On Wednesday 9 May 2019, the second sitting day of the 57th Parliament, the House established 16 new committees for the life of the Parliament. In addition, the House adopted some significant changes to the Legislative Council’s committee system. Some of these changes were discussed in the last post about sessional orders, such as having a new procedure through which government responses to committee reports can be debated in the House. This post outlines other key changes.
A seventh Portfolio Committee has been created and the government portfolios have been rearranged to fall under the updated categories:
- Premier and Finance
- Legal Affairs
- Transport and Customer Service
- Planning and Environment.
Re-establishment of new and trial committees
Four new committees were established towards the end of the 56th Parliament: the Public Works and Public Accountability Committees, as well as two trial committees, the Selection of Bills and Regulation Committees. These four committees each wrote a report, by the end of the last Parliament, recommending that they be re-established in the 57th Parliament. The House acted on these recommendations and all four committees have been established as standing committees.
The composition of some committees has also changed, in terms of membership and representation of political parties. For example, the subject standing committees (Law and Justice, Social Issues and State Development) now have eight members, made up of four government members, two opposition members and two crossbenchers. Compared to the last Parliament, membership has gone up by two, with an additional government and crossbench member each. The membership of the Procedure Committee has also expanded to include four rather than two crossbench members.
There have also been further changes to who can be elected as Chair or Deputy Chair of a committee. Parliamentary Secretaries have been specifically precluded from these two positions on a standing or portfolio committee. Chairs of the Privileges, Regulation, Public Accountability, Public Works and Portfolio Committees will be elected by the committee, but must be non-government members.
Nominations for committee membership will be determined in the upcoming weeks and the committee webpages will be updated accordingly.
Stay tuned for our next post, which will get into the specifics of how committees are established.