What is a public hearing?
Public hearings are held as part of the public inquiry process. This provides interested parties with the opportunity to expand on written submissions and to discuss inquiry issues with Commissioners in a public forum.
Any organisation or person can attend a hearing, either to speak to a submission or simply to observe the proceedings.
Commission staff will contact those parties who have registered to speak to schedule a specific time for their appearance. While the amount of time allocated to individual participants will vary, it will usually not exceed one hour.
Participants are not required to attend for the entire duration of a hearing, although they are welcome to observe other speakers should they wish to do so.
The hearings are conducted in a relatively informal manner. Participants will be invited to introduce themselves and make an opening statement, with Commissioners then seeking elaboration on, or clarification of, particular points.
Legal representation is unnecessary and there is no requirement to take a formal oath. The Productivity Commission Act 1999 does require participants to be truthful in their remarks.
At the conclusion of the schedule for the day (or during appropriate breaks in proceedings), Commissioners may accept brief comments from anyone in the audience. These comments will also be included in the transcripts. Interjections from the floor are not permitted during proceedings.
To facilitate the discussions, it is desirable that participants outline their views in written submissions lodged prior to the hearing. Where participants are unable to do so, they should provide the Commission with a summary of key talking points at least two working days prior to their appearance.
Some participants may wish to lodge their submission while at the hearing. This is acceptable. Commissioners may then indicate to the participant that they reserve the right to invite him or her to attend a subsequent hearing, to discuss the submission further.
Record of proceedings
A transcript of proceedings is produced for the record and to inform those unable to attend the hearing of the discussions that took place. A complete transcript of the hearing will subsequently be available from the Commission's website.
Members of the media may attend the hearings. It is advisable that they notify the Productivity Commission in advance of their attendance.
Audio recording of proceedings by media representatives is not permitted - except for personal note taking purposes. In other words, audio recordings may not be broadcast.
Video recordings of proceedings are allowed to be broadcast - but the only audio permitted is a voiceover.
In all instances, agreement should be sought on the day from those appearing, before any filming can be allowed.