August 30, 2023

Guide to Parliamentary Committees

Your guide to the parliamentary committees of the 47th Parliament of Australia
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Parliamentary Committees 101

What is a committee?

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. There are currently 64 sitting committees.

What are the powers of a committee?

A committee has a right to call witnesses to testify on an issue. If you knowingly lie to or mislead a committee you can be found in contempt of Parliament, this is a criminal offence.

The committee will produce a report for Parliament where it will provide recommendations on an issue. The Parliament can then decide whether or not to accept those recommendations.

What is an inquiry?

An inquiry is an opportunity for a committee to investigate a certain issue and provide advice/recommendations to the Senate/House of Representatives on the issue. It provides an opportunity for all relevant parties to provide input and be held to account.

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

Standing committees are established (or stand) for the duration of the Parliament and have the power to inquire into and report on any matter referred to them by the House or a Minister

In addition, annual reports of government departments and authorities presented to the House are automatically referred to the committees for any inquiry they may wish to make. Reports are referred to particular committees in accordance with a schedule presented by the Speaker recording the areas of responsibilities of each committee. 

Select committees are appointed as the need arises for a specific purpose, and have a limited life.

Joint committees draw their membership from, and report to, both Houses of Parliament.

Statutory committees are those established by Act of Parliament. All existing statutory committees are joint committees.

Domestic or internal committees are those whose functions are concerned with the powers and procedures of the House or the administration of Parliament.

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 64 sitting committees they are as follows:

Senate Committees

Appropriations, Staffing and Security

Chair - Sue Lines

Australia's Disaster Resilience

Chair - Jacqui Lambie

Community Affairs

Legislation Chair - Marielle Smith

References Chair - Janet Rice

Cost of Living

Chair - Jane Hume

Dental Services in Australia

Chair - Jordon Steele-John


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

Perth Mint and Commonwealth Regulatory Compliance

Chair - Dean Smith


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

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

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 - Catryna Bilyk

Intelligence and Security

Chair - Peter Khalil

Law Enforcement

Chair - Helen Polley


Chair - Maria Vamvakinou

National Anti-Corruption Commission

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

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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