Standing Orders Committee report on standing committees
The first legislative and general purpose standing committees commence operation
The revolutionary proposals of 1970 transformed the work of the Senate. The resulting committees would harness expertise in the community, inform senators on complex matters, improve laws and increase scrutiny of the government.
Senators who took part in the five hours of debate believed that they were witnessing something momentous. Senator Ian Wood (Qld, LIB) was moved to exclaim:
'I believe that whatever proposition is accepted ultimately, the Parliament and the people will say when they look back on this occasion that this has been the greatest event and the greatest day in any parliamentary history.'
The main players
While senators agreed that there should be a committee system, there were differing views on what form it should take. Four individuals in particular influenced the proposals before the Senate.
Portrait of Senator Lionel K Murphy, National Archives of Australia, A6135, K8/5/72/2
Portrait of Senator K Anderson, ca. 1951, National Library of Australia, nla.obj-136556214
Portrait of Senator Vincent Clair Gair, 1946, National Archives of Australia, A1200, L8058
Portrait of Senator Ian Alexander Christie Wood, September 1959, National Library of Australia, nla.obj-137356905
Find out more
James Rowland Odgers (Clerk of the Senate 1965-1975), Interview with Robert Linford on Senator Ken Anderson's views on a Senate committee system, 1985
National Library of Australia, TRC 4900/105, session 1, 00:49:13-00:50:47.
James Rowland Odgers, Clerk of the Senate 1965-75, Interview with Robert Linford on addressing the Democratic Labor Party on the proposed Senate committee system, 1985
National Library of Australia, TRC 4900/105, session 1, 00:53:24-00:56:33.