Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee

Go To First Hit


In Attendance

Senator McKenzie, Minister for Emergency Management «and» National Recovery «and» Resilience, Minister for Regionalisation, Regional Communications «and» Regional Education

Senator Stoker, Assistant Minister to the Attorney-General, Assistant Minister for Industrial Relations, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health «and» Suicide Prevention, Assistant Minister for Women

Department of Home «Affairs»

Mr Michael Pezzullo AO, Secretary

Australian Border Fo rce

Mr Michael Outram APM, Commissioner

Chief Operating Officer

Ms Justine Saunders APM, Chief Operating Officer

Ms Stephanie Cargill, First Assistant Secretary, Finance / Chief Finance Officer

Ms Lee-anne Monterosso, First Assistant Secretary, Procurement, Property «and» Contracts

Executive «and» International

Ms Sophie Sharpe, Group Manager

Ms Mary Balzary, First Assistant Secretary, International


Ms Pip de Veau, General Counsel / Group Manager, «Legal»

Cyber «and» Infrastructure Security Centre

Mr Hamish Hansford, Group Manager, Cyber «and» Infrastructure Security Centre

Mr Samuel Grunhard, Deputy Group Manager, Cyber «and» Infrastructure Security Operations

Emergency Management Australia

Mr Joe Buffone PSM, Director-General

Technology «and» Major Capability

Mr Radi Kovacevic, Acting Group Manager, Technology «and» Major Capability

Ms Claire Roennfeldt, First Assistant Secretary, Major Capability

Mr Sean Hugo, Assistant Secretary, Cyber Risk Services

Global Business «and» Talent Attraction Taskforce

Mr Peter Verwer AO, Prime Minister's Special Envoy, Global Business «and» Talent Attraction Taskforce

Mr Brett Schuppan, Acting First Assistant Secretary, Global Business «and» Talent Attraction Taskforce

Immigration «and» Settlement Services

Ms Cheryl-anne Moy, Deputy Secretary

Mr Michael Willard, First Assistant Secretary, Immigration Programs

Ms Justine Jones, First Assistant Secretary, Status Resolution «and» Visa Cancellation

Mr David Wilden, First Assistant Secretary, Refugee, Humanitarian «and» Settlement

Ms Tara Cavanagh, First Assistant Secretary, Immigration Integrity, Assurance «and» Policy

Ms Alison Larkins, Commonwealth Coordinator-General for Migrant Services

Social Cohesion «and» Citizenship

Mr Andrew Kefford PSM, Deputy Secretary

Mr Richard Feakes, First Assistant Secretary, Counter-Terrorism Coordination Centre

Mr Anthony Coles, First Assistant Secretary, Counter Foreign Interference Coordination Centre

Mr Angus Kirkwood, First Assistant Secretary, Citizenship

Dr Richard Johnson, First Assistant Secretary, Social Cohesion

Strategy «and» National Resilience

Mr Marc Ablong PSM, Deputy Secretary

Ms Alana Sullivan, First Assistant Secretary, Regional Processing «and» Resettlement

Mr Brendan Dowling, First Assistant Secretary, Digital «and» Technology Policy

Mr Paul Pfitzner, Acting First Assistant Secretary, Electronic Surveillance «and» Law Enforcement Policy

Mr Greg Miller, First Assistant Secretary, Intelligence

Ms Kendra Morony, First Assistant Secretary, Strategy

Dr Steven Davies, Chief Data Officer, Data

Australian Border Force North, West «and» Detention

Ms Kylie Rendina, Acting Deputy Commissioner, North, West «and» Detention

Mr Tim Fitzgerald, Assistant Commissioner, North «and» Detention

Rear Admiral Justin Jones, Commander, Joint Agency Task Force Operations Sovereign Borders

Mr Ky Blackman, Deputy Commander, Joint Agency Task Force Operations Sovereign Borders

Australian Border Force South, East «and» Workforce

Ms Cheryl Pearce AM, CSC, Deputy Commissioner, South, East «and» Workforce

Ms Erin Dale, Assistant Commissioner, East

Australian Border Force Customs

Mr Brett Cox, Acting Group Manager, Customs

Australian Border Force Industry «and» Border Systems

Mr Malcolm Skene, Group Manager, Industry «and» Border Systems

Australian Federal Police

Mr Reece Kershaw APM, Commissioner

Mr Ian McCartney, Deputy Commissioner, Investigations

Ms Charlotte Tressler, Chief Operating Officer

Ms Fiona Drennan, Assistant Commissioner, Specialist Protective Command

Ms Samantha Nichol, Chief of Staff

Ms Katherine Van Gurp, National Manager, Strategy «and» Performance Office

Australian Security Intelligence Organisation

Mr Mike Burgess, Director-General

Ms Hazel Bennett, Deputy Director-General

Office of the Special Investigator

Mr Chris Moraitis PSM, Director-General

Ms Catherine Fitch, Chief Operating Officer

Mr Sam Senaratne, Chief Financial Officer

Australian Transaction Reports «and» Analysis Centre

Ms Nicole Rose PSM, Chief Executive Officer

Mr Peter Soros, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Regulation, Education «and» Policy

Dr John Moss AIM, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Intelligence

Mr Chris Collett, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Capability «and» Strategy

Mr Ben Skaines, National Manager, Strategic Planning, Finance «and» Performance

Mr Brad Brown, National Manager, Regulation, Education «and» Policy Management

Ms Katie Miller, National Manager, «Legal» «and» Enforcement (General Counsel)

Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission

Australian In stitute of Criminology

Mr Michael Phelan APM, Chief Executive Officer/Director, Australian Institute of Criminology

Mr Matt Rippon, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Intelligence

Ms Anne Brown, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Support

Dr Rick Brown, Deputy Director, Australian Institute of Criminology

Ms Yvette Whittaker, Chief Financial Officer

Committee met at 0 9 :0 1

CHAIR ( Senator Henderson ): I declare open this hearing of the Senate «Legal» «and» «Constitutional» «Affairs» Legislation Committee. The Senate has referred to the committee the particulars of proposed expenditure for «2022» - «23» for the portfolios of Home «Affairs» «and» the Attorney-General, «and» other related documents. These are «budget» «estimates» proceedings «and» the outcomes to be heard during today's «estimates» are from the Home «Affairs» portfolio. The committee has set Friday 20 May 2022 as the date by which answers to questions on notice should be returned. The committee has also decided that answers to written questions on notice should be provided to the secretary by 5 pm on Friday 15 April 2022.

Under standing order 26 the committee must take all evidence in public session. This includes answers to questions on notice. 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 a contempt. It is also a contempt to give false or misleading evidence to a committee.

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. 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 purposes 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 a discretion to withhold details or explanations from the parliament or its committees 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 asked of the officer to superior officers or to a minister.

This resolution prohibits any questions asking for opinions on matters of policy but does not preclude questions asking for explanation of policy or factual questions about when «and» how policies are adopted. 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, which will be incorporated in the Hansard.

The extract 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 (1) 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).

(d) requires the Procedure Committee to review the operation of this order «and» report to the Senate by 20 August 2009.

(13 May 2009 J.1941)

(Extract, Senate Standing Orders)

CHAIR: Witnesses are specifically reminded that a statement that information or a document is confidential or consists of advice to government is not a statement which meets the requirements of the 2009 order. Instead, witnesses are required to provide some specific indication of the harm to the public interest which could result from the disclosure of the information or document.

Senators, departments «and» agencies have been provided with advice on the arrangements in place to ensure the «budget» «estimates» «2022» - «23» hearings are conducted in a COVID-safe manner. This guidance is also available from the secretariat. The committee appreciates the cooperation of all attendees in adhering to these arrangements. In order to comply with COVID safety requirements, senators «and» the secretariat may use their electronic devices to communicate with one another during the hearing. We ask witnesses forbearance to do so «and» apologise in advance for any discourtesy.

Before I welcome our witnesses today, I would just like to make a few very brief remarks about the deputy chair of this committee, Senator Kim Carr. As many of you would know, Senator Carr is retiring «and» I want to acknowledge his very substantial work as the deputy chair of this committee. Obviously, he has made quite an incredible contribution as a senator over many years, «and» as a Victorian Labor senator, but I particularly want to make a brief comment in relation to his hard work, his commitment «and» his dedication to this committee.

Kim «and» I established a good working relationship in the way that this committee has run. As with any committee, we always have our challenges but I will miss Senator Carr. He has been a real stalwart of this committee. He has done some very fine work, «and» I want to wish him all the very best. If anyone else wants to make any responses, I might give the call to Senator Keneally.

Senator KENEALLY: On behalf of Labor senators, may I first of all thank you for your acknowledgement of our colleague Senator Carr «and» join with you in your acknowledgement of his contribution to this committee «and» indeed throughout his career through this Senate committee process. I think all senators can reflect on Senator Carr's career «and» understand «and» learn how to best make use of the forums of the Senate. He's a fine senator. He is a friend to many of us here in this room «and» he will be missed.

There will of course be opportunities, I'm sure, in coming days to reflect on his career, «and» the Senate did so yesterday in a motion. I would say, however, to any public servants listening: do not breathe too easily because Senator Carr is not here this week only because he has a slight illness. There are some indications that, should we have «estimates» next week, he will be here in fine form.

Senator SCARR: I endorse everything Senator Keneally said «and» I just want to put on record what a profound, positive impression he makes, especially on relatively new senators. His intellectual rigour, his forensic preparation «and» his respect for the institutions of this place are simply outstanding. He has left—I mean he's still alive. I don't want this to sound like he's passed away; I'm getting a bit maudlin. However, he has made a profound positive impression not just on this place but on the people in this place, including me.

Senator VAN: I'll echo those remarks. To those of us who came in in 2019 to walk into our first «estimates» «and» see Senator Carr in full flight was awe-inspiring but also inspired me, «and» I know some of my colleagues, to learn the lessons from that «and» to be better senators based on the work he did, how well-prepared he was «and» , as was said before, how forensic he was in his investigations. He will be missed in this place, «and» I thank him also for his service.