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This website contains names and images of deceased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Navigate Senate Committees

While the Regulations and Ordinances Committee had operated since 1932 to ensure legislative instruments created by the executive government did not unduly limit the rights of individuals, Acts of Parliament did not receive the same treatment until nearly 50 years later.

Since 1981 the Scrutiny of Bills committee has systematically examined all proposed legislation from a technical rather than policy perspective, drawing areas of concern to the attention of ministers and the Senate and proposing amendments to bills where appropriate.

A longstanding effect of the committee has been its influence on approaches to, and standards in, the drafting of legislation and supporting documentation.

At the time the committee was established, it was the only committee of its kind in the world. Since then all of Australia’s state and territory jurisdictions with the exception of Tasmania have established committees with a function to scrutinise primary legislation.

Senator Fred Chaney.

Australian Information Service,

25 February 1986

Senator Alan Missen, chair of the

Scrutiny of Bills Committee, 1981–86.

Australian Information Service,

25 February 1986

The two government senators with a central role in establishing the Scrutiny of Bills Committee—Fred Chaney and Alan Missen—met fierce resistance from their government colleagues. Senator Fred Chaney proposed an inquiry into a scrutiny of bills committee to the Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee in 1978. When the motion for the establishment of the committee was put in the Senate in 1981, seven government senators including Senator Missen crossed the floor to support the opposition and minor party senators to pass the motion. Senator Chaney, who was a government minister, was bound by a cabinet decision to oppose the proposal, but took ‘great pleasure’ in the outcome.

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