Legislative Council Standing Orders - Chapter 23

CHAPTER 23 - COUNCIL COMMITTEES

 

Standing Committees

 

23.01  Appointment of Standing Committees

At the commencement of each Parliament subsequently, legislative and reference standing committees shall be appointed as follows:

(1)    Economy and Infrastructure

               Legislation Committee

               References Committee

 (2)    Environment and Planning

               Legislation Committee

               References Committee

 (3)    Legal and Social Issues

               Legislation Committee

               References Committee

 

23.02  Functions

(1)    The Standing Committee on the Economy and Infrastructure will inquire into and report on any proposal, matter or thing concerned with agriculture, commerce, infrastructure, industry, major projects, public sector finances and transport.

(2)    The Standing Committee on the Environment and Planning will inquire into and report on any proposal, matter or thing concerned with the arts, coordination of government, environment, and planning the use, development and protection of land.

(3)    The Standing Committee on Legal and Social Issues will inquire into and report on any proposal, matter or thing concerned with community services, education, gaming, health, and law and justice.

(4)    (a)   Legislation Committees may inquire into, hold public hearings, consider and report on any Bills or draft Bills referred to them by the Legislative Council, annual reports, estimates of expenditure or other documents laid before the Legislative Council in accordance with an Act, provided these are relevant to their functions.

        (b)   Reference committees may inquire into, hold public hearings, consider and report on other matters referred to them by the Legislative Council.

(5)    References concerning departments and agencies shall be allocated to the committees in accordance with a resolution of the Council allocating departments and agencies to the committees.

(6)     Following significant machinery of government changes, a new resolution of the Council shall be required to allocate new departments and agencies to the committees accordingly.

 

23.03  Appointment of Members

(1)    Each legislation and reference committee will consist of 8 members, with 4 members from the Government Party nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Council, 3 members from the Opposition nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Council and 1 member from among the remaining members in the Council nominated jointly by minority groups and independent members.

(2)    (a)   The committees to which minority groups and independent members make nominations shall be determined by agreement between the minority groups and independent members, and, in the absence of agreement being notified to the President, representation on a committee shall be determined by the Council.

        (b)   The allocation of places on the committees amongst minority groups and independent members shall be, as near as practicable, in proportion to their respective numbers in the Council.

 

23.04  Quorum

(1)    5 Members of each committee will constitute a quorum of the committee.

(2)    Each committee may proceed to the despatch of business notwithstanding that all Members have not been appointed and notwithstanding any vacancy.

 

23.05  Substitute Members

(1)    Members may be appointed as substitutes for other members on the legislative and reference standing committees in respect of particular matters before the committees.

(2)    On the nominations of the Leader of the Government in the Council, the Leader of the Opposition in the Council and minority groups and independent members, participating members may be appointed to the committees.

(3)    Participating members may participate in hearings of evidence and deliberations of the committees, and have all the rights of members of committees, but may not vote on any questions before the committees.

(4)    A participating member shall be taken to be a member of a committee for the purpose of forming a quorum of the committee if a majority of members of the committee is not present.

(5)    If a member of a committee is unable to attend a meeting of the committee, that member may in writing to the chair of the committee appoint a participating member to act as a substitute member of the committee at that meeting. If the member is incapacitated or unavailable, a letter to the chair of a committee appointing a participating member to act as a substitute member of the committee may be signed on behalf of the member by the leader of the party or group on whose nomination the member was appointed to the committee.

 

23.06  Sub-committees

(1)    A committee may appoint sub-committees consisting of 3 or more of its Members, and refer to any such sub-committee any of the matters which the committee is empowered to consider.

(2)    At a meeting of a sub-committee two Members constitute a quorum.

(3)    A sub-committee will report to the committee as soon as practicable on each matter referred to that sub-committee.

 

23.07  Election of Chair and Deputy Chair

(1)    Each legislation committee shall elect as its Chair a member nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Council, and as its Deputy Chair a member nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Council or by a minority group or independent member.

(2)    Each references committee shall elect as its Chair a member nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Council or by a minority group or independent member, and as its Deputy Chair a member nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Council.

(3)    Members nominated as chairs and deputy chairs by the Leader of the Opposition or members of minority groups or independent members shall be determined by agreement between those groups and, in the absence of agreement duly notified to the President, any question of the allocation of chairs and deputy chairs shall be determined by the Council.

(4)    The Deputy Chair shall act as the chair of the committee when the member elected as Chair is absent from a meeting of the committee or the position of chair is temporarily vacant.

(5)   The Chair, or the Deputy Chair when acting as chair, may appoint another member of a committee to act as chair during the temporary absence of both the chair and deputy chair at a meeting of the committee.

 

 Procedure and Privileges Committee

 

23.08  Procedure Committee

(1)    At the commencement of each Parliament the Council will appoint a Procedure Committee to consider any matter regarding the practices and procedures of the house.

 (2)    The committee may consider any matter referred to it by the Council or the President.

 (3)    The committee shall consist of 7 Members with 4 Members to be the quorum.

 (4)    The President will be the Chair of the committee and the committee will elect another Member of the committee to be the Deputy Chair.

 

23.09  Privileges Committee

(1)    At the commencement of each Parliament the Council will appoint a Privileges Committee to consider any matter regarding the privileges of the House referred to it by the Council.

 (2)    The committee shall consist of 7 Members with 4 Members to be the quorum.

 (3)    The committee will elect one of its Members to be the Chair of the Committee and one of its Members to be the Deputy Chair.

 

Select Committees

 

23.10  Appointment of Select Committees

(1)    The Council may appoint a Select Committee to consider matters referred by the House.

(2)       A motion for the appointment of a Select Committee will state the object of such committee. 

 

23.11  Appointment of Members

(1)    A Select Committee will consist of not less than five nor, without leave of the Council, more than ten Members.

(2)    Notice will be given in the Council of the names of the Members that are proposed to be appointed to committees.  Notice is not required of a motion for the appointment of Members if that motion immediately follows a resolution that has established a committee.

(3)    Members may be discharged from attending a Select Committee, and other Members added, after notice has been given.

 

23.12  Quorum

The quorum of every Select Committee will be fixed at the time of appointing such committee.

 

23.13  Election of Chair and Deputy Chair

(1)    Prior to the commencement of any other business, every Select Committee will elect one of its Members to be the Chair of the Committee and one of its Members to be Deputy Chair.

(2)    If the Chair and Deputy Chair are absent from any meeting the Members present may appoint any one of their number to be Chair for that meeting. 

 

23.14  Sub-committees

(1)     A Select Committee may appoint a sub-committee of two or more of its Members to inquire into and report to the committee on any matter which the committee is empowered to examine, but may not take evidence unless the committee so decides in relation to each proposed witness.

(2)     At a meeting of a sub-committee two Members constitute a quorum.

(3)     A sub-committee will report to the Select Committee as soon as practicable on each matter referred to that sub-committee. 

 

General Provisions Relating to Committees

 

23.15  Application of provisions

These general provisions relating to the operation of committees apply to all committees and sub-committees established by these Standing Orders, except where otherwise stated.

 

23.16  Meetings

(1)    A committee may not sit while the Council is actually sitting unless specifically empowered to do so by the Council.

(2)    A committee may adjourn from time to time and from place to place.

(3)    If a quorum of Members is not present within half an hour after the time fixed for the meeting of any committee, the meeting will lapse and the next meeting of the committee will be called by the Chair.

(4)    If at any time during the sitting of a committee the quorum of Members fixed by the Council is not present, the Secretary of the Committee will call the attention of the Chair to the fact, who will suspend the proceedings of the committee until a quorum is present, or adjourn the meeting to some future day.

(5)     A committee may use an audio link or audio visual link to allow a Member to participate in a meeting of the committee provided the committee is satisfied that the quality of the audio link or audio visual link will enable Members who are physically present at the meeting to verify the identity of that Member. A Member attending by audio link or audio visual link may be counted for the purposes of a quorum.

 

23.17  Record of proceedings of committee

Minutes of proceedings must be taken of each meeting of a committee and must record -

(a)    the names of the Members who attended each meeting;

(b)    every motion or amendment proposed and the name of its mover; and

(c)    the divisions and the names of the Members voting for each side on a question.

 

23.18  Questions

(1)    In a Standing Committee, in addition to exercising a deliberative vote, when votes on a question are equally divided, the Chair, or the Deputy Chair when acting as chair, shall have a casting vote.

(2)    In a Select Committee all questions will be decided by a majority of Members present.

(3)    In a Select Committee the Chair can vote only when there is an equality of votes.

 

23.19  Power to send for persons, documents and other things

A committee may send for persons, documents and other things.

 

23.20  Deliberative meetings

Committee deliberative meetings will always be conducted in private.

 

23.21 Advertising of terms of reference

Each committee must publicise (on the Parliament of Victoria website at a minimum) the terms of reference for an inquiry and call for submissions and all such submissions received by the committee will be treated as public documents unless the committee otherwise orders.

 

23.22 Evidence 

(1)     Unless otherwise determined by the committee, a transcript will be taken of all formal evidence.

(2)     The name of the Member asking each question of a witness under examination by any committee will be shown in the transcript of evidence.

(3)    Unless the Council or a committee otherwise determines, all evidence will be taken in public and may be published immediately (public hearing).

(4)     A committee may take evidence in private (in camera hearing).

(5)     A committee may take evidence in private but use it as public evidence and it may be published immediately. The committee must inform the person giving the evidence that it is received by the committee on the basis that it will be made public (closed hearing).

(6)     A committee may take evidence in any manner that the committee considers appropriate including by means of audio link, audio visual link or any other electronic means.

(7)     A committee must determine what weight or value to give to evidence received by different means in accordance with Standing Order 23.22(6).

(8)     Without limiting or affecting the generality of section 19A of the Constitution Act 1975, evidence given before a committee in accordance with Standing Order 23.22(6) must, if the committee so requires, be given on oath or affirmation.

(9)     An oath to be sworn or affirmation to be made by a witness who is to give evidence by audio link or audio visual link may be administered either —

          (a)   by means of the audio link or audio visual link, in as nearly as practicable the same way is if the witness were to give evidence at the place at which the committee is sitting; or

          (b)   at the direction of, and on behalf of, the committee at the place where the witness is located by a person authorised by the committee.

 

23.23 Disclosure of submissions, evidence and other documents

(1)     A committee may authorise the publication of any documents, papers and submissions presented to it.

(2)     Evidence not taken in public and any documents, papers and submissions received by the committee which have not been authorised for publication will not be disclosed unless they have been reported to the Council.

 

23.24 Unreported evidence

Where a committee lapses or ceases to have legal existence before it can report to the Council, the evidence can be considered by any other committee appointed in the same or next Parliament inquiring into the same subject-matter.

23.25 Interim reports

A committee may report on its deliberations and present its minutes, evidence or other documents from time to time.

 

23.26 Chair to prepare draft report

The Chair of every committee will prepare the draft report for consideration by the committee.

 

23.27 Proceedings on consideration of draft report

(1)    The draft report will be printed and circulated to Members of a committee.

(2)    The report will be considered paragraph by paragraph or groups of paragraphs and a question put "That the paragraph [or paragraphs] or the paragraph or paragraphs (as amended) stand part of the report".

(3)    A Member may move amendments to a paragraph at the time it is under consideration.

(4)    After all paragraphs and appendices (if any) have been considered, the question will be put "That the draft report (or the draft report, as amended), be the Report of the Committee".

(5)    Any division on a question relating to the adoption of the draft report must be included in the Committee's report to the Council.

 

23.28 Minority report

When requested to do so by one or more Members of a committee, the committee will include with its report to the Council a minority report.

 

23.29 Report presented by Chair

The report of a committee will be tabled in the Council by the Chair of the committee and may be ordered to lie on the Table.

 

23.30    Government responses

(1)     If a committee’s report to the Council recommends that the Government take a particular action
with respect to a matter, within six months of the report being laid before the Council the appropriate responsible Minister must —

         (a)   provide the Council with a Government response to the committee’s recommendations; or

         (b)   if the Council is not sitting, lodge the response with the Clerk.

(2)     On receipt of a Government response under 23.30(1)(b) the Clerk must —

         (a)   as soon as practicable, notify each member of the Council of the response and that it is available upon request; and

         (b)   cause the response to be laid before the Council on the next sitting day of the Council.

(3)     A Government response that is given to the Clerk under 23.30(1)(b) is taken to be published by order, or under the authority, of the Legislative Council.

 

23.31 Resources

Each committee shall be provided with all necessary staff, facilities and resources and shall be empowered to appoint persons with specialist knowledge for the purposes of the committee, with the approval of the President.

 

23.32 List of Members

A list of Members serving on committees must be published in the Notice Paper.