Role of the Committee

Appointment of the committee – 44th Parliament

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights was established on 2 December 2013 when the Senate agreed to a resolution from the House of Representatives, passed on 21 November 2013.

The committee is established by the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011. Section 7 of the Act sets out the functions of the committee as follows:

The Committee has the following functions:

(a) to examine Bills for Acts, and legislative instruments, that come before either House of the Parliament for compatibility with human rights, and to report to both Houses of the parliament on that issue;

(b) to examine Acts for compatibility with human rights, and to report to both Houses of the Parliament on that issue;

(c) to inquire into any matter relating to human rights which is referred to it by the Attorney-General, and report to both Houses of the Parliament on that matter.

Resolution to establish the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights

That:

(1) in accordance with section 6 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011, matters relating to the powers and proceedings of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights shall be as follows:

(a) the committee consist of 10 members, 3 Members of the House of Representatives to be nominated by the Government Whip, 2 Members of the House of Representatives to be nominated by the Opposition Whip or by any minority group or independent Member, 2 Senators to be nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, 2 Senators to be nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and 1 Senator to be nominated by any minority group or independent Senator;

(b) every nomination of a member of the committee be notified in writing to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives;

(c) the committee elect a:

(i) Government member as its chair; and

(ii) non-Government member as its deputy chair who shall act as chair of the committee at any time when the chair is not present at a meeting of the committee;

(d) at any time when the chair and deputy chair are not present at a meeting of the committee the members present shall elect another member to act as chair at that meeting;

(e) in the event of an equally divided vote, the chair, or the deputy chair when acting as chair, have a casting vote;

(f) three members of the committee constitute a quorum of the committee, provided that in a deliberative meeting the quorum shall include one Government member of either House and one non-Government member of either House;

(g) the committee:

(i) have power to appoint subcommittees consisting of three or more of its members, and to refer to any subcommittee any matter which the committee is empowered to examine; and

(ii) appoint the chair of each subcommittee who shall have a casting vote only;

(h) at any time when the chair of a subcommittee is not present at a meeting of the subcommittee the members of the subcommittee present shall elect another member of that subcommittee to act as chair at that meeting;

(i) two members of a subcommittee constitute a quorum of that subcommittee, provided that in a deliberative meeting the quorum shall include one Government member of either House and one non-Government member of either House;

(j) members of the committee who are not members of a subcommittee may participate in the proceedings of that subcommittee but shall not vote, move any motion or be counted for the purpose of a quorum;

(k) the committee or any subcommittee have power to:

(i) call for witnesses to attend and for documents to be produced;

(ii) conduct proceedings at any place it sees fit;

(iii) sit in public or in private;

(iv) report from time to time; and

(v) adjourn from time to time and sit during any adjournment of the Senate and the House of Representatives;

(l) the committee or any subcommittee have power to consider and make use of the evidence and records of the Joint Committee on Human Rights appointed during the previous Parliament;

(m) the committee may appoint counsel to advise the committee with the approval of the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives; and

(n) the provisions of this resolution, so far as they are inconsistent with the standing orders, have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the standing orders; and

(2) a message be sent to the Senate acquainting it of this resolution and requesting that it concur and take action accordingly.

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About this committee

This committee examines bills for acts, legislative instruments and other matters before parliament for compatability with human rights.

Committee Secretariat contact:

Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights
PO Box 6100,
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Phone: 02 6277 3823
Fax: 02 6277 5767
human.rights@aph.gov.au