Procedure Committee First Report of 2010
The committee reports to the Senate on the following matters
referred to the committee and considered by the committee.
PRIVATE SENATORS' BILLS -
The committee has under consideration proposals from Senator
Bob Brown for ways in which private senators' bills could be dealt with at a
dedicated time. The committee intends to keep this matter on its agenda to
enable it to consider in more detail the practices for private members'
legislation in comparable jurisdictions.
BILLS RELYING ON DELEGATED
The committee has considered a discussion paper prepared at
its request in response to a suggestion raised by Senator Bob Brown for a
procedure whereby bills that rely on delegated legislation for their operation
would be deferred until the delegated legislation was tabled.
The committee notes that there are difficult threshold
issues associated with devising a general procedure to ensure that there is
adequate scrutiny of legislative schemes that rely for their operation on
delegated legislation which may not be available in draft form at the time the
primary legislation is considered. The committee also notes that there has been
an increase in recent times of broad principles legislation which relies
heavily on delegated legislation and that this is inherently problematic from
the point of view of effective parliamentary scrutiny. There are examples where
committees have been critical of the lack of availability of draft regulations
and have drawn this to the attention of the Senate. In some cases there has
been follow up action by the committee concerned or by the Senate.
Rather than opting for a specific procedure at this stage,
the committee sees merit in encouraging legislation committees in their
examination of bills to be on the alert for cases in which the absence of draft
regulations hinders adequate scrutiny of a bill, and to frame recommendations
accordingly. While it would be open to a legislation committee to recommend
deferral in particular cases where warranted, the committee does not endorse
the adoption of a standard recommendation in all such cases to postpone further
consideration of a bill until draft regulations became available. The committee
supports a case by case approach with recommendations tailored to the
particular circumstances. Since legislation committees are likely to receive
for inquiry and report any bills that are at all contentious, the committee's
view is that they are best placed to make judgements about the effect that the
lack of access to draft regulations (or other instruments of delegated
legislation) has on the Senate's ability to scrutinise bills thoroughly.
In this context, the committee also notes the important work
done by the Scrutiny of Bills Committee in identifying cases where there is
inadequate parliamentary oversight in legislative schemes, including because of
excessive reliance on delegated legislation.
ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE OPENING
The committee has considered a request from the Leader of
the Government in the Senate, Senator Evans, to examine the Government's
response to the report of the House of Representatives Procedure Committee
entitled, Re-opening the Debate – Inquiry into the arrangements for the
opening day of Parliament, with a view to determining what changes to
Senate standing orders might be required if an Indigenous 'Welcome to Country'
ceremony were to become part of the procedures on opening day.
Two options are presented in Attachment A for the
consideration of senators. The first option is an amendment to standing order
1 to incorporate recognition of an Indigenous welcoming ceremony. The second
option is a draft resolution of continuing effect expressing support for the
inclusion of such a ceremony before the official opening proceedings. A third
option would be to leave the standing and other orders unaltered, thereby
allowing the government of the day to choose what kind of ceremony might be
held before the opening or, indeed, to choose to have no preceding ceremony.
The committee would
welcome the views of senators on these proposals and intends, if possible, to
consider them before the conclusion of the winter sittings.
and Chair of Committees
Chair of the Procedure
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