Saturday, February 06, 2010

Australian Law Reform Commission Releases Final Report on Royal Commissions

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has released its report on royal commissions of inquiry entitled Making Inquiries: A New Statutory Framework.

The report recommends that the Royal Commissions Act 1902 (Cth) be amended and renamed the Inquiries Act to provide for the establishment of two tiers of public inquiry, Royal Commissions and Official Inquiries:
"Royal Commissions should be the highest form of inquiry established to look into matters of substantial public importance. While it was suggested by some stakeholders that the word ‘royal’ should not be used, the ALRC recommends no change to the title ‘Royal Commission’. This is for two main reasons. First, the term ‘Royal Commission’ is very well-known, which means that it is a clear way to communicate to the public the extraordinary nature of such an inquiry. Secondly, the title ‘Royal Commission’ is helpful in that it indicates how the highest form of public inquiry is established—namely by the Governor-General of Australia (...)"

"It is recommended that the second tier of inquiry be called ‘Official Inquiries’. Such inquiries should be established by a minister to look into matters of public importance. The ALRC recommends that a number of distinctions be drawn between the two tiers of inquiry to ensure that each inquiry has the necessary tools to carry out its investigations without inappropriately infringing on the rights of persons involved with, or affected by, its processes. In addition to the way each inquiry is established, the coercive powers that may be exercised by each tier of inquiry is also a key distinction..."
Earlier Library Boy posts about the ALRC's examination of royal commissions include:
  • Australian Law Reform Commission to Examine Royal Commissions (April 6, 2009): "The goal is to examine whether less formal, less time-consuming, and more cost efficient forms of inquiry into controversial issues are feasible. Royal Commissions are independent public inquiries that are conducted on an ad hoc basis by an entity commissioned by, but external to, the government."
  • Australian Law Reform Commission Releases Discussion Paper on Royal Commissions (August 19, 2009): "The ALRC is recommending ways to ensure that official inquiries have adequate investigatory powers while at the same time ensuring the protection of the rights of individuals concerned. This would put what are now simply 'ad hoc inquiries' on the same solid footing as more formal Royal Commissions."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:13 pm

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