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Economics Legislation Committee


In Attendance

Senator Ronaldson, Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC, Special Minister of State.


Ms Glenys Beauchamp, Secretary

Ms Sue Weston, Deputy Secretary

Mr Martin Hoffman, Deputy Secretary

Mr John Ryan, Associate Secretary

Anti-Dumping Commission

Ms Lisa Hind, General Manager

Mr Paul Sexton, General Manager

Australian Astronomical Observatory

Mr Martin Hoffman, Deputy Secretary

Australian Renewable Energy Agency

Mr Ivor Frischknecht, Chief Executive Officer

Mr Ian Kay, Chief Finance Officer

Austra lian Building Codes Board

Mr Neil Savery, General Manager

Australian SKA Office

Mr David Luchetti, General Manager

AUSIndustry—Business Services

Ms Chris Butler, Head of Division

Ms Jayne Facey, General Manager, Customer Services Branch

Mr Gene McGlynn, General Manager, Energy Programs Branch

Ms Lisa Peterson, General Manager, Operations Branch

Mr Mike Sibly, General Manager, Digital Policy and VANguard Branch

Mr Steve Stirling, General Manager, Service Centre and Cooperative Research Centres Branch

Mr Graham Tanton, General Manager, Business Online Services and Small Business Programs Branch

Corporate Network

Ms Vanessa Graham, Chief Operating Officer

Mr Brad Medland, Chief Financial Officer

Mr Matt Boyley, Chief Information Officer

Ms Margaret Tregurtha, General Manager, Legal, Audit and Assurance

Economic and Analytical Services

Mr Mark Cully, Chief Economist

Energy Division

Ms Margaret Sewell, Head of Energy Division

Ms Helen Bennett, General Manager, Energy Productivity Branch

Mr David Walker, General Manager, Appliance Energy Efficiency Branch

Mr Chris Locke, General Manager, Onshore Gas and Governance Branch

Mr Gino Grassia, General Manager, Energy Security Branch

Mr Paul Johnson, General Manager, Electricity Branch

Ms Sarea Coates, Observer

AUSIndustry— Entrepreneur Development

Ms Deborah Anton, Head of Division

Ms Nicola Morris, General Manager, Business Advice Branch

Ms Joanne Mulder, General Manager, Research Connections Branch

Mr David Wilson, General Manager, R&D Tax Incentive Branch

National Measurement Institute

Dr Peter Fisk, NMI Chief Executive and Chief Metrologist

Office of the Chief Scientist

Professor Ian Chubb, Chief Scientist

Portfolio Strategic Policy

Mr Wayne Calder, General Manager, Business Tax and Finance Branch

Ms Sarah Clough, General Manager, Regulation Reform and Portfolio Coordination

Mr Nathan Dal Bon, General Manager, Strategic Policy Branch

Mr Mike Lawson, Head of Division, Portfolio Strategic Policy Division

Mr Paul Trotman, General Manager, Trade and International Branch


Professor Graham Durant, Director

Ms Kate Driver, Deputy Director, Operations


Mr Bruce Wilson, Head of Division

Ms Katherine Harman, General Manager, Coal and Minerals Productivity Branch

Mr Michael Sheldrick, General Manager, Uranium and R and E International Branch

Mr Demus King, General Manager, Offshore Resources Branch

Science and Commercialisation Policy

Ms Jane Urquhart, Acting Head of Division

Mr Alexander Cooke, Acting General Manager

Sectoral Growth Policy

Ms Anne Byrne, General Manager, Manufacturing and Services Policy Branch

Mr Peter Chesworth, Head of Division, Sectorial Growth Policy Division

Mr David Lawrence, Acting General Manager, Food, Chemicals and Fibres Branch

Mr Anthony Murfett, General Manager, Growth Centres Branch

Mr Neil Savery, General Manager, Australian Building Codes Board

Mr Gary Richards, General Manager, Advanced Technologies Branch


Australian In stitute of Marine Science

Mr John Gunn, Chief Executive Officer

Mr David Mead, General Manager

Mr David Souter, Research Manager

Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation

Dr Adi Paterson, Chief Executive Officer

Commonwealth Scientific and Industri al Research Organisation

Dr Larry Marshall, Chief Executive

Ms Hazel Bennett, Chief Finance Officer

Mr Craig Roy, Deputy Chief Executive, Science Strategy and People

Dr Jack Steele, General Manager, Science Excellence and Standing

Professor Damian Barrett, Research Director, Energy Flagship

Dr Dave Williams, Executive Director, National Facilities and Collections

Geoscience Australia

Dr Chris Pigram, Chief Executive Officer

Dr James Johnson, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Chief of Division

Dr Andy Barnicoat, Chief of Division

Dr Stuart Minchin, Chief of Division

Mr Darren Hooper, Chief Finance Officer

Dr Clinton Foster, Chief Scientist

IP Australia

Ms Patricia Kelly, Director General

Ms Fatima Beattie, Deputy Director General

Ms Terry Moore, Acting General Manager of the Policy and Governance Group

Mr Doug Pereira, Chief Financial Officer and General Manager of the Finance, Quality, Reporting and Property Group

Dr Benjamin Mitra-Kahn, Chief Economist, Office of Chief Economist, Policy and Governance Group

National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmenta l Management Authority

Mr Stuart Smith, Chief Executive Officer

Mr Cameron Grebe, Head of Division, Environment

CHAIR: I welcome everyone to this public hearing of the Senate Economics Legislation Committee dealing with the budget estimates of 2015-16. The Senate has referred the particulars of the proposed expenditure and related documents for the Treasury and Industry and Science portfolios. The committee will begin consideration of the Industry and Science portfolio with questions for the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation and will then follow the order as set out in the circulated program. The committee is due to report to the Senate on 23 June 2015. The committee has set Friday, 12 June 2015 as the date by which senators are to submit written questions on notice and has set Friday, 17 July 2015 as the date by which answers to questions on notice are to be returned.

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 secretariat has a copy of the rules. In particular, I draw the attention of witnesses to the 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 (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).

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

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.