Public Sessions

Duration of public sessions

The Commission’s public sessions will commence on 9 September 2015 and are planned to conclude in mid December 2015. The public sessions will occur on dates and times notified in advance and will usually occupy two or three days each week.

Format of public sessions

The public sessions will be conducted primarily as a discussion. The sessions will not be conducted in a manner similar to a hearing in a Court.

The format selected will be that which is most conducive to assisting the Commission’s understanding of the issues in which it is interested.

In general, the discussion on a topic will follow the topics outlined in a Public Session Agenda and will be guided by questions asked by the Commissioner and Counsel Assisting.

Location and the opportunity to observe public sessions

The Commission’s public sessions will be conducted from its own hearing room and at facilities in universities and other locations. Most sessions will be held in Adelaide, but some will occur regionally. The locations chosen will depend on matters such as availability of facilities, witness availability and the need to use video-link technology. To the extent space permits, the public will be able to be present at those sessions.

Sessions will mainly be conducted in the Commission’s hearing room to take advantage of video link and other electronic facilities. Though presence at these sessions will be limited due to space constraints, they will be streamed by internet, either in real-time or shortly thereafter.

Transcripts of public sessions will also be made available on the Commission’s website.

The Commission may in some limited cases conduct private sessions.

Witnesses at public sessions

Witnesses will give oral evidence at public sessions in relation to topics of interest to the Commission. These witnesses may include experts in fields of knowledge such as science, technology, economics, environmental management, planning, public administration, health and safety, and regulation.

A program of witnesses will be available prior to each session and can be found here.

The witnesses will be persons whom the Commission has itself requested to give evidence and such of those that have provided a submission or a witness statement as the Commission requests to provide further information.

The Commission will determine who will be called to give oral evidence. Witnesses will not be called on all topics being considered by the Commission as the Commission is proceeding primarily on written submissions. Not all witnesses who supplied a statement with their submission will be called to give oral evidence.

Process adopted at public sessions

The process to be followed by the Commission at public sessions will be informal, directed towards encouraging discussion with the Commissioner and between witnesses to bring out their evidence and only constrained by the issues to be examined.

Participants at public sessions, including the Commissioner, Counsel Assisting and witnesses, will be seated around a conference table throughout the session. The process will not involve the formalities which are normally associated with hearings in Court, such as announcing appearances, bowing or standing while speaking.

The Commission’s public sessions are concerned solely with receiving evidence. Any applications with respect to the conduct of the public sessions should be made in writing.

Preparation

A draft Public Session Agenda will be released on this website in advance of each public session. The Agenda will identify the broad topics to be explored at the session and the witnesses who will address those topics.

The draft Public Session Agenda may be modified prior to the session and any updates will be published on this website. A final version will be released in the days preceding the public session.

Introduction

At the beginning of each public session, Counsel Assisting will provide a brief introduction as to the subject matter to be addressed at that session.

Witnesses and evidence

Counsel Assisting will provide some background information as to each witness’s expertise and experience before the witness gives evidence at the session.

All witnesses giving evidence will need to take an oath or affirmation with respect to the evidence they give. Usually, this will be done immediately prior to the session commencing.

Evidence will usually be given in the order outlined in the Public Session Agenda, but subject to the direction of the Commissioner. The evidence will be guided by questions. Evidence will need to be concise and to the point.

At some public sessions, a number of experts may give evidence concurrently. In that case, each witness will indicate his or her view in relation to a topic with a subsequent opportunity for interchange between witnesses, the Commissioner, Counsel Assisting and any other representatives permitted to participate.

To ensure the efficiency of the public session, evidence and questioning will be time limited. Unless the Commissioner otherwise directs, witnesses will only be asked questions in relation to topics discussed with the witness in advance.

Documents at public sessions

Documents to be discussed at a public session will be raised with witnesses in advance. There will be no tendering of documents at public sessions.

If a representative wishes to question a witness about a document (including a submission), they will need to raise this with the Commission, via the Solicitor Assisting, prior to the public session with sufficient time for the Commissioner to consider the matter raised and for the witness to receive and consider that material.

Cooperation between representatives and the Commission

If a representative of a witness has an issue with a question which is asked of the witness, they are expected to raise that issue with the Commissioner at the time and identify how the issue is to be addressed. This process replaces objections to questions.

The overriding criteria for resolving these issues is whether the subject matter raised by the question would assist the Commissioner with respect to a matter with which he is concerned.

Conclusion

At the conclusion of each session, Counsel Assisting will briefly indicate date and time of the commencement of the next public session and the topic to be addressed.

Obtaining permission to be represented at public sessions

The Commissioner has directed that any organisation or person seeking to be legally represented at a session must apply for permission in advance of the session: s13 Royal Commissions Act 1917 (SA).

Any organisation or person that seeks to be represented at a public session needs to seek permission. Applications for permission should be made to the Solicitor Assisting in writing not less than 3 working days prior to the public session. An application for permission to appear should identify the applicant’s interest and the nature of the topics on which they seek to appear and be represented. The Commission may request that organisations with common interests seeking to be represented be jointly represented.

Permission will not be granted in general terms for representation at all public sessions. Permission may be sought either in relation to a particular public session or a topic to be addressed at a public session.

The grant of permission may be subject to conditions. Such conditions may include time limits on questioning, a requirement to identify topics on which it is proposed questioning be permitted and to provide documents which are to form the basis of questions prior to the session.

The Commission will not meet the costs of representation. Organisations are required to make their own arrangements in that regard.

Witness expenses and specific arrangements

The Commission will not meet the expenses associated with calling a witness who asks to be called, or whom an individual or organisation wishes to be called, unless a specific arrangement has been agreed by the Commission in advance. Witnesses are generally required to make their own arrangements in terms of appearing at a public session.

If an individual or organisation requires specific arrangements to be made so that a witness may give evidence at a public session (including a requirement that evidence be given via video-link), the witness or the party proposing that they be called should communicate that issue to the Commission at the time their witness statement is provided.