Health Care Complaints Act 1993 No 105
Current version for 4 July 2014 to date (accessed 28 November 2014 at 04:00)
Part 4

Part 4 Parliamentary Joint Committee

64   Constitution of Joint Committee

As soon as practicable after the commencement of this Part and the commencement of the first session of each Parliament, a joint committee of members of Parliament, to be known as the Committee on the Health Care Complaints Commission, is to be appointed.

65   Functions

(1)  The functions of the Joint Committee are as follows:
(a)  to monitor and to review the exercise by the Commission of the Commission’s functions under this or any other Act,
(a1)  without limiting paragraph (a), to monitor and review the exercise of functions by the Health Conciliation Registry,
(b)  to report to both Houses of Parliament, with such comments as it thinks fit, on any matter appertaining to the Commission or connected with the exercise of the Commission’s functions to which, in the opinion of the Joint Committee, the attention of Parliament should be directed,
(c)  to examine each annual and other report made by the Commission, and presented to Parliament, under this or any other Act and to report to both Houses of Parliament on any matter appearing in, or arising out of, any such report,
(d)  to report to both Houses of Parliament any change that the Joint Committee considers desirable to the functions, structures and procedures of the Commission,
(e)  to inquire into any question in connection with the Joint Committee’s functions which is referred to it by both Houses of Parliament, and to report to both Houses on that question.
(2)  Nothing in this Part authorises the Joint Committee:
(a)  to re-investigate a particular complaint, or
(b)  to reconsider a decision to investigate, not to investigate or to discontinue investigation of a particular complaint, or
(c)  to reconsider the findings, recommendations, determinations or other decisions of the Commission, or of any other person, in relation to a particular investigation or complaint.
(3)  The functions of the Joint Committee may be exercised in respect of matters occurring before or after the commencement of this section.

66   Power to veto proposed appointment of Commissioner

(1)  The Minister is to refer a proposal to appoint a person as the Commissioner of the Commission to the Joint Committee and the Committee is empowered to veto the proposed appointment as provided by this section. The Minister may withdraw a referral at any time.
(2)  The Joint Committee has 14 days after the proposed appointment is referred to it to veto the proposal and has a further 30 days (after the initial 14 days) to veto the proposal if it notifies the Minister within that 14 days that it requires more time to consider the matter.
(3)  The Joint Committee is to notify the Minister, within the time that it has to veto a proposed appointment, whether or not it vetoes it.
(4)  A referral or notification under this section is to be in writing.

67   Membership

(1)  The Joint Committee is to consist of 7 members, of whom:
(a)  3 are to be members of, and appointed by, the Legislative Council, and
(b)  4 are to be members of, and appointed by, the Legislative Assembly.
(2)  The appointment of members of the Joint Committee is, as far as practicable, to be in accordance with the practice of Parliament with reference to the appointment of members to serve on joint committees of both Houses of Parliament.
(3)  A person is not eligible for appointment as a member of the Joint Committee if the person is a Minister of the Crown or a Parliamentary Secretary.

68   Vacancies

(1)  A member of the Joint Committee ceases to hold office:
(a)  when the Legislative Assembly is dissolved or expires by the effluxion of time, or
(b)  if the member becomes a Minister of the Crown or a Parliamentary Secretary, or
(c)  if a member ceases to be a member of the Legislative Council or Legislative Assembly, or
(d)  if, being a member of the Legislative Council, the member resigns the office by instrument in writing addressed to the President of the Legislative Council, or
(e)  if, being a member of the Legislative Assembly, the member resigns the office by instrument in writing addressed to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, or
(f)  if the member is discharged from office by the House of Parliament to which the member belongs.
(2)  Either House of Parliament may appoint one of its members to fill a vacancy among the members of the Joint Committee appointed by that House.

69   Chair and Deputy Chair

(1)  There is to be a Chair and a Deputy Chair of the Joint Committee, who are to be elected by and from the members of the Joint Committee.
(2)  A member of the Joint Committee ceases to hold office as Chair or Deputy Chair of the Joint Committee if:
(a)  the member ceases to be a member of the Committee, or
(b)  the member resigns the office by instrument in writing presented to a meeting of the Committee, or
(c)  the member is discharged from office by the Committee.
(3)  At any time when the Chair is absent from New South Wales or is, for any reason, unable to perform the duties of Chair or there is a vacancy in that office, the Deputy Chair may exercise the functions of the Chair under this Act or under the Parliamentary Evidence Act 1901.

70   Procedure

(1)  The procedure for the calling of meetings of the Joint Committee and for the conduct of business at those meetings is, subject to this Act, to be as determined by the Committee.
(2)  The Clerk of the Legislative Assembly is to call the first meeting of the Joint Committee in each Parliament in such manner as the Clerk thinks fit.
(3)  At a meeting of the Joint Committee, 4 members constitute a quorum, but the Committee must meet as a joint committee at all times.
(4)  The Chair or, in the absence of the Chair, the Deputy Chair (or, in the absence of both the Chair and the Deputy Chair, a member of the Joint Committee elected to chair the meeting by the members present) is to preside at a meeting of the Joint Committee.
(5)  The Deputy Chair or other member presiding at a meeting of the Joint Committee has, in relation to the meeting, all the functions of the Chair.
(6)  The Chair, Deputy Chair or other member presiding at a meeting of the Joint Committee has a deliberative vote and, in the event of an equality of votes, also has a casting vote.
(7)  A question arising at a meeting of the Joint Committee is to be determined by a majority of the votes of the members present and voting.
(8)  The Joint Committee may sit and transact business despite any prorogation of the Houses of Parliament or any adjournment of either House of Parliament.
(9)  The Joint Committee may sit and transact business on a sitting day of a House of Parliament during the time of sitting.

70A   Reporting when Parliament not in session

(1)  If a House of Parliament is not sitting when the Joint Committee seeks to furnish a report to it, the Committee may present copies of the report to the Clerk of the House.
(2)  The report:
(a)  on presentation and for all purposes is taken to have been laid before the House, and
(b)  may be printed by authority of the Clerk, and
(c)  if printed by authority of the Clerk, is for all purposes taken to be a document published by or under the authority of the House, and
(d)  is to be recorded in the Minutes, or Votes and Proceedings, of the House on the first sitting day of the House after receipt of the report by the Clerk.

71   Evidence

(1)  The Joint Committee has power to send for persons, papers and records.
(2)  The Joint Committee must take all evidence in public subject to section 72.
(3)  If the Joint Committee as constituted at any time has taken evidence in relation to a matter but the Committee as so constituted has ceased to exist before reporting on the matter, the Committee as constituted at any subsequent time, whether during the same or another Parliament, may consider that evidence as if it had taken the evidence.
(4)  The production of documents to the Joint Committee is to be in accordance with the practice of the Legislative Assembly with respect to the production of documents to select committees of the Legislative Assembly.

72   Confidentiality

(1)  If any evidence proposed to be given before, or the whole or a part of a document produced or proposed to be produced to, the Joint Committee relates to a secret or confidential matter, the Committee may, and at the request of the witness giving the evidence or the person producing the document must:
(a)  take the evidence in private, or
(b)  direct that the document, or the part of the document, be treated as confidential.
(2)  If any evidence proposed to be given before, or the whole or a part of a document produced or proposed to be produced in evidence to, the Joint Committee relates to the proposed appointment of a person as the Commissioner of the Commission, the Committee must (despite any other provision of this section):
(a)  take the evidence in private, or
(b)  direct that the document, or the part of the document, be treated as confidential.
(3)  Despite any other provision of this section except subsection (9), the Joint Committee must not, and a person (including a member of the Committee) must not, disclose any evidence or the contents of a document or that part of a document to which subsection (2) applies.

Maximum penalty: 20 penalty units or imprisonment for 3 months, or both.

(4)  Despite any other provision of this section except subsection (9), the Joint Committee (including a member of the Committee) must not, and any person assisting the Committee or present during the deliberations of the Committee must not, except in accordance with section 66 (3), disclose whether or not the Joint Committee or any member of the Joint Committee has vetoed, or proposes to veto, the proposed appointment of a person as Commissioner.

Maximum penalty: 20 penalty units or imprisonment for 3 months, or both.

(5)  If a direction under subsection (1) applies to a document or part of a document produced to the Joint Committee:
(a)  the contents of the document or part are, for the purposes of this section, to be regarded as evidence given by the person producing the document or part and taken by the Committee in private, and
(b)  the person producing the document or part is, for the purposes of this section, to be regarded as a witness.
(6)  If, at the request of a witness, evidence is taken by the Joint Committee in private:
(a)  the Committee must not, without the consent in writing of the witness, and
(b)  a person (including a member of the Committee) must not, without the consent in writing of the witness and the authority of the Committee under subsection (8),
disclose or publish the whole or a part of that evidence.

Maximum penalty: 20 penalty units or imprisonment for 3 months, or both.

(7)  If evidence is taken by the Joint Committee in private otherwise than at the request of a witness, a person (including a member of the Committee) must not, without the authority of the Committee under subsection (8), disclose or publish the whole or a part of that evidence.

Maximum penalty: 20 penalty units or imprisonment for 3 months, or both.

(8)  The Joint Committee may, in its discretion, disclose or publish or, by writing under the hand of the Chair, authorise the disclosure or publication of evidence taken in private by the Committee, but this subsection does not operate so as to affect the necessity for the consent of a witness under subsection (6).
(9)  Nothing in this section prohibits:
(a)  the disclosure or publication of evidence that has already been lawfully published, or
(b)  the disclosure or publication by a person of a matter of which the person has become aware otherwise than by reason, directly or indirectly, of the giving of evidence before the Joint Committee.
(10)  This section has effect despite section 4 of the Parliamentary Papers (Supplementary Provisions) Act 1975.
(11)  If evidence taken by the Joint Committee in private is disclosed or published in accordance with this section, sections 5 and 6 of the Parliamentary Papers (Supplementary Provisions) Act 1975 apply to and in relation to the disclosure or publication as if it were a publication of that evidence under the authority of section 4 of that Act.
Note. The Defamation Act 2005 makes provision for 2 defences in respect of the publication of defamatory matter that is contained in evidence taken by, or documents produced to, the Joint Committee in private, but only if the evidence or documents have been disclosed or published in accordance with this section.

Section 28 of the Defamation Act 2005 (when read with clause 8 of Schedule 2 to that Act) ensures that such documents attract the defence relating to public documents in defamation proceedings.

Section 29 of the Defamation Act 2005 (when read with clause 17 of Schedule 3 to that Act) ensures that proceedings in which such evidence is taken or documents produced attract the defences relating to fair reports of proceedings of public concern in defamation proceedings.

73   Application of certain Acts

For the purposes of the Parliamentary Evidence Act 1901 and the Parliamentary Papers (Supplementary Provisions) Act 1975 and for any other purposes:
(a)  the Joint Committee is to be regarded as a joint committee of the Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly, and
(b)  the proposal for the appointment of the Joint Committee is to be regarded as having originated in the Legislative Assembly.

74   Validity of certain acts or proceedings

Any act or proceeding of the Joint Committee is, even though at the time when the act or proceeding was done, taken or commenced there was:
(a)  a vacancy in the office of a member of the Committee, or
(b)  any defect in the appointment, or any disqualification, of a member of the Committee,
as valid as if the vacancy, defect or disqualification did not exist and the Committee were fully and properly constituted.
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