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Navigate Senate Committees

The Senate select committee on the standing committee system inquired into establishing standing committees on three matters—regulations and ordinances, international relations and bills.

The inquiry resulted in several important outcomes:

  • the establishment in 1932 of a standing committee to consider federal regulations and ordinances
  • legislative amendments to prohibit regulations that had been disallowed (vetoed) by the parliament from being remade within six months, and
  • changes to the Senate standing orders to allow bills to be referred more easily to committees.

The referral of bills to committees, while routine in many overseas parliaments at the time, was not a common practice in the Senate until the introduction of the Selection of Bills Committee in 1989.

A proposed standing committee on foreign affairs and the inauguration of a complete system of standing committees also proved controversial and were not established by the Senate until 1970.

Monte Luke, Portrait of Robert Gordon Menzies, [193-?], National Library of Australia, nla.obj-136260982

Among the witnesses to the select committee was a young Robert Gordon Menzies, barrister and Member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly and later Prime Minister of Australia, who attested that he was ‘concerned at the growing tendency to legislate by regulation’. Regulations did not have the same level of parliamentary oversight as bills, resulting in fewer protections of the rights and liberties of citizens affected by those laws.

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