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Environment and Communications Legislation Committee
23/05/2018
Estimates
COMMUNICATIONS AND THE ARTS PORTFOLIO

COMMUNICATIONS AND THE ARTS PORTFOLIO

In Attendance

Senator Fifield, Minister for the Arts and Minister for Communications

Department of Communications and the Arts

Program 1.1

Mr Mike Mrdak, Secretary

Mr Richard Windeyer, Deputy Secretary

Mr Richard Eccles, Deputy Secretary

Ms Vicki Middleton, First Assistant Secretary, Strategy and Research

Ms Pauline Sullivan, First Assistant Secretary, Market Reforms

Dr Carolyn Patteson, First Assistant Secretary, Content

Ms Nadine Williams, First Assistant Secretary, Infrastructure and Consumer

Dr Stephen Arnott, First Assistant Secretary, Arts

Ms Jo Talbot, Chief Operating Officer

Ms Sarah Vandenbroek, Chief Financial Officer

Ms Leonie Holloway, Chief Economist

Mr Richard Bullock, Assistant Secretary, Strategy

Ms Vanessa Goodspeed, Assistant Secretary, Governance

Mr Chris Faris, Assistant Secretary

Mr Philip Mason, Assistant Secretary

Mr Tristan Kathage, Assistant Secretary

Ms Cathy Rainsford, Assistant Secretary

Mr Mike Makin, Assistant Secretary, National Broadcaster Review Taskforce

Mr Aaron O'Neill, Acting Assistant Secretary, Media

Ms Helen Owens, Assistant Secretary, Content and Copyright

Mr George Sotiropoulos, Assistant Secretary, Classification

Ms Margaret Anderson, Acting Director, Classification Board

Mr Lachlann Paterson, Assistant Secretary

Ms Kath Silleri, Assistant Secretary

Ms Sylvia Spaseski, Assistant Secretary

Mr Andrew Madsen, Assistant Secretary

Ms Ann Campton, Assistant Secretary, Collections and Cultural Heritage

Ms Caroline Fulton, Acting Assistant Secretary, Creative Industries

Ms Rachel Antone, Assistant Secretary, Arts Development and Investment

Ms Justine Curnow, Assistant Secretary, Access and Participation

Ms Debbie Kerrins, Assistant Secretary, Human Resources and Security

Australian Postal Corporation

Ms Christine Holgate, Group Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director

Ms Erin Kelly, Corporate Secretary

Mr Peter Bass, Group Executive Safety, Well Being and Injury Management

Mr David McNamara, General Manager, Post Office Network

Australian Communications and Media Authority

Ms Nerida O'Loughlin, Chair

Mr James Cameron, Acting Deputy Chair

Dr Damian West, General Manager Corporate and Research Division

Ms Jennifer McNeill, General Manager, Content, Consumer and Citizen Division

Mr Giles Tanner, General Manager, Communications Infrastructure Division

Mr Mark Arkell, Manager, Spectrum Engineering and Space Section

Ms Jonquil Ritter, Executive Manager, Content Safeguards Branch

Mr Vince Humphries, Executive Manager, Communications Safeguards and Networks Branch

Mr Mark Loney, Executive Manager, Operations, Services and Technologies

Mr David Brumfield, Executive Manager, Spectrum Management Policy

Ms Anne Fleischer, Executive Manager, People and Finance Branch

Mr David Goggin, Senior Engineer, Spectrum Planning Section

Special Broadcasting Service Corporation (SBS)

Mr Michael Ebeid, Managing Director

Mr James Taylor, Chief Financial Officer

Ms Clare O'Neil, Director, Corporate Affairs

Office of the eSafety Commissioner

Ms Julie Inman Grant, Commissioner

Ms Maria Vassiliadis, Executive Manager

Mr Stuart Wise, Business Manager

Ms Tarina Mather, National Child Protection Strategist

Aust ralian Broadcasting Corporation

Ms Louise Higgins, Chief Financial and Strategy Officer

Mr Alan Sunderland, Editorial Director

Creative Partnerships Australia

Ms Fiona Menzies, Chief Executive Officer

Screen Australia

Mr Graeme Mason, Chief Executive Officer

Ms Fiona Cameron, Chief Operating Officer

Australia Council

Mr Tim Blackwell, Executive Director Corporate Resources

Mr Tony Grybowski, Chief Executive Officer

NBN Co

Mr Bill Morrow, Chief Executive Officer

Mr Stephen Rue, Chief Financial 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 2018-19 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, 26 June 2018 and has fixed Wednesday, 11 July 2018 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 Communications and the Arts and will then follow the order as 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, please see the secretariat, which has copies of the rules. 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 all 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 dated 13 May 2009, which specifies the process by which a claim of public interest immunity should be raised, which I now incorporate 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)

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.