Chapter 16 - Committees

Questions to chairs of committees

(See Supplement) Under standing order 72 a question may be put to the chair of a committee relating to the activities of that committee. Such a question may be asked only on notice unless leave of the Senate is granted for the question to be asked without notice. The question must not attempt to interfere with the committee’s work or anticipate its report. The chair must answer only on behalf of the committee.

Questions to chairs of committees on notice, under current procedures, are placed on the Notice Paper, as with other questions on notice (Notice Paper 14/8/2003, question 1773).

The provisions in the standing order relating to questions to chairs of committees are based on an assumption that questions will be directed to current committees about their current operations. They cannot ask a committee to answer for the activities of its predecessors or to disclose documents of concluded inquiries which are in the custody of the Senate (see above, under Disclosure of evidence and documents).

This procedure of questions to chairs emerged with the development of the committee system in the 1970s, when chairs of committees would be asked questions without notice relating to the activities of their committees. In recent years the procedure has been used only occasionally (see, for example, SD, 31/10/1989, p. 2594; 20/12/1990, p. 6158).

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