Parliamentary committees are set up by the Senate and the House of Representatives to investigate bills (proposed laws) or issues in more detail than is possible in either chamber. This helps the Parliament make better informed decisions.
Most members of parliament, except ministers and parliamentary secretaries, serve on committees. A parliamentary committee is usually made up of six to ten government and non-government members of parliament.
The committee invites the public, experts and officials to make a written statement outlining their views about the bill or issue. It then might ask some of these people to appear before it to answer questions and provide further information. Next, the committee writes a formal report which is presented to the Parliament. The report may suggest changes to a bill or make other recommendations.
Through its work, committees can check that the Parliament is making good laws for Australia and is responding to any problems facing the country. It is also one of the ways the Parliament checks that the government is acting in the best interests of the nation.