About Parliament: Parliamentary Committees updated January 2018

About Parliament: Parliamentary Committees updated January 2018


#Music# Parliamentary Committees. Committees can be set up by the Senate or
the House of Representatives–or by both houses together–to investigate issues in detail. ‘This committee has benefited from the support of the department.’ They help senators and members make informed
decisions about law-making and policy and provide the Parliament with a range of community
views. ‘So that’s what I’m saying is these things,
we’ve done.’ They also help to keep an important check
on the work of the government. A committee usually involves a small group
of senators or members who focus on a proposed law or issue. Through its committees, the Parliament can
carry out tasks not suitable for the large formal chambers of the Senate and the House
of Representatives. ‘I declare open this meeting.’ The Parliament gives its committees considerable
powers of investigation including the ability to question witnesses and collect evidence. ‘Have you had a
think of the types of cost you’re going to be faced with when you go to university?’ ‘The basic cost I think is about thirteen
and a half thousand.’ Committees hear people’s views in many ways. They can receive written submissions, take
evidence by phone or video, and travel across Australia to speak to individuals, organisations, experts and interest groups. Anyone who takes part in a committee is protected
by parliamentary privilege, which means they can speak freely without any action being
taken against them. There are many different kinds of committees
in the Parliament. Some focus on important public issues, like
climate change or the cost of living, while others look at proposed laws in detail. Committees are also used to examine the work
of the government and other organisations. In Senate Estimates hearings, ministers and
senior public servants are questioned about government actions and their spending of public
money. Here, a House of Representatives Committee questions the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia. ‘…you know, outrageously large or small…’ After a committee has examined all evidence
on an issue or proposed law, it prepares a report and presents its findings and recommendations
to the Parliament. This process can result in changes to proposed
laws or government policy. ‘This is going to rock this house, I present…’ It encourages debate and helps members and
senators make better-informed decisions. #Music#

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