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Senators in attendance:

Senator Carr, Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research

Senator Sherry, Minister Assisting on Deregulation, Minister for Small Business, Minister Assisting the Minister for Tourism

Mr Mark Paterson, Secretary

Ms Patricia Kelly, Deputy Secretary

Ms Sue Weston, Deputy Secretary

Mr Michael Schwager, Head of Division

Ms Cherie Ellison, General Manager, Business Collaboration Branch

Mr Richard Byron, General Manager, Human Resources and Facilities Branch

Mr Paul Sexton, Acting Executive General Manager

Mr David Wilson, General Manager, Research, Development and Venture Capital Branch

Ms Merryn Kennedy, General Manager, Innovation Branch

Ms Wendy Launder, General Manager, Business Development Branch

Dr Russell Edwards, Acting General Manager, Customer Services Branch

Professor Matthew Colless, Director

Mr Craig Pennifold, Head of Division, Chief Information Officer

Mr Mike Sibly, General Manager, Online e-Business Services Branch

Mr Steve Stirling, General Manager, ICT Systems Branch

Mr Neil Kinsella, General Manager, ICT Systems Branch

Ms Trish Porter, General Manager, VANguard

Ms Judith Zielke, Head of Division

Mr Paul Trotman, General Manager, Trade and International Branch

Ms Jane Urquhart, General Manager, Enterprise Connect Branch

Ms Vanessa Graham, Chief Financial Officer

Mr Brad Medland, Deputy Chief Financial Officer

Mr Barry Jones, Head of Division

Mr Terry Lowndes, Principal Advisor

Ms Ann Bray, General Manager, Business Registration and Licensing Branch

Mr Andrew Joyce, General Manager, Small Business and Deregulation Branch

Mr Richard Snabel, General Manager, Industry Policy and Economic Analysis Branch

Mr Andrew Lancaster Acting General Manager, Business Conditions Branch

Mr Ken Pettifer, Head of Division

Ms Tricia Berman, General Manager, Innovation Policy Branch

Mr Peter Chesworth, General Manager, Pharmaceuticals, Health Industries and Enabling Technologies Branch

Mr Tony Weber, General Manager, Innovation Analysis Branch

Mr Doron Ben-Meir, Chief Executive Officer, Commercialisation Australia

Mr Steve Payne, Head of Division

Mr Mark Durrant, General Manager, Automotive Branch

Mr Mike Lawson, General Manager, Competitive Industries Branch

Dr Michael Green, General Manager, Innovation and Space Branch

Mr Murray Fearn, General Manger, Working Groups Unit

Mr Ivan Donaldson, General Manager, Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB)

Dr Laurie Besley, Head of Division/Chief Executive Officer

Professor Graham Durant, Director

Ms Anne Baly, Head of Division

Dr Anne Byrne, General Manager, Research Funding and Policy Branch

Dr Caroline Perkins, General Manager, Compacts and Co-ordination Branch

Ms Stella Morahan, General Manager, Cooperative Research Centres Branch

Ms Anne-Marie Lansdown, Head of Division

Ms Katharine Campbell, Acting General Manager, International Science and EIF Branch

Mr David Luchetti, General Manager, Science Policy and Programs Branch

Ms Julia Evans, General Manager, Research Infrastructure Branch

Dr Greg Storr, General Manager, Nuclear Operations, Acting Chief Executive Officer

Mr Steven McIntosh, Senior Policy Advisor

Mr Lubi Dimitrovski, Manager, Waste Operations

Mr Peter Arambatzis, Chief Financial Officer

Professor Margaret Sheil, Chief Executive Officer

Ms Leanne Harvey, General Manager

Dr Megan Clark, Chief Executive

Mr Craig Roy, Deputy Chief Executive Science Strategy and People

Mr Mike Whelan, Deputy Chief Executive, Operations

Dr Andrew Johnson

Dr Alastair Robertson

Mr Philip Noonan, Director General

Ms Fatima Beattie, Deputy Director General

Mr Doug Pereira, General Manager, Corporate Services Group

Professor Penny Sackett, Chief Scientist

CHAIR (Senator Hurley) —I declare open this public hearing of the Senate Economics Legislation Committee. The Senate has referred to the committee the particulars of proposed expenditure for 2010-11 and related documents for the Innovation, Industry, Science and Research portfolio, Resources, Energy and Tourism portfolio, and the Treasury portfolio. The committee has set Monday 25 October as the date by which senators are to submit written questions on notice and has set Friday 10 December 2010 as the date by which answers to questions on notice are to be returned.

Under standing order 26, the committee must take all evidence in public session. This includes answers to questions on notice. Officers and senators are familiar with the rules of the Senate governing estimates hearings. If you need assistance, the secretariat has copies of the rules. I particularly draw the attention of witnesses to an order of the Senate of 13 May 2009 specifying the process by which a claim of public interest immunity should be raised and which I now incorporate in Hansard.

The document read as follows—

Public interest immunity claims

That the Senate—

(a)   notes that ministers and officers have continued to refuse to provide information to Senate committees without properly raising claims of public interest immunity as required by past resolutions of the Senate;

(b)   reaffirms the principles of past resolutions of the Senate by this order, to provide ministers and officers with guidance as to the proper process for raising public interest immunity claims and to consolidate those past resolutions of the Senate;

(c)   orders that the following operate as an order of continuing effect:

(1)   If:

(a)   a Senate committee, or a senator in the course of proceedings of a committee, requests information or a document from a Commonwealth department or agency; and

(b)   an officer of the department or agency to whom the request is directed believes that it may not be in the public interest to disclose the information or document to the committee, the officer shall state to the committee the ground on which the officer believes that it may not be in the public interest to disclose the information or document to the committee, and specify the harm to the public interest that could result from the disclosure of the information or document.

(2)   If, after receiving the officer’s statement under paragraph (1), the committee or the senator requests the officer to refer the question of the disclosure of the information or document to a responsible minister, the officer shall refer that question to the minister.

(3)   If a minister, on a reference by an officer under paragraph (2), concludes that it would not be in the public interest to disclose the information or document to the committee, the minister shall provide to the committee a statement of the ground for that conclusion, specifying the harm to the public interest that could result from the disclosure of the information or document.

(4)   A minister, in a statement under paragraph (3), shall indicate whether the harm to the public interest that could result from the disclosure of the information or document to the committee could result only from the publication of the information or document by the committee, or could result, equally or in part, from the disclosure of the information or document to the committee as in camera evidence.

(5)   If, after considering a statement by a minister provided under paragraph (3), the committee concludes that the statement does not sufficiently justify the withholding of the information or document from the committee, the committee shall report the matter to the Senate.

(6)   A decision by a committee not to report a matter to the Senate under paragraph (5) does not prevent a senator from raising the matter in the Senate in accordance with other procedures of the Senate.

(7)   A statement that information or a document is not published, or is confidential, or consists of advice to, or internal deliberations of, government, in the absence of specification of the harm to the public interest that could result from the disclosure of the information or document, is not a statement that meets the requirements of paragraph (I) or (4).

(8)   If a minister concludes that a statement under paragraph (3) should more appropriately be made by the head of an agency, by reason of the independence of that agency from ministerial direction or control, the minister shall inform the committee of that conclusion and the reason for that conclusion, and shall refer the matter to the head of the agency, who shall then be required to provide a statement in accordance with paragraph (3).

(Extract, Senate Standing Orders, pp 124-125)

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