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Guide to Parliamentary Committees

Published on
November 7, 2022
William Wright
for GovConnex Research
Before GovConnex Research is published here, it's sent exclusively to GovConnex Platform subscribers.

Parliamentary Committees 101


Parliamentary committees investigate specific areas of policy, government administration, and performance. They are integral to the functioning of Australia’s democracy as they provide a forum for organisations, experts, and individuals to participate in the policy-making process.

What is the difference between a standing committee and a select committee?

Standing committees are appointed at the start and for the entirety of a new parliament.

Select committees can be appointed at any time to investigate a specific issue.

What is the difference between a legislation committee and a references committee?

Within some senate committees there is a legislation committee and a references committee. Legislation committees consider government expenditure, inquire into and report on bills referred to them, and monitor the performance of government departments/agencies. Legislation committees are always chaired by a member of the government. References committees inquire into and report on general matters referred to them by the Senate as opposed to specific bills, for example an investigation into Australia becoming a republic. They are always chaired by a member of the opposition or minority parties/independents.

There are currently 63 sitting committees they are as follows:

Senate Committees

Appropriations, Staffing and Security

Chair - Sue Lines

Community Affairs

Legislation Chair - Marielle Smith

References Chair - Janet Rice


Legislation Chair - Jess Walsh

References Chair - Andrew Bragg

Education and Employment

Legislation Chair - Tony Sheldon

References Chair - Matt O’Sullivan

Environment and Communications

Legislation Chair - Karen Grogan

References Chair - Sarah Hanson-Young

Finance and Public Administration

Legislation Chair - Louise Pratt

References Chair - Richard Colbeck

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade

Legislation Chair - Raff Ciccone

References Chair - Claire Chandler

Legal and Constitutional Affairs

Legislation Chair - Nita Green

References Chair - Paul Scarr


Chair - Slade Brockman


Chair - Sue Lines


Chair - Fatima Payman

Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport

Legislation Chair - Glenn Sterle

References Chair - Matthew Canavan

Scrutiny of Bills

Chair - Dean Smith

Scrutiny of Delegated Legislation

Chair - Linda White

Selection of Bills

Chair - Anne Urquhart

Senators' Interests

Chair - Linda Reynolds

Work and Care

Chair - Barbara Pocock

House Committees


Chair - Meryl Swanson

Appropriations and Administration

Chair - Milton Dick

Climate Change, Energy, Environment and Water

Chair - Tony Zappia

Communications and the Arts

Chair - Brian Mitchell


Chair - Daniel Mulino

Employment, Education and Training

Chair - Lisa Chesters

Health, Aged Care and Sport

Chair - Mike Freelander

Industry, Science and Resources

Chair - Rob Mitchell


Chair - Susan Templeman

Privileges and Members' Interests

Chair - Rob Mitchell


Chair - Shayne Nuemann


Chair - Fiona Phillips

Regional Development, Infrastructure and Transport

Chair - Luke Gosling


Chair - Milton Dick

Social Policy and Legal Affairs

Chair - Peta Murphy

Workforce Australia Employment Services

Chair - Julian Hill

Joint Committees

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs

Chair - Patrick Dodson

Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity

Chair - Catryna Bilyk

Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings

Chair - Milton Dick

Corporations and Financial Services

Chair - Deborah O’Neill

Electoral Matters

Chair - Kate Thwaites

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade

Chair - Shayne Neumann

Human Rights

Chair - Josh Burns

Implementation of the National Redress Scheme (Standing)

Chair - Marion Scrymgour

Intelligence and Security

Chair - Peter Khalil

Law Enforcement

Chair - Helen Polley


Chair - Maria Vamvakinou

National Anti-Corruption Commission Legislation

Chair - Linda White

National Capital and External Territories

Chair - Alicia Payne

National Disability Insurance Scheme

Chair - Libby Coker

Northern Australia

Chair - Marion Scrymgour

Parliamentary Library

Co-chairs - Slade Brockman and Anne Stanley

Parliamentary Standards

Chair - Sharon Claydon

Public Accounts and Audit

Chair - Julian Hill

Public Works

Chair - Graham Perrett


Chair - Fiona Phillips

Trade and Investment Growth

Chair - Steve Georganas


Chair - Josh Wilson

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