Parliamentary Committees

Parliamentary Committees’ activity update – May 2017

The Queensland Parliament’s system of portfolio committees have the combined responsibility to oversee all government departments and inquire into proposed new laws. In addition, there is currently one select committee that is inquiring into the specific issue of Coal Workers Pneumoconiosis (which is commonly referred to as ‘Black Lung Disease’). In 2017 to date, Queensland’s parliamentary committees have commenced or continued inquiries into 32 Bills following their introduction into the Parliament, as well as other specific issues of interest to the Queensland community. Some of these recent notable committee inquiry activities are detailed below:

Coal Workers Pneumoconiosis Select Committee

On 22 March, the Committee tabled an interim report on, and the Legislative Assembly extended both the reporting date and the terms of reference for, this Inquiry. The new reporting date in respect of the original terms of reference is 29 May 2017. The terms of reference were extended to include consideration of:

(a) occupational respirable dust exposure for:

(i) coal port workers

(ii) coal rail workers

(iii) coal-fired power station workers

(iv) other workers

(b) the legislative and other regulatory arrangements of government and industry which have existed in Queensland to prevent or reduce the harm caused by occupational respirable dust exposure to port, rail, power station, and other workers

(c) whether these arrangements were adequate, and have been adequately and effectively maintained over time

(d) the roles of government departments and agencies, industry, health professionals and unions in these arrangements

(e) the efficacy and efficiency of adopting methodologies and processes for respirable dust measurement and mitigation, including monitoring regimes, engineering measures, personal protective equipment, statutory requirements, and industry policies and practices, including practices in jurisdictions with similar industries

(f) other matters the committee determines are relevant to occupational respirable coal or silica dust exposure. 

The committee's terms of reference were further extended to monitor and review the implementation of recommendations made by the CWP in its reports on:

(a) the terms of reference approved by the House on 15 September 2016

(b) the first extended terms of reference

including the development of a draft bill for the consideration of the Assembly.

Taxi and other booked car services – amendments to legislation

The Transport and Other Legislation (Personalised Transport Reform) Amendment Bill 2017 was introduced to the Legislative Assembly on 21 March and is currently being considered by the Public Works and Utilities Committee. The Bill aims to:

  • strengthen safety standards including establishing a general duty relating the management of fatigue, a requirement for zero blood alcohol levels for the drivers of all public passenger vehicles, and providing a specific power to make regulations relating to the use of security cameras in vehicles

  • encourage customer choice within a fairer regulatory framework including introducing a new licensing framework for booked hire services and for taxi service licences, preserving existing taxi service licences and existing limousine service licences, and allowing limousines to be used to provide booked hire services, removing provisions relating to peak demand taxi permits

  • reduce red tape and allow industry to innovate and improve their service offerings including replacing the requirement for a person administering taxi services to hold a service contract in certain areas with a simplified authorisation regime for all booking entities, and removing requirements for taxi service bailment agreements between operators and drivers, and

  • ensure industry accountability including establishing a new chain of responsibility to ensure each party involved in providing taxi and booked hire services takes reasonable steps to prevent the commission of an offence and to minimise safety risks, imposing significant financial sanctions and non-financial sanctions for unauthorised taxi or booked hire services, and establishing audit powers for investigating legislative compliance.

Over 300 submissions have been accepted and published to date and a public hearing with representatives from nine organisations was held in Brisbane on 20 April. The committee is to table its report by Monday 15 May 2017.

Domestic Violence legislation amendments

In February and March the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee considered both the government’s Victims of Crime Assistance and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 and the Bail (Domestic Violence) and Another Act Amendment Bill 2017, a private members’ bill introduced by the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Tim Nicholls MP. Both of these Bills proposed changes aimed at improving protection for victims of domestic violence. The committee heard from a number of witnesses including family and friends of women killed by their partners or former partners, as well as legal and domestic violence service providers and advocacy organisations. Following the tabling of both reports, the Legislative Assembly debated both Bills at the same time. Ultimately, both Bills were passed, with amendments, on 22 March 2017. Key changes to the law relating to domestic violence include:

A reversal of the presumption of bail for people charged with serious domestic violence offences – such people will now have to argue why they should receive bail, rather than the prosecution arguing why they should not receive bail

  • provisions for courts to order alleged offenders to be fitted with GPS tracking devices as a bail condition

  • a charter of victims rights

  • domestic and family violence victims will be better informed if alleged perpetrators are released on bail or from prison

  • urgent appeal rights for victims.

Investigating the impacts of invasive plants

The Agriculture and Environment Committee has been investigating the impacts of invasive plants (weeds) and their control in Queensland. As part of the inquiry, the committee is conducting case studies of three key weeds in Queensland: Prickly acacia; Giant rat’s tail grass; and Fireweed.

In June, the Committee will travel to Hughenden and Barcaldine in order to conduct inspections of weed-infested properties and treatment and control methods, and hold informal roundtable meetings and public hearings. Interested persons and groups are invited to contact the Committee regarding these activities.

Inquiry into the long-term financial sustainability of local government

The Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources Committee has commenced an inquiry that will consider the long-term financial sustainability of local governments and the issues arising from Auditor-General’s Report 2: 2016-17 Forecasting long-term sustainability of local government and the Auditor-General’s Report 13: 2016-17 Local government entities: 2015-16 results of financial audits.

The closing date for submissions is 26 May 2017.

All of the current inquiries being conducted by the Parliament’s portfolio committees are listed below:

Agriculture and Environment Committee

  • Auditor-General Report 16 - 2015-16: Flood resilience of river catchments

  • Barrier Fences in Queensland

  • Inquiry into the impacts of invasive plants (weeds) and their control in Queensland

  • Review of the Drought Relief Assistance Scheme

  • Sugar Industry (Application of Transitional Provision) Amendment Bill 2017

Education, Tourism, Innovation and Small Business Committee

  • Inquiry into improving the delivery of respectful relationships and sex education relevant to the use of technology in Queensland state schools

  • Child Protection and Education Legislation (Reporting of Abuse) Amendment Bill 2017

Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee

  • Public Health (Infection Control) Amendment Bill 2017

  • Public Health (Medicinal Cannabis Affordability) Amendment Bill 2017

  • Oversight of the Health Ombudsman and the health service complaints management system

Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources Committee

  • Inquiry into the long-term financial sustainability of local government

Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee

  • Court and Civil Legislation Amendment Bill 2017

  • Crime and Corruption and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2017

  • Honourable Angelo Vasta (Reversal of Removal) Bill 2017

  • Liquor (Rural Hotels Concession) Amendment Bill 2017

Public Works and Utilities Committee

  • Transport and Other Legislation (Personalised Transport Reform) Amendment Bill 2017

Persons or groups with an interest in any of these bills or issues can follow the progress of the respective committee inquiries and get involved. Please check the Parliament’s website to see the status of each inquiry, including dates for public submissions to be received and upcoming hearing and reporting details.

Individuals, groups and organisations are encouraged to make submissions and have their opinions heard. Guidelines for making a submission to a parliamentary committee are available here - Guide to making a submission.

The Parliament’s website address is www.parliament.qld.gov.au

See the ‘Committee Inquiries - Have Your Say’ section on the front page to find all information relevant to committees and their current and past inquiries.

If you have any general inquiries about Parliamentary Committees, you can phone 355 36600 or email - CommitteeOffice@parliament.qld.gov.au