The Herald reports:
A commission of inquiry was likely to be set up as opposed to a royal commission, Mr Key said.
What many do not realise is that in fact the powers of such inquiries are the same. The PM’s exact words from the press conference were:
Will you hold a Royal Commission into this?
He said didn’t want to speculate what the make-up of a (Inquiry) commission might be; Royal Commissions were generally for social areas. Cave Creek had been a Commission of Inquiry which was essentially the same structure.
The DIA bible of inquiries explains the different types of inquiries. The range available are:
- Statutory inquiries
- Ministerial inquiries
- Select Committee inquiries
- Ombudsmen inquiries
- Statutory Commissions
- Royal Commissions and Commissions of Inquiry
Option (6) is the most powerful, with its own 1908 legislation. The legislation says:
2(e) The Governor-General may, by Order in Council, appoint any person or persons to be a Commission to inquire into and report upon any question arising out of or concerning … Any disaster or accident (whether due to natural causes or otherwise) in which members of the public were killed or injured or were or might have been exposed to risk of death or injury
The DIA guide goes on to elaborate the differences between a Royal Commission and a Commission of Inquiry.
A Royal Commission is policy/advisory and is for “Review or reform of social, legal and administrative systems”
A Commission of Inquiry is investigative and is for “Matters of conduct or misconduct and major accidents and disasters”
DIA also note:
Royal Commissions are perceived to have higher status than Commissions of Inquiry. However, there is no statutory imperative behind the two categories of inquiry.
Apart from the title, the only real difference is the method of appointment of the Commissioners.
Royal Commissions are appointed by the Governor-General in the name of the Sovereign, under the Letters Patent. Standard Commissions of Inquiry are appointed by the Governor-General pursuant to an Order in Council. The Governor-General appoints both types of Commission on the basis of recommendations by Government.
So it is very clear that the inevitable inquiry will be a Commission of Inquiry.Tags: Commission of Inquiry, Pike River