Pacific | Better Parliamentary Committees: Better Government Performance | EPCIC 2013 | Sydney | 13-17 May 2013
In democratic systems of government, elected representatives are entrusted with important legislative, accountability and representational duties. Most parliaments have found appointing committees to be a powerful way of exercising these responsibilities. However, despite some notable successes, many committees in Pacific parliaments are yet to realise their full potential.
Strengthening the effectiveness parliamentary committee inquiries is an important strand of CDI’s work and over the last six years we have collaborated with the NSW Parliament to deliver a residential training program for parliamentary committee staff from Pacific parliaments.
The 2013 edition of CDI’s Effective Parliamentary Committee Inquiries Course (EPCIC) was run from 13 to 17 May at NSW Parliament House in Sydney.
During the five-day course 20 participants from six Pacific parliaments explored the knowledge and skills required to:
- design a parliamentary committee inquiry;
- provide administrative, research and analytical support to a committee inquiry;
- prepare and present a committee report
They did so through a mixture of expert presentations, case studies, discussions, group exercises and a committee hearing role play – all of which are designed to allow participants to set new material in the context of their existing experience.
The following parliaments were represented at the course:
- National Parliament of Papua New Guinea
- House of Representatives for the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, in Papua New Guinea
- Parliament of Solomon Islands
- Parliament of Vanuatu
- Parliament of Tonga
- Parliament of Niue
Trevor Rowe (a CDI Associate with extensive parliamentary and training experience) convened the course in collaboration with Beverly Duffy (Clerk Assistant Committees, NSW Legislative Council) and Rachael Simpson (Director Committees, NSW Legislative Assembly).
Feedback from participants was strongly positive. 89% of participants reported that the course was excellent and that they now knew much more about:
- why parliaments appoint committees;
- how to start a committee inquiry;
- how to prepare briefing papers;
- how to gather evidence at public hearings; and
- how to draft and table committee reports.
Participants particularly appreciated the focus in the course on the role play public hearing (with 100% of participants reporting that it was ‘really useful’) and on group exercises (with 95% indicating that they too were ‘really useful’).