Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Letter from the Clerk of the House and the Executive Assistant to the Clerk of the House, House of Representatives, Australia, to the Clerk of the Committee

  Thank you for your email of Tuesday 24 July seeking information on the nomination of members to committees. The following information is provided in response to your questions.

    a)  The number of Members involved in the work of "standing" or "select" committees which monitor or scrutinise the work of Government departments and what the total number of represents as a proportion of the total membership of the House?

    b)  How many such committees there are, how many Members serve on each, and how many have chairmen drawn from opposition parties?


  Members of the House of Representatives currently serve on nine General Purpose Standing Committees, five Joint Standing Committees, one Joint Select Committee and seven Joint Statutory Committees. There are also seven internal or domestic committees concerned with the operations of the house—these committees are not addressed in this paper. The House General Purpose Standing Committees are established under the standing orders for the life of the Parliament and are usually re-established in successive Parliaments. The Joint Standing Committees are appointed by resolution of both Houses generally at the beginning of a Parliament and are comprised of both Members and Senators. There are also Joint Statutory Committees established under an Act of Parliament and currently one Joint Select Committee established recently by resolution. Committees are listed at the following site

Membership of Committees

  There are 148 Members of the House and 49 of those are not members of "standing" or "select" committees which monitor or scrutinise the work of Government departments. Therefore, 66 per cent are members of the committees.

  Office holders and Ministers have not normally served on committees except in an ex officio capacity on committees concerned with the operations of the House or the Parliament. Under the standing orders, the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker or the Second Deputy Speaker shall not be appointed to serve on a committee except with his or her consent or as specified in a standing or sessional order.

  Listed below is the number of Members on each Committee. All House of Representatives and Joint Committees have Government chairs.

General Purpose Standing Numbers of Members
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs <atsia/index.htm> 10 Members
Communications, Transport and the Arts <cta/index.htm> 10 Members
Economics, Finance and Public Administration <efpa/index.htm> 10 Members
Employment, Education and Workplace Relations <eewr/index.htm> 12 Members
Environment and Heritage <environ/index.htm> 10 Members
Family and Community Affairs <fca/index.htm> 12 Members
Industry, Science and Resources <isr/index.htm> 10 Members
Legal and Constitutional Affairs <laca/index.htm> 10 Members
Primary Industries and Regional Services <primind/index.htm> 12 Members
Joint StatutoryNumber of Members and Senators
Australian Security Intelligence Organisation <pjcasio/index.htm> 4 Members and 3 Senators
Corporations and Securities <senate/committee/corp_sec_ctte/index.htm> 5 Members and 5 Senators
National Crime Authority <senate/committee/nca_ctte/index.htm> 5 Members and 5 Senators
Native Title and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land Fund <senate/committee/ntlf _ctte/index.htm> 5 Members and 6 Senators
Public Accounts and Audit <jpaa/index.htm> 10 Members and 6 Senators
Public Works <pwc/index.htm>6 Members and 3 Senators
Joint StandingNumber of Members and Senators
Electoral Matters <em/index.htm> 5 Members and 5 Senators
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade <jfadt/index.htm> 20 Members and 12 Senators
Migration <mig/index.htm>6 Members and 4 Senators
National Capital and External Territories <ncet/index.htm> 6 Members and 6 Senators
Treaties <jsct/index.htm>9 Members and 7 Senators
Joint SelectNumber of Members and Senators
Intelligence Services <jscis/index.htm> 9 Members and 6 Senators

    c)  What mechanism is used for nominating Members of these committees?

    d)  To what extent are the party whips/machines part of that process?

  The number of members of a committee is determined by the standing orders, by resolution or by the Act establishing the committee. In most cases the standing orders or resolution establishing the committee will also determine the party composition of its membership-that is, by specifying the numbers of Members to be drawn from government and from non-government parties. In practice each party's representation on a committee is equated as nearly as possible to its numerical strength in the House, and consequently the relevant standing orders may change from Parliament to Parliament to reflect the election results. Special provision may also be made for any independent Members.

  The Members to be appointed are normally elected or selected within their respective parties. The process is organised by the whips. Independent Members liaise with the opposition whips in respect of non-government positions.

  Members are formally appointed to, or discharged from, a committee on motion moved on notice. When the House is not sitting and is not expected to meet for at least two weeks, party whips may write to the Speaker nominating the appointment or discharge of a member. The change operates from the time the nomination is received by the Speaker. The Speaker reports the change to the House at the next sitting when it is confirmed by resolution.

    e)  Are select committee chairmen paid extra beyond the normal salary of members of your House?

  In the Australian parliament, additional salary is paid to committee chairs. Three levels of payment are made according to committee type. A chair of more than one committee will receive the additional payment in respect of each committee. (Authority: Remuneration Tribunal Determination 1999/16). The rates of additional salary payable are set out in the table below. The "basic salary" referred to in the attachment is the amount payable to regulation (regulation 4 of the Remuneration and Allowances Act 1990). The current gross rate of basic salary is A$95 600 per annum. The current annual rates of additional salary payable to committee chairs are A$2 870, A$10 520 and A$15 300.

  This is the only additional remuneration payable to members of parliamentary committees.

  Rate of additional salary payable to chairs of parliamentary committees. Additional salary as a percentage of basic salary
Chairs of Parliamentary Committees %
Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit 16
Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works 16
Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade 16
Joint Statutory Committee on Treaties16
Joint Statutory Committee or Joint Standing Committee 11
House of Representatives General Purpose Standing Committee 11
Joint Select Committee or Select Committee in the Senate or the House of Representatives 11
Investigating Standing Committee established by resolution of either House 11
House of Representatives Standing Committee on Procedure 11
House of Representatives Committee Members' Interests 3
Parliamentary committee concerned with public affairs rather than the domestic affairs of
Parliament, not otherwise specified.

  For your information, additional background on the salaries and allowances for Members of Parliament is set out in a report of the Remuneration Tribunal (Report on Senators and Members of Parliament, Ministers and Holders of Parliamentary Office—Salaries and Allowances for Expenses of Office, December 1999, available from

I C Harris

Clerk of the House

Laraine Brennan

Executive Assistant to the Clerk of the House

7 August 2001

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