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Scrutiny Function

Parliament is often at its most robust when it is performing the scrutiny function. The Government is accountable to the Parliament and during the Question Time hour Members have the opportunity to ask Ministers questions about Government policies and activities. The Leader of the Opposition always asks the first two questions. Government and non-Government Members are then called in turn. Ministers must answer each question within three minutes. Questions from Government Members to Ministers give Ministers an opportunity to explain Government policy and decisions. These questions are commonly called “Dorothy Dix” questions. (Dorothy Dix was a magazine columnist who would answer questions that were supposedly sent to her by her readers. However, it was alleged that Dorothy not only wrote the answers, but also wrote the questions.)

To enhance the accountability of public administration in Queensland, Queensland Parliament has a number of permanent parliamentary committees. The Parliament can also investigate any important subject by establishing temporary select committees. Committees can interview witnesses, gather written evidence and produce reports making recommendations for Government consideration.

Parliamentary committees are a crucial element of public deliberation about issues of public importance. Those affected by existing public policy, or who have an interest in the framing of a policy, have a right to have a say about it. As a bridge between the people and the Government, the committees of the Queensland Parliament provide people with an opportunity to make their views known to Government and placed on the public record. Parliamentary committees are a crucial element of public deliberation about issues of public importance.

A role play of a public hearing by a parliamentary committee is an excellent tool for the students to canvass a range of opinions on any issue in which there are shades of grey and when the teacher does not want a polarised debate. Whilst demonstrating meeting procedure, it also demonstrates that citizens have the ability to be involved in the democratic process without joining a political party. This section contains resources for a Committee hearing role play.

For more information about the committee process, see the fact sheets “Parliamentary Committees” and “Parliamentary Committees and Public Policy” in the resources section and visit the Committees pages of the Parliament’s website: http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au.

Thumbnail - Name Tags Parliamentary Committee Inquiry

Parliamentary Committee Inquiry - name tags

Suitable for: All levels

Thumbnail - Role Play Parliamentary Committee Inquiry

Parliamentary Committee Inquiry - role play

Suitable for: All levels