There’s something ’bout that work, work, work, work, work, work… In the two weeks since the House commenced sitting, seven inquiries have been referred to committees, including the annual budget estimates. In today’s blog we look at some of the activity you can expect us to report on over the coming months and opportunities for you to have your say.

Budget Estimates kicks off for 2019

With the tabling of the budget by the Treasurer today, the Budget Estimates inquiry process will commence for 2019.

While the House has referred the budget papers to the portfolio committees since 1997, this year’s resolution includes some significant new changes:

  • Each portfolio will be examined over a full-day hearing comprised of three sessions. In the past, hearings usually canvassed only half a day.
  • While both ministers and relevant departmental officers ordinarily appear together for the duration of each hearing, this year’s resolution suggests that this occur only during the morning sessions. Officers will then appear to give further evidence during the afternoon sessions.
  • Parliamentary secretaries may be invited to give evidence.
  • Additional hearings will be held in October/November 2019 and February 2020.

The schedule for this year’s hearings has already been agreed to, and additional information will be posted on the Estimates website as it becomes available.

Keen to get some behind-the-scenes Estimates experience? We want you!

Have you ever wanted to work in the Legislative Council and gain firsthand experience of the operations of Parliament, including Legislative Council committees and the annual Budget Estimates process? Well here is your chance! The Legislative Council is offering a unique 12 week professional development opportunity for public sector officers from 19 August to 8 November 2019. Applications close soon – you can find out more here.

Inquiry into the operation and management of the Northern Beaches Hospital

The House has referred an inquiry into the operation and management of the new Northern Beaches Hospital to Portfolio Committee No. 2 – Health. The inquiry will examine the contract and other arrangements establishing the hospital as well as arrangements for its operation and maintenance, standards of service provision and care, staffing arrangements and staffing changes at the hospital. Submissions close on 28 July 2019 and the dates for public hearings will be advertised on the website shortly.

New committee on the use of battery cages for hens in the egg production industry

The House also established a new select committee to inquire into the use of battery cages for hens in the egg production industry. The inquiry will examine a broad range of issues including animal welfare outcomes, the rights of consumers to be fully informed of the sources of eggs, and the potential economic and social effects of banning the use of battery cages.

Submissions close on 25 July 2019 and the committee is due to report by 31 October 2019. Hearings are expected to take place soon after submissions close. Dates will be available on the committee website shortly.

Uranium mining under the gaze of the State Development Committee

The State Development Committee has been referred an inquiry into the Uranium Mining and Nuclear Facilities (Prohibitions) Repeal Bill 2019 by the House.

The committee will consider the objectives of the bill, that is, repealing the ban on uranium mining in New South Wales with a view to utilising nuclear power. As part of the inquiry, the committee is required to commission the newDemocracy Foundation, an independent and non-partisan research organisation, to facilitate community input into the bill, such as a citizens’ panel or jury, to complement the traditional forms of evidence gathering by the committee. The committee will soon be calling for submissions from interested parties, and will hold public hearings later in the year – you can find out more on the inquiry website.

Music festival regulations under review

The Regulation Committee has commenced an inquiry into the Liquor Amendment (Music Festivals) Regulation 2019 and the Gaming and Liquor Administration Amendment (Music Festivals) Regulation 2019. The regulations in general provide for a new type of liquor licence for music festivals and for the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority to direct particular applicants to apply for a music festival licence, amongst other things. Submissions close 5 July and a hearing will be held on 13 August 2019.

Inquiry into double jeopardy laws

As discussed in a previous edition of ‘In the House’, the House has referred an inquiry to the Standing Committee on Law and Justice to examine the legal implications of proposed amendments in the Crimes (Appeal and Review) Amendment (Double Jeopardy) Bill 2019, introduced by Greens member Mr David Shoebridge. Submissions close on 30 June 2019 and a hearing will take place in Sydney on 24 July 2019.

Inquiry into the Mining Amendment (Compensation for Cancellation of Exploration Licence) Bill 2019

Also canvassed in a previous edition of ‘In the House’, the House referred the bill for inquiry by the Standing Committee on Law and Justice following the introduction of the bill by Christian Democratic Party member Revd the Hon. Fred Nile. You can find more information about the bill here, including the member’s speech in support of the bill, and more information about the inquiry here.

Stay tuned for more inquiry updates over the coming weeks… The House will adjourn for the winter recess at the end of this week but committee inquiry activity will continue, and we will also be posting about helpful tips to navigate through the inquiry process.