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    8.3 Guidelines for Queensland submissions to Commonwealth inquiries/reviews

    These guidelines apply to formal inquiries and reviews, undertaken by a Commonwealth commission, committee (including Parliamentary Committees) or agency, which require the preparation of a formal submission by a Queensland agency or the Queensland Government, including inquiries where a Queensland official may be called subsequently to give oral testimony.

    The guidelines do not apply to routine correspondence and meetings between Queensland agencies and their Commonwealth counterparts for the purpose of policy development, program administration or exchange of information.

    The guidelines provide general guidance, and particular cases will require careful judgement and appropriate consultation. This is particularly the case where a rapid response is required by the Commonwealth review body. In all cases, Ministers should write to the Premier when invited to participate in Commonwealth inquiries.

    8.3.1 Written submissions

    It is normally in the interest of the State to cooperate in providing information to inquiries/reviews undertaken by Commonwealth commissions, committees (including Parliamentary Committees) and agencies on matters affecting policy and administration at State level. However, where staff time and resources required to prepare a submission would adversely affect the operational efficiency of the unit, the relevant Chief Executive Officer may determine that a submission is not warranted. Policy Division, Department of the Premier and Cabinet should be informed of such decisions.

    Policy Division, Department of the Premier and Cabinet must be consulted in relation to all submissions to Commonwealth inquiries or Parliamentary Committees. An agency proposing to prepare a written submission to a Commonwealth inquiry/review should formally notify the Director-General, Department of the Premier and Cabinet in writing at an early stage.

    Where a proposed written submission is of a factual nature only and where the subject matter is relevant to only one Queensland agency, that agency may transmit the submission as an agency submission direct to the Commonwealth after consultation with the Department of the Premier and Cabinet and approval by the relevant Minister/s.

    Submissions to Commonwealth Parliamentary Committees and inquiries should be prepared as if they were public documents. These documents should be concise and well-written and acknowledge all relevant Government activity.

    Where the proposed written submission comments on policy matters, co-ordination and clearance arrangements are to be negotiated with the Department of the Premier and Cabinet.

    Where a proposed written submission covers subject matter relevant to two or more agencies, a single coordinated submission should be prepared to ensure a consistent whole of government approach. Coordination arrangements between agencies should be negotiated appropriately for each case, in consultation with the Policy Division in the Department of the Premier and Cabinet. The department primarily responsible for preparing the coordinated submission should ensure that other agencies have an opportunity to comment.

    All whole-of-Government submissions to Commonwealth inquiries or Parliamentary Committees must receive prior Cabinet approval. The Cabinet submission should also seek approval for any proposed oral testimony (see 8.3.2 below).

    Where a proposed written submission raises issues dealing with Commonwealth/State financial arrangements or raises policy or service issues with significant resourcing implications, early consultation should be undertaken with the Treasury Department.

    Where a proposed written submission may raise legal issues, including Queensland's obligations under Commonwealth legislation or under national/international agreements, early consultation should be undertaken with the Department of Justice and Attorney-General and the Department of the Premier and Cabinet.

    Where it is proposed that a Government Owned Corporation will make a submission independently of government departments, the shareholding Minister/s must approve the submission. Where it is proposed that a statutory authority will make a submission independently of government departments, the Chairperson should approve the submission and provide a copy to the relevant Minister and Chief Executive Officer. The submission is to state clearly that it does not represent the views of the Queensland Government.

    8.3.2 Oral testimony

    Where it is proposed for senior officers to provide oral testimony before a Commonwealth commission or committee, the following considerations apply:

    • comments should primarily focus on clarification of a written submission prepared in accordance with the above arrangements;
    • officers should not comment on the merits of Queensland government policy, including alternative policy approaches, except where:
      • such comment is made in an authorised written submission and the officer is clarifying points made in the submission;
      • comment is based on other information officially released by the Queensland government (eg. comments on government policy made in a government issues paper or policy statement); or
      • the officer has specific authorisation to comment (eg. from the departmental Minister or Chief Executive Officer);
    • in arranging representation at hearings dealing with joint submissions, consideration should be given to ensuring appropriate senior representation from agencies whose responsibilities are affected;
    • where a joint or whole of government submission has been made to a Commonwealth inquiry, officers should ensure that their oral testimony reflects the coordinated perspectives contained in the submission. Where it is not practicable for all relevant departments to be individually represented, State representatives may request that questions falling within the administration of another department or agency be deferred until that department or agency is consulted;
    • questions that cannot be reasonably addressed under the above guidelines should be taken "on notice" and a supplementary written submission provided where necessary; and
    • except in cases where an officer's appearance before a Commonwealth inquiry is legally mandatory, the merits of a Queensland agency providing oral testimony should be considered and a decision taken by the relevant Chief Executive Officer.

    Members of statutory authorities having a statutory role in providing public information and education may express views on the policy responsibilities of their authorities. However, care should be taken to avoid taking positions on matters of controversy outside the policy frameworks established by government.

    Executives of Government Owned Corporations may express views on matters related to the commercial operations of their corporations. Expression of views on the policy frameworks established by government should be approved by the shareholding Minister/s and clearly identified as not representing the views of the Queensland Government.

    Queensland officers will not provide oral testimony on policy issues at public hearings of Commonwealth inquiries except with the approval of Cabinet or, in urgent cases, the Premier, through the Department of the Premier and Cabinet.

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    Last updated:
    18 May, 2016
    Last reviewed:
    17 July, 2009