A parliamentary select committee established to look into the NSW Government’s proposal to raise the Warragamba Dam wall has received over 360 submissions to date. To better understand the concerns amongst stakeholders and community members, the committee will also hold two public hearings on 22 and 25 November 2019.
However, submissions and hearings are not the only way that a committee gathers information. Standing order 208(d), one of the rules governing the operation of Legislative Council committees, provides that a committee has power ‘to make visits of inspection within New South Wales and, if authorised by the House, with the approval of the President, elsewhere in Australia and outside Australia’.
That is what this committee did. On 23 September 2019, the select committee visited the Warragamba upstream areas to see the impact of potential inundation should the wall be raised by the proposed 14 metres. During the visit, the committee also received a briefing from representatives from a government agency, community members and experts in relevant fields.
Site visits provide an opportunity for committees to see issues firsthand. They help the elected representatives to understand complex issues through experience and/or demonstration.
For example, committees have visited the Australia’s Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) to learn about the research and application of nuclear science, a wildlife park to check on koala welfare, and wind farms in rural areas to see the wind turbines in action.