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STANDING COMMITTEE ON RURAL AND REGIONAL AFFAIRS AND TRANSPORT
17/10/2008
Natural resource management and conservation challenges

ACTING CHAIR —I welcome representatives from the Victorian Catchment Management Authority Chairs Group. I invite you to make a brief opening statement and then we will ask you some questions.

Mrs Burns —We will be very brief. Do you understand how catchment management authorities work? There are 56 catchment management regions around Australia, but each state is different in how they are set up and managed. In Victoria we are a statutory authority. For our boundaries to be changed, which we are discussing at the moment through the Victorian white paper for land and biodiversity in the time of climate change; we are going through these debates now. In other states there is a range of private companies and different sorts of legal and institutional arrangements.

I found it fascinating to think that one approach was going to fix all of these, because really it has to go back to the states. I can see some synergies with aligning boundaries, and nobody has ever had a problem with that, but it is also the water authority boundaries and government department boundaries. There is a whole range of boundaries and, if you start looking at it, it just gets bigger and bigger. To me it is about partnerships and how you work within your catchment to get these synergies happening and communities of interest. In our particular catchment we have two strong communities of interest. We have irrigated horticulture along the river and we have dryland farming. You can manage that. I do not see it as an issue. As you discussed before, you have to get these groups talking at some stage.

To get the bigger picture things, we are involved in a lot of tri-state projects. We work with New South Wales and South Australia. We have about 200 programs going with them at the moment. There are a lot of tri-state and interstate committees. You work well with your neighbours depending upon the need and what the project is hoping to achieve.

We are always looking for better ways to do things. I do not think it is broken. Everything often comes back to personal relationships, and that is always going to be an issue in the regional communities, simply because you have to get staff in. You generally end up with new graduates and by the time you have trained them up and they have become part of the community they are taking a job elsewhere. That will be a continuing battle no matter where you put the boundaries. That is not going to change when trying to get staff on the ground.

I have just handed out the conference book, which is from the conference that we held in April this year. If you look at the themes, we are talking about landscape change at a multiregional level. We are talking about land, biodiversity and integrated regional planning. That gives you an idea of some of the projects and things happening across Australia. This is only what we could fit into a two-day conference. There are volumes more. This is happening on the ground across Australia.

I really should move back to Victoria. It is just that I was on that working group, so I thought I would mention some of the national staff. Victoria has 10 catchment management authorities within the smallest state. We are small catchment management authorities. We often face criticism that we are too small and we do not get the scale, but we do run a lot of intercatchment projects. That is how we deal with it in Victoria. I am not sure whether you would like to hear more of an introduction from me or whether you would like to ask questions. You have our paper.

ACTING CHAIR —Yes, we have your paper. What are the key things that you think the Commonwealth should fix, if you had a magic wand?

Mrs Burns —If I had a magic wand it would, first of all, be funding for regional bodies. I think we are doing a good job and getting landscape change. You only have to drive through the mallee now to see change/difference in landscape use—no-till, direct drilling and so on. We have not had nearly as many dust storms as in the past. You can see it when you know what you are looking for, but it is hard to quantify. That is the next thing. We need secure funding. We need it for more than one year or three years. We need better guidance on monitoring, evaluation and reporting. Institutional arrangements are still an issue with all catchment management authorities. It is the sheer volume of reports that we have to get out to everyone. We spend so much time reporting.

Mr O’Neill —It is worth mentioning at this point that one of the differences between Victoria and the other jurisdictions is that in Victoria the state government contributes 60 per cent to 70 per cent of the funding to the Commonwealth, and that does vary around the country.

ACTING CHAIR —Sixty per cent of the funding to?

Mrs Burns —CMAs.

Mr O’Neill —CMAs.

Mrs Burns —That varies across Australia.

ACTING CHAIR —Is that 60 per cent of administration funding or project funding as well?

Mr O’Neill —The total budget.

ACTING CHAIR —Were you here when the department was here?

Mrs Burns —No, only for the end.

ACTING CHAIR —Part of the issue in some of the other states where they do not receive funding from the state is their capacity to continue to exist functionally if they drop below a certain level of funding. That does not seem to be the case for you.

Mrs Burns —I would not say that. I am just saying that our state does contribute our funding. We do rely on Commonwealth funding, too, to carry out the range of programs. Victorian CMAs have been going for 10 years and we are the oldest one. We have built up bigger expectations within our communities about what is happening and we do the bigger landscape projects now because we have been able to build up to that scale. The boards in Victoria are ministerially appointed but made up of community members. They are not technical boards, they are community boards.

ACTING CHAIR —Are they provided for under legislation? Are they statutory?

Mrs Burns —They are statutory authorities, yes.

ACTING CHAIR —Is that different from a lot of the states?

Mrs Burns —Yes.

Mr O’Neill —In New South Wales there are statutory authorities, and I think there are statutory authorities in South Australia as well.

Mrs Burns —Yes.

ACTING CHAIR —We have Tasmania, Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia who are not?

Mr O’Neill —Yes.

Mrs Burns —I am not sure about the Northern Territory. I think they are, too.

ACTING CHAIR —I will check that.

Mr O’Neill —I do not think they are.

Mrs Burns —I did know that in April.

ACTING CHAIR —One of the issues of concern to regional groups is the ongoing viability with the new arrangements with Caring for our Country. I must say that what I heard from the department this morning is starting to make me feel a bit better; they now seem to be communicating with the regional bodies a bit better and guaranteeing an ongoing level of funding. What I am trying to do now is to go back to the regional groups and ask them whether what I have just heard from the department is what is happening from their perspective. I wanted to pursue that further with you. Where are you at with your level of understanding and what level of funding you are going to be guaranteed from the Commonwealth?

Mrs Burns —I am on the national working group. We met with the Commonwealth department last week or the week before.

Mr O’Neill —It was the week before.

Mrs Burns —The meeting was to look at the proposed new business plan and how they were going to divide the CMA regional body component of Caring for our Country. In the Caring for our Country program 60 CMAs or regional bodies were given 60 per cent of traditional funding. It is a very long and complex thing, but it is how that is going to be broken up and divided up that nobody is certain of at this stage.

ACTING CHAIR —My understanding from the evidence we received this morning is that each regional group will receive 60 per cent of its traditional funding, which means over the last two programs.

Mrs Burns —Not necessarily, no.

Mr O’Neill —Not necessarily.

Mrs Burns —This is where it gets quite tricky. You may know more than me, but my understanding was that it was 60 per cent of the whole amount.

ACTING CHAIR —Sixty per cent of the pie?

Mrs Burns —Yes, 60 per cent of the pie. It may not be anywhere near 60 per cent of what the Mallee CMA got. Traditionally we would have got more because we are older and more established, if you understand what I mean?

ACTING CHAIR —Yes.

Mrs Burns —That is my understanding, but I could be wrong.

ACTING CHAIR —It is fortunate that we have estimates next week, because we will need to pursue this again. I thought I had reached an understanding, but I obviously have not. We will follow that up again next week.

Mr O’Neill —I was going to reiterate that 60 per cent of the funding is available to regional bodies, but that does not necessarily mean that the mallee is going to get 60 per cent of its long-term average. In fact, they might get 50—

Senator IAN MACDONALD —It means that some will only get 40 per cent.

Mr O’Neill —Exactly, yes.

Mrs Burns —It is not 60 per cent of Caring for Country funding. It is 60 per cent of what the regions as a whole traditionally received. That is what I understood.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —It is $127 million plus $10 million, if I understand the figures we got earlier. It is $127 million plus $10 million, and you will get whatever you can out of that. Good luck.

Mrs Burns —Thank you. We need it.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —I hope you do not have as much luck as my Queensland ones.

Mrs Burns —No.

ACTING CHAIR —Where I thought we got to this morning was that regional groups were more confident now and knew where they were at with their funding. Without putting words in your mouth, is that a correct statement or are you still unsure?

Mrs Burns —Which funding?

Mr O’Neill —There are three or four different elements of it.

ACTING CHAIR —There is still a lack of understanding from regional organisations about what is happening with the funding into the future?

Mrs Burns —Until we get through the first year. It is always tricky in the first year of any program. I can remember the last one. The majority would not be sure yet, but I am told that it will become clearer as the business case and the outcome statements are out, so everyone knows the framework in which they are working.

ACTING CHAIR —Did you have any input into that? To what level were you consulted in the development of the outcome statement?

Mr O’Neill —Can you ask the question again?

ACTING CHAIR —To what level were you consulted, either yourselves as representatives, or any of the regional groups that you are aware of, consulted about the outcome statement that the government has just produced?

Mr O’Neill —I come back to Mrs Burns’s point before. There is a national working group of chairs. I wear two hats; I do a bit of executive support for that group as well. That national working group had some general briefings, it would be fair to say, without going into huge detail about what the outcome statements were, in August and a little earlier in the year, but nothing specific.

ACTING CHAIR —We used to have this cute thing in Western Australia where we had the chairs group and we had the chair of the chairs. Is the national chairs group the chair of each state?

Mrs Burns —The chair of each state, yes.

ACTING CHAIR —It is not the 56 chairs?

Mrs Burns —No.

ACTING CHAIR —The chair of the chairs in each state meet?

Mrs Burns —Yes.

Mr O’Neill —It is currently chaired by Tasmania. The reason Tasmania is chairing it this year is it will be hosting the national forum of all of the chairs.

ACTING CHAIR —Is that once a year?

Mr O’Neill —It is once a year.

ACTING CHAIR —So, the 56 chairs get together once a year?

Mrs Burns —Yes, exactly.

ACTING CHAIR —I have been told this, but I cannot remember. When did all the chairs last meet?

Mrs Burns —In April. This year we had a forum and the meeting with the ministers, the NRM councils.

Mr O’Neill —The conference was prior to that.

Mrs Burns —The conference was part of that.

ACTING CHAIR —I would like to get back to where the regional groups are at. It is the funding for the regional groups that we are obviously interested in, but it is also the overall delivery of NRM.

Mrs Burns —Yes.

ACTING CHAIR —I am also keen to know what the regions think about what is happening with the program outcomes. Can you tell us where they are heading, about the business plan, any involvement you have had in the business plan, and any understanding you have of what strategic approach is being taken?

Mrs Burns —We have not had input into the development of these documents, because we will be competing against other people. It was seen as an advantage to engage too closely with regional bodies in the production of these documents. It is now a competitive market. We will not be the sole providers of NRM into the regions, and that is fine. We actually work with all these groups anyway on a regional level. We have quite a number of projects with Greening Australia, ACF and all the other groups. Our only concern is that everyone should have to follow the same reporting arrangements and be subject to the same auditing conditions as regional groups.

ACTING CHAIR —This is one of the reasons I wanted to have the department last. I will go back next week and ask the department who was consulted.

Mrs Burns —We were given briefings on it.

Mr O’Neill —About what?

ACTING CHAIR —About the development of the business plan. I appreciate what you have just said about the competitive approach, but you have been the ones who have been delivering this stuff on the ground. How many years is it?

Mrs Burns —Ten.

ACTING CHAIR —And before that.

Mrs Burns —Yes, our predecessors.

ACTING CHAIR —For the last 10 years of your current existence, but we are now into the third decade of Landcare, or NRM.

Mrs Burns —That is right.

ACTING CHAIR —Monitoring and evaluation has been a sticking point for a long time. The ANAO report was very critical of it again. What new approach do you think we should be taking to deal with this once and for all?

Mrs Burns —We need to have some national guidelines on what you want us to report on, and what our targets and outcomes should look like. In the last 10 years I have seen so many consultancies and reports on how we should be reporting, outcomes, et cetera.

ACTING CHAIR —I have a huge stack, but I do not have all of them.

Mrs Burns —It is totally confusing. Just tell us what you want and we will deliver it. If you do not tell us what is expected, we cannot do it. Due to the nature of the industry in which we work, it is very hard to prove long-term outcomes over a one-year period, which is our funding cycle. In a lot of ways it does not make sense. If you tell us what you want, we can give it to you. We are starting to get there with the MERI system and a few other things that are going around.

Senator HURLEY —I wanted to get on to the question of monitoring and outcomes, because there is a lot of criticism anecdotally in South Australia about the monitoring and outcomes in Victoria as we are down the river from you. There is constant criticism of the slow pace of change in Victoria, yet you say in your submission that you have had significant change. It seems to many people in South Australia that that is not quite true or that it is too slow.

Mrs Burns —What sort of change are we talking about? Do you mean river salinity?

Senator HURLEY —Just generally.

Mrs Burns —That seems to be the issue we have with South Australia. In Victoria the view is the exact opposite.

Senator HURLEY —Do you mean that South Australia is not changing?

Mrs Burns —Yes.

Senator HURLEY —I do not see how that affects you.

Mrs Burns —It does in the Mallee because we share an aqua-filter with South Australia.

Senator HURLEY —Are you saying that the NRM people in South Australia are not achieving—

Mrs Burns —No, I am not saying that. It is more about perception. In South Australia they say Victorians are not changing fast enough, but in Victoria they say South Australians are not changing fast enough. I am quite willing to answer your question, but I do not know in what area of Victoria is not changing, according to South Australia.

Senator HURLEY —This is what people in South Australia are saying. I am asking you about monitoring and outcomes. You have just done a brief summary in your submission about what you feel you have achieved, but what kind of monitoring and outcomes would better describe what you are achieving?

Mr O’Neill —Mrs Burns picked up the point before about salinity and River Murray salinity levels. In one sense that is probably a good example of a program where there are quite clearly specified targets, rules within which we work, and the monitoring or reporting system that backs that up. There is a register that the Murray-Darling Basin Commission keeps with salinity debits and credits, et cetera. It then becomes easier to map your programs around that to achieve those targets, and the audit trail is much clearer. I am sure there is a debate from South Australia and Victoria as to whether those targets are high enough or low enough, but it is an example of a reasonably robust system that is in place to allow regional programs to be put in place around it.

Senator HURLEY —In your submission you say landscape changes from revegetation projects are most noticeable among those who travel regularly in the regions and who see rapid vertical growth in revegetation over time. Changes are less obvious on satellite imagery because projects are often linear. Then you mentioned water quality, which you have just dealt with. If the money is delivered and the CMAs, as you say, are operating well, then why are you unable to sight a better measure of your achievements over that time?

Mrs Burns —We can, but the way we have been reporting in the past has been more like the abstracts in the book; it is not actually built up. We have been reporting on each little project. If you look at this book, it will show you the way we have been reporting in the past. To get the funding it was all project funding. This was one of the big problems with it. We had to put up that particular little project and then we reported on that little project. It was not built up to landscape scale. That has been one of the things. That is why we would like more divulged funding. Caring for Country is doing it to some extent where you have the bigger lots of funding so you can report across a landscape and not on a project-by-project basis. The reports are all there.

Senator HURLEY —You agree with that change of direction?

Mrs Burns —Yes, exactly. It is hard to build them up because of the way we have had to report for the funding in the past. It has been a lot about the reporting, too, and that is why that has to be dealt with in the monitoring and evaluation. If we have to report like that, that is how we report and that is why it is hard to build it up.

Senator HURLEY —How does the Victorian government require you to report if they give 60 per cent of the funding?

Mrs Burns —They require their own reports.

Senator HURLEY —Is that on a project-by-project basis or on a wider basis?

Mrs Burns —Hopefully under the new bilaterals under Caring for our Country there will be more synergies in the reporting requirements from the state and the federal. In the past that has not been the case. As regional bodies we have had to prepare different reports for state and federal government.

Senator HURLEY —What is the difference between the reports for state and federal at the moment? If it is a project-by-project basis to the Commonwealth, then what is it on a state basis?

Mrs Burns —They both have their different formats.

Senator HURLEY —Is it still project by project?

Mrs Burns —It is still project by project, but just in a different form.

Mr O’Neill —The annual reports for 2007-08 from the CMAs will be out in about a month’s time, so we can make that available to the committee secretariat. The previous years are all there on the web. In there you can probably see the evolution or diversity of reporting that CMAs are now doing. In some regions where the targets and outcomes are really quite well defined you can see the progress of investments leading to where they are up to in relation to those targets and outcomes. If the state and the Commonwealth are not clear about what it is that they want to see changed for the dollars that are going in, it is very difficult to report on progress. There is quite a bit of effort now through the Victorian government land and biodiversity green paper/white paper, for example, to start to be clear about what it is from a statewide perspective the government wants, and then looking at how the regions contribute to that, rather than this basis of, ‘Let’s add up everything the regions are doing and therefore that is our state priorities or outcomes.’

Senator HURLEY —You mentioned the mallee in general, which crosses the state borders. If the Commonwealth were to focus more on the general region, how would the Victorian government funding be affected by that?

Mrs Burns —I am not in a position to say. I do not know. You would need to ask the Victorian government that.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —As you know, our inquiry is looking at ways to improve and do things better. You mentioned you would prefer divulged funding. What do you mean by ‘divulged funding’?

Mrs Burns —It means that each region is given that money and the region can decide the priorities. At the moment we have to meet the Commonwealth priorities and the state priorities to some extent, and that is what we are funded to do. Each catchment has a regional catchment strategy that defines the local priorities. That give us, as a regional body, more say in the direction of that funding. At the moment we cannot get salinity, which is quite strange after NAP funding for seven years. This year we cannot receive any salinity funding, but the salinity in the mallee has not gone away.

ACTING CHAIR —Is it not a priority in the new program?

Mrs Burns —No. If we had some amount of divulged funding we could continue some of that work, because we have to under the NDBC preparation.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —As a local group would salinity be your top priority or one of your top priorities?

Mrs Burns —Yes, that is just an example.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —Would your share of the $127 million be for you to spend in accordance with your current investment plan?

Mrs Burns —No. This is my understanding. I could be wrong. It is only insofar as it meets the new Commonwealth targets.

ACTING CHAIR —That is my understanding of what the department said this morning. It is still to meet the Commonwealth priorities.

Mrs Burns —Yes. My understanding is that I cannot use that money for my salinity work.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —We must confirm that. Certainly, the competitive bid funding is only for a listed number of Commonwealth government priorities, but you think it is all of them?

Mrs Burns —Yes. That is my understanding.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —I would like to get a bit of background on your group. I am interested because I come from Queensland, where we have community groups rather than statutory authorities. You are appointed by the state government of the day whereas in Queensland they are appointed by community people. I am not arguing one over the other, although I have a view, but in your role as a catchment management authority what direction do you take from the state government, which obviously set you up for a purpose? Are you required to pursue their priorities as we are now saying you have to pursue the Commonwealth priorities, or do you go entirely on what you think is best in the local area?

Mrs Burns —No. It is a bit of both. We try to match in. We all have our regional catchment strategies, but to get funding we have to do an investment plan and in that we have to make sure our projects fit both state and Commonwealth priorities, because if they do not then we do not get funded for them.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —Is your state investment plan the same plan as your federal investment plan that was approved three or four years ago?

Mrs Burns —It used to be, yes. I am not sure how that will work next year. I am assuming it will be.

ACTING CHAIR —You have one investment plan that meets state and Commonwealth priorities.

Mrs Burns —Yes, at the moment.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —I remember with the Commonwealth one they were ticked off by the department as being suitable for your purposes but also for the Commonwealth purposes.

Mrs Burns —Exactly.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —And they have to be the same as the state purposes.

Mrs Burns —Yes.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —This might be a hard question, but what percentage of the work of the Victorian catchment management authorities is the sort of work that in the past might have been the work of the Victorian Department of Primary Industries or agriculture—things like extension services, assistance on the ground? Do you look after any of that these days?

Mrs Burns —We do a lot of the extension work jointly with DPI, because we have a lot of on-farm programs running, too. DPI are still doing it.

Mr O’Neill —It is worth adding to the point you are raising. One of the differences between Victoria and the other states is that Victoria does have a direct role in waterway management and actually delivers waterway management programs. This is primarily focused on river health, but that has been a function that has been with the CMA since 1997 when they were established. Across the state it does vary a little bit as to the extent to which the CMAs involve themselves directly in service delivery for other NRM programs and the extent to which they coordinate the delivery of those programs. By and large the CMAs have stepped back from that unless there is a compelling need for them to be in there. An example would be some of the Landcare coordinators. I think the Mallee houses the local Landcare coordinator.

Mrs Burns —We hire them.

Mr O’Neill —West Gippsland might be the same. There are slightly different arrangements around the state in relation to different programs.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —My impression in Queensland, which was confirmed by conversations with NRM groups, is that the Queensland DPI, which used to have a very forthright and useful extension service to farmers, now practically has nothing, with all that work now being picked up by the catchment management authority out of Commonwealth funds. It is a good way of cost shifting from state to Commonwealth. That is not quite as pronounced in Victoria?

Mr O’Neill —I would be having a good guess here, but I would be saying that is probably not the case. There may well be variations. I appreciate what you are saying, that the extension services of state agencies across the nation have probably wound back over the last 10 or 20 years. I speak from a former role in Victoria’s Department of Agriculture. I do not think the CMAs are pushing them out. I think there has been a shift.

Mrs Burns —It is the changing face of agriculture; their needs are different. Most farmers in our area now hire private consultants.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —Finally, I would like to discuss your relationship with the people you serve. Do you have in place consultation networks or something along those lines? If I am a Landcare group how would I have an influence in what you are thinking about and whether you should fund what I am trying to do in a particular area?

Mrs Burns —I will just talk about our CMA because it is the one that I know. We have two implementation committees that report to our board. We have a dry-land implementation committee and an irrigation implementation committee. They are made up of community members. We also run the local Landcare network. We have 26 Landcare groups in our catchment and we hire 15 facilitators. We employ the majority of the facilitators. However, some are employed and housed by DPI but we pay for them.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —They are employed and housed by DPI, but you pay them?

Mrs Burns —Yes, we pay for them. It comes out of our money. We pay DPI to house and employ these people, because that is what their group wanted to do. They do the same job. They are a Landcare facilitator. As they are Landcare, we have a committee of the local Landcare representatives to help decide what work they are going to do, because that was an issue at some stage. When we are doing our investment program and deciding which projects to put up for funding, the Landcare, the implementation committees and all the other local groups—whether they be a water authority, Greening Australia or any of the CRC-type groups—attend open forums where all these people are brought in under asset classes. We hold workshop days where they go through and map out what projects and what we need for the future.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —Who determines who those groups are?

Mrs Burns —Basically the board. We ask for applications in all local papers and media and do a lot of elbow tapping of business. It sounds good to get all this community consultation, but people in the small areas are committeed out.

ACTING CHAIR —They are committeed to death.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —These groups are formed by your influence rather than the influence of the people who appoint you?

Mrs Burns —Yes, definitely.

Mr O’Neill —In terms of the other CMAs, I have been doing some work with some of the CEOs on their community engagement arrangements. Yes, that sort of structure does occur across the CMAs. Some have two or three implementation or advisory committees and others might only have one. In some cases they are focused on geographic areas and in other cases they might be focused on issues, such as biodiversity or water, et cetera. There is a bit of diversity of arrangement. A number of them have community engagement policies in place that describe how they will engage with a community on a regular basis. There is a reasonable diversity of mechanisms for the community engagement operating across Victoria.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —Anyone in your areas who wants to have a say is more or less welcomed in?

Mrs Burns —Yes.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —Why would the Landcare facilitators be paid for by you and work to your thing, but employed by DPI? There must be a bureaucratic rationale for that.

Mrs Burns —It was a bain-marie of a couple of Landcare groups. I have absolutely no idea. It has never made sense to me, either. That is what the local Landcare group themselves wanted.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —Are these people state public servants?

Mrs Burns —They are contracted.

ACTING CHAIR —Different regional groups employ their people differently.

Mrs Burns —Exactly.

ACTING CHAIR —Some do it through local government. Some do it from the local agencies. It varies all over Australia.

Mrs Burns —The reason we took it over was the local groups were struggling to do it.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —But you did not take it over. They are still employees of the DPI.

Mrs Burns —Only some of them. We did not for those ones, but we did for the others.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —We are they not just contractors to you?

Mrs Burns —We would have preferred that. That is what the local group wanted.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —I was just curious.

Mr O’Neill —Quite often there are locational issues. The DPI offices used to be reasonably local and so it was easier to have somebody there than based in Mildura.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —Thank you.

ACTING CHAIR —That takes us up to the end of the questions that we have for you. Your evidence is very much appreciated. It helped to confuse me even more; I thought I had got there with the government. If anybody thinks of anything else, we will drop you a line.

Proceedings suspended from 1.15 pm to 2.24 pm