There is no set format for submissions. A submission may contain facts,
opinions and argument and be accompanied by appendices and other supporting data.
If a submission is lengthy, it should be prefaced by a brief summary.
Generally, submissions should:
be addressed to the Committee and dated and signed by the author(s) either on his/her
behalf or on behalf of the organisation
be relevant to the terms of reference of the inquiry
be typed on A4 paper (the same size as this sheet) with 2 cm side margins and 3 cm top
and bottom margins
use a typeface (font) which can be photo-reduced from A4 to B5 without losing
use one and a half spacing between lines for ease of reading
have pages numbered at the top of the page
have paragraphs numbered
- have hatching on drawings or plans to highlight specific areas.
- Submissions should avoid:
All written submissions to the Committee become the sole property of
the Committee when received by the Committee Secretariat. As such, they are
confidential documents and may not be given to any other persons, including
the media, unless permission of the Committee to do so has been sought and obtained.
As part of its operating procedures the Committee will authorise the
Committee secretariat to provide to interested persons and organisations copies
of submissions from sponsoring departments or agencies. The Committee will also
authorise the Committee secretariat to release submissions from other persons and
Comments on Submissions
- The Committee will obtain written comments or supplementary submissions
from sponsoring departments or agencies on submissions received from other organisations
or persons. All submissions received by the Committee will be included in the volume of
submissions and will be available on the Committee's Web site.
The Committee generally conducts public hearings into proposals referred to it.
Members of the Committee question witnesses representing the sponsoring department
including the design and construction organisation, seeking amplification on matters
raised in their submission or in submissions made by other organisations and individuals.
Authors of submissions may be invited to give oral evidence before the
Committee at a public hearing if the Committee considers that the inquiry will benefit
from such evidence. Such questioning also allows the witness to amplify points made in
the submission or to provide additional information.
Notification of Public Hearing
Witnesses are advised of the date, time and place of public hearings by the
Committee secretariat as soon as practicable. Generally, public hearings are held
close to the location of the proposed work.
It is in the interests of all witnesses who wish to appear before the Committee
to attend, if possible, the entire public hearing. Witnesses who have timing limitations
and restrictions should discuss these with the secretariat prior to the public hearing.
Procedures at Public Hearings
Witnesses should note that the Committee's proceedings are lawful proceedings of the
Parliament and as such warrant the same respect that proceedings in the Parliament
On entering the hearing room witnesses should make themselves known to the Committee
staff - the Secretary or the Assistant Secretary.
When it is his or her turn to give evidence, the Chair will call the name of
the witness, or the organisation represented, to approach the witness table.
The Chair will then ask the witness to be seated. For the Hansard record the
witness will be requested to give his or her full name and the capacity
in which he or she is appearing before the Committee.
The Chair will then formally acknowledge receipt of the witness's submission
and ask the witness if he or she wishes to make any amendments to it. Witnesses are
advised to discuss the handling of substantial amendments with the secretariat as these
must be available at least a week before the public hearing.
The submission (and any amendments) will then be incorporated into the volume of
submissions and copies are made available to the media and other interested persons or
The Chair will then give the witness an opportunity to make a short (no more
than five minutes) opening statement to the Committee summarising the main points of
the submission, raising issues relevant to the inquiry.
Questions will then be asked by the Chair and members of the Committee.
These questions will seek to clarify aspects of the submission, seek relevant additional
information not included in the submission and to enable points to be amplified. It is
a parliamentary convention that witnesses address the Committee through the Chair.
Should a witness be unable to answer a question or provide information at the
time of the public hearing, the permission of the Committee may be requested to provide
a written answer at a later date.
- Witnesses should note that lack of cooperation or the giving of untrue evidence
can be regarded as contempt of Parliament. The Public Works Committee Act specifies
penalties in such circumstances.
In certain circumstances written submissions and oral evidence may be presented
in private. The Public Works Committee Act provides that the Committee may take the
evidence in private; or direct that the document, or part of the document, be treated
Witnesses who believe that their submission contains matters which should be
discussed in private are advised to consult with the Committee secretariat prior to
the public hearing.
Recording of Evidence
All oral evidence is recorded on audio tape by Hansard (the Parliamentary
Reporting Staff) and is later transcribed. The transcript and the written submissions
presented to the Committee constitute the formal evidence of an inquiry. Copies of
proof transcripts are forwarded to all witnesses following the hearing to enable minor
corrections to be made.
Corrections to the transcript should be confined to grammar, statements wrongly
attributed and words which have been incorrectly transcribed. Witnesses also receive a
final corrected transcript at a later stage.
- After the public hearing, and when all the evidence has been collected and
considered, the Committee prepares a report on the proposed work for tabling in the
House of Representatives and the Senate. A report addresses the terms of reference in
relation to a proposal as well as matters raised in submissions and at public hearings,
and makes appropriate recommendations. When the report is tabled a short statement is made
which summarises the report's conclusions and recommendations. A copy of the of the
Committee's report will be sent to all witnesses after it is tabled. A copy is also
placed on the Committee's website www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/pwc
- After a report has been presented, the House of Representatives must pass an
'expediency motion' before work on a project can commence. The expediency motion is
often debated by Members and matters raised by the Committee in its report are discussed.
Very often assurances about matters of concern to the Committee are given by Ministers
during the debate on the motion.
Further information about the Committee's operations may be obtained by phoning
or writing to the Committee Secretariat at the following address:
Public Works Committee
Canberra ACT 2600
Tel: (02) 6277 4636
Fax: (02) 6277 4426
Produced by the Public Works Committee Secretariat
Extract from the Public Works Committee Act 1969
PART III-REPORTS ON PUBLIC WORKS
Functions of the Committee
17. (1) The Committee shall, as expeditiously as is practicable-
(a) consider each public work that is referred to it in accordance with this Act; and
(b) make a report to both Houses of the Parliament concerning the expedience of carrying
out the work and concerning any other matters related to the work in respect of
which the Committee thinks it desirable that the views of the Committee should be
reported to those Houses, and, for those purposes, shall do such things and make such inquiries as it thinks necessary.
(2) The Committee may, in its report on a public work, recommend any alterations to the proposals for the work that, in its opinion, are necessary or desirable to ensure that the most effective use is made of the moneys to be expended on the work.
(3) In considering and reporting on a public work, the Committee shall have regard to-
(a) the stated purpose of the work and its suitability for that purpose;
(b) the necessity for, or the advisability of, carrying out the work;
(c) the most effective use that can be made, in the carrying out of the work, of the moneys to be expended on the work;
(d) where the work purports to be of a revenue-producing character, the amount of revenue that it may reasonably be expected to produce; and
(e) the present and prospective public value of the work.
(4) In considering and reporting on a public work proposed to be
carried out by an authority of the Commonwealth, the Committee shall have
regard to the functions, powers and duties of the authority and to the powers
conferred on a Minister in relation to the activities of the authority concerned.