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ANZACATT Professional Development Seminar 2010 Strengthening, Securing and Promoting Parliament Workshop 2A Benchmarking – International developments in strengthening parliaments Presentation by Tom Duncan Clerk of the Legislative Assembly for the Australian Capital Territory.

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ANZACATT Professional Development Seminar 2010

Strengthening, Securing and Promoting Parliament

Workshop 2ABenchmarking – International developmentsin strengthening parliaments

Presentation by

Tom DuncanClerk of the Legislative Assembly

for the Australian Capital Territory

Recent international benchmarking studies

1. Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Evaluating Parliament – a self-assessment toolkit for parliaments, 2008<>

2. Institute for Democratic and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), Assessing the Quality of Democracy: An overview of the International IDEA Framework, 2008<>

3. National Democratic Institute (NDI), Toward the Development of International Standards for Democratic Legislatures, 2007<>

4. Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Benchmarking for Democratic Legislatures – A study Group Report, 2006<>

Recent developments in benchmarking in Australia

Benchmarking Parliamentary PerformanceWorkshop sponsored by Parliamentary Studies Centre, organised by Bernard Wright, then Deputy Clerk of the House of Representatives, 6 November 2009

1. Legislative process 2. Scrutiny of the budget and finance 3. Executive accountability to the parliament 4. Parliamentary support and infrastructure

Benchmarking parliamentary performance – Is A minus good enough?Paper by Wayne Berry MLA, Speaker of the ACT Legislative Assembly,2008 Presiding Officers and Clerks Conference, Adelaide

Benchmarkinglegislative process

IPU 2.3 How well is parliament able to influence and scrutinise the national budget through all its stages?

IDEA 2.4.4 How rigorous are the procedures for approval and supervision of taxation of public executives?

NDI 6.3.2 The legislature shall have a reasonable period of time in which to review theCPA 6.3.2 proposed budget

Could measure:

  • Number of hours spent in each legislature debating appropriation bills (Table 1)

  • Number of days between introduction and passage of appropriation bills (Table 2)

  • Number of hours spent by committees examining appropriation bills (Table 3)

NDI 1.11.1 The legislature shall create and utilise mechanisms for receiving and considering public views on proposed legislation

NDI 11.1.2 Information shall be provided to the public in a timely manner regarding matters under consideration by the legislature, sufficient to allow the public and civil society to provide their views on draft legislation

IPU 3.1 How satisfactory are the procedures for subjecting draft legislation to full and open debate in parliament?

IDEA 2.4.2 How extensive and effective are the powers of the parliament or legislature to initiate, scrutinise and amend legislation?

Could measure:

  • Number of days between introduction and passage of a bill (Table 4)

  • Number and percentage of bills referred to committees (Table 5)

  • Number of amendments made to bills (Table 6)

  • Number of Opposition/Crossbench amendments agreed to

  • Number of bills amended due to committee comment

  • Number and percentage of bills declared urgent (Table 7)

IPU 3.2 How effective are committee procedures for scrutinising and amending draft legislation?

Could measure:

  • Percentage of bills amended as a result of committee process

IPU 3.4 How adequate are the opportunities for individual Members to introduce draft legislation

Could measure:

  • Number and percentage of bills introduced that are private Members’ bills (Table 8)

  • Percentage of private Members’ bills enacted into law (Table 9)

Benchmarkingexecutive accountability to parliament

NDI 7.4.1 The legislature shall ensure that public accounts committees provide Opposition parties with a meaningful opportunity to engage in effective oversight of executive branch expenditures

CPA 7.2.2 Oversight committees shall provide meaningful opportunities for minority or Opposition parties to engage in effective oversight of government expenditures. Typically, the Public Accounts Committee is chaired by a member of the Opposition party.

Could measure:

  • Number of reports presented (Table 10)

  • Public Accounts Committee is chaired by non-government MP (Table 11)

  • Percentage of Auditor-General reports inquired into

  • Number of meetings per year

  • Percentage of attendance by government ministers as witnesses

  • Number of staff per committee (Table 12)

  • Requests for other committees to refer matters

IDEA 2.3.3 How effective and open to scrutiny is the control exercised by elected leaders and their ministers over their administration staff and other executive agencies?

Could measure:

  • Number of ministerial statements made to the legislature announcing significant government policy

  • Number of annual reports subject to committee inquiry

  • Funding of Auditor-General as a percentage of total government expenditure (Table 13)

  • Does the legislature have an Estimates Committee?

  • Number of hours budget scrutinised

  • Freedom of information requests met

NDI 7.1.1 The legislature shall have sufficient means and mechanisms to effectively fulfil its oversight function

NDI 7.1.2 The legislature shall have mechanisms to obtain information from the executive branch sufficient to meaningfully exercise its oversight function

IPU 2.1 How rigorous and systematic are the procedures whereby Members can question the executive and secure adequate information from it?

IDEA 2.4.3 How extensive and effective are the powers of the parliament or legislature to oversee the executive and hold it to account?

Could measure:

Question Time

  • Number of questions without notice per day (Table 14)

  • Percentage of questions asked by Opposition/Crossbench (Table 15)

  • Percentage of questions asked by backbencher

  • Percentage of points of order upheld on relevance

  • Average length of answer

  • Legislatures that have time limits (Table 16)

  • Legislatures that have supplementaries

  • Legislatures that have words in their standing orders that allow Chair to intervene

Could measure:

Questions on notice

  • Number of questions on notice asked per day (Table 17)

  • Average number of questions per Member

  • Number of legislatures that have time limit to respond to questions on notice

  • Percentage and number of questions on notice not answered (Table 18)

    Calls for documents

  • Percentage of returns to orders met

  • Can committees self-refer?

  • Percentage of committee reports responded to within three months (Table 19)

  • Percentage of recommendations agreed to


  • Percentage of petitions responded to within timeframe

IDEA 2.4.8 How well does the parliament or the legislature provide a forum for deliberation and debate on issues of public concern?

Could measure:

  • Number of MPIs/urgency motions lodged by Opposition/Crossbench (Table 20)

  • Average number ie every two sitting days

  • Number of censure/no confidence motions moved

  • Does the legislature allow moving of such motions?

IPU 2.4 How effectively can parliament scrutinise appointments of executive posts and hold occupants to account?

Could measure:

  • Does the parliament have mechanisms for the scrutiny of executive appointments?

Other things to measure:

  • Percentage of Members available for scrutiny (Table 21)

  • Number of sitting days

  • Number of select committees

  • How many committees is each MLA on?

  • Ways to measure public participation – webstreaming

  • References to committees

    – public participation

    – number of witnesses

    – number of submissions