Parliamentary committees

Explore how committees in the Australian Parliament are formed, their function and how they support the work of the Senate and House of Representatives with this explanatory video.

Teachers can use this video with their class as part of an exploration of the work of the Australian Parliament. This supports the Year 6 Unit of work and the Run a parliamentary committee Classroom activity.

Duration: 2 min 49 sec




Opening credits showing animated shapes with the words: Understand, Teach, Book, Connect.

The Parliamentary Education Office logo.
Senators and members at work in committee rooms at Parliament House. Narrator: When members of parliament want to research important issues in Australia, they form parliamentary committees. Committees can be set up by the Senate or the House of Representatives—or by both houses together—to investigate issues in detail.
Senators at work in a committee room at Parliament House. Senator for Tasmania: This committee has benefited from the support of the department in the conduct of our inquiry.
Witnesses speaking to a committee in a meeting room. Narrator: They help senators and members make informed decisions about law-making and policy and provide the Parliament with a range of community views.
The government in the House of Representatives. Narrator: They also help keep an important check on the work of the government.

A committee meeting in the Main Committee Room at Parliament House.

A committee staff member talking on the phone.

Committees meeting outdoors and in a school hall.
Narrator: A committee is made up of a group of senators or members, who can receive written submissions, take evidence by phone or video, and travel across Australia to speak to individuals, organisations, experts and interest groups.
A Senate committee meets in a committee room at Parliament House.

Narrator: The Parliament gives its committees considerable powers of investigation including the ability to question witnesses and collect evidence.

A committee chair speaking to witnesses.

Senator for Victoria: I remind witnesses that in giving evidence to the committee, they are protected by parliamentary privilege.

Narrator: Anyone who takes part in a committee is protected by parliamentary privilege, which means they can speak freely without any action being taken against them.

Witnesses speaking to a committee at Parliament House.

Senator for South Australia: Have you had a think about the types of costs you're going to be faced with when you go to university?

Student witness: The basic cost is about thirteen and a half thousand for board.
Senators at work in an estimates hearing.

Narrator: Several times a year, Senate committees investigate how the government is spending taxpayers’ money. These hearings are called Senate estimates hearings.

Senator for South Australia: It says volunteer payments 7.1 million, footnote 1: payments made by states. But I’m just confirming my understanding is that the 7.1 million has been paid from the Commonwealth to the states.

Witness: Correct.

Senator for South Australia: Correct. Thank you.
A range of committee reports are placed on a table. One is opened to show a list of recommendations. Narrator: After a committee has examined all evidence on an issue or proposed law, it prepares a report and presents its findings and recommendations to the Parliament.

Senators and members table committee reports in the Senate and the House.

Senators at work in a committee room.

Senator for Western Australia: On behalf of the Community Affairs Legislation Committee, I present the report of the committee on the Human Services Amendment (Photographic Identification and Fraud Prevention) Bill 2019.

Narrator: The research in these reports can result in changes to proposed laws or government policy. It encourages discussion in the community and helps members and senators make better-informed decisions.
The Parliamentary Education Office logo. Narrator: This is our Australian Parliament. To find out more, and how you can get involved, visit the Parliamentary Education Office website: