The Royal Commissions Act of 1902 is a piece of Australian legislation giving the Australian Governor-General the power to initiate an investigation, referred to as a Royal Commission. Royal Commissions are a major independent public inquiry into an issue, initiated by the government. They often investigate cases of Political corruption or matters of significant public concern. A Royal Commissioner is appointed to chair the Commission. The Commissioner has considerable powers, generally greater even than those of a judge. However, the powers of the Commissioner are restricted to the "Terms of Reference" of the Commission. Once a Commission has started the government cannot end it, and thus the government is usually very careful in framing the Terms of Reference.
Legislation[edit | edit source]
The Royal Commissions Act was assented on the 8th of August, 1902. The Act allows the Governor-General to issue a Commission of inquiry. Specifically, the Act grants the Governor-General the power to make or authorize any inquiry, or to issue any commission to make any inquiry, by Letters patent in the name of the King. The terms must relate to the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth, any public purpose or any power of the Commonwealth.
The Legislation provides for a member of a Commission to summon a person to appear before the Commission at a hearing, to give evidence or produce documents or other things specified in the summons. It is at the discression of the Commission as to whether a person appearing at a hearing is required to take an oath or affirmation. Failing to attend as summoned can result in a $1,000 fine or imprisonment for 6 months. However, the Act excuses the penalty for failing to attend if a reasonable excuse can be provided (self encrimination is not a reasonable excuse, however statements or documents tended by witnesses are not admissible in evidence against the witness).
See also[edit | edit source]
Australian Royal Commissioners
- H. C. Coombs
- Frank Costigan
- Elizabeth Evatt
- James Roland Wood
- James McClelland (Australian politician)
- Ronald Wilson
[edit | edit source]
- Royal Commissions Act 1902
- Parliamentary Library's list of Royal Commissions and Commissions of Inquiry from 1902