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Odgers' Australian Senate Practice Thirteenth Edition

Chapter 16 - Committees

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Access to other committees' documents

Committees are occasionally given the power to consider the documents of other committees or of their predecessor committees. This is done where committees would not otherwise have access to such documents.

The legislative and general purpose standing committees have the power to consider the documents of their predecessor committees.[151] This, however, is only a transitional provision consequent on past restructurings of the committees and designed to carry inquiries over the restructuring. When the committees conclude inquiries the documents they have received in the course of those inquiries are in the custody of the Senate,[152] so that an order of the Senate would be necessary to enable them to use such material, but published evidence and documents may be freely cited.[153]


Select committees are sometimes given access to the documents of earlier committees to provide a bridge between inquiries or to conclude unfinished inquiries. If a select committee replicates a predecessor it may be taken that it has access to the documents of the earlier committee.

Committees which have continuing functions, such as the legislative scrutiny committees, are taken to have continuing access to documents acquired in earlier parliaments.

As most committees publish their evidence and submissions, which are therefore freely available for reference, access to the documents of other committees is significant only in relation to unpublished evidence and submissions, correspondence, minutes, working papers and the like.


151. SO 25(4).
152. SO 25(15).
153. For a legislative and general purpose standing committee presenting to the Senate documents of a completed inquiry closely related to material in its report, see additional information tabled by Finance and Administration Committee, 8/8/2006, J.2390.