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Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee
01/06/2018
Estimates
FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE PORTFOLIO

FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE PORTFOLIO

In attendance

Senator Fierravanti-Wells, Minister for International Development and the Pacific

Senator Fifield, Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate, Minister for the Arts, Minister for Communications

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Ms Frances Adamson, Secretary

Mr Blair Exell, Acting Deputy Secretary

Mr David Lawrence, Acting Chief People Officer, Corporate Management Group

Mr Paul Wood, Chief Financial Officer

Ms Suzanne McCourt, Assistant Secretary, Executive Branch

Mr Keith Scott, Assistant Secretary, Strategic Policy, Contestability and Futures Branch

Dr Sarah Pearson, Chief Innovation Officer, Innovation Hub

Non-trade programs

Outcome 1

Pacific

Mr Daniel Sloper, First Assistant Secretary

Mr Pablo Kang, Assistant Secretary, Undersea Cables Task Force

North Asia

Mr Graham Fletcher, First Assistant Secretary

Southeast Asia

Ms Julie Heckscher, First Assistant Secretary

Mr Philip Green, First Assistant Secretary, US and Indo-Pacific Strategy Division

South and West Asia

Ms Kathy Klugman, First Assistant Secretary

Middle East and Africa

Ms HK Yu, First Assistant Secretary

Americas

Mr Philip Green, First Assistant Secretary, US and Indo-Pacific Strategy Division

Europe and Latin America

Ms Catherine Raper, First Assistant Secretary, Europe and Latin America Division

Multilateral Policy, Development, Legal and Environment

Dr Justin Lee, First Assistant Secretary, Multilateral Policy Division

Mr Patrick Suckling, Ambassador for the Environment, Multilateral Policy Division

Mr Gregory Andrews, Assistant Secretary, International Organisations Branch, Multilateral Policy Division

Ms Amy Haddad, Assistant Secretary and Principal Gender Specialist, Gender Equality Branch, Multilateral Policy Division

Ms Ruth Stone, Assistant Secretary, Human Rights Branch, Multilateral Policy Division

Mr Michael Wilson, Acting First Assistant Secretary, Development Policy Division

Ms Andrea Faulkner, Assistant Secretary, Sustainability and Climate Change Branch, Multilateral Policy Division

Mr James Larsen, Chief Legal Officer, Legal Division

International Security, Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation

Mr Richard Sadleir, First Assistant Secretary, International Security Division

Mr David Nethery, Assistant Secretary, Counter-Terrorism Branch, International Security Division

Dr Tobias Feakin, Ambassador for Cyber Affairs

Dr John Kalish, Acting Director General, Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office

Dr Geoff Shaw, Ambassador for People Smuggling and Human Trafficking, International Security Division

Services to other agencies in Australia and overseas

Mr Andrew Byrne, First Assistant Secretary, Soft Power, Communications and Scholarships Division

Mr David Lawrence, Acting Chief People Officer, Corporate Management Group

Ms Robyn Mudie, Executive Director, Diplomacy Academy

Ms Suzanne McCourt, Assistant Secretary, Executive Branch

Mr Kevin Nixon, Executive Director, Overseas Property Office

Services to diplomatic and consular representatives in Australia

Ms Lyndall Sachs, Chief of Protocol

Public diplomacy and communication

Mr Andrew Byrne, First Assistant Secretary, Soft Power, Partnerships, Scholarships and Communications Division

Mr Adrian Lochrin, Assistant Secretary, Communications and Parliamentary Branch, Soft Power, Partnerships, Scholarships and Communications Division

Progress against Australia ' s development policy and performance framework

Mr Michael Wilson, Acting First Assistant Secretary, Development Policy Division

Mr Peter Versegi, First Assistant Secretary, Office of Development Effectiveness

Mr Chris Tinning, First Assistant Secretary and Chief Economist, Multilateral Development and Finance Division

Mr James Gilling, First Assistant Secretary, Contracting and Aid Management Division

Cross-regional programs

Mr Michael Wilson, Acting First Assistant Secretary, Development Policy Division

Mr Peter Versegi, First Assistant Secretary, Office of Development Effectiveness

Emergency, humanitarian and refugee program

Mr Michael Wilson, Acting First Assistant Secretary, Development Policy Division

Mr Jamie Isbister, First Assistant Secretary, Humanitarian, NGOs and Partnerships Division

Multilateral replenishments and global development partnerships

Mr Chris Tinning, First Assistant Secretary and Chief Economist, Multilateral Development and Finance Division

NGO volunteer and community programs

Mr Jamie Isbister, First Assistant Secretary, Humanitarian, NGOs and Partnerships Division

Outcome 2

Consular services

Mr Andrew Todd, First Assistant Secretary, Consular and Crisis Management Division

Passport services

Mr Ross Tysoe, Executive Director, Australian Passport Office

Outcome 3

Security and ICT Services

Mr Luke Williams, Chief Security Officer

Mr Tim Spackman, Chief Information Officer, Information Management and Technology Division

Mr Kevin Nixon, Executive Director, Overseas Property Office and Services

Trade programs

Outcome 1

Bilateral, regional and multilateral trade negotiations

Ms Trudy Witbreuk, First Assistant Secretary, Regional Trade Agreements Division

Mr James Baxter, Special Negotiator, Regional Trade Agreements Division

Mr Todd Mercer, Assistant Secretary, FTA Policy and Implementation Branch, Regional Trade Agreements Division

Ms Caroline McCarthy, Assistant Secretary, FTA Investment, Digital Trade and Other Issues Branch, Regional Trade Agreements Division

Mr Andrew Martin, Assistant Secretary, FTA Goods Branch, Regional Trade Agreements Division

Mr Jeremy Green, Assistant Secretary, FTA Services Branch, Regional Trade Agreements Division

Mr Lachlan Crews, Assistant Secretary, Trade and Investment Advocacy Branch, Regional Trade Agreements Division

Mr Simon Newnham, First Assistant Secretary, Investment and Economic Division

Mr David Holly, Assistant Secretary, Office of Economic Analysis Branch, Investment and Economic Division

Ms Julianne Merriman, Assistant Secretary, Competitiveness and Business Engagement Branch, Investment and Economic Division

Mr George Mina, First Assistant Secretary, Office of Trade Negotiations

Ms Alison Burrows, Special Negotiator EU Free Trade Agreement, Office of Trade Negotiations

Trade development, investment, policy coordination and tourism

Mr Simon Newnham, First Assistant Secretary, Investment and Economic Division

Mr David Holly, Assistant Secretary, Office of Economic Analysis Branch, Investment and Economic Division

Ms Julianne Merriman, Assistant Secretary, Competitiveness and Business Engagement Branch, Investment and Economic Division

Tourism Australia

John O'Sullivan, Managing Director

Karen Halbert, Executive General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Government and Industry

Mark Craig, Executive General Manager, Corporate Services

Leo Seaton, General Manager Communications and Government

Victoria Maigre, Government Communications Manager

Austrade

Outcome 1: Contribute to Australia's economic prosperity by promoting Australia's export and other international economic interests through the provision of information, advice and services to business, associations, institutions and government.

Pro gram 1.1 Promotion of Australia' s export and other international economic interests.

Program 1. 2 Programs to promote Australia' s export and other international economic interests.

Dr Stephanie Fahey, Chief Executive Officer

Mr David Hazlehurst, Deputy Chief Executive Officer

Ms Kelly Ralston, Chief Client Officer

Mr Rob Donelly, General Manager, Strategy and Business Transformation

Mr Daniel Boyer, General Manager, Government and Partnerships

Mr Nick Nichles, Chief Operating Officer

Mr Graham Putt, Acting General Manager, Trade and Investment

Mr Rob O'Meara, Chief Finance Officer

Outcome 2: The protection and welfare of Australians abroad through timely and responsive consular and passport services in specific locations overseas.

Program 2.1 Consular and Passport Services

Dr Stephanie Fahey, Chief Executive Officer

Mr Nick Nichles, Chief Operating Officer

Efic (Export Finance and Insurance Corporation)

Ms Swati Dave, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer

Mr Stuart Neilson, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Risk Officer

Mr John Hopkins, Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel

Mr John Pacey, Chief Credit Officer

Mr Jan Parsons, Director, Environmental and Technical Review

Committee met at 09:00

CHAIR ( Senator Reynolds ): I declare open this hearing of the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee. The Senate has referred to the committee for examination the particulars of proposed expenditure for 2018-19 of the Defence, Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolios. The committee is due to report to the Senate on 26 June 2018 and has set Friday 13 July 2018 as the date for the return of responses to questions taken on notice. Today the committee will continue examination of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. At the conclusion of the department the committee will begin examination of the portfolio agencies, beginning with Tourism Australia, followed by the Australian Trade and Investment Commission. We will conclude this afternoon with the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation—with emphasis on 'this afternoon'.

Under standing order 26 the committee must take all evidence in public session. This includes answers to questions taken on notice. I remind all witness 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. The Senate by resolution in 1999 endorsed the following test of relevance for 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 all 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 resolved also 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 senior officers or to a minister. This resolution prohibits only questions asking for opinions on matter 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.

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)

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; witnesses are instead required to provide some specific indication of the harm to the public interest that could result from the disclosure of the information or document.