ACT Legislative Assembly


CHAPTER 20

COMMITTEES

This chapter sets out the procedures relating to committees of the Assembly.

Standing committees

215.    Standing committees shall be established and Members appointed as soon as practicable after the commencement of each Assembly. (Amended 6 March 2008)

216.    Within the terms of the resolution of establishment agreed to by the Assembly and subject to any direction of the Assembly, any standing committee may inquire into and report on any matter it considers merits investigation or which the Assembly refers to it. Where a committee self-refers a matter, the Chair, or in the absence of the Chair, the Deputy Chair, shall inform the Assembly of the inquiry at the next meeting after the matter has been referred, such statement being made in accordance with standing order 246A. (Amended 6 March 2008)

Select committees

217.    The Assembly may establish select committees. A standing committee shall take care not to inquire into any matters which are being examined by a select committee and any question arising in this connection may be referred to the Assembly for resolution. (Amended 6 March 2008)

Report from select committee

218.    On the establishment of a select committee, a day shall be fixed for the reporting of its proceedings to the Assembly, by which day the report of the committee shall be presented by the Chair, unless further time is granted; the Assembly may at any time prior to such day receive the report of the committee. (Amended 6 March 2008)

First meeting

219.    The time and date for the first meeting of a committee shall be fixed by the secretary of the committee, under the general direction of the Speaker, and shall be held within seven days of the establishment of a committee. (Amended 6 March 2008)

219A. Notice of meetings subsequent to the first meeting shall be given by the secretary attending the committee:

(a)       pursuant to resolution of the committee;

(b)       on instruction of the Chair; or

(c)       upon a request by a quorum of Members of the committee. (Inserted 6 March 2008)

Membership

220.    A committee shall consist of not more than 5 Members unless otherwise ordered. (Amended 6 March 2008)

221.    Overall membership of committees shall comprise representatives of all groups and parties in the Assembly as nearly as practicable proportional to their representation in the Assembly. (Amended 6 March 2008)

Membership reported

222.    Nominations for membership of each committee shall be notified in writing to the Speaker who shall report nominations to the Assembly and those Members so nominated shall be appointed to the committee on motion without notice moved by a Minister as soon as practicable.  If more nominations are received than there are places, the Assembly shall proceed to a ballot to determine the committee membership.

Discharge of Members and replacement

223.    Members may be discharged from a committee and other Members appointed on motion without notice.

When a change to committee membership is required and the Assembly is not due to meet for two weeks, the relevant Whip or crossbench Member may write to the Speaker suggesting any appointment or discharge of a Member of a committee. The Speaker may approve the change if s/he considers it necessary to the functioning of the committee, and the change in membership shall take effect from the time the Speaker responds to the Member that proposed the change. At the next sitting of the Assembly, the Speaker shall report the change of membership of the committee to the Assembly who shall resolve the membership of the committee. (Amended 6 March 2008)

Pecuniary interest

224.    A Member may not sit on a committee if that Member has any direct pecuniary interest in the inquiry before such committee.

Election of Chair and Deputy Chair

225.    Every committee, before proceeding to other business, shall elect a Chair and a Deputy Chair. (Amended 6 March 2008)

225A. (Standing Order omitted 6 March 2008)

Powers of Deputy Chair

226.    Whenever a committee is informed by the secretary to the committee of the absence of the Chair, the Deputy Chair shall perform the duties of the Chair during that absence. (Amended 6 March 2008)

Absence of Chair and Deputy Chair

227.    Whenever a committee is informed by the secretary to the committee of the absence of both the Chair and the Deputy Chair, the Members present may at once proceed to elect one of their number who shall perform the duties of the Chair during that absence. (Amended 6 March 2008)

Chair’s voting rights

228.    The Chair, the Deputy Chair acting as Chair, or any other Member acting as Chair shall have a deliberative vote only. All Members, including the Chair shall have only a deliberative vote. (Amended 6 March 2008)

Adjournment and sitting of committee

229.    A committee may adjourn from time to time, move from place to place and may sit during any adjournment or suspension of the proceedings of the Assembly. (Amended 7 June 1990 and 6 March 2008)

Chair may adjourn or suspend sitting of committee

229A. In the case of grave disorder arising when a committee is taking evidence or deliberating, the Chair may adjourn the committee without the question being put or may suspend the committee. The committee shall reconvene at a time to be named by the Chair or at a time to be fixed by the Speaker or, in the absence of the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker, on receipt of a request in writing from an absolute majority of Members of the committee. (Adopted 10 March 1999. Amended 6 March 2008)

Use of audio visual or audio links

229B. When a public meeting or deliberative meeting is being conducted, a committee may resolve to conduct proceedings using audio visual or audio links with Members of the committee or witnesses not present in one place. If an audio visual or audio link is used, committee Members and witnesses must be able to speak to and hear each other at the same time regardless of location; provided that, if the Chair is not present where the public hearing or the deliberative meeting is being conducted, the Deputy Chair shall chair the meeting in accordance with standing order 226. (Inserted 6 March 2008)

Proceedings and sittings of committees

229C. A committee may conduct proceedings in any of the following ways:

(i)       in private meeting;

(ii)      by the hearing of witnesses (for the taking of evidence), either in public or in private; and

(iii)     in any other form in accordance with the standing orders and practices relating to the conduct of committees of the Assembly. (Inserted 30 June 2011)

Quorum

230.    A majority of the Members of a committee shall constitute a quorum when that committee is deliberating, with the exception of taking and authorising publication of evidence as described in standing order 231. (Amended 6 March 2008)

Quorum for taking of evidence

231.    For the purposes of taking and authorising the publication of evidence, 2 Members shall constitute a quorum of a committee.

Want of quorum

232.    If after the lapse of 15 minutes from the time appointed for the meeting of a committee there is not a quorum the Members present may retire and their names shall be entered in the minutes.  The secretary shall notify in writing all Members of the time set down for the next meeting.

Lapse of quorum

233.    If any Member of the committee takes notice that a quorum of Members is not present the Chair shall count the committee and, if a quorum is not present, the committee shall suspend until a quorum is present.  If in the opinion of the Chair a quorum cannot be obtained, the committee shall adjourn to a date and time to be fixed. (Amended 6 March 2008)

Admission of other Members

234.    Members of the Assembly may be present when a committee is examining witnesses, but shall withdraw if requested by the Chair or any Member of the committee, and shall always withdraw when the committee is deliberating. (Amended 6 March 2008)

Other Member’s right to question witnesses

235.    When a committee is examining witnesses, Members of the Assembly not being Members of the committee may, by leave of the committee, question witnesses.

Admission of visitors

236.    When a committee is examining witnesses, visitors may be admitted, but shall be excluded at the request of any Member, or at the discretion of the Chair of the committee, and shall always be excluded when the committee is deliberating. (Amended 6 March 2008)

Minutes of proceedings

237.    All proceedings of a committee shall be recorded by the secretary to the committee.  Such records shall constitute the minutes of proceedings of the committee and shall be signed by the Chair after confirmation by the committee. (Amended 6 March 2008)

Specialist advisers

238.    The Speaker may appoint persons with specialist knowledge (either to supply information which is not readily available or to explain matters of complexity within the committee’s inquiry) upon such terms and conditions as the Speaker may determine. (Amended 6 March 2008)

Power to send for persons, papers and records

239.    A committee shall have power to send for persons, papers and records.

240.    A committee may direct the secretary to the committee to summon witnesses to be examined before the committee. (Amended 6 March 2008)

Disclosure of proceedings, evidence and documents

241.   (a)     A committee may receive and authorise publication of evidence given before it or documents presented to it;

(b)      a committee’s evidence, documents, proceedings and reports may not be disclosed or published to a person (other than a Member of the committee or Assembly employee if necessary in the course of their duties) unless they have been:

(i)     reported to the Assembly; or

(ii)    authorised by the Assembly or the committee;

(ba)   Members of the committee may discuss a committee report with other Members on a confidential basis in the time between the substantial conclusion of the committee’s deliberations on the report and its presentation to the Assembly; (Inserted 25 September 2014)

(c)      a committee may resolve to:

(i)    publish press releases, discussion or other papers or preliminary findings; or

(ii)    divulge evidence, documents, proceedings or reports on a confidential basis to persons for comment where it is clearly necessary to assist the committee in its inquiry;

(d)      a committee may resolve to authorise a Member of the committee to give public briefings on matters related to an inquiry. An authorised Member may not disclose evidence, documents, proceedings or reports which have not been authorised for publication. The committee shall determine the limits of the authorisation. (Amended 6 March 2008 and 25 September 2014)

Unauthorised disclosure of proceedings, documents or evidence

242.    The Assembly adopts the following procedures to be followed by committees in respect of matters on which such committees may wish action to be taken:

(a)      (i)     a committee affected by any unauthorised disclosure of proceedings or documents of, or evidence before, that committee shall seek to discover the source of the disclosure, including by the Chair of the committee writing to all Members and staff asking them if they can explain the disclosure;

(ii)    the committee concerned should come to a conclusion as to whether the disclosure had a tendency substantially to interfere with the work of the committee or of the Assembly, or actually caused substantial interference;

(iii)   if the committee concludes that there has been potential or actual substantial interference it shall report to the Assembly and the matter may be raised with the Speaker by the Chair of the committee, in accordance with standing order 276;

(b)      nothing in this resolution affects the right of a Member to raise a matter of privilege under standing order 276. (Amended 6 March 2008)

Disclosure of documents of the Assembly and its committees

243.    That, unless otherwise ordered, the Speaker is authorised to permit any person to examine and copy evidence submitted to, or documents of, committees which are in the custody of the Assembly, which have not already been published by the Assembly or its committees, and which have been in the custody of the Assembly for at least 10 years:

(a)      provided that if such evidence or documents were taken in camera or submitted on a confidential or restricted basis, disclosure shall not take place unless the evidence or documents have been in the custody of the Assembly for at least 15 years and, in the opinion of the Speaker, it is appropriate that such evidence or documents be disclosed;

(b)      provided further that the Speaker report to the Assembly the nature of any evidence or documents made available under this resolution and the person or persons to whom they have been made available;

(c)      persons who gave evidence in camera, either written or oral, as far as practicable, shall be advised of the release of that evidence. (Amended 6 March 2008)

244.    A document received by a committee shall not be withdrawn or altered without the approval of the committee.

Examination of witnesses

245.    The examination of witnesses before every committee shall be conducted as follows: the Chair shall first put to the witness all such questions as that Member may deem essential, according to the mode of procedure agreed on by the committee and then call on each of the other Members to put any other questions. (Amended 6 March 2008)

Witnesses’ right to advice

246.    Witnesses before a committee may not be represented by legal counsel unless so ordered by the Assembly but a witness may consult with legal counsel or advisers while giving evidence. (Amended 6 March 2008)

Statement and discussion paper

246A. A committee may resolve to make a statement to the Assembly or to release a discussion paper generally on matters within a committee’s resolution of establishment or which relates to a particular inquiry being undertaken by the committee.

If the committee resolves that a statement should be made to the Assembly or a discussion paper released concerning an inquiry under consideration or a matter within its terms of reference, the Chair may make such a statement to the Assembly. The committee is authorised to release a discussion paper when the Assembly is not sitting, but must present the discussion paper at the next meeting of the Assembly. The discussion paper must be signed by the Chair. (Amended 6 March 2008)

246B. (Standing Order omitted 6 March 2008)

Draft report

247.    It shall be the duty of the Chair of every committee to prepare a draft report. (Amended 6 March 2008)

Consideration of draft report

248.    At a meeting convened for the purpose, the Chair shall submit the draft report which may be considered at once. Copies shall be circulated in advance to each Member of the Committee. The report shall be considered paragraph by paragraph or, by leave, paragraphs may be considered together. Appendices shall be considered in order at the conclusion of the consideration of the report itself. The Chair shall propose the question “That the paragraph(s) or appendix be agreed to” and a Member objecting to any portion of the report may vote against it or move an amendment at the time the paragraph or appendix to be amended is under consideration. (Amended 6 March 2008 and 28 November 2013)

Alternative draft report

249.    If any Member, other than the Chair, submits a draft report to the committee, the committee shall first decide upon which report it will consider. If the Committee cannot agree on which draft report to consider the Chair’s draft will have precedence. (Amended 6 March 2008 and 20 March 2014)

Reconsideration of draft report

250.    After the draft report has been considered, the whole or any paragraph may be reconsidered and amended.

Final consideration of draft report

250A. At the conclusion of the consideration and any reconsideration of the draft report selected by the committee, the Chair shall move “That the report (as amended) be agreed to. (Inserted 20 March 2014)

Unable to agree on a report

250B. If the committee is unable to agree upon a report, the Chair of the committee must present a written statement to that effect, along with the minutes of proceedings. (Inserted 20 March 2014)

Dissenting report

251.    If any Member dissents from part or all of the draft report under consideration, that Member may present a dissenting report or additional comments which shall be added to the report agreed to by the committee. (Amended 6 March 2008)

Signing of report

252.    Every report of a committee shall be signed by the Chair, and any dissenting report or additional comments shall be signed by the relevant Member or Members. (Amended 6 March 2008)

Presentation of report

253.    The report of a committee shall be presented to the Assembly by the Chair or, in the absence of the Chair, by the Deputy Chair, together with the minutes of proceedings. (Amended 6 March 2008)

253A.  When presenting its report, the Chair of the Select Committee on Estimates will present to the Assembly a schedule listing questions on notice for which answers were not provided during the annual estimates inquiry. Outstanding questions on notice will be provided to the Clerk within 30 days from the tabling of the estimates report. The Speaker will present to the Assembly the answers received after the report has been tabled and a schedule of questions on notice outstanding after the 30-day period.

Consideration of report by Assembly

254.    Upon the presentation of a report to the Assembly, the Chair or, in the absence of the Chair, the Deputy Chair may move without notice:

(a)       that the report be noted;

(b)       that the recommendation(s) be adopted (or agreed to);

(c)       that the report be adopted; or

(d)       that consideration of the report be made an order of the day for the next sitting (when a specific motion without notice in connection therewith may be moved). (Amended 6 March 2008)

Request for explanation concerning government response to Committee report

254A. If a government response to a committee report has not been:

(a)       tabled within four months of the presentation of the report; or

(b)       provided to the Speaker for out of session circulation to Members within four months of the presentation of the report and tabled by the Minister on the next day of sitting;

the Chair of the committee may without notice:

(c)        ask the relevant Minister for such an explanation or a statement in relation to the government response to the committee report; and

(d)       the Chair may, at the conclusion of the explanation or statement, move without notice “That the Assembly takes note of the explanation”.

In the event that the Minister does not provide an explanation or statement to the satisfaction of the Chair, that Chair may, without notice, move a motion with regard to the Minister’s failure to provide a government response, or an explanation or a statement. (Temporary order 9 December 2008. Adopted 22 March 2012. Amended 7 April 2016, 15 December 2016)

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Page last updated on 30 May 2016
2015 Legislative Assembly for the ACT