Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Foreign investment by state owned entities
Senate committee
Monday, 22 June 2009
Foreign investment by state owned entities

CHAIR (Senator Eggleston) —I declare open this public hearing of the Senate Standing Committee on Economics for its inquiry into foreign investment by state owned entities. On 18 March 2009, the Senate referred this matter to the committee to report by 17 June 2009. The Senate has since extended the reporting date for the inquiry until 17 September 2009.

The reference seeks to explore: (a) the international experience of sovereign wealth funds and state owned companies, their role in acquisitions of significant shareholdings of corporations, and the impact and outcomes of such acquisitions on business growth and competition; and (b) the Australian experience of foreign investment by sovereign wealth funds and state owned companies in the context of Australia’s foreign investment arrangements.

These are public proceedings, although the committee may agree to a request to have evidence heard in camera or may determine that certain evidence should be heard in camera. I remind the witnesses that in giving evidence to the committee they are protected by parliamentary privilege. It is unlawful for anyone to threaten or disadvantage a witness on account of evidence given to a committee, and such action may be treated by the Senate as a contempt. It is also a contempt to give false or misleading evidence to a committee.

If a witness objects to answering a question, the witness should state the ground upon which the objection is taken, and the committee will determine whether it will insist on an answer, having regard to the ground which is claimed. If the committee determines to insist on an answer, a witness may request that the answer be given in camera. Such a request may also be made at any other time.

I remind members of the committee that the Senate has resolved that departmental officers shall not be asked to give opinions on matters of policy, and shall be given reasonable opportunity to refer questions to superior officers or to a minister. This resolution prohibits only asking for opinions on matters of policy, and does not preclude questions asking for explanations of policies or factual questions about when and how policies were adopted.

[8.28 pm]