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Education and Employment Legislation Committee
23/10/2019
Estimates
EMPLOYMENT, SKILLS, SMALL AND FAMILY BUSINESS

EMPLOYMENT, SKILLS, SMALL AND FAMILY BUSINESS

In Attendance

Senator Cash, Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business

Senator Payne, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister for Women

Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business

Ms Kerri Hartland, Secretary

Enabling Services

Dr Jill Charker, Deputy Secretary

Mrs Kerryn Kovacevic, First Assistant Secretary, Digital Solutions

Mrs Nicolle Johnston, Assistant Secretary, Digital Solutions Division

Mr Glen Casson, Chief Financial Officer, Finance, Legal and Governance

Mr Luke de Jong, General Counsel, Finance, Legal and Governance

Mr Shayne Howard, Assistant Secretary, Finance, Legal and Governance

Ms Michelle Kirby, Assistant Secretary, Finance, Legal and Governance

Ms Helen Innes, First Assistant Secretary and Chief Risk Officer, People, Communication and Assurance

Mr Tim Matthews, Assistant Secretary, People, Communication and Assurance

Mr Kraig Lowes, Assistant Secretary and Chief Internal Auditor, People, Communication and Assurance

Ms Meredith Fairweather, Assistant Secretary, People, Communication and Assurance

Mr Scott Wallace, First Assistant Secretary and Chief Information Officer, Technology and Services

Outcome 1 - Employment and Small Business

Mr Nathan Smyth, Deputy Secretary

Ms Melinda Hatton, First Assistant Secretary, Delivery and Employer Engagement

Ms Helen McCormack, Assistant Secretary, Delivery and Employer Engagement

Mr Derek Stiller, Assistant Secretary, Delivery and Employer Engagement

Mr Ali Jalayer, Assistant Secretary,    Emp loyment Programs and Activation

Mr Ty Emerson, Acting First Assistant Secretary, Employment Programs and Activation

Mr Stuart Watson, Assistant Secretary, Employment Programs and Activation

Mrs Emma Hill, Acting Assistant Secretary, Employment Programs and Activation

Ms Jodie Wearne, Assistant Secretary, Employment Programs and Activation

Mr Alex Harvey, Director, Employment Programs and Activation

Ms Benedikte Jensen, First Assistant Secretary, Labour Market Strategy

Mr Ivan Neville, Assistant Secretary, Labour Market Strategy

Ms Carmel O'Regan, Assistant Secretary, Labour Market Strategy

Mr Malcolm Greening, Assistant Secretary, Labour Market Strategy

Ms Angela Hope, Assistant Secretary, Labour Market Strategy

Ms Melissa Ryan, First Assistant Secretary, New Employment Services Model

Mr James Peterswald, Assistant Secretary, New Employment Services Model

Ms Kellie Hippit, Assistant Secretary, New Employment Services Model

Ms Robyn Shannon, Acting First Assistant Secretary, Quality, Integrity and Evidence

Mr Brenton Alexander, Acting Assistant Secretary, Quality, Integrity and Evidence

Ms Fiona MacDonald, Assistant Secretary, Quality, Integrity and Evidence

Ms Jodie Chamberlain, Assistant Secretary, Quality, Integrity and Evidence

Ms Louise O'Rance, Acting Assistant Secretary, Quality, Integrity and Evidence

Mr Peter Cully, First Assistant Secretary, Small Business, Economic and Deregulation

Mr Alistair Beasley, Assistant Secretary, Small Business, Economic and Deregulation

Ms Rose Verspaandonk, Assistant Secretary, Small Business, Economic and Deregulation

Mr Bruce Cunningham, Assistant Secretary, Small Business, Economic and Deregulation

Mr Sean Macintyre, Director, Small Business, Economic and Deregulation

Ms Kate Woodall, Director, Small Business, Economic and Deregulation

Outcome 2 - Skills and Training

Ms Nadine Williams, Deputy Secretary, Skills and Training

Mr Bryan Palmer, First Assistant Secretary, Apprenticeships and Workforce Skills

Mrs Linda White, Assistant Secretary, Apprenticeships and Workforce Skills

Mrs Fiona Lynch-Magor, Assistant Secretary, Apprenticeships and Workforce Skills

Ms Mary McDonald, First Assistant Secretary, VET Quality and Policy

Ms Rachel Livingston, Assistant Secretary, VET Quality and Policy

Ms Clare Sharp, Assistant Secretary, VET Quality and Policy

Ms Renae Houston, Assistant Secretary, VET Quality and Policy

Mr Matthew Hardy, First Assistant Secretary, VET Reform

Mr David Fintan, Assistant Secretary, VET Reform

Ms Katerina Lawler, Assistant Secretary, VET Reform

Ms Kelly Fisher, Assistant Secretary, VET Reform

Mr George Thiveos, First Assistant Secretary, VSL, VET Compliance and TRA

Mr Chris Alach, Assistant Secretary, VSL, VET Compliance and TRA

Ms Belinda Campbell, Assistant Secretary, VSL, VET Compliance and TRA

Ms Kathy Dennis, Assistant Secretary, VSL, VET Compliance and TRA

Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman

Ms Kate Carnell, Ombudsman

Dr Craig Latham, Deputy

Australian Skills Quality Authority

Ms Saxon Rice, Acting Chief Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer

Mr David Garner, General Manager Regulatory Operations

Mr David Miller, General Manager Regulatory Support and Governance

Ms Jonella Welsh, Chief Financial Officer

Attorney-General's Department

Mr Chris Moraitis PSM, Secretary

Mr Martin Hehir, Deputy Secretary, Industrial Relations Group

Industrial Relations Program s

Mr Greg Manning, First Assistant Secretary, Industrial Relations Programs Division

Ms Sue Saunders, Assistant Secretary, Fair Entitlements Guarantee

Mr Benjamin Carmody, Acting Assistant Secretary, Recovery and Litigation

Ms Yvonne Uren, Acting Assistant Secretary, Protecting Overseas Workers

Mr Andrew Cameron, Senior Government Lawyer

Mr Henry Carr, Assistant Secretary, Recovery and Litigation

Work Health and Safety Policy

Ms Jody Anderson, First Assistant Secretary, Work Health and Safety Policy Division

Mr David Cains, Assistant Secretary, Workers Compensation Policy

Mr Adrian Breen, Assistant Secretary, Work Health and Safety Policy

Ms Jane Heffernan, Acting Assistant Secretary/Federal Safety Commissioner, Building Industry

Industrial Relations Legal

Ms Janey Kuzma, First Assistant Secretary, Industrial Relations Legal Division

Ms Rachel Volzke, Assistant Secretary, Employment Standards

Ms Kelly Hoffmeister, Assistant Secretary, Bargaining and Coverage

Mr Ben Mason, Assistant Secretary, Safety, Compensation and Institutions Branch

Industrial Relations Policy

Ms Alison Durbin, First Assistant Secretary, Industrial Relations Policy Division

Ms Sharon Huender, Assistant Secretary, Framework Policy

Ms Lace Wang, Assistant Secretary, Wages Policy and Minimum Standards

Mr David Denney, Assistant Secretary, Industry Engagement and International Labour

Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency

Ms Justine Ross, Chief Executive Officer

Mr Shane McArdle, Director

Australian Building and Construction Commission

Mr Stephen McBurney, Commissioner

Mr Clifford Pettit, Deputy Commissioner, Operations

Mr Matt Kelleher, Deputy Commissioner, Legal

Ms Janine Drennan, National Manager, Building Code

Coal Mining Industry (Long Service Leave Funding) Corporation

Mr Bradley Neven, Chair

Ms Darlene Perks, Chief Executive Officer

Ms Suzanne Jenkins, Chief Governance Officer (Acting Chief Executive Officer)

Mr Peter Kembrey, General Manager, Legal

Comcare

Ms Susan Weston PSM, Chief Executive Officer

Mr Aaron Hughes, General Manager, Claims Management

Mr Justin Napier, General Manager, Regulatory Operations Group

Mr Michael Duke, General Manager, Scheme Management

Ms Natalie Bekis, General Manager, Strategic Partnerships and Engagement

Mr Matthew Swainson, General Manager, Legal Group

Ms Seyhan Aka, Acting General Manager, Corporate Management Group

Mr Anthony Blucher, Senior Director, Regulatory Operations Group

Fair Work Commission

Ms Bernadette O'Neill, General Manager

Ms Ailsa Carruthers, eCase Project Sponsor and Executive Director Corporate Service

Mr Jack Lambalk, Acting Executive Director Corporate Service

Mr Murray Furlong, Executive Director Tribunal Service

Ms Zoe Williams, Executive Director Client Services Delivery

Fair Work Ombudsman

Ms Sandra Parker PSM, Fair Work Ombudsman

Mr Michael Campbell, Deputy Fair Work Ombudsman

Ms Kristen Hannah, Deputy Fair Work Ombudsman

Mr Mark Scully, Deputy Fair Work Ombudsman

Mr Jeremy O'Sullivan, Chief Legal Counsel

Ms Janine Dennis, Special Counsel

Mr Russell Thackeray, Chief Finance Officer

Mr Anthony Fogarty, Executive Director, Policy, Analysis, Intelligence and Reporting

Regi stered Organisations Commission

Mr Mark Bielecki, Commissioner

Mr Chris Enright, Executive Director

Ms Joanne Fenwick, Financial Reporting Specialist

Safe Work Australia

Ms Michelle Baxter, Chief Executive Officer

Ms Amanda Johnston, Branch Manager, Legal and WHS Strategy

Ms Sarah Costelloe, Branch Manager, Enabling Services

Ms Anthea Raven, Acting Branch Manager, Evidence and Compensation

Ms Meredith Bryant, Acting Branch Manager, Hazards

Mr Kris Arnold, Chief Financial Officer

Ms Jackii Shepherd, Director, Occupational Hygiene

Committee met at 09:00

CHAIR ( Senator McGrath ): I declare open this meeting of the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee. The Senate has referred to the committee the particulars of proposed expenditure for 2019-20 and certain other documents for the Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business portfolio, including Industrial Relations. The committee may also examine the annual reports of departments and agencies appearing before it. The committee has set Friday 13 December 2019 as the date for the return of answers to questions taken on notice. The committee has resolved that written questions on notice should be received from senators by close of business on Friday 1 November 2019.

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.

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 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 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 draw the attention of witnesses to an order of the Senate of 13 May 2009, which will be incorporated in the Hansard, 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)

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. Instead, witnesses are 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.