Tuesday, 10 September 2019
Royal Commissions Amendment (Private Sessions) Bill 2019; Second Reading
As my colleague Minister Colbeck was starting a speech yesterday, I would like to reiterate that this bill, the Royal Commissions Amendment (Private Sessions) Bill 2019, passed in the other place, made provision for the chair or sole commissioner to authorise assistant commissioners to hold private sessions. As has already been outlined, the bill placed limits on the circumstances in which an assistant commissioner could be authorised to hold a private session. Only appropriately qualified and senior staff of the commission could be authorised as assistant commissioners. The bill made the presumption that private sessions must be held by a commissioner unless the chair or sole commissioner considered that there were circumstances that justified assistant commissioners holding private sessions. This provision was intended to give more flexibility to a commission. It was not envisaged that the power would be necessary for multipanel inquiries with many commissioners. It may have been useful for a royal commission with only one or two commissioners to hold more private sessions. I think I may be a little bit ahead of myself; nonetheless, I thank senators for their contribution to the debate, and I commend the bill to the Senate.
Question agreed to.
Bill read a second time.