Thursday, 27 June 2013
Government Response to Report
On behalf of the President, and in accordance with the usual practice, I table a report of parliamentary committee reports to which the government has not responded within the prescribed period. The report has been circulated to senators. With the concurrence of the Senate, the report will be incorporated in Hansard.
The documents read as follows—
This document continues the practice of presenting to the Senate twice each year a list of government responses to Senate and joint committee reports as well as responses which remain outstanding.
The practice of presenting this list to the Senate is in accordance with the resolution of the Senate of 14 March 1973 and the undertaking by successive governments to respond to parliamentary committee reports in timely fashion. On 26 May 1978 the Minister for Administrative Services (Senator Withers) informed the Senate that within six months of the tabling of a committee report, the responsible minister would make a statement in the Parliament outlining the action the government proposed to take in relation to the report. The period for responses was reduced from six months to three months in 1983 by the incoming government. The Leader of the Government in the Senate announced this change on 24 August 1983. The method of response continued to be by way of statement. Subsequently, on 16 October 1991 [tabled 5 Nov 1991] the government advised that responses to committee reports would be made by letter to a committee chair, with the letter being tabled in the Senate at the earliest opportunity. The government affirmed this commitment in June 1996 to respond to relevant parliamentary committee reports within three months of presentation. The current government indicated on 26 June and 4 December 2008 that it is committed to providing timely responses to parliamentary committee reports1.
Although, on 29 September 2010, the House agreed to a resolution which places a six month response time on House and joint committee reports tabled in the House2, the Senate has not agreed to a similar resolution. Therefore, this list is prepared on the basis of a three month reporting undertaking for Senate and joint committee reports tabled in the Senate.
This list does not usually include reports of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights or the following Senate Standing Committees: Appropriations and Staffing, Privileges, Procedure, Publications, Regulations and Ordinances, Scrutiny of Bills, Selection of Bills and Senators' Interests. However, such reports will be included if they require a response. Government responses to reports of the Public Works Committee are normally reflected in motions in the House of Representatives for the approval of works after the relevant report has been presented and considered.
Reports of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit (JCPAA) primarily make administrative recommendations but may make policy recommendations. A government response is required in respect of such policy recommendations made by the committee. However, responses to administrative recommendations are made in the form of an executive minute provided to, and subsequently tabled by, the committee. Agencies responding to administrative recommendations are required to provide an executive minute within six months of the tabling of a report. The committee monitors the provision of such responses.
An entry on this list for a report of the JCPAA containing only administrative recommendations is annotated to indicate that the response is to be provided in the form of an executive minute. Consequently, any other government response is not required. However, any reports containing policy recommendations are included in this report as requiring a government response.
Senate committees report on bills and the provisions of bills. Only those reports in this category that make recommendations which cannot readily be addressed during the consideration of the bill, and therefore require a response, are listed. The list also does not include reports by committees on estimates or scrutiny of annual reports, unless recommendations are made that require a response.
A guide to the legend used in the ' Date response presented/made to the Senate ' column
* See document tabled in the Senate on 27 June 2013, entitled Government Responses to Parliamentary Committee Reports–Response to the schedule tabled by the President of the Senate on 29 November 2012 for Government interim/final response.
** Report contains administrative recommendations – any response to those recommendations is to be provided to the JCPAA committee in the form of an executive minute.
1 See House of Representatives Hansard, 26 June 2008, p6131 and 4 December 2008, p1263, and Journals of the Senate, 4 December 2008, p1447
2 See House of Representatives Votes and Proceedings, 29 September 2010, p44