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RURAL AFFAIRS AND TRANSPORT REFERENCES COMMITTEE
31/03/2011
Science underpinning the inability to eradicate the Asian honey bee
RURAL AFFAIRS AND TRANSPORT REFERENCES COMMITTEE
Senate committee
Thursday, 31 March 2011
Science underpinning the inability to eradicate the Asian honey bee
Final

CHAIR (Senator Heffernan) —I declare open this public hearing of the Rural Affairs and Transport References Committee. The committee is hearing evidence on the inquiry into the science underpinning the inability to eradicate the Asian honey bee. This is a public hearing and a Hansard of proceedings is being made.

Before the committee starts taking evidence, I remind all 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 contempt. It is also a contempt to give or misleading evidence to a committee. The committee prefers all evidence to be given in public, but under the Senate’s resolutions witnesses have the right to request to be heard in private session. It is important that witnesses give the committee notice if they intend to give evidence in camera. 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 ask witnesses to remain for a few minutes at the conclusion of their evidence in case Hansard need to clarify any terms or references. I remind all people in the room to turn their phones off or make them inaudible.

On behalf of the committee, I thank all those who have made submissions and sent representatives to this hearing. I welcome officers from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. I remind senators that the Senate has resolved that an officer of the department of the Commonwealth or of a state shall not be asked to give opinions on matters of policy and shall be given reasonable opportunity to refer questions asked of the officer to a superior officer or to a minister. This resolution only prohibits questions asking for opinions on matters of policy and does not preclude questions asking for explanations of policy or factual questions about when and how policies were adopted. Officers of the department are also reminded that any claim that would be contrary to the public interest to answer a question must be made by a minister and shall be accompanied by a statement setting out the basis of the claim.

[2.00 pm]