During the year, the Legislative Scrutiny Unit provided secretariat, research and administrative support to the Regulations and Ordinances Committee, the Scrutiny of Bills Committee and the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights.
The committees examine all bills and instruments according to each committee’s terms of reference. The committees report each sitting week on the scrutiny review undertaken and also report annually, outlining their work for each year and highlighting the significant matters they have pursued.
The Regulations and Ordinances Committee secretariat examined 1,838 legislative instruments (1,483 in 2016–17) and drafted 16 Delegated legislation monitors, containing comments on 255 legislative instruments, raising matters related to the committee’s scrutiny terms of reference (under Senate standing order 23).
The Scrutiny of Bills Committee secretariat examined 260 bills (254 in 2016–17) and drafted 15 reports, containing comments on 117 bills (115 in 2016–17), raising matters relating to the committee’s scrutiny terms of reference (under Senate standing order 24).
The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights secretariat examined 266 bills (255 in 2016–17) and drafted 13 reports containing comments on 71 bills (64 in 2016–17), raising matters relating to the committee’s scrutiny terms of reference (contained in the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011). The secretariat also examined 1,697 disallowable and exempt legislative instruments (1,720 in 2016–17) and drafted comments on 62 instruments (44 in 2016–17).
The work of the committees in scrutinising bills and instruments supports parliamentary consideration of legislation in a number of important ways, including:
- influencing the drafting of bills and legislative instruments so that they conform with human rights obligations and good legislative practice
- improving explanatory material
- informing consideration of issues in legislation committee reports
- informing debate in the Senate and the House of Representatives, and
- resulting in amendments to bills and the disallowance of legislative instruments.