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: 3 min 10 sec




Opening credits showing images of the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Australian Flag, the Governor-General and the Main Committee Room. Music.
Title: About Parliament, Parliamentary Committees. Parliamentary Committees.
Senators and members at work in committee rooms at Parliament House. Presenter: Committees can be set up by the Senate or the House of Representatives—or by both houses together—to investigate issues in detail.
Witnesses answer questions from committees. Presenter: 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. Presenter: They also help to keep an important check on the work of the government.
The presenter stands in a committee room. Presenter: A committee usually involves a small group of senators or members who focus on a proposed law or issue. Through its committees, the Parliament can carry out tasks not suitable for the large, formal chambers of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
A Senate committee meets in a committee room at Parliament House. Presenter: The Parliament gives its committees considerable powers of investigation including the ability to question witnesses and collect evidence.
Senator Hanson-Young: 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.
Presenter: Committees hear people's views in many ways.
A graphic showing a range of submissions to committees.
A committee staff member talking on the phone.
Committees meeting outdoors, in a meeting room and in a school hall.
Presenter: They can receive written submissions, take evidence by phone or video, and travel across Australia to speak to individuals, organisations, experts and interest groups.
A committee hearing from witnesses in the Main Committee Room at Parliament House. Presenter: 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.
The presenter stands in the Main Committee Room. Presenter: There are many different kinds of committees in the Parliament. Some focus on important public issues, like climate change or the cost of living, while others look at proposed laws in detail. Committees are also used to examine the work of the government and other organisations.
A minister answers questions in a Senate estimates hearing. Presenter: In Senate estimates hearings, ministers and senior public servants are questioned about government actions and their spending of public money.
A committee questions the Governor of the Reserve Bank in the Main Committee Room. Presenter: Here, a House of Representatives Committee questions the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia.
A range of committee reports are placed on a table. One is opened to show a list of recommendations. Presenter: 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.
Members and senators table committee reports in the Senate and House of Representatives. Presenter: This process can result in changes to proposed laws or government policy. It encourages debate and helps members and senators make better-informed decisions.
Title: Parliamentary Education Office. Copyright Commonwealth of Australia 2017.
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