Thursday, 13 May 2021
Procedure Committee; Report
I present the Procedure Committee first report of 2020, and I move:
That the Senate adopt the recommendations in paragraph 1.6 of the Procedure Committee's first report of 2021, proposing that the Senate adopt revised rules for remote participation in Senate proceedings as a temporary order until 2 September 2021.
On 24 August 2020, the Senate adopted for the first time the rules for remote participation in Senate proceedings contained in the committee's first report of 2020. The committee has recently reviewed the rules and has again emphasised that the use of remote participation should be strictly limited to enable senators to participate in Senate proceedings while they are prevented from physically attending the Senate because of COVID-19 related travel restrictions, quarantine requirements or personal health advice.
The committee also agreed on a new process for approving the use of remote participation with the intention that the system should be available when the President and Deputy President, acting jointly and in consultation with senators, determine that its use is warranted for one or more of the above reasons. The motion I have moved would adopt that change as part of revised rules to apply on a temporary basis until 2 September this year.
The committee also considered the operation of estimates hearings and recommended that senators attend in person rather than seeking to participate remotely and that witnesses should expect to attend in person unless otherwise explicitly approved by the relevant committee. The committee recommends that legislation committees considering estimates adopt these principles.
I commend the report to the Senate.
Question agreed to.