DAVID RISSTROM'S SENATE WATCH - SOMEONE ELSE IS WATCHING
David Risstrom's Senate Watch is no longer being watched personally by me. After many years aimed at keeping this site current, I have to let my mouse hang on this one. Nevertheless É
The information below describes what Senate Committees and Inquiries are and what they do. The links to current committees and current inquiries remain valid, but are no longer personally updated and expanded by me.
David's Risstrom's Senate Watch sought to provide a ready to hand list of Senate committees and inquiries that are likely to affect you.
These pages are written and maintained by David Risstrom. While they source information from Senate documents and elsewhere, the information provided on this site is not officially endorsed by the Australian Senate. This page was updated on 9 October 2012.
WHAT ARE SENATE COMMITTEES?
Senate Committees are established by the Australian Senate, usually to deal with a specific function within the Senate's powers. With the Australian Senate having 76 Senators, establishing Committees comprised of a smaller membership allows Senators to consider a variety of issues simultaneously, by allocating an area of responsibility or by establishing particular issues, known as references, to consider and report back to the Senate as a whole.
Senate Committees are categorised in a number of ways.
- Standing Committees: Senate Committees established to maintain an ongoing scrutiny of issues such as 'Economics, Legal and Constitutional' and Environment, Communications, Information, technology and the Arts.' These Committees exist for the duration of each Parliament (Parliaments are considered to be renewed after each election).
- Select Committees: Senate Committees established by the Senate to inquire into and report on a particular matter, such as the Australia- USA Free Trade Agreement.
- Domestic Committees: These are currently eight Senate Committees established as domestic committees to take care of the running of the Senate These include the following Senate Privileges and Selection of Bills Committee.
- Legislative Scrutiny Committees: These include the Regulations and Ordinances Committee and the Scrutiny of Bills Committee, which look at proposed laws in the form of Bills, to make sure they are considered by the Senate for their conformity with other laws and their impact on other important impacts such as civil liberties.
- Standing Committee on Regulation and Ordinances: This considers all the delegated legislation that is made by the Senate to make sure it is lawful and is not likely to have unintended consequences. Delegated legislation such as regulations involve laws known as regulations that are made under the power of an Act to give effect to the decisions allowed by the Act. One example is that an Act allows an Australian citizen to apply for a passport, while the regulations set down the procedures and cost for doing so.
- Scrutiny of Bills Committee: This carries out a similar function to the Regulation and Ordinances Committee, but differs in that it considers proposed laws before they are debated by the Senate.
- Legislative and General Purpose Standing Committee: These committees were established in 1994 to be ready to deal with the work of Government Departments, and to consider issues that arose from proposed Bills relating to their activities.
- Reference Committees: These Committees work on particular issues refereed to them, known as 'references', often developed following consideration in the Senate where the Senate considers more time and further inquiry is needed into issues.
- Legislation Committees: These scrutinise the government's legislative program and appropriations (spending) and administration.
CURRENT SENATE COMMITTEES
This site previously maintained a list of current committees as publicly listed by the Australian Senate. It does no do so any longer. The current list can be found on the official Senate website by clicking on the highlighted link: Current Senate Committees.
WHAT ARE SENATE INQUIRIES?
The Senate has wide ranging powers that include the power to inquire into any matter of public interest. Senate Committees exercise these powers by holding inquiries according to terms of reference established by the Senate.
In practice, after been given a 'reference' by the Senate and having its membership established from Senators available to take part in the inquiry, Committees usually conduct inquiries by advertising the existence of the inquiry, calling for evidence by written submission and/or by giving evidence directly to the Inquiry. Committees often travel outside the parliament to allow greater public participation.
A common form of reporting back to the Senate is the compilation of a report on the Committee's investigation of the references it was given and for the report to be tabled in the Senate and made available by printing copies available to the public at large.
CURRENT SENATE INQUIRIES
This site previously maintained a list of current inquiries as publicly listed by the Australian Senate. It does no do so any longer. The current list can be found on the official Senate website by clicking on the highlighted link, Current Senate Inquiries and then selecting the inquiries link on the Committee page that this takes you to.