Parliamentary Committee on Land TenureOn 7 June 2012, Queensland's Legislative Assembly referred an inquiry into land tenure in Queensland to its State Development, Infrastructure and Industry Committee - as recorded in Hansard at p.680. The Terms of Reference require the Committee to report to the Legislative Assembly by 30 November 2012. The Committee is now accepting submissions from the public; and submissions close at 5:00pm on Friday, 3 August 2012. The Terms of Reference were given as follows:
That the State Development, Infrastructure and Industry Committee inquire into and report on the future and continued relevance of Government land tenure across Queensland.That, in undertaking this inquiry, the committee should particularly consider the following issues:
Further, that the committee take public submissions and consult with key industry groups, industry participants, indigenous Queenslanders, and relevant experts.
Spatial Industry ResponseThe Land Surveying Commission of the Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute, Queensland Chapter (SSSIQ-LSC) became aware of the inquiry into land tenure. The issue became an agenda item at a cadastral surveying forum sponsored by the held at the Greek Club on 11 July 2012. I presented an outline to the forum of how I thought the Parliamentary Committee might proceed based on things I see as major influences in the way governments are being financed and required to operate.
Briefly, much of the rationale for the new Parliamentary Committee System arrangements stems from a desire by COAG for better regulation and better performance reporting by government. A first step is to achieve a better scrutiny by parliament on what legislation is passed by the Parliament. A later step will be the review of whether legislation actually does what it is supposed to do.
In accepting an invitation to respond with the Parliamentary Committee, the response will present both opportunities and risks for SSSIQ. The opportunity is for a meaningful conduit to members of parliament to express opinions without having the content filtered through the communication processes of executive government. The risks are in failing to indicate the relevance of our industry in a way that resonates with the Committee's needs for information.
Some background into what is expected from the system of parliamentary committees is apparent in the following references.
Legislative Assembly of Queensland, Committee System Review Committee, Hon Judy Spence (Chair), Review of the Queensland Parliamentary Committee System, Queensland Parliament, 15 December 2010, ‘Introduction’, p.xi. Refer also to related documents.
The Parliamentary Committee's First MeetingAlthough the terms of reference are broad ranging, the Parliamentary Committee will necessarily refine the scope and direction of its inquiry. The following information refers to uncorrected proofs of minutes of the first meeting of the Parliamentary Committee held on 11 July 2012
State Development, Infrastructure and Industry Committee - Public briefing - Inquiry into the future and continued relevance government land tenure arrangements in Queensland, Transcript of Proceedings, Wednesday, 11 July 2012, Brisbane.Generally, the minutes record the comments of senior public servants about how they see their roles and functions. However, the comments of committee members give inights into their personal knowledge, misunderstandnings and concerns. Overall, the inquiry processes show some prospects of building sophisticated understandings and agreements on which more effective regulation can be founded. However, the propsects for misuse and abuse of the processes are always present.
Where to From Here?SSSIQ-LSC should respond to the Committee's invitation to make a submission. Initially, our response should be to indicate how our knowledge is relevant to the Committee's work. The work may be seen as an investment in establishing a good working relationship between the regulators and the regulated - and between the parliamentary representatives and those who deserve to be adequately represented.
On recieving a submission that claims to come from an industry association, a parliamentry committee is entitled to ask if the submission is well informed and representative of the industry on key issues and whether there are some issues on which there is no industry consensus. Parliamentary committees have a particular legitimacy in a democratic society to understand and recommend policy measures in matters of public interest.