Thanks for your question, Declan.
Parliamentary committees investigate issues and proposed laws in detail so members of parliament are well-informed before making decisions.
Committees are usually made up of approximately 6–10 government and non-government members of parliament. They hold meetings – called hearings – to closely examine and research issues and then write reports to present their findings to the Senate or House of Representatives. This information assists with further discussion and debate of proposed laws.
Hearings are held all across Australia, not just at Parliament House in Canberra, to make them accessible to all members of the community. Each committee has a secretariat — a group of parliamentary employees — who assist with running the hearings and writing the report to present to parliament.
Parliamentary committees are an important part of the work of the Parliament. They are one of the main ways the Australian Parliament can execute its function to scrutinise – closely examine – the work of the government. Committees provide senators and members further opportunity to connect with voters around Australia, and offer another avenue for all Australians to have their voice, experience and expertise heard in matters that are important to them.
Using information contained in their annual reports, it is possible to calculate how much it costs the Department of the Senate and the Department of the House of Representatives to run parliamentary committees each year.