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Chapter 5 Standing And Select Committees: 25 Legislative And General Purpose



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CHAPTER 5

STANDING AND SELECT COMMITTEES

Standing committees

  1. Legislative and general purpose

(1) At the commencement of each Parliament, legislative and general purpose standing committees shall be appointed, as follows:

Community Affairs

Economics

Employment, Workplace Relations and Education

Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts

Finance and Public Administration

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade

Legal and Constitutional Affairs

Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport.

(2) The committees shall inquire into and report upon:

(a) matters referred to them by the Senate, including estimates of expenditure in accordance with standing order 26, bills or draft bills, annual reports in accordance with paragraph (20); and

(b) the performance of departments and agencies allocated to them.

(3) References concerning departments and agencies shall be allocated to the committees in accordance with a resolution of the Senate allocating departments and agencies to the committees.

(4) The committees shall inquire into and report upon matters referred to their predecessor committees appointed under this standing order and not disposed of by those committees, and in considering those matters may consider the evidence and records of those committees relating to those matters.

(5) The committees shall consist of 8 senators, 4 nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, 3 nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and one nominated by minority groups and independent senators.

(6) (a) The committees to which minority groups and independent senators make nominations shall be determined by agreement between the minority groups and independent senators, and, in the absence of agreement duly notified to the President, any question of the representation on a committee shall be determined by the Senate.

(b) The allocation of places on the committees amongst minority groups and independent senators shall be as nearly as practicable proportional to the numbers of those minority groups and independent senators in the Senate.

(7) (a) Senators may be appointed to the committees as substitutes for members of the committees in respect of particular matters before the committees.

(b) On the nominations of the Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and minority groups and independent senators, participating members may be appointed to the committees.

  1. Participating members may participate in hearings of evidence and deliberations of the committees, and have all the rights of members of committees, but may not vote on any questions before the committees.
  2. 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.

(8) A committee may appoint sub-committees consisting of 3 or more of its members, and refer to any such sub-committee any of the matters which the committee is empowered to consider.

(9) (a) Each committee shall elect as its chair a member nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

(b) Each of 6 committees shall elect as its deputy chair a member nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, and each of 2 committees shall elect as its deputy chair a member of a minority group in the Senate.

(c) The deputy chairs to which members nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and members of minority groups are elected shall be determined by agreement between the opposition and minority groups, and, in the absence of agreement duly notified to the President, any question of the allocation of chairs shall be determined by the Senate.

(d) Each committee shall elect one of its members as its deputy chair, and the member so elected shall act as the chair of the committee when the member elected as chair is absent from a meeting of the committee or the position of chair is temporarily vacant.

  1. When votes on a question before a committee are equally divided, the chair, or the deputy chair when acting as chair, shall have a casting vote.
  2. The chair, or the deputy chair when acting as chair, may appoint another member of a committee to act as chair during the temporary absence of both the chair and deputy chair at a meeting of the committee.

(10) The chairs and deputy chairs of the committees, together with the chairs and deputy chairs of any select committees appointed by the Senate, shall constitute the Chairs’ Committee, which may meet with the Deputy President in the chair, and may consider and report to the Senate on any matter relating to the operations of the committees.

(11) Except as otherwise provided by the standing orders, the reference of a matter to a committee shall be on motion after notice, and such notice of motion may be given:

(a) in the usual manner when notices are given; or

(b) at any other time by a senator:

(i) stating its terms to the Senate, when no other business is before the chair, or

(ii) delivering a copy to the Clerk, who shall report it to the Senate at the first opportunity;

and shall be placed on the Notice Paper for the next sitting day as business of the Senate and, as such, shall take precedence of government and general business set down for that day.

(12) Matters referred to the committees should relate to subjects which can be dealt with expeditiously.

(13) A committee shall take care not to inquire into any matters which are being examined by a select committee of the Senate appointed to inquire into such matters and any question arising in this connection may be referred to the Senate for determination.

(14) A committee and any sub-committee shall have power to send for persons and documents, to move from place to place, and to meet and transact business in public or private session and notwithstanding any prorogation of the Parliament or dissolution of the House of Representatives.

(15) All documents received by a committee during an inquiry shall remain in the custody of the Senate after the completion of that inquiry.

(16) A committee shall be empowered to print from day to day any of its documents and evidence. A daily Hansard shall be published of public proceedings of a committee.

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

(18) A committee may report from time to time its proceedings and evidence taken and any recommendations, and shall make regular reports on the progress of its proceedings.

(19) A committee may authorise the broadcasting of its public hearings, under such rules as the Senate provides.

(20) Annual reports of departments and agencies shall stand referred to the committees in accordance with an allocation of departments and agencies in a resolution of the Senate. Each committee shall:

(a) Examine each annual report referred to it and report to the Senate whether the report is apparently satisfactory.

(b) Consider in more detail, and report to the Senate on, each annual report which is not apparently satisfactory, and on the other annual reports which it selects for more detailed consideration.

(c) Investigate and report to the Senate on any lateness in the presentation of annual reports.

(d) In considering an annual report, take into account any relevant remarks about the report made in debate in the Senate.

(e) If the committee so determines, consider annual reports of departments and budget-related agencies in conjunction with examination of estimates.

(f) Report on annual reports tabled by 31 October each year by the tenth sitting day of the following year, and on annual reports tabled by 30 April each year by the tenth sitting day after 30 June of that year.

(g) Draw to the attention of the Senate any significant matters relating to the operations and performance of the bodies furnishing the annual reports.

(h) Report to the Senate each year whether there are any bodies which do not present annual reports to the Senate and which should present such reports.

(amended 24 August 1994, 13 February 1997 , 11 November 1998, 3 December 1998, 13 February 2002, 19 November 2002, 14 August 2006: with effect from 11 September 2006)