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What is a Royal Commission?


With the recent investigations into the Catholic Church, it is important to understand what a Royal Commission is.

A Royal Commission is a formal independent public inquiry initiated by the state or federal government. Royal Commissions will investigate ongoing impropriety, illegal activity or administrative incompetence. These legal proceedings will usually last a year, but they can last longer if a resolution is not reached.

Since federation, there have been 130 Royal Commissions with the Commission into the Catholic Church being the latest. Other Royal Commissions have investigated:

  • Bonuses for manufacturers
  • The butter, sugar and fruit industries
  • Old-age pensions
  • The tobacco monopoly
  • Ocean shipping service
  • Secret drugs, cures and foods
  • Postal service
  • Insurance
  • Wages
  • Health
  • Film industry
  • Coal industry
  • Trade unions
  • Equine influenza
Royal Commissioners are usually retired judges or those in a similar position. Royal Commissions are designed to discover the truth using every possible legal power.

Written by Shine Lawyers on March 7, 2016. Last modified: September 6, 2018.

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