Role of the Committee
The Scrutiny of Bills Committee assesses legislative proposals against a set of accountability standards that focus on the effect of proposed legislation on individual rights, liberties and obligations, and on parliamentary propriety.
The committee examines all bills which come before the Parliament and reports to the Senate whether such bills:
trespass unduly on personal rights and liberties;
make rights, liberties or obligations unduly dependent upon insufficiently defined administrative powers;
make rights, liberties or obligations unduly dependent upon non-reviewable decisions;
inappropriately delegate legislative powers; or
insufficiently subject the exercise of legislative power to parliamentary scrutiny.
[see standing order 24]
The committee regularly publishes two documents: the Alert Digest and the Report. The Digest contains an outline of each of the bills introduced in the previous sitting week, as well as any comments the committee wishes to make in relation to a particular bill. When concerns are raised in a Digest, the committee writes to the minister responsible for the bill, inviting the minister to respond to its concerns.
The committee then produces a Report containing the relevant extract from the Digest, the minister’s response and any further comments the committee may wish to make. Reports and Digests are generally presented to the Senate on the Wednesday afternoon of each sitting week. They are available online after tabling.
The committee also produces reports on matters specifically referred by the Senate, as well as a report summarising its work during each Parliament.