Following an order of the Senate on 13 May 2009, the Senate's eight legislative and general purpose standing committees each now comprise a pair of committees: A Legislation Committee whose purpose is to deal with bills referred by the Senate, the Estimates process and oversee the performance of departments, including their annual reports, and a References Committee whose purpose is to deal with all other matters referred by the Senate.
The committees are governed by Senate Standing Order 25. Standing order 25 provides for the appointment of a legislative and general purpose standing committee on Environment and Communications.
Information on the establishment, role and powers of Senate committees can be found in Chapter 5, in the Standing Orders of the Senate.
The committee has had the following name changes in recent Parliaments:
- 2010 — Environment and Communications
- 2008–10 — Environment, Communications and the Arts
- 1998–2008 — Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts
- 1994–98 — Environment, Recreation, Communications and the Arts
The Environment and Communications Committee portfolio coverage includes:
- Communications; and