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Environment and Communications Legislation Committee
04/04/2019
Estimates
ENVIRONMENT AND ENERGY PORTFOLIO

ENVIRONMENT AND ENERGY PORTFOLIO

In Attendance

Senator Birmingham, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment

Senator Fifield, Minister for Communications and the Arts

Senator McKenzie, Minister for Regional Services, Sport, Local Government and Decentralisation

Department of the Environment and Energy

Executive

Mr Finn Pratt, Secretary

Mr Matt Cahill, Deputy Secretary, Strategy and Operations Group

Mr Rob Heferen, Deputy Secretary, Energy Group

Ms Jo Evans, Deputy Secretary, Climate Change and Energy Innovation Group

Mr Dean Knudson, Deputy Secretary, Environment Protection Group

Corporate Strategies

Ms Helen Bennett, Acting Chief Operating Officer

Ms Giorgina Strangio, Assistant Secretary, People Strategies Branch

Mr Robert Hanlon, Chief Finance Officer, Financial Services Branch

Mr Jonathan Nicholl, Assistant Secretary, Business and Ministerial Branch

General Counsel

Ms Margaret Tregurtha, General Counsel

Policy Analysis and Implementation Division

Mr James Chisholm, First Assistant Secretary

Ms Allison Ball, Acting Assistant Secretary, Economics and Analysis Branch

Ms Emma Campbell, Assistant Secretary, Strategy and Governance Branch

Mr Travis Bover, Director, Strategy and Governance Branch

Mr Adam Carlon, Assistant Secretary, Communications and Engagement Branch

Outcome 1

Bio diversity Conservation Division

Ms Kylie Jonasson, First Assistant Secretary

Mr Paul Murphy, International Climate Change and Energy Innovation Division, Energy Innovation and Ozone Protection Branch

Ms Tia Stevens, Acting Assistant Secretary, Biodiversity Policy and Water Science Branch

Mr Geoff Richardson, Assistant Secretary, Protected Species and Communities Branch

Dr Sally Box, Threatened Species Commissioner

Mr Steve Costello, Program Delivery Branch

Environment Standards Division

Mr James Tregurtha, First Assistant Secretary

Mr Bruce Edwards, Assistant Secretary, Policy and Reform Branch

Mr James Barker, Assistant Secretary, Assessments (QLD, VIC, TAS) and Governance Branch

Ms Kim Farrant, Assistant Secretary, Assessments (NSW, ACT) and Waste Branch

Mrs Antonella Bates, Acting Assistant Secretary, Waste Strategy Taskforce

Mr Greg Manning, Assistant Secretary, Assessments (WA, SA, NT) and Post Approvals Branch

Mr Andrew McNee, Assistant Secretary, Chemicals Management Branch

Ms Monica Collins, Assistant Secretary, Office of Compliance

Mr Ed Cram, Assistant Secretary, Chemicals Management Branch

Kn owledge and Technology Division

Ms Beth Brunoro, First Assistant Secretary

Ms Sarah-Jane Hindmarsh, Acting Assistant Secretary, Environmental Accounts and Science Branch

Mr Sebastian Hood, Assistant Secretary, Information Technology Branch

Mr Greg Terrill, Assistant Secretary, Environmental Resources Information Network

Heritage, Reef and Marine Division

Mr Stephen Oxley, First Assistant Secretary, Heritage, Reef and Marine Division

Ms Paula Perrett, Assistant Secretary, Marine and International Heritage Branch

Mr David Williams, Assistant Secretary, Heritage Branch

Ms Deb Callister, Acting Assistant Secretary, Reef Branch

Ms Kate Turner, Acting Assistant Secretary, Supervising Scientist Branch

Outcome 2

Climate Change Division

Ms Kristin Tilley, First Assistant Secretary

Ms Edwina Johnson, Assistant Secretary, Industrial and Air Quality Branch

Ms Katrina Maguire, Assistant Secretary, Land and Outreach Branch

Mr Chris Johnston, Assistant Secretary, Climate Change Policy Branch

Mr Joe Pryor, Director, Safeguard and Industrial Policy Section

Mr Paul Ryan, Director, Forests Section

International Climate Change and Energy Innovation Division

Ms Kushla Munro, First Assistant Secretary

Ms Lesley Dowling, Assistant Secretary, Energy Innovation and Ozone Protection Branch

Mr Rob Sturgiss, Assistant Secretary, National Inventory Systems and International Reporting Branch

Outcome 3

Australian Antarctic Division

Mr Kim Ellis, Director

Mr David Sumner, Program Support Manager, Antarctic Modernisation Branch

Dr Gwen Fenton, Chief Scientist

Mr Charlton Clark, General Manager, Strategies Branch

Dr Rob Wooding, General Manager, Support and Operations Branch

Outcome 4

Energy Division

Ms Rachel Parry, First Assistant Secretary

Mr James O'Toole, Assistant Secretary, Electricity Branch

Mr James White, Assistant Secretary, Clean Energy Branch

Mr Stuart Richardson, Acting Assistant Secretary, Gas and Governance Branch

Ms Bronwyn Pollock, Director, Energy Consumer Engagement and Analysis Section

Energy Security and Efficiency Division

Mr Sean Sullivan, First Assistant Secretary

Mr Shane Gaddes, Assistant Secretary, International Energy Implementation Branch

Ms Michelle Croker, Assistant Secretary, Appliance and Buildings Energy Efficiency Branch

Mr Tim Wyndham, Acting Assistant Secretary, Energy Security Branch

Mr Richard, Miles, Director, Appliance and Buildings Energy Efficiency Branch

Ms Penny Sirault, Director, Appliance and Buildings Energy Efficiency Branch

Ms Fiona Beynon, Director, Energy Security Branch

Ms Dayle Stanley, Director, Energy International Implementation Branch

Agencies and Statutory Authorities

Australian Renewable Energy Agency

Mr Darren Miller, Chief Executive Officer

Mr Ian Kay, Chief Financial Officer

Bureau of Meteorology

Dr Andrew Johnson, Chief Executive Officer and Director of Meteorology

Ms Jennifer Gale, Group Executive - Corporate Services

Ms Kirsten Garwood, Project Director - Public Services Transformation

C lean Energy Finance Corporation

Mr Ian Learmonth, Chief Executive Officer

Mr Andrew Powell, Chief Financial Officer

Clean Energy Regulator

Mr David Parker AM, Chair

Ms Shayleen Thompson, Executive General Manager, Scheme Operations Division

Mr Mark Williamson, Executive General Manager, Scheme Support Division

Mr Steven Stolk, Acting Chief Operations Officer, Agency Support Division

Mr Geoff Purvis-Smith, General Counsel

Climate Change Authority

Dr Wendy Craik, Chair

Mr Brad Archer, Acting Chief Executive Officer

Ms Melanie Ford, Acting General Manager

Director of National Parks

Dr James Findlay, Director of National Parks

Mr Brant Smith, Assistant Secretary, Kakadu and Strategic Policy Branch

Mr Jason Mundy, Assistant Secretary, Australian Marine Parks Branch

Great Bar rier Reef Marine Park Authority

Mr Joshua Thomas, General Manager, Acting Chief Executive Officer

Dr Simon Banks, General Manager, Reef Protection

Ms Margaret Johnson, General Manager, Reef Strategy

Ms Anne Leo, General Manager, Corporate Services

Dr Kirstin Dobbs Acting General Manager, Reef Engagement

Dr David Wachenfeld, Chief Scientist

National Wind Farm Commissioner

Mr Andrew Dyer

Snowy Hydro Ltd

Mr Paul Broad, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer

Mr Roger Whitby, Chief Operating Officer

Committee met at 09:00

CHAIR ( Senator Duniam ): I declare open this meeting of the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee. The Senate has referred to the committee the particulars of proposed expenditure for the 2019-20 financial year for the Environment and Energy and Communications and the Arts portfolios and certain other documents. The committee may also examine the annual reports of the departments and agencies appearing before it. The committee is due to report to the Senate on Tuesday 14 May 2019 and has fixed Friday 24 May 2019 as the date for the return of answers to questions taken on notice. The committee's proceedings today will begin with general questions of the Department of the Environment and Energy and will then follow the order set out in the program.

Under standing order 26 the committee must take all evidence in public session. This includes answers to questions taken 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. 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 should be given all reasonable opportunity to refer questions asked of that officer to superior officers or to the 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 how and when policies were adopted. I particularly drawn to the attention of witnesses an order of the Senate dated 13 May 2009 specifying the process by which a claim of public interest immunity should be raised, which will be incorporated in 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 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 the document. I would also like to clarify for witnesses that if the Prime Minister announces an election this weekend and advises the Governor-General to prorogue parliament then the estimates hearings set to take place from 8 April will not take place—just to get your hopes up!

Senator Birmingham: What if he does it tonight?

CHAIR: We'll see. I'll be running a book on this later on!