Before 1994, all estimates and legislative and general purpose standing committees were chaired by government chairs who had a casting vote. This led to a perception that the committees could be controlled at every point by the government.
The new system amalgamated estimates committees with standing committees to create pairs of committees—a references and a legislation committee—in eight subject areas. References committees would conduct inquiries into matters of public policy under a non-government chair. Legislation committees, with a government chair, would inquire into proposed legislation and monitor the performance of agencies through estimates hearings and the examination of annual reports.
Another measure that broadened the participation of senators in committees was the creation of ‘participating’ membership. While only full members have a right to vote, senators with an interest or expertise in a committee inquiry could now attend meetings, question witnesses and contribute to reports.
Senator Baden Chapman Teague. DPS Auspic