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The work of parliamentary committees explored in new book

27 April 2023
Bound books on a stand

The Parliament of Western Australia is pleased to release its latest publication, Parliamentary Committees in the Western Australian Parliament: An overview of their evolution, functions and features, volume 2: 2001-2021.

Written by former Western Australian Parliamentary Fellow Dr Harry Phillips, the two volumes chronicle the development and operation of parliamentary committees in Western Australia over 151 years. Volume 1 was published in 2017 and covers the period from 1870 to 2000. Volume 2, which was co-written by Dr Niamh Corbett, reviews the period from 2001 to 2021.

Parliamentary committees are an integral part of modern Parliaments, with members from all parties working together in a bipartisan manner to review public issues or proposed legislation. The committees assist the Parliament in its legislative and scrutiny functions.

Dr Phillips’ work provides an in-depth overview of the committee system within Western Australia, drawing on selected examples from each committee to demonstrate their impact on Western Australia and to showcase the dedicated endeavours of the members and parliamentary staff who served on them.

Dr Phillips said at the launch of the second volume, ‘The work committees achieve is invaluable to the Parliament for the good governance of our polity. Committees have been a feature of the Western Australian Parliament since the beginning of representative governance. However, there is a dearth of understanding in the community of their value and meaning to representative governance’. This two-volume series will make the work of committees more accessible and visible to students, scholars and anyone with an interest in Western Australia’s parliamentary history.

The volumes were published under the auspices of the Parliamentary History Advisory Committee, which has produced a range of works covering the narrative and statistical history of the Western Australian Parliament.

Dr Harry CJ Phillips was a Parliamentary Fellow (Education) from 2002 to 2018, and has published a range of books on parliamentary history and the work of the Western Australian Parliament, including The voice of Edith Cowan, Australia’s first women parliamentarian, 1921-24 and Speakers and Presidents in the Western Australian Parliament. He served as an honorary professor at Education Cowan University and in 2014 was made a member in the general division of the Order of Australia for ‘significant service to education, particularly in the field of politics and civics’.

Both volumes of Parliamentary Committees in the Western Australian Parliament are available from the Parliament’s website.