A Royal Commission is a major public examination or investigation into an issue. They are considered the highest form of inquiry on a public issue. They have an investigative role and gather information for the Australian Government.
Commissioners are appointed by the Australian Government to lead a Royal Commission. They will lead the Royal Commission’s work. After their investigations, they are asked to come up with a series of recommendations or changes to law or policy. This is normally provided to the Governor General, then tabled in the Australian Parliament and made public.
The Terms of Reference is the scope of what the Royal Commission will look at.
What does a Royal Commission do?
Royal Commissions are set up under a specific law that gives them broad and far-ranging powers. They have information gathering powers to assist with their investigations. These are sometimes called ‘coercive powers’ as they can summon witnesses to participate in the inquiry, or summon documents.
The Royal Commission conduct their work through hearings. These can be public or closed.