Yesterday in the ALP Caucus meeting, caucus chairman Daryl Melham presented a paper on the ALP’s caucus committee system. David Crowe picked up on the significance of the presentation and writes about it in today’s AFR.

Caucus committees — the Coalition had a similar backbench committee system — ostensibly must consider bills before they are introduced by Ministers, allowing backbenchers to stay in touch with Government business and provide a political reality check. It doesn’t necessarily work, as WorkChoices illustrated under the previous Government — although in that case, as Joe Hockey famously admitted, not even Cabinet Ministers understood the WorkChoices legislation.

Crowe’s report touches on backbench concerns about Ministers sidelining committees. For urgent bills, Caucus/backbench committee consideration is a pain for everyone, given the need to schedule members to attend a meeting and their inevitable complaints about not being given sufficient time to consider what can be complex legislation, often hot off the word processors of the drafters at the Office of Parliamentary Counsel.

But at least a Labor Government doesn’t have the problem of backbench floor-crossers like Barnaby Joyce who need to be cajoled and entreated to stay inside the tent. Only people who’ve been through the drafting and passage of controversial legislation fully understand the meaning of Bismarck’s lament: “To retain respect for sausages and laws, one must not watch them in the making.”

Melham instructed caucus members not to distribute the committee membership lists, as these were internal ALP documents. Such documents would be, as Crowe notes in his article, of very great interest to lobbyists who could use the committees as a possible choke point for unwanted legislation.

Crowe says that several lobbyists already have the lists. In Crikey’s view, this sort of information should not be confined to a select few influential players.

So here’s the list, or at least the version from earlier in the year when Robert Ray was still about:

Chair Bradbury, David Symon, Mike Zappia, Tony Neumann, Shayne Champion, Nick
Secretary Perrett, Graham D’Ath, Yvette Bidgood, James Rea, Kerry Saffin, Janelle
Voting Members Bird, Sharon Adams, Dick Brown, Carol Brown, Carol Bevis, Arch

Bishop, Mark Bevis, Arch Burke, Anna Crossin, Trish Bishop, Mark

Burke, Anna Bird, Sharon Danby, Michael D’Ath, Yvette Clare, Jason

Dreyfus, Mark Bradbury, David Elllis, Annette Ellis, Annette Danby, Michael

Hurley, Annette Crossin, Trish Georganas, Steve Hall, Jill Debus, Bob

Jackson, Sharryn Gibbons, Steve George, Jennie Hogg, John Forshaw, Michael

Kirk, Linda Hutchins, Steve Gray, Gary Irwin, Julia Gibbons, Steve

Murphy, John Irwin, Julia Hall, Jill Jenkins, Harry Grierson, Sharon

O’Brien, Kerry Jackson, Sharryn Jenkins, Harry King, Catherine Hale, Damian

Rea, Kerry Livermore, Kirsten Marles, Richard Lundy, Kate Hayes, Chris

Ripoll, Bernie Marshall, Gavin McEwen, Anne McEwen, Anne Hogg, John

Thomson, Kelvin McKew, Maxine McLucas, Jan McKew, Maxine Kelly, Mike

Moore, Claire McMullan, Bob McLucas, Jan Kerr, Duncan

Ripoll, Bernie Owens, Julie Melham, Daryl Kirk, Linda

Rishworth, Amanda Rishworth, Amanda Moore, Claire McMullan, Bob

Sidebottom, Sid Symon, Mike Neal, Belinda Neumann, Shayne

Stephens, Ursula Thomson, Kelvin Plibersek, Tanya Parke, Melissa

Sterle, Glenn Vamvakinou, Maria Polley, Helen Ray, Robert

Wortley, Dana Wortley, Dana Stephens, Ursula Vamvakinou, Maria

Sullivan, Jon Webber, Ruth

Thomson, Craig

Trevor, Chris

Turnour, Jim
Non Voting Members Adams, Dick Bishop, Mark Adams, Dick Adams, Dick Adams, Dick

Bidgood, James Clare, Jason Cheeseman, Darren Champion, Nick Dreyfus, Mark

Champion, Nick Forshaw, Michael D’Ath, Yvette Dreyfus, Mark Ellis, Annette

Cheeseman, Darren Grierson, Sharon Debus, Bob Forshaw, Michael Hutchins, Steve

Clare, Jason Hall, Jill Forshaw, Michael Grierson, Sharon Livermore, Kirsten

Grierson, Sharon Jenkins, Harry Grierson, Sharon Livermore, Kirsten McEwen, Anne

Hall, Jill Melham, Daryl Irwin, Julia Shorten, Bill Melham, Daryl

Forshaw, Michael Thomson, Kelvin Lundy, Kate Livermore, Kirsten McEwen, Anne

Hayes, Chris Turnour, Jim Melham, Daryl Sidebottom, Sid Murphy, John

Lundy, Kate Vamvakinou, Maria Moore, Claire Symon, Mike Ripoll, Bernie

Melham, Daryl
Parke, Melissa Thomson, Kelvin Thomson, Kelvin

Owens, Julie
Sullivan, Jon

Parke, Melissa
Turnour, Jim

Rishworth, Amanda

Shorten, Bill

Thomson, Craig

Turnour, Jim

Chair Turnour, Jim Rishworth, Amanda Parke, Melissa Price, Roger Trevor, Chris Collins, Julie
Secretary Clare, Jason Campbell, Jodie Sullivan, Jon O’Brien, Kerry Marshall, Gavin Hale, Damian
Voting Members Adams, Dick Bird, Sharon Dreyfus, Mark Bevis, Arch Burke, Tony Debus, Bob

Bidgood, James Brown, Carol Debus, Bob Butler, Mark Champion, Nick Champion, Nick

Burke, Tony Collins, Julie Faulkner, John Ellis, Annette Cheeseman, Darren Gray, Gary

Champion, Nick Crossin, Trish Forshaw, Michael Kerr, Duncan Debus, Bob McKew, Maxine

Cheeseman, Darren D’Ath, Yvette Kerr, Duncan Marles, Richard Livermore, Kirsten Saffin, Janelle

Georganas, Steve Ellis, Annette McClelland, Rob Melham, Daryl Saffin, Janelle Turnour, Jim

George, Jennie Grierson, Sharon Melham, Daryl Vamvakinou, Maria Turnour, Jim

Gray, Gary Hall, Jill Owens, Julie
Hale, Damian

Grierson, Sharon Jackson, Sharryn Ray, Robert

Hayes, Chris King, Catherine

Hurley, Annette Livermore, Kirsten

Hutchins, Steve McEwen, Anne

Kelly, Mike McKew, Maxine

King, Catherine McLucas, Jan

Livermore, Kirsten Moore, Claire

Lundy, Kate Plibersek, Tanya

Marles, Richard Saffin, Janelle

Murphy, John

Neal, Belinda

O’Brien, Kerry

Polley, Helen

Sidebottom, Sid

Sterle, Glenn

Thomson, Craig

Webber, Ruth

Non Voting Members Bishop, Mark Bradbury, David

Bradbury, David Bevis, Arch

Forshaw, Michael Brown, Carol

Hall, Jill Danby, Michael

Irwin, Julia Grierson, Sharon

Jenkins, Harry Polley, Helen

Melham, Daryl

Moore, Claire

Parke, Melissa

Shorten, Bill

Stephens, Ursula

Sullivan, Jon

Symon, Mike

Vamvakinou, Maria

Peter Fray

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