Procedural orders of continuing effect - Committees

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Procedural Orders of Continuing Effect

2 Disclosure of minority or dissenting reports

(1) For the reasons, and bearing in mind the considerations, set out in paragraph (2), the Senate resolves and reaffirms that prior to the printing of a committee report a member or a group of members of the committee is not required to disclose to the committee any minority or dissenting report or any relevant conclusions and recommendations which the member or group of members proposes to add or attach to the report after it has been agreed to by the committee.

(2) The reasons and considerations referred to in paragraph (1) are:

(a) the clear terms of standing order 38(2) which confers on committee members the right to add or attach minority or dissenting reports, conclusions or recommendations “after” the draft report has been agreed to by the committee;

(b) the conclusions of the Procedure Committee that committee members “are not obliged to disclose minority reports to other members” and have a “right not to disclose their minority reports” (First Report of 1995);

(c) the need to protect the integrity of the right of a minority group to dissent from the “agreed” report of a majority group; and

(d) the need to recognise that use of procedures, practices or guidelines designed in effect to make the majority report provisional until the minority report is seen and dissected by the majority group, completely undermines the right of a minority to express its dissent from the “agreed” report of a majority group.

(3) This order is of continuing effect.

(22 November 1995 J.4198)

3 Unauthorised disclosure of committee proceedings, documents or evidence

The Senate adopts the procedures, as outlined in the 20th report of the Committee of Privileges tabled on 21 December 1989, to be followed by committees in respect of matters on which such committees may wish action to be taken:

(1) (a) 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;

(b) 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 Senate, or actually caused substantial interference;

(c) if the committee concludes that there has been potential or actual substantial interference it shall report to the Senate and the matter may be raised with the President by the chair of the committee, in accordance with standing order 81.

(2) Nothing in this resolution affects the right of a senator to raise a matter of privilege under standing order 81.

(3) This order is of continuing effect.

(20 June 1996 J.361)

4 Unauthorised disclosure of committee proceedings

(1) The Senate confirms that any disclosure of evidence or documents submitted to a committee, of documents prepared by a committee, or of deliberations of a committee, without the approval of the committee or of the Senate, may be treated by the Senate as a contempt.

(2) The Senate reaffirms its resolution of 20 June 1996, relating to procedures to be followed by committees in cases of unauthorised disclosure of committee proceedings.

(3) The Senate provides the following guidelines to be observed by committees in applying that resolution, and declares that the Senate will observe the guidelines in determining whether to refer a matter to the Committee of Privileges:

1. Unless there are particular circumstances involving actual or potential substantial interference with the work of a committee or of the Senate, the following kinds of unauthorised disclosure should not be raised as matters of privilege:

(a) disclosure of a committee report in the time between the substantial conclusion of the committee’s deliberations on the report and its presentation to the Senate;

(b) disclosure of other documents prepared by a committee and not published by the committee, where the committee would have published them, or could appropriately have published them, in any event, or where they contain only research or publicly-available material, or where their disclosure is otherwise inconsequential;

(c) disclosure of documents and evidence submitted to a committee and not published by the committee, where the committee would have published them, or could appropriately have published them, in any event;

(d) disclosure of private deliberations of a committee where the freedom of the committee to deliberate is unlikely to be significantly affected.

2. The following kinds of unauthorised disclosure are those for which the contempt jurisdiction of the Senate should primarily be reserved, and which should therefore be raised as matters of privilege:

(a) disclosure of documents or evidence submitted to a committee where the committee has deliberately decided to treat the documents or evidence as in camera material, for the protection of witnesses or others, or because disclosure would otherwise be harmful to the public interest;

(b) disclosure of documents prepared by a committee where that involves disclosure of material of the kind specified in paragraph (a);

(c) disclosure of private deliberations of a committee where that involves disclosure of that kind of material, or significantly impedes the committee’s freedom to deliberate.

3. An unauthorised disclosure not falling into the categories in guidelines 1 and 2 should not be raised as a matter of privilege unless it involves actual or potential substantial interference with the work of a committee or of the Senate.

4. When considering any unauthorised disclosure of material in the possession of a committee, the committee should consider whether there was any substantive reason for not publishing that material.

(4) Before deciding to raise a matter of privilege involving possible unauthorised disclosure of committee proceedings, any committee may seek the guidance of the Committee of Privileges as to whether a matter should be pursued. If the committee decides that such a matter should be raised, it must consult with the Committee of Privileges before taking the matter further.

(5) When applying this resolution a committee shall have regard to the matters set out in paragraphs 3.43 to 3.59 of the 122nd Report of the Committee of Privileges, June 2005.

(17 September 2007 J.4388)

Note: Sessional order agreed to on 6 October 2005 J.1201.

5 Joint committee documents – disclosure

The disclosure of evidence or documents of joint committees is authorised by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives under the same conditions as are provided in standing order 37.

(6 September 1984 J.1086)

Note: Adopted by the Senate on 6 September 1984. Concurred with by the House of Representatives in relation to joint committees on 11 October 1984, message reported in the Senate on 16 October 1984.

6 Witnesses’ expenses

In relation to the payment of witnesses’ expenses, if departments, or any other bodies, pay the expenses of other witnesses, this fact should be made known to the committees concerned, so that the committees are not misled as to the position of the witnesses and the status of their evidence.

(29 April 1999 J.815)

7 Reference of Tax Expenditures Statement to committees considering estimates

The annual Tax Expenditures Statement stands referred to legislative and general purpose standing committees for consideration by the committees during their examination of the estimates of government expenditure under standing order 26.

(11 May 2004 J.3377, amended 14 August 2006: with effect from 11 September 2006 J.2481)

8 Cross portfolio estimates hearing on Indigenous matters

That the Senate endorse the recommendation contained in paragraph 1.10 of the Community Affairs Committee report on the 2008-09 Budget estimates that:

Future estimates hearing programs include a separate time to conduct an estimates hearing on Indigenous matters that would include all the portfolios with budget expenditure or responsibility for Indigenous issues.

(26 August 2008 J.683)

9 Fair Work Australia – consideration of estimates

When the Education and Employment Legislation Committee meets to consider estimates in relation to Fair Work Australia (now the Fair Work Commission), the Senate expects that the President will appear before the committee to answer questions should his or her presence be required by the committee.

(28 October 2009 J.2661, amended 13 November 2013 J.100)

9A Estimates hearings—Additional hearings—Order of continuing effect

(1) That, for the purposes of any order setting out a schedule of estimates hearings by legislation committees:

(a) if the order provides for hearings, if required, on a designated Friday, an additional hearing of a committee is taken to be required on that Friday if any 3 members of the committee notify the chair in writing of a requirement for the committee to meet, including for a specified period of time;

(b) if the order does not provide for hearings, if required, on a designated Friday, an additional hearing of a committee is taken to be required on a relevant Friday if any 3 members of the committee notify the chair in writing of a requirement for the committee to meet, including for a specified period of time.

(2) For the purposes of paragraph (1), a relevant Friday means any of the following, as the case requires:

(a) for additional estimates hearings, the Friday of a week in which committees in Groups A and B are scheduled to meet;

(b) for Budget estimates hearings, the Friday of a week in which committees in Group A are scheduled to meet;

(c) for Budget estimates hearings, the Friday of a week in which committees in Group B are scheduled to meet;

(d) for supplementary Budget estimates hearings, the Friday of a week in which committees in Groups A and B are scheduled to meet.

(3) The operation of this order is subject to the restriction in standing order 26(3) that not more than 4 committees shall hear evidence on the estimates simultaneously.

(4) This order is of continuing effect.

(Agreed to 25 June 2014)

9B Estimates hearings—Additional hearings—Order of continuing effect

(1) That an additional hearing of a legislation committee considering estimates is taken to be required if any 3 members of the committee notify the chair in writing of a requirement for the committee to meet for that purpose, including for a specified period of time.

(2) For the purposes of paragraph (1), an additional hearing means a hearing in addition to any hearing required by, or pursuant to, an order of the Senate setting out days for legislation committees to meet to consider estimates or providing for such meetings to be held on spill-over days.

(3) The operation of this order is subject to the restriction in standing order 26(3) that not more than 4 committees shall hear evidence on the estimates simultaneously.

(4) This order is of continuing effect.

(Agreed to 25 June 2014.)

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