First referral of a bill to a legislative and general purpose standing committee
Legislative and general purpose standing committees restructured
Following the establishment of the modern committee system of the Senate in the early 1970s, senators soon realised that they were not being advised of the government’s use of their work:
In March 1973 the Senate agreed to a resolution expressing its view that the government should respond to committee reports within three months of their presentation in the Senate.
The original order was widely supported. However, five years later the Standing Orders Committee noted that only one government response had been tabled in accordance with the resolution. In May 1978 the committee recommended the adoption of a more strongly worded resolution. Shortly afterwards, the government agreed to provide responses within six months of the presentation of a report.
Since 1979 the President has reported to the Senate on government responses outstanding. These are now tabled twice a year and the government tables a similar report in response. The current requirement is for government responses to be provided within three months.
Find out more
Donald Scott Jessop, Senator for South Australia 1971-87, Interview with Bruce Edwards on the 1978 government agreement to respond to committee reports, 1990-91
National Library of Australia, TRC 4900/91, session 10, 00:09:28-00:11:55.
Gordon Sinclair Davidson, Senator for South Australia, Interview with Bruce Edwards on the quality of government responses after the 1978 undertaking, 1984-86
National Library of Australia, TRC 4900/41, session 134, 00:21:30-00:24:15.
The first government response to a committee report, tabled on 29 May 1973.