On 29 November 2016, the Senate referred the following matter to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee for inquiry and report by 21 March 2017:
- The nature and scope of any agreement reached by the Commonwealth and Western Australian governments in relation to the distribution of proceeds of the liquidation of, and litigation concerning, the Bell Group of companies (the proceeds), with particular reference to:
- the priority order for distribution of the proceeds;
- the Commonwealth’s position in relation to the distribution of, and litigation concerning, the proceeds;
- any connection between the above and the settlement of other disputes between the Commonwealth and Western Australian governments, including regarding the distribution of GST revenue between the states;
- any direction or instruction given by the Attorney-General to the Solicitor-General, either directly or through his office or department, in relation to the conduct of litigation concerning the proceeds;
- any connection between the above and the issuing of the Legal Services Amendment (Solicitor-General Opinions) Direction; and
- any other related matter.
- That the Senate directs the Attorney-General (Senator Brandis) and the Minister for Finance (Senator Cormann) to appear before the committee to answer questions.
On 21 March 2017, the Senate granted an extension of time for reporting until 21 June 2017.