In the last few days, submissions have closed for a number of inquiries spanning a range of issues, from the use of battery cages in egg production, to regulation of the building industry** and the Northern Beaches Hospital.
Your submission has been sent in, the portal is closed and it’s time for you, humble author, to kick back and relax as the committee gets to work.
Submissions have closed, now what?
Now that submissions have closed, the committee members must read them all. Submissions are the start of the evidence-gathering process of an inquiry and an important way for the committee to hear different views.
In fact committee members have usually started reading some submissions before the closing date. You may have noticed some public submissions are even published on the website already. Submissions are sent to the committee almost as soon as they start coming in so the committee members can quickly familiarise themselves with the issues.
To a public hearing, and beyond!
As the committee are reading all the submissions, they are also preparing for phase 2 of the evidence-gathering process: holding hearings. Submissions are the basis for inviting key stakeholders to provide further evidence at public hearings. They are also used to identify possible site visits or regional hearings.
What about me?
You may not be asked to appear as a witness but don’t worry! A good submission can comprehensively address an issue and make recommendations for change without any further information being required (see our previous blog post on tips to writing an effective submission). In practice, only a fraction of the (usually hundreds) of submission authors can appear at a hearing, but this doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten about you or your submission. Radio silence is usually a sign that we are busy processing your submission and the committee is busy reading it.
Your submission will be important evidence used in the committee’s deliberations. Submissions are used to inform the committee about key issues and give members a feel for things like:
- What issues do people have in common?
- Why have these issues emerged?
- What is the real human impact of these issues?
- What suggestions do people have to address these issues?
This helps the committee members to draw out consistent themes and understand the issues they will be dealing with at the hearings. It also helps them to identify where the gaps are and what questions they should be asking of witnesses.
Even after the hearings, submissions are an important part of evidence for the final report. The committee members will use key issues and themes that emerged from the submissions in drafting their report and recommendations to government. You may even find your submission quoted in the final report.
Don’t be a stranger
Even though your work in directly contributing to an inquiry may have come to an end, you can still be involved in the inquiry process and stay informed about how the inquiry is using your evidence and ideas.
Check the inquiry webpages for details about upcoming hearings and to read other submissions. You can also come to Parliament to view a hearing in person or view the live webcast of hearings from the comfort of your own home. The secretariat will also upload transcripts of the hearings and other documents to the inquiry webpage as the inquiry progresses.
When the report is released, the secretariat will email any submission authors a link to the report so you can see the final product.
**Even though submissions have closed for the Inquiry into the regulation of building standards, building quality and building disputes, an online questionnaire for this inquiry is still open until Sunday 4 August.