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Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee
08/02/2016
Estimates
INFRASTRUCTURE AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO

INFRASTRUCTURE AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO

In Attendance

Senator Colbeck, Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Investment and Minister for Tourism and International Education

Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development

Executive

Mr Mike Mrdak, Secretary

Mr Andrew Wilson, Deputy Secretary

Ms Judith Zielke, Acting Deputy Secretary

Corporate Services Division

Mr Carl Murphy, Chief Operating Officer

Ms Justine Potter, Chief Financial Officer

Ms Vanessa Goodspeed, General Manager, Communications and Parliamentary

Ms Susan Forbes, Director, Deregulation Unit

Infrastructure Investment Division

Mr Alex Foulds, Acting Executive Director

Mr Andrew Danks, General Manager, Major Infrastructure Projects Office

Ms Jessica Hall, General Manager, Infrastructure Policy

Mr Roland Pittar, General Manager, North West Roads

Mr Greg Moxon, Acting General Manager, South East Roads

Mr Richard Wood, General Manager, Rail and Intermodal

Mr Gordon McCormick, General Manager, Regional Programs

Ms Ruth Wall, Acting General Manager, Investment Coordination and Stronger Communities

Infrastructure Australia

Mr Philip Davies, Chief Executive Officer

Mr Stephen Alchin, Executive Director, Planning

Ms Anna Chau, Executive Director, Project Advisory

Jeremy Parkinson, Director, Project Advisory

Surface Transport Policy Division

Mr Michael Sutton, Acting Executive Director

Ms Stephanie Werner, General Manager, Maritime and Shipping

Mr Marcus James, General Manager, Surface Transport Productivity

Ms Ann Redmond, General Manager, Vehicle Safety Standards

Ms Donna Wieland, General Manager, Strategic Policy

Civil Aviation Safety Authority

Mr Mark Skidmore, Chief Executive Officer

Dr Jonathan Aleck, Associate Director of Aviation Safety

Mr Roger Weeks, Acting Executive Manager, Standards

Mr Gerard Campbell, Executive Manager, Operations

Mr Peter Cromarty, Executive Manager, Airspace and Aerodrome Regulation

Mr Craig Jordan, Acting Executive Manager, Industry Permissions

Mr Adam Anastasi, Executive Manager, Legal Services

Ms Eleanor Dean, Acting Group Manager Stakeholder Engagement

Mr Brian Keech, Acting Executive Manager, Corporate Services

Mr Simon Frawley, Acting Chief Finance Officer

Aviation and Airports Division

Ms Pip Spence, Executive Director

Mr Jim Wolfe, General Manager, Air Traffic Policy

Mr Russell McArthur, Acting General Manager, Aviation Environment

Ms Leonie Horrocks, General Manager, Airports

Mr Stephen Borthwick , General Manager, Aviation Industry Policy

Australian Transport Safety Bureau

Mr Martin Dolan, Chief Commissioner

Mr Ian Sangston, General Manager, Aviation Safety Investigations

Mr Julian Walsh, General Manager, Strategic Capability

Mr Peter Foley, Program Director, Operational Search for MH370

Mr Neville Blyth, Acting General Manager, Surface Safety Investigations

Mr Jason McGuire, Program Governance and Finance Manager, Operational Search for MH370

Australian Maritime Safety Authority

Mr Mick Kinley, Chief Executive Officer

Ms Cherie Enders, Chief Operating Officer, Corporate Services

Mr John Young, General Manager, Emergency Response Division

Office of Transport Security

Ms Sachi Wimmer, Executive Director

Mr Richard Farmer, General Manager, Transport Security Operations

Ms Therese Stuart, Acting General Manager, Maritime, Identity and Surface Security

Mr Steve Dreezer, General Manager, Aviation Security

Ms Nicole Pearson, General Manager, Risk and International

Mr Scott Stone, General Manager, Air Cargo Security Taskforce

Mr Greg Cox, General Manager, Transport Security Operations Reform

Airservices Australia

Mr Jason Harfield, Acting Chief Executive Officer

Mr Paul Logan, Acting Chief Finance Officer

Mr Greg Hood, Executive General Manager, Air Traffic Control

Policy and Research Division

Ms Philippa Power, Executive Director

Ms Nicole Spencer, General Manager, Policy Development Unit and Regulatory Reform Unit

Dr Gary Dolman, Head of Bureau, Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics

Ms Cathryn Geiger, General Manager, Regional Economic Policy

Australian Rail Track Corporation

Mr John Fullerton, Chief Executive Officer

Local Government and Territories Division

Ms Robyn Fleming, Executive Director

Ms Karly Pidgeon, General Manager, Indian Ocean Territories Branch

Mr Samuel Lucas, Acting General Manager, Local Government, Mainland Territories and Regional Development Australia Branch

Ms Glenda Kidman, General Manager, Norfolk Island Branch

Western Sydney Unit

Mr Brendan McRandle, Executive Director

Mr Peter Robertson, General Manager, Communications, Environment and Legal

Mr Greg Whalen, General Manager, Financial, Commercial and Operations

National Capital Authority

Mr Malcolm Snow, Chief Executive

Mr Andrew Smith, Chief Planner

Ms Helen Badger, Acting Executive Director, National Capital Estate

Ms Alison Walker - Kaye, Executive Director, National Capital Estate

National Transport Commission

Mr Mike Mrdak, Commissioner

Ms Judith Zielke, Executive Director, Surface Transport Policy Division, Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development

Ms Donna Wieland, General Manager, Strategic Policy, Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development

Committee met at 09:00

CHAIR ( Senator Heffernan ): I declare open this public hearing of the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee. The Senate has referred to the committee the particulars of proposed additional expenditure for 2015-16 and related documents for the infrastructure and regional development portfolio. The committee may also examine the annual reports of the departments and agencies appearing before it.

The committee has before it a program listing agencies relating to matters for which senators have given notice. The proceedings today will begin with an examination of the corporate service division of the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.

The committee has fixed Friday, 1 April 2016 as the date for the return of questions on notice. Senators are reminded that any written questions on notice shall be provided to the committee no later than close of business Friday, 19 February.

Under standing order 26, the committee must take all evidence in public. I remind all witnesses that in giving evidence to the committee they are protected by parliamentary privilege and it is unlawful for anyone to threaten or disadvantage a witness on account of evidence given to a committee. 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.

The Senate, by resolution in 1999, endorsed the following test of relevance for questions at an 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 the discretion to withhold details or explanations from the parliament or its committees unless the parliament has previously expressly provided otherwise.

The Senate has resolved also that an officer of a department of the Commonwealth shall not be asked to give opinion 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 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. 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. Witnesses are specifically reminded that a statement that information or a document is confidential or consists of advice to government is not a statement that meets the requirements of the 2009 order. Instead, witnesses are required to provide some specific indication of the harm to public interest that could result from the disclosure of the information or document.

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, pp 124-125)