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    8.2 Guidance in relation to dealings with Queensland Parliamentary Committees

    8.2.1 Government submissions and responses

    Submissions to Committees

    All individual agency submissions must be approved by the relevant Minister/s. All individual agency submissions should describe and offer factual analysis of policies and programs or the manner in which relevant issues have been dealt with.

    Where a submission deals with a politically sensitive matter or significant policy issues it may be necessary to seek Cabinet approval prior to forwarding to the Committee.

    If the policy issues cross agencies, ie more than one agency would wish to make a submission on the same policy matter, a whole-of-Government submission must be prepared in consultation with affected agencies.

    Policy Division, Department of the Premier and Cabinet must be consulted in relation to all submissions to Parliamentary Committees.

    Responses to Reports of Committees

    All Ministerial responses to reports of Queensland Parliamentary Committees, except those reports about legislation, must receive Cabinet approval prior to their being tabled in the Legislative Assembly. Responses to reports of Parliamentary Committees on matters that cross agency responsibilities require whole-of-Government development and coordination. Policy Division, Department of the Premier and Cabinet must be consulted in relation to all responses to reports of Parliamentary Committees.

    Whether or not Cabinet consideration is required for Parliamentary Committee reports about legislation will be determined on a case by case basis after consultation with the Department of the Premier and Cabinet.

    8.2.2 Public service employees

    Public service employees and employees of statutory authorities, government owned corporations and other government entities may have dealings with parliamentary committees as either an assistant or a witness. In both roles they can provide committees with detailed information about the processes and operations of a department or entity to allow committees to effectively discharge their functions to scrutinise the executive, consider proposed legislation and conduct reviews and inquiries on behalf of the Legislative Assembly.

    The Code of Practice for Public Service employees assisting or appearing before Parliamentary Committees (PDF, 735 KB) provides guidance for public service employees dealing with parliamentary committees as either an assistant or as a witness.

    The Code of Practice seeks to recognise the importance of the Legislative Assembly having a high standard of scrutiny over the executive government and legislation while recognising the duties owed by public service employees to their departments and Ministers, and to provide guidance on the public service employee's role in this process. The Code of Practice has been adopted by the Legislative Assembly and incorporated in the Standing Rules and Orders.

    The Code of Practice applies to public service employees of entities declared to be government departments in accordance with section 14 of the Public Service Act 2008.

    The Code of Practice may also be used by officers and employees of statutory authorities, government owned corporations and other government entities.

    It is noted that paragraphs 39 to 44 of the Code of Practice deal with public service employees making objections to producing material or answering questions in relation to committee hearings. If the Committee's leave is obtained to seek the Chief Executive's view about information a public servant employee believes should not be released, consideration should be given to whether Crown Law advice is required, particularly if the grounds of objection may include complex legal concepts such as public interest immunity or legal professional privilege.

    Where requested material is a Cabinet document (including a Cabinet working paper), the Chief Executive must consult with the Cabinet Secretary and if appropriate seek legal advice from the Crown Solicitor, in particular regarding any possible claim of public interest immunity, before copies of such documents are provided.

    Chief Executive Officers should ensure that the Policy Division in the Department of the Premier and Cabinet is briefed and consulted in relation to committee hearings. For example, it may be necessary to coordinate evidence and provide a whole of government perspective on issues concerning more than one agency.

    8.2.3 Statutory office holders

    Certain statutory office holders, notably such as the Auditor-General, the Chairperson of the Crime and Misconduct Commission and the Queensland Ombudsman have defined functions independent of Ministers. Submissions to Parliamentary Committees by such office holders dealing with matters arising from their independent functions need not be cleared with the Minister.

    As noted in 8.2.2, the Code of Practice for Public Service employees assisting or appearing before Parliamentary Committees may also be used by statutory officers as reference document when assisting parliamentary committees.

    A separate Code of Practice (PDF, 586 KB) has also been developed in relation to the assistance that the Auditor-General and the Queensland Audit Office are able to provide to portfolio committees. This Code of Practice is intended to be used as a guide to ensure that interactions between portfolio committees, Members of Parliament and the Auditor-General are appropriate, and that these interactions respect the independence of the Queensland Audit Office and the role and status of the portfolio committees.

    8.2.4 Estimates

    Portfolio committees consider the relevant appropriation bills and the estimates for the committee's area of responsibility. Procedures for estimates are set out in Part 6 of the Standing Orders of the Legislative Assembly.

    It is noted that Ministers, Directors-General and certain Chief Executive Officers must be present at all times in estimates hearings where they are responsible for the relevant area or entity under consideration. The list of entities to which direct questioning of Chief Executive Officers at estimates is to apply is set out in Schedule 7 of the Standing Orders of the Legislative Assembly.

    Ministers may also have advisers present to assist.

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    Last updated:
    18 May, 2016
    Last reviewed:
    1 November, 2011