The Queensland Parliament’s eight portfolio committees have important responsibilities in monitoring and scrutinising government decisions and activities. The committees are tasked with examining bills (proposed new laws) that have been introduced in the parliament, overseeing the expenditure and operation of all government departments, as well as reviewing the public works of these departments. Portfolio committees also investigate any issue referred to them by the Legislative Assembly, with these generally being matters of interest and importance to Queenslanders. Each portfolio committee oversees specific areas of government responsibility, and collectively, parliamentary committees oversee all departments and their activities.
It is standard for committees to hold inquiries into each bill that the parliament refers to them. Committees have a focus on engaging with Queenslanders during these inquiries and they will typically call for written submissions, seek the advice of experts in the particular field being examined, and hold public hearings where evidence is received from stakeholders and other interested persons. While the majority of public hearings are held at Parliament House, committees also travel to regional areas of Queensland to hear from people across the state who wish to contribute to an inquiry.
Following their consultations, the portfolio committees then report their findings to the parliament. For committee inquiries into bills (which constitute the majority of portfolio committee activities) their reports contain recommendations on whether the committee believes that the bill should be passed and also whether the committee believes that amendments should be made to improve the bill.
Members of parliament then debate the bill, having been able to consider the informed advice of the committee report on that bill. Below are the bills that parliamentary committees are currently examining (listed by each relevant portfolio committee):
Agriculture and Environment Committee
Sugar Industry (Real Choice in Marketing) Amendment Bill 2015
Finance and Administration Committee
Holidays and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2015
Work Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2015
Health and Ambulance Services Committee
Health Legislation (Waiting List Integrity) Amendment Bill 2015
Mental Health (Recovery Model) Bill 2015
Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources Committee
Building Queensland Bill 2015
Heavy Vehicle National Law Amendment Bill 2015
Planning and Development (Planning for Prosperity) Bill 2015
Planning and Development (Planning Court) Bill 2015
Planning and Development (Planning for Prosperity—Consequential Amendments) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2015
Sustainable Ports Development Bill 2015
Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee
Liquor and Fair Trading Legislation (Red Tape Reduction) Amendment Bill 2015
Queensland Training and Assets Management Authority Repeal Bill 2015
Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation (Protecting Firefighters) Amendment Bill 2015
In addition, the following three issued-based inquiries are currently being undertaken:
the Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee is examining the ‘Adequacy of existing financial protections for Queensland’s seniors’
the Health and Ambulance Services Committee is examining ‘Personal health promotion interventions using telephone and web-based technologies’ and
the Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources Committee is examining ‘Fly in, fly out and other long distance commuting work practices in regional Queensland’.
Anyone with an interest in any of these bills or issues can follow the progress of these committee inquiries and get involved. Please check the parliament’s website to see the status of each inquiry, including dates for public submissions to be received and upcoming hearing details. Individuals, groups and organisations are encouraged to make submissions and have their opinions heard.
The parliament’s website address is- www.parliament.qld.gov.au
On the website’s front page, select the ‘Work of Committees’ tab to find all information relevant to each committee and their current and past inquiries. Copies of all committee reports are available on the Queensland Parliament’s website. Committee public hearings and briefings are broadcast live on the parliament’s website and then available to watch on replay afterwards.
If you have any general inquiries about Parliamentary Committees, you can phone 3406 7671 or email- CommitteeOffice@parliament.qld.gov.au
Parliamentary committees meet regularly, with meetings in particular scheduled on the Wednesday mornings of parliamentary sitting weeks. On these days, parliament commences at 2pm, allowing the whole of Wednesday mornings to be dedicated to committee business. Following the opening of the new parliament on 25 March 2015, parliamentary committees have held 16 public briefings, 12 public hearings and two public meetings. In addition, there have been over 60 private meetings and briefings held.