Queensland’s Parliamentary Committees play a crucial role in the state’s budget process by examining and scrutinising the government’s proposed spending for the upcoming year. Following the Treasurer’s Budget speech to the Parliament, which occurred on 4 June, each of the Parliament’s seven portfolio based committees then examines the proposed expenditure that is relevant to their areas of responsibility.
Each committee holds a public hearing, known as Estimates Committee hearings, during which the committee members are able to question the relevant Minister and Chief Executive Officers about proposed spending in their Department and Authority. Questioners at Estimates Committee hearings are allowed a wide range of scope, with questions ranging from items of detail to broad policy. All of these upcoming Estimates Committee hearings will be broadcast live on the Parliament’s website when they are held from 16 to 25 July and will then also be able to be viewed on replay.
When the committee’s hearings are completed, the members meet, discuss the information gained and compile a final report. Any committee member can incorporate in the report a statement of reservations or a dissent to the majority committee report. Each of the committee’s final reports will be tabled in Parliament in August with each report then debated in the House.
Members of Parliament then vote on whether to pass the Bills containing the Budget. These Bills are called Appropriation Bills (an Appropriation Bill is a legislative act proposing to authorise the expenditure of public funds for a specified purpose.) It is only once the Parliament has passed these Appropriation Bills that they become law and the government is then able to distribute funds to each of their Departments to spend as outlined in the Budget.
As well as these responsibilities for scrutinising the Government’s budget, Parliamentary Committees are tasked year-round with inquiring into and examining Bills (proposed new laws) and other issues of importance. Below is a list of Bills that parliamentary committees are currently holding inquiries into-
- Agriculture and Forestry Legislation Amendment Bill 2013
- Building and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2013
- Classification of Publications (Billboard Advertising) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2013
- Criminal Code (Looting in Declared Areas) Amendment Bill 2013
- Education Legislation Amendment Bill 2013
- Health Ombudsman Bill 2013
- Milk Pricing (Fair Milk Mark) Bill 2013
- Nature Conservation (Protected Plants) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2013
- Public Health (Exclusion of Unvaccinated Children from Child Care) Amendment Bill 2013
Below is a list of specific issues that parliamentary committees are also currently holding inquiries into-
- Assessment of senior maths, chemistry and physics in Queensland schools
- Inquiry into Public Sector Contract Extensions
- Sexually explicit outdoor advertising
Anyone with an interest in any of these Bills or issues can follow the progress of all 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
Select the ‘Work of Committees’ tab to find all information relevant to Committees and their current and past inquiries.
The following topical inquiries were finalised and tabled in late May-
- Inquiry into the future and continued relevance of Government land tenure across Queensland
- Inquiry into Palliative care services and home and community care services
- Operation of Queensland’s Workers’ Compensation Scheme.
Copies of each of these and all other Committee reports are available on the Queensland Parliament’s website.
So far during 2013, Committees have held 31 public hearings and briefings. These hearings and briefings are generally held at Parliament House in Brisbane but also occur in regional areas across Queensland. You are welcome to attend these hearings in person and many are broadcast live on the Parliament’s website. These broadcasts are then stored online and available to be watched on replay afterwards.