Making a submission

Easy English (PDF)

You can get involved in a committee inquiry by:

What is a submission?

As part of an inquiry, a committee usually asks for written submissions addressing the terms of reference. The terms of reference for each inquiry are on the committee's website. There are no terms of reference for a bill, because the committee is seeking comments on the bill itself.

Who should I talk to if I have a question about lodging a submission?

Please contact the relevant committee secretariat for further information. Inquiries from hearing and speech impaired people should be directed to the Parliament House TTY number 02 6277 7799.

Committee contact details

Writing a submission

The best submissions:

  • clearly address some or all of the terms of reference—you do not need to address each one
  • are relevant and highlight your own perspective
  • are concise, generally no longer than four to five pages
  • begin with a short introduction about yourself or the organisation you represent
  • emphasise the key points so that they are clear
  • outline not only what the issues are but how problems can be addressed, as the committee looks to submissions for ideas to make recommendations
  • only include documents that directly relate to your key points
  • only include information you would be happy to see published on the internet.

Submissions that include complex argument, personal details or criticise someone may take the committee longer to process and consider.

Submission checklist
Before you send us your submission, check:
Have you commented on some or all of the terms of reference?
Is your submission long? Have you provided a summary of your submission at the front?
Have you provided your return address and contact details with the submission?
Have you made sure that your personal contact details are not in the main part of the submission?
If you do not want your submission published on the internet, have you made this clear on the front of your submission and told us why?

Delivering your submission

As many inquiries attract high levels of interest, committees prefer to accept submissions via the online system. The on-line submission site is secure and is suitable for uploading sensitive and confidential material.

If you upload your submission through the Senate's website, you will receive an email straight away that lets you know that the secretariat has received your submission.

You can submit by email, but please be aware that this is not an automated process and it may take longer for you to receive an acknowledgement that your submission has been received.

You can email your submission to the committee secretariat or to seniorclerk.committees.sen@aph.gov.au

You can also submit though the post by writing to:

Committee Secretary
[Name of committee]
Department of the Senate
PO Box 6100
Parliament House
CANBERRA ACT 2600
AUSTRALIA

What happens to my submission?

  • The committee will decide whether to accept your submission.

    Your submission will be given to the committee members to read. The committee will decide whether to accept your submission and whether to publish it.

    Your submission is not automatically accepted and published. Due to high workload, the committee may take several weeks to consider and process your submission.

    You should read the terms of reference and structure your submission around these. The committee may decide not to accept your submission if it does not address the terms of reference.

    You will be told whether or not the committee has accepted your submission.

  • If your submission is accepted it may be published on the internet with your name.

    If accepted, most submissions are published on the committee's website with the name of the submitter.

    If your submission is published, the information in it, including your name can be searched for on the internet. Your contact details will not be published on the website.

    You cannot withdraw or alter your submission once the committee has published it.

    If you want to change your submission or tell us something else, you can send a supplementary submission.

    The committee may refer to your submission in its report. Committee reports are published on the committee's website and can be searched for on the internet.

  • You can ask the committee to keep your submission private.

    If you do not want your name published on the internet, or if you want your submission to be kept confidential, you should

    • include the word confidential clearly on the front of your submission and provide a reason for your request.
    • make sure that your name and contact details are on a separate page and not in the main part of your submission.

    Confidential submissions are only read by members of the committee and the secretariat.

    Confidential information may be placed in an attachment to the main part of your submission, with a request for the committee to keep the attachment confidential.

    The committee will consider your request but you need to know that the committee has the authority to publish any submission. The secretariat will contact you if the committee wants to publish something you have asked to be kept confidential.

    If you are considering making a confidential submission, you should contact the committee secretariat to discuss this before you send us your submission.

  • Before you show your submission to someone else, check if the committee has accepted it and decided to publish it.

    Submissions are only published after a decision by the committee.

    If the committee accepts and publishes your submission it is protected by parliamentary privilege. This means the content of your submission cannot be used in court against you or anyone else.

    If you publish your submission without the committee's agreement the information in your submission may not be protected in this way.

    See: Senate Brief No. 20 Parliamentary privilege

  • If you write something critical of another person or organisation the committee will write to them and ask them to respond.

    If your submission criticises another person (for example, accusing them of lying or corrupt behaviour), the committee will send your comment to the other person so they can reply.

    The committee may decide to publish your submission and the other person's response together on the committee website.