casting vote only.

(17)           A subcommittee of either committee shall have at least one Government member of either House and one non-Government member of either House.

(18)          At any time when the chair of a subcommittee of either committee is not present at a meeting of the subcommittee, the members of the subcommittee present shall elect another member of that subcommittee to act as chair at that meeting.

(19)          Two members of a subcommittee of either committee constitute a quorum of that subcommittee, provided that in a deliberative meeting the quorum shall comprise one Government member of either House and one non-Government member of either House;

(20)         Members of a committee who are not members of a subcommittee may participate in the proceedings of that subcommittee but shall not vote, move any motion or be counted for the purpose of a quorum.

(21)           Each committee or any subcommittee of that committee have power to:

(a)                  call for witnesses to attend and for documents to be produced;

(b)                  conduct proceedings at any place it sees fit;

(c)                  sit in public or in private;

(d)                 report from time to time; and

(e)                  adjourn from time to time and sit during any adjournment of the House of Representatives and the Senate;

(22)          The provisions of this resolution, so far as they are inconsistent with the standing orders, have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the standing orders; and

(23)          A message be sent to the House of Representatives seeking its concurrence in this resolution.

Debate ensued.

Question—That the amendment be agreed to—put and negatived. All Australian Greens and Centre Alliance senators, by leave, recorded their votes for the ayes.

Main question put and passed.

a8b23acd-9b78-4479-89d5-723f3ae61f94 487682ba-3b9f-4bc8-b288-843cce7648b9 Suspension of sitting : On the motion of the Minister for Finance (Senator Cormann) the sitting of the Senate was suspended at 4.35 pm till the ringing of the bells.