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STANDING COMMITTEE ON LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS - 24/02/2009 - IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP PORTFOLIO
Senators in attendance:

Senator the Hon. Chris Evans, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship



Mr Andrew Metcalfe, Secretary

Mr Bob Correll PSM, Deputy Secretary

Mr Peter Hughes PSM, Deputy Secretary

Ms Alison Larkins, Acting Deputy Secretary


Ms Marilyn Prothero, First Assistant Secretary, Financial Strategy and Services Division

Mr Craig Farrell, Acting First Assistant Secretary, People and Governance, Division

Mr Peter McKeon, First Assistant Secretary, Systems Division

Mr James Fox, First Assistant Secretary, Client Services and Network Performance Division

Mr Sandi Logan, Manager, National Communications Branch

Ms Rebecca Irwin, First Assistant Secretary, Policy Innovation and Research Unit

Ms Jackie Davis, Assistant Secretary, Litigation Branch

Mr Simon Schiwy, Assistant Secretary, Ministerial and Executive Services Branch



Mr Peter Vardos PSM, First Assistant Secretary, Migration and Visa Policy Division

Mr Kruno Kukoc, Principal Advisor, Migration Strategies Branch


Ms Kathleen Dunham, Acting Assistant Secretary, Onshore Protection Branch


Mr Todd Frew, First Assistant Secretary, Border Security Division

Mr Stephen Allen, Assistant Secretary, Border Operations Branch


Ms Lynne Gillam, Assistant Secretary, Compliance Resolution Branch

Mr Peter Richards, Assistant Secretary, Compliance and Integrity Support Branch

Mr Robert Illingworth, Assistant Secretary, Compliance and Integrity Policy Branch

Mr Dermot Casey PSM, Assistant Secretary, Case Management Branch


Ms Jackie Wilson, First Assistant Secretary, Community and Detention Services Division

Ms Lucy Bitmead, National Manager, Operations Branch

Ms Fiona Lynch-Magor, Assistant Secretary, Services Management Branch


Ms Jackie Wilson, First Assistant Secretary, Community and Detention Services Division


Mr Nico Padovan, Acting First Assistant Secretary, Business Transformation Services Division



Ms Kate Pope, First Assistant Secretary, Citizenship, Settlement and Multicultural Affairs Division

Mr Peter Templeton, Assistant Secretary, Settlement Branch


Ms Kate Pope, First Assistant Secretary, Citizenship, Settlement and Multicultural Affairs Division

Mr Peter Templeton, Assistant Secretary, Settlement Branch


Ms Kate Pope, First Assistant Secretary, Citizenship, Settlement and Multicultural Affairs Division

Ms Renelle Forster, Assistant Secretary, Citizenship Branch


Ms Kate Pope, First Assistant Secretary, Citizenship, Settlement and Multicultural Affairs Division


Mr Nico Padovan, Acting First Assistant Secretary, Business Transformation Services Division


Ms Maurene Horder, Chief Executive Officer

Mr Brian Jones, President, Migration Institute of Australia


Mr Denis O’Brien, Principal Member, Migration Review Tribunal and Refugee Review Tribunal

Mr John Lynch, Registrar, Migration Review Tribunal and Refugee Review Tribunal

Mr Rhys Jones, Deputy Registrar, Migration Review Tribunal and Refugee Review Tribunal

CHAIR (Senator Crossin) —I declare open this public meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. The Senate has referred to the committee the particulars of proposed additional expenditure for 2008-09 and related documents for the Immigration and Citizenship portfolio. The committee may also examine the annual reports of the departments and agencies appearing before it. The committee is required to report to the Senate on 17 March 2009 and has fixed the date of 14 April 2009 as the date for the return of answers to questions taken on notice.

Under standing order 26, the committee must take all evidence in public session. This includes answers to questions on notice. I want to remind witnesses here 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 the committee.

The Senate, by resolution in 1999, endorsed the following test of relevance of questions at estimates hearings: any questions going to the operations or financial positions of the departments and agencies which are seeking funds in the estimates are relevant questions for the purpose of estimates hearings. I remind officers that the Senate has resolved that there are no areas in connection with the expenditure of public funds where any person has discretion to withhold details or explanations from the parliament or its committee unless the parliament has expressly provided otherwise. The Senate has also resolved that an officer of a department of the Commonwealth shall not be asked to give opinions on matters of policy and shall be given reasonable opportunity to refer questions of the officer about opinions to superior officers or to a minister. This resolution prohibits only questions 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. 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 claim. Any claim that it would be contrary to the public interest to answer a question must be made by the minister and should be accompanied by a statement setting out the basis for the claim.

I now welcome Senator Evans, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship and Mr Andrew Metcalfe, the secretary of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. Senator Evans, do you wish to make an opening statement?

Senator Chris Evans —No, thank you.

CHAIR —Does Mr Metcalfe?

Mr Metcalfe —No, I do not have an opening statement.

 [9.05 am]