Chapter 16 - Committees

Conflict of interest

Standing order 27(5) provides that a senator shall not sit on a committee if the senator has a conflict of interest in relation to the inquiry of the committee. This standing order was the subject of a statement by President Beahan on 24 February 1994 (SD, 24/2/1994, pp 1036-7). It had been suggested that a senator had a conflict of interest because he had written newspaper articles critical of a committee of which he was a member, without identifying himself as such. The President indicated that the standing order applies to a situation in which a senator has a private interest in the subject of the committee’s inquiry which conflicts with the duty of the senator to participate conscientiously in the conduct of the inquiry, an example being a senator holding shares in a company, the activities of which are under inquiry. There is no precedent of the Senate enforcing this rule by removing a chair or member of a committee, or disagreeing with an appointment.

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