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RURAL AND REGIONAL AFFAIRS AND TRANSPORT LEGISLATION COMMITTEE
27/05/2010

Consideration resumed from 26 May 2010

Senators in attendance:

Senator the Hon. Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, representing the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government



Mr Mike Mrdak, Secretary

Mr Andrew Wilson, Deputy Secretary

Ms Lyn O’Connell, Deputy Secretary

Ms Stephanie Foster, Deputy Secretary


Mr David Banham, Chief Operating Officer

Mr Paul Wood, Chief Financial Officer


Mr Michael Deegan, Infrastructure Coordinator


Mr Richard Farmer, Acting Executive Director

Mr Alex Foulds, General Manager, South East Roads

Ms Cheryl Johnson, General Manager, North West Roads/Investment Coordination

Mr Neil Williams, General Manager, Rail and Intermodal

Mr Troy Sloan, General Manager, Major Infrastructure Projects Office

Mr Geoff Thompson, Director, Major Infrastructure Projects Office


Ms Leslie Riggs, Executive Director

Mr Mark Terrell, Acting General Manager, Vehicle Safety Standards

Mr Michael Pahlow, General Manager, Maritime Policy Reform

Mr Michael Sutton, General Manager, Road Transport Policy Reform

Mr Stewart Jones, General Manager, Road Transport Policy Reform

Mr Joe Motha, General Manager, Road Safety and Programs

Ms Donna Phillips, General Manager, Heavy Vehicle Regulatory Taskforce


Mr Graham Peachey, Chief Executive Officer

Mr Mick Kinley, Deputy Chief Executive Officer

Mr Brad Groves, General Manager, Maritime Standards

Mr John Young, General Manager, Emergency Response

Mr Allan Schwartz, General Manager, Maritime Standards


Mr Brendan McRandle, General Manager, Policy Development Unit

Dr Gary Dolman, General Manager, Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics


Mr Tony Carmichael, Executive Director

Mr Richard Wood, General Manager, Regional Development Programs

Ms Elizabeth Wilde, General Manager, Regional and Local Government Policy

Mr Gordon McCormick, General Manager, Local Government Programs


Ms Robyn Fleming, General Manager, Office of Northern Australia


Mr John Doherty, Executive Director

Mr Scott Stone, General Manager, Aviation Environment

Ms Karen Gosling, General Manager, Airports

Mr Stephen Borthwick, General Manager, Aviation Industry Policy

Mr Jim Wolfe, General Manager, Air Traffic Policy

Mr James Collett, General Manager, Sydney Aviation Capacity


Mr Greg Russell, Chief Executive Officer

Mr Jason Harfield, General Manager, Air Traffic Control

Mr Richard Dudley, General Manager, Corporate and International Affairs

Mr Kenneth Owen, Senior Adviser, Environment and Climate Change, Airservices Australia


Mr John McCormick, Director of Aviation Safety

Mr Terry Farquharson, Acting Deputy Director of Aviation Safety

Dr Jonathan Aleck, Acting Associate Director of Aviation Safety

Mr Peter Cromarty, Executive Manager, Airspace and Aerodrome Regulation

Dr Pooshan Navathe, Principal Medical Officer

Ms Fiona Johnstone, Chief Financial Officer


Mr Paul Retter, Executive Director

Mr Peter Robertson, General Manager, Aviation Security

Ms Nicole Spencer, General Manager, Supply Chain and Screening

Mr Chris Appleton, General Manager, Analysis and Operational Support

Mr George Brenan, General Manager, Transport Security Operations

Mr Steve Dreezer, General Manager, Maritime, Identity and Surface Security


Mr Martin Dolan, Chief Commissioner

Ms Kerryn Macaulay, Deputy Chief Executive Officer

Mr Peter Foley, Director, Surface Safety Investigations

Mr Ian Sangston, Director, Aviation Safety Investigations

CHAIR (Senator Sterle) —I declare open this public hearing of the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee. The committee will continue its consideration of the 2010-11 budget estimates for the Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government portfolio. A reminder that the committee is due to report to the Senate on 22 June 2010 and has fixed Wednesday, 21 July 2010 as the date for the return of answers to questions taken on notice. Under standing order 26, the committee must take all evidence in public session. This includes answers to questions on notice. Officers and senators are familiar with the rules of the Senate governing estimates hearings. If you need assistance, the secretary has a copy of the rules.

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 and 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 (I) 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).

(Extract, Senate Standing Orders, pp 124-125)

CHAIR —As agreed, I propose to call on the estimates in the order shown on the printed program.

[9.13 am]