Review of the Royal Commissions Act 1902 and related Issues
I, ROBERT McCLELLAND, Attorney-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, having regard to the need to ensure that the executive government has available to it forms of inquiry on matters of public importance which are effective and efficient in the context of contemporary requirements, refer to the Australian Law Reform Commission for inquiry and report, pursuant to subsection 20(1) of the Australian Law Reform Commission Act 1996, the operation and provisions of the Royal Commissions Act 1902 (the Act) and the question whether an alternative form or forms of Commonwealth executive inquiry should be established by statute.
1. In carrying out its review, the Commission is to consider:
- whether there is any need to develop an alternative form or forms of Commonwealth executive inquiry, with statutory foundations, to provide more flexibility, less formality and greater cost-effectiveness than a Royal Commission (particularly whether there would be any advantage in codifying special arrangements and powers that should apply to such alternative forms of inquiry);
- whether there is any need to develop special arrangements and powers for inquiries involving matters of national security;
- the appropriate balances between powers for persons undertaking inquiries and protections of the rights and liberties of persons interested in, or potentially affected by, inquiries;
- the appropriateness of restrictions on the disclosure of information to, and use of information by, Royal Commissions and other inquiries, including restrictions contained in other legislation (but not including those arising from the operation of client legal privilege); and
- suggestions for changes to the Act proposed or raised by Royal Commissions.
2. In carrying out its review, the Commission will identify and consult with key stakeholders, including relevant Commonwealth, State and Territory agencies.
3. The Commission will provide its final report to me by 30 October 2009.
Dated: 14 January 2009