Standing Committee for Standards in Public Life
The Standards in Public Life Act provides for the establishment within Parliament of a Standing Committee for Standards in Public Life. The Committee includes two members of Parliament from the government side and two from the opposition. It is chaired by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who holds a casting vote in cases where the two sides disagree.
The Committee is the only parliamentary committee on which both sides of the House have equal representation. On other committees the government has a majority, reflecting the composition of the House as a whole.
The role of the Committee is to oversee the work of the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life and to consider reports submitted to it by the Commissioner following his investigations.
If the Commissioner finds that a minister, parliamentary secretary, member of Parliament or person of trust has acted improperly, and the Committee agrees, it can issue an admonishment or demand an apology from the person in question. The Committee can also make a recommendation to the appropriate authorities (including the House of Representatives, if the subject of the Commissioner’s report is a member of Parliament) that further measures be taken to remedy the breach of conduct.
If the Committee does not agree with the Commissioner’s report, it can decide that further investigations should be carried out. Such investigations can be carried out by the Commissioner at the Committee’s request, or by the Committee itself with the Commissioner’s help. Alternatively the Committee can simply reject the Commissioner’s conclusions and close the case, but if it does so it must say why it has disagreed with the Commissioner’s conclusions.
Further information on the Standards Committee is available from its official web page.
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