No action: inquiries that were ignored

Gerard Ryle & Lisa Pryor
June 20, 2005

The Government has ignored 46 Senate inquiries over the past nine years. Gerard Ryle and Lisa Pryor outline seven cases.

Inquiry into the Funding of Aged Care Institutions

Duration: four months. Report presented: June 19, 1997 after 118 public submissions and three public hearings in Sydney and Canberra. Witnesses: more than 60.

The report said: "The major concern for the Parliament should be the quality of care government can deliver."

There were 28 recommendations, one of which called for the Government to ensure equality of access to aged care facilities for all aged people.

Estimated cost: $49,468*.

The Patient Profession: Time for Action - Report on the Inquiry into Nursing

Duration: 14 months. Report tabled: June 26, 2002 after more than 970 public submissions and eight public hearings. Witnesses: More than 150.

What the report said: "The shortages of nursing staff, especially in hospitals and aged care that has been threatening for years, have now reached crisis point."

There were 85 recommendations, including making it easier for overseas-trained nurses to come to Australia.

Estimated cost: $202,549.

Planning for Retirement

Duration: seven months. Report presented: July 29, 2003 after 49 public submissions and six public hearings. Witnesses: More than 40.

The report said: "The [inquiry] attracted considerable interest."

There were 17 recommendations, including that the Government investigate promoting part-time positions for older workers.

Estimated cost: $93,589.

Select Committee on a Certain Maritime Incident

Duration: eight months. Report presented: October 23, 2002 after 28 public submissions and public hearings in Canberra lasting 15 days. Witnesses: more than 50.

The report said: There were widely divergent reports from Government members and other members who said the Government had tried to demonise asylum seekers by saying they threw their children overboard.

Non-government committee members made 16 recommendations, including calling for an independent inquiry into Australia's involvement in the disruption of refugee boats planning to travel from Indonesia to Australia.

Estimated cost: $213,266.

Inquiry into the Progress Towards National Reconciliation

Duration: 14 months. Report presented: October 8, 2003 after 86 public submissions and eight public hearings. Witnesses: More than 50.

The report said: "There is a failure of national leadership on this, one of the most critical issues in the definition of the nation."

There were 20 recommendations, including the establishment of a National Reconciliation Convention.

Estimated cost: $107,275.

Inquiry into Medicare: Medicare - Health Care or Welfare?

Duration: five months. Report presented: October 30, 2003 after 226 public submissions and 12 public hearings. Witnesses: More than 170.

What the report said: "No political party, including the Government, proposes to dismantle Medicare."

There were more than 16 recommendations, including that a national health reform body be established.

Estimated cost: $183,824.

Money Matters in the Bush: Inquiry into the Level of Banking and Financial Services in Rural, Regional and Remote Areas of Australia

Duration: nearly 18 months. Report presented: January 15, 2004 after 133 public submissions and at least 13 public hearings. Witnesses: More than 120.

What the report said: "The committee believes that ensuring the provision of adequate banking and financial services to regional, rural and remote Australia is the joint responsibility of the financial services sector and government with the active involvement of the community."

There were 33 recommendations, including that banks waive fees and penalties when a customer is forced to close an account because a country bank branch closes.

Estimated cost: $189,508.

*Estimated costs, supplied by Senate, are for travel for senators and staff, advertising, wages of staff, hire of rooms and other incidental expenses. They do not include overnight allowances for the senators or any extra payments to the chairmen of the committees or senators' salaries.


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