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Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee
25/05/2021
Estimates
HOME AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO

HOME AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO

In Attendance

Senator Colbeck, Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Minister for Sport

Senator Stoker, Assistant Minister for Women, Assistant Minister to the Attorney-General, Assistant Minister for Industrial Relations

Department of Home Affairs

Mr Michael Pezzullo AO, Secretary

Australian Border Force

Commissioner Michael Outram APM

National Resilience and Cyber Security

Mr Marc Ablong PSM, Deputy Secretary

Mr Samuel Grunhard, First Assistant Secretary, Critical Infrastructure Security

Ms Louise Bechtel, Acting First Assistant Secretary, International Policy

Ms Melissa Bennet, Acting First Assistant Secretary, Identity and Biometrics

Mr Hamish Hansford, First Assistant Secretary, Cyber, Digital and Technology Policy

Ms Alana Sullivan, First Assistant Secretary, Regional Processing and Resettlement

Chief Operating Officer

Ms Cheryl-anne Moy, Deputy Secretary

Mr Pablo Carpay, First Assistant Secretary, People and Culture

Ms Stephanie Cargill, First Assistant Secretary, Finance; Chief Finance Officer

Mr Ben Wright, First Assistant Secretary, Integrity, Security and Assurance

Ms Lee-anne Monterosso, First Assistant Secretary, Procurement, Property and Contracts

Mr Stephen Hayward, First Assistant Secretary, Health Services

Ms Sophie Sharpe, First Assistant Secretary, Executive

Immigration and Settlement Services

Mr Andrew Kefford PSM, Deputy Secretary

Mr Michael Willard, First Assistant Secretary, Immigration Programs

Mr Steven Biddle, Acting First Assistant Secretary, Immigration Integrity, Assurance and Policy

Ms Justine Jones, Acting First Assistant Secretary, Status Resolution and Visa Cancellation

Mr David Wilden, First Assistant Secretary, Refugee Humanitarian and Settlement

Ms Leanne Smith, First Assistant Secretary, Service Delivery and Transformation

Ms Sandra Jeffery, Assistant Secretary, Temporary Visas and Border Measures

Ms Alison Larkins, Coordinator-General for Migrant Services

Global Business and Talent Attraction Taskforce

Mr Peter Verwer AO, Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Global Business and Talent Attraction

Mr Andrew Chandler, First Assistant Secretary

Social Cohesion and Citizenship

Mr Richard Feakes, Acting Deputy Secretary

Mr Ed Brereton, Acting First Assistant Secretary, Counter-Terrorism Coordination Centre

Mr Patrick Hallinan, Acting First Assistant Secretary, Counter Foreign Interference Coordination Centre

Mr Angus Kirkwood, First Assistant Secretary, Citizenship

Dr Richard Johnson, First Assistant Secretary, Social Cohesion

Emergency Management and Coordination

Ms Kaylene Zakharoff, Acting Deputy Secretary

Mr Joe Buffone, Director General, Emergency Management Australia

Strategy and Law Enforcement

Ms Cath Patterson, Deputy Secretary

Ms Leanne Loan, Acting First Assistant Secretary, Strategy

Mr Anthony Coles, First Assistant Secretary, Law Enforcement Policy

Ms Ciara Spencer, First Assistant Secretary, Aviation and Maritime Security

Dr Steve Davies, First Assistant Secretary, Chief Data Officer

Mr Andrew Warnes, Acting First Assistant Secretary, Electronic Surveillance Reform Taskforce

Technology and Major Capability

Mr Michael Milford AM, Group Manager

Mr Radi Kovacevic, Deputy Group Manager, Chief Information Officer

Ms Claire Roennfeldt, Senior Assistant Secretary, Major Capability

Mr Sean Hugo, Assistant Secretary, Cyber Risk Services

Legal

Ms Pip de Veau, General Counsel; Group Manager

Operational Strategy and Coordination

Deputy Commissioner Dwayne Freeman

Assistant Commissioner Kylie Rendina, Operational Coordination and Planning

Assistant Commissioner Sharon Huey, Australian Border Force Workforce

Assistant Commissioner Kingsley Woodford-Smith, Close Support Command

National Operations

Deputy Commissioner Justine Saunders APM

Assistant Commissioner Erin Dale, East and Port Operations

Assistant Commissioner Tim Fitzgerald, North and Immigration Detention

Assistant Commissioner Phil Brezzo, South and Enforcement Operations

Rear Admiral Mark Hill, Commander, Joint Agency Task Force Operation Sovereign Borders

Customs

Ms Vanessa Holben, Group Manager

Industry and Border Systems

Mr Malcolm Skene, Group Manager

Australian Federal Police

Executive

Mr Reece P Kershaw APM, Commissioner

Mr Ian McCartney, Deputy Commissioner Investigations

Mr Brett Pointing, Deputy Commissioner Operations

Ms Charlotte Tressler, Chief Operating Officer

Mr David McLean, Chief of Staff

Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission

Australian Institute of Criminology

Executive

Mr Michael Phelan APM, Chief Executive Officer

Dr Rick Brown, Deputy Director, Australian Institute of Criminology

Mr Matt Rippon, Executive Director Intelligence Operations

Ms Yvette Whitaker, Chief Financial Officer

Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre

Executive

Ms Nicole Rose PSM, Chief Executive Officer

Mr Chris Collett, Deputy Chief Executive Officer Capability and Strategy

Dr John Moss, Deputy Chief Executive Officer Intelligence

Mr Peter Soros, Deputy Chief Executive Officer Regulation, Education and Policy

Ms Katie Miller, National Manager Legal and Enforcement (General Counsel)

Mr Ben Skaines, National Manager Strategic Planning, Finance and Performance (Chief Finance Officer)

Australian Security Intelligence Organisation

Executive

Mr Mike Burgess, Director General

Ms Hazel Bennett, Deputy Director General

Office of the Special Investigator

Executive

Mr Chris Moraitis PSM, Director-General

Mr Ross Barnett, Director of Investigations

Ms Helen Daniels, Deputy Director-General

Ms Catherine Fitch, Chief Operating Officer

Committee met at 09:07

CHAIR ( Senator Henderson ): I declare open this hearing of the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee for the budget estimates. The Senate has referred to the committee the particulars of proposed expenditure for 2021-22 for the portfolios of Home Affairs and the Attorney-General and other related documents. These are budget estimates proceedings and the outcomes to be heard during today's estimates are from the Home Affairs portfolio. The committee has set Friday, 16 July 2021 as the date by which answers to questions on notice are to be returned. The committee has also decided that written questions on notice should be provided to the secretariat by 5 pm on Friday, 11 June 2021.

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. 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, 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 purpose 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 also 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 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)

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.

Senators, departments and agencies have been provided with advice on the arrangements in place to ensure the budget estimates hearings are conducted in a COVID-safe environment. This guidance is also available from the secretariat. The committee appreciates the cooperation of all attendees in adhering to these arrangements. In order to comply with social distancing requirements, senators and the secretariat may use their electronic devices to communicate with one another during the hearing. We ask witnesses' forbearance to do so and apologise in advance for any discourtesy.