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Environment and Communications Legislation Committee—Budget estimates 2022-23—Report, dated May 2022


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May 2022

The Senate

Environment and Communications Legislation Committee

Budget Estimates 2022-23

© Commonwealth of Australia 2022

ISBN 978-1-76093-405-7

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.

The details of this licence are available on the Creative Commons website: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/.

Printed by the Senate Printing Unit, Parliament House, Canberra.

iii

Members

Chair Senator Andrew Bragg LP, NSW

Deputy Chair Senator Sarah Hanson-Young AG, SA

Members Senator Anthony Chisholm ALP, QLD

Senator Nita Green ALP, QLD

Senator Sam McMahon LDP, NT

Senator Greg Mirabella LP, VIC

Substitute Members Senator Wendy Askew LP, TAS

(for Senator Mirabella on 31 March 2022, 9.00am to 10.00am and 11.00am to 6.00pm) Senator Perin Davey NATS, NSW

(for Senator McMahon on 31 March 2022, 5.30 pm to adjournment) Senator Ben Small LP, WA

(for Senator Mirabella on 31 March 2022, 7.15 pm to adjournment) Senator Anne Urquhart ALP, TAS

(for Senator Green on 31 March, 4 April and 5 April 2022)

Senators in attendance Senator Alex Antic LP, SA

Senator Carol Brown ALP, TAS

Senator Dorinda Cox AG, WA

Senator Jenny McAllister ALP, NSW

Senator Rex Patrick IND, SA

Senator Louise Pratt ALP, WA

Senator Janet Rice AG, VIC

Senator Malcolm Roberts PHON, QLD

Senator Peter Whish-Wilson AG, TAS

iv

Secretariat Stephen Palethorpe, Committee Secretary James Dawson, Research Officer Morgan Jacobs, a/g Research Officer

PO Box 6100 Phone: 02 6277 3526

Parliament House Fax: 02 6277 5818

Canberra ACT 20660 email: ec.sen@aph.gov.au

v

Contents

Members ............................................................................................................................................. iii

Chapter 1—Budget Estimates 2022-23 ............................................................................................ 1

Chapter 2—Portfolio-specific issues ............................................................................................... 5

Appendix 1—List of portfolio agencies ........................................................................................ 17

Appendix 2—Tabled documents and additional information ................................................. 19

1

Chapter 1

Budget Estimates 2022-23

Introduction 1.1 On 29 March 2022, the Senate referred the following items to the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee (the committee) for examination and report:

 Particulars of proposed expenditure in respect of the year ending on 30 June 2023;  Particulars of certain proposed expenditure in respect of the year ending on 30 June 2023; and  Particulars of proposed expenditure in relation to the parliamentary

departments in respect of the year ending on 30 June 2023.1

1.2 A reporting date of 16 May 2022 was set for the committee's report to the Senate on its consideration of the 2022-23 budget estimates.2

Portfolio coverage 1.3 In accordance with a resolution of the Senate on 31 August 2016, as amended on 12 February 2018 and 13 February 2020, the committee is responsible for the examination of the expenditure and outcomes of the following portfolios:

 Industry, Science, Energy and Resources portfolio, excluding Industry, Science and Resources;  Agriculture, Water and the Environment portfolio, excluding Agriculture and Water; and  Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

portfolio, excluding Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development.3

1.4 A list of all the agencies, independent statutory bodies and officeholders that the committee has oversight can be found in Appendix 1.

Portfolio Budget Statements 2022-23 1.5 The Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS) 2022-23 for the Industry, Science, Energy and Resources portfolio; the Agriculture, Water and the Environment portfolio; and the Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

portfolio were tabled in the Senate on 29 March 2022.4

1 Journals of the Senate, No.138, 29 March 2022, p. 4609.

2 Journals of the Senate, No. 132, 1 December 2021, p. 4406.

3 Journals of the Senate, No. 42, 13 February 2020, p. 1368. Note: the portfolios will be referred to without

reference to their exclusions for the remainder of the report.

4 Journals of the Senate, No. 138, 29 March 2022, p. 4610.

2

Hearings 1.6 On 1 December 2021, the Senate resolved that budget estimates hearings would occur on 31 March 2022 and 4 to 5 April 2022, with an additional day, if required on 8 April 2022.5

1.7 On 31 March 2022, the committee examined the energy outcomes and agencies of the Industry, Science, Energy and Resources portfolio; the environment outcomes and agencies of the Agriculture, Water and Environment portfolio; and the communications and the arts outcomes and agencies of the Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications portfolio.

1.8 On 4 April 2022, the committee continued its examination of the energy outcomes and agencies of the Industry, Science, Energy and Resources portfolio; and the environment outcomes and agencies of the Agriculture, Water and Environment portfolio.

1.9 On 5 April 2022, the committee continued its examination of the communications and the arts outcomes and agencies of the Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications portfolio.

1.10 The committee heard evidence from Senator the Hon Jane Hume, Minister for Superannuation, Financial Services and the Digital Economy and Minister for Women's Economic Security, representing the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction; the Minister for the Environment; and the Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts.

1.11 Evidence was also provided by the following departmental secretaries who were accompanied by officers from the portfolio departments and agencies:

 Mr David Fredericks, Secretary, Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources;  Mr Andrew Metcalfe, Secretary, Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment; and  Mr Simon Atkinson, Secretary, Department of Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Communications.

1.12 The following portfolio agencies were not required to appear:

Industry, Science, Energy and Resources portfolio  Australian Energy Infrastructure Commissioner

Agriculture, Water and the Environment portfolio  Director of National Parks  Office of the Supervising Scientist  Sydney Harbour Federation Trust

5 Journals of the Senate, No. 132, 1 December 2021, p. 4405.

3

Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications portfolio  Australia Council  Australia Business Arts Foundation Ltd. (Creative Partnerships Australia)  Australian Film, Television and Radio School  Australian National Maritime Museum  Bundanon Trust  Classification Board  Classification Review Board  National Film and Sound Archive of Australia  National Gallery of Australia  National Library of Australia  National Museum of Australia  National Portrait Gallery of Australia  Screen Australia  Special Broadcasting Service

1.13 The committee extends its appreciation to the minister and officers of the departments and agencies who assisted the committee in conducting its 2022- 23 budget estimates hearings.

Questions on notice and Hansard transcripts 1.14 In accordance with standing order 26(9)(a), the committee set 20 May 2022 as the date for the return of written answers for the Agriculture, Water and the Environment portfolio and the Infrastructure, Transport, Regional

Development and Communications portfolio. For the Industry, Science, Energy and Resources portfolio, the committee set 27 May 2022 as the date for the return of written answers.

1.15 Written answers and information provided to the committee in response to questions on notice arising from the hearings are tabled in the Senate and published on the committee's website. Links to the transcripts of these public hearings and to answers, tabled documents and addition information are available at: www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Senate_estimates/ec

Additional Estimates 2021-22: Timeliness of answers to questions on notice 1.16 The committee's 2021-22 additional estimates examined the energy outcomes and agencies of the Industry, Science, Energy and Resources portfolio and the environmental outcomes and agencies of the Agriculture, Water and the

Environment portfolio on 14 February 2022. The communications and arts outcomes and agencies of the Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications portfolio were then examined on 15 February 2022.

1.17 Answers to questions on notice were due to be returned by 22 March 2022.

1.18 For the Industry, Science, Energy and Resources portfolio, the committee received answer to 2 of 57 questions taken on notice by the due date of 22 March

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2022. The remaining answers were received on 30 March 2022, on the eve of budget estimates hearings.

1.19 For the Agriculture, Water and the Environment portfolio, the committee received answers to all 91 questions taken on notice by the due date of 22 March 2022.

1.20 For the Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications portfolio, the committee received answers to 74 of 104 questions taken on notice by the due date of 22 March 2022. Further answers were received progressively throughout the period until the last answer was received on 4 April 2022.

1.21 The committee notes that the supply of late answers, and particularly when they are supplied on the eve of or during the next set of hearings, is not conducive to the transparency and accountability of government expenditure and departmental administration.

Record of proceedings 1.22 This report does not attempt to analyse the evidence presented during the hearings. However, it does provide a brief summary of some of the key issues that were examined by the committee for each portfolio.

Notes on reference and additional information 1.23 References to the Hansard transcripts are to the proof Hansard. Page numbers may vary between the proof and official Hansard transcript.

1.24 Copies of the Hansard transcripts and any documents tabled at the hearings (see: Appendix 2) are tabled in the Senate, and have been published online at: www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Senate_estimates/ec

5

Chapter 2

Portfolio-specific issues

2.1 This chapter provides an overview of some of the matters raised during the committee's hearings on Budget Estimates 2022-23. The discussion follows the outcome and agency structure.

Industry, Science, Energy and Resources portfolio 2.2 The committee examined the Industry, Science, Energy and Resources portfolio on 31 March 2022 and 4 April 2022 by calling officers from the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (DISER) and associated agencies.

Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources 2.3 The committed commenced its examination of DISER by examining topics under Outcome 2.

Outcome 2: Reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions, contribute to effective global action on climate change, and support technological innovation in clean and renewable energy, through developing and implementing a national response to climate change.

2.4 In relation to Program 2.1: Reducing Australia's greenhouse gas emissions the committee discussed the following matters:

 Reduction of funding for the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC);1  Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) contracts;2  ERF Incentives;3  Clean Energy Council's Clean Energy Australian Report 2022;4  Percentage of renewables in the National Electricity Market;5 and  Carbon Capture and Storage and Blue Hydrogen Projects.6

2.5 The committee discussed the following matters in relation to Program 2.2: Developing Clean energy technology:

 $22 billion spending on clean energy technologies from 2020 to 2030;7  Reduced funding for Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA);8

1 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 6-8.

2 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 15-17, 22-23.

3 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 25-26.

4 Committee Hansard, 4 April 2022, pp. 4-5.

5 Committee Hansard, 4 April 2022, pp. 4-6.

6 Committee Hansard, 4 April 2022, pp. 19-20.

7 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 4-6, 9-10, 12-13, 20-22.

8 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 6-8.

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 Reduction in departmental provision of staff to ARENA and increased use of consultants;9 and  ARENA Regulations.10

Outcome 3: Support the affordable, reliable, secure and competitive operation of energy markets for the long term benefit of the Australian community through improving Australia’s energy supply, efficiency, quality, performance and productivity

2.6 In relation to Program 3.1: Supporting reliable, secure and affordable energy, the committee focused on the following matters:

 Gas projects listed under the Underwriting New Generation Investments (UNGI) program;11  Assessment and selection of projects under UNGI program;12  Grid Reliability Fund unallocated funds;13  Future Gas Infrastructure Investment frameworks;14  Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions from gas projects;15  Australian Energy Market Operator forecast for rising power prices;16  National Energy Security Assessment concerning fuel security, electricity

and gas;17  Battery of the Nation and Marinus Link feasibility Study;18 and  Jobs created in Tasmania and regional Victoria through Marinus Link

construction.19

Snowy Hydro Limited 2.7 The committee called officers from Snowy Hydro Limited and discussed the construction of a large-scale solar facility adjacent to Snowy Hydro's Hunter Valley Project.20

9 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 10-12.

10 Committee Hansard, 4 April 2022, pp. 6-8.

11 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 14-15.

12 Committee Hansard, 4 April 2022, pp. 10-11.

13 Committee Hansard, 4 April 2022, pp. 10-11, 22-23.

14 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 18-20, 23-24.

15 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 24-25.

16 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 26-27, 30-31.

17 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 27-30.

18 Committee Hansard, 4 April 2022, pp. 12-16.

19 Committee Hansard, 4 April 2022, pp. 16-17.

20 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 31-32.

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Clean Energy Regulator 2.8 The committee called officers from the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) and discussed the following matters:

 Carbon farming and landfill gas electricity generation sites and associated disallowance motion;21 and  Conflicts of interest disclosure obligations for members of the CER and Electrical Regulatory Authorities Council.22

Australian Renewable Energy Agency 2.9 The committee called officers from ARENA and focused on the following topics:

 ARENA regulations and Senate disallowance23; and  Gas-derived hydrogen technologies.24

Climate Change Authority 2.10 The committee called officers from the Climate Change Authority to discuss the following matters:

 Staffing levels and use of contract staff;25 and  Consultation on 'The Australian Way' net-zero report.26

Clean Energy Finance Corporation 2.11 The committee called officers from the CEFC and discussed the following matters:

 CEFC investment in grid reliability projects;27 and  Changes to CEFC investment guidelines.28

Agriculture, Water and the Environment portfolio 2.12 The committee examined the Agriculture, Water and Environment portfolio on 31 March 2022 and 4 April 2022 by calling officers from the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment (DAWE) and associated agencies.

21 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 33-34

22 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 35-37.

23 Committee Hansard, 4 April 2022, pp. 18-20.

24 Committee Hansard, 4 April 2022, p. 21.

25 Committee Hansard, 4 April 2022, p. 21.

26 Committee Hansard, 4 April 2022, p. 22.

27 Committee Hansard, 4 April 2022, pp. 22-23.

28 Committee Hansard, 4 April 2022, pp. 24-25.

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Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment 2.13 The committee commenced its examination of DAWE by examining topics under Outcome 1.

Outcome 1: Conserve, protect and sustainably manage Australia's biodiversity, ecosystems, environment and heritage through research, information management, supporting natural resource management, establishing and managing Commonwealth protected areas and reducing and regulating the use of pollutants and hazardous substances, and coordination of climate change adaption strategy and climate change science activities.

2.14 In relation to Program 1.1: Sustainable Management of Natural Resources and the Environment (funding), including the Office of Threatened Species Commissioner, the committee discussed matters including:

 Allocation of $100 million funding under the Environment Restoration Fund;29  Commitment of funds and payments made from the Environment Restoration Fund;30  State Party Report on the state of conservation of Australia's Great Barrier Reef;31  The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation

(UNESCO) world heritage monitoring mission to the Great Barrier Reef;32  Ocean Leadership funding package;33  Regional plans for protection of threatened species;34  Wildlife Recovery Package;35  Bushfire response plan and threatened species plan for Koalas;36 and  Proposed revisions to the Victorian Code of Forest Practice and impacts on

threatened species.37

2.15 In relation to Program 1.2: Environmental Information and Research, the committee discussed matters including:

 State of the Environment Report release date;38 and

29 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 44-46.

30 Committee Hansard, 4 April 2022, pp. 27-29.

31 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, p. 56.

32 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 56-58, 63-64.

33 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 58-59.

34 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 64-66.

35 Committee Hansard, 4 April 2022, pp. 26-27.

36 Committee Hansard, 4 April 2022, p. 27.

37 Committee Hansard, 4 April 2022, p. 35.

38 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 40-44.

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 Australian National Audit Office (ANAO)'s Management of threatened species and ecological communities report.39

2.16 In relation to Program 1.4: Conservation of Australia's Heritage and Environment (regulation), the committee discussed the following topics:

 Endangered species recovery plan for Koalas;40  Endangered species recovery plans for Tasmanian Giant Kelp forests;41  Leadbeater's Possum Action Plan;42  Fisheries habitat restoration;43  Funding to modernise Indigenous cultural heritage protections under the

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act;44  Regional Forestry Agreements;45  Threat Abatement Plans;46 and  Locations for Regional Environmental Plans.47

2.17 In relation to Program 1.5: Environmental Regulation, the committee discussed the Urannah Dam and Hells Gate Dam proposals.48

2.18 In relation to Program 1.6: Management of Hazardous Wastes, Substances and Pollutants, the committee discussed the following matters:

 Advanced technologies funded under the Recycling Modernisation Fund;49  Remade in Australia recycling initiative and recycled content certification and advertising campaign;50  Recycling Modernisation Fund;51  Compostable component of the packaging target;52  Product Stewardship Centre of Excellence;53 and

39 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 51-53 and 4 April 2022, pp. 29-32, 63-39.

40 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 53-54.

41 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 54-55.

42 Committee Hansard, 4 April 2022, pp. 32-35.

43 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 55-56.

44 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 59-61 and 4 April 2022, pp. 40-41.

45 Committee Hansard, 4 April 2022, pp. 33-34.

46 Committee Hansard, 4 April 2022, p. 39.

47 Committee Hansard, 4 April 2022, p. 41.

48 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 47-49, 51.

49 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 49-50.

50 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 50, 61-62.

51 Committee Hansard, 4 April 2022, pp. 42-43.

52 Committee Hansard, 4 April 2022, p. 43.

53 Committee Hansard, 4 April 2022, p. 63.

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 Additional resourcing to achieve reduced times for applications for waste export licences.54

Outcome 2: Advance Australia's strategic, scientific, environmental and economic interests in the Antarctic region by protecting, administering and researching the region.

2.19 In relation to Program 2.1: Antarctica: Science, Policy and Presence, the committee called the Australian Antarctic Division and discussed the following matters:

 Hobart City Deal and Antarctic Science Precinct;55 and  Plans and costings for relocation of the Australian Antarctic Division.56

Bureau of Meteorology 2.20 The committee called officers from the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) and discussed the extreme weather events that have occurred recently. Dr Andrew Johnson, Chief Executive Officer and Director of Meteorology described the

record-breaking events:

…seven-day rainfall records were broken right along the NSW coast. In my own hometown of Brisbane, records were broken. Brisbane, I think, has only eight times since records have been kept, from the mid-1840s, had more than 200 millimetres in a day, and in this event we had 200 millimetres for three days in a row. There were 33 rainfall stations in the Brisbane area that had over a metre of rain in those three days. That's phenomenal rain. That's certainly record-breaking rain. As I said before, in New South Wales, the rainfall rates along the coast—seven-day rainfall totals in the Northern Rivers broke records. As we've seen in parts of the Northern Rivers, particularly in the Wilsons catchment in Lismore and then in the Richmond River system further downstream at Woodburn, we had floods there that were the highest in recorded history: a bit over two metres for a record in Lismore and a 1.8-metre record at Woodburn.

But we keep records on all weather phenomena. For example, in January the temperature record was equalled at Onslow—a 60-odd-year record that was equalled with Oodnadatta—50.7 degrees. Whatever the phenomenon is, such as wind speed, temperature—late last year the hail record was broken at Mackay with a 16-centimetre piece of hail.57

2.21 Other matters discussed by the committee included:

 Gaps in weather radar coverage;58

54 Committee Hansard, 4 April 2022, p. 63.

55 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 66-67.

56 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 37-38.

57 Dr Andrew Johnson, CEO and Director of Meteorology, BOM, Committee Hansard, 4 April 2022,

p. 50.

58 Committee Hansard, 4 April 2022, p. 46.

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 Improving accuracy of heavy rain and floor predictions;59  Effects of climate change on cyclone intensity and location;60 and  Warming temperatures in the East Australian Current.61

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority 2.22 The committee called officers from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and discussed the following matters:

 Great Barrier Reef coral bleaching;62 and  UNESCO World Heritage monitoring mission to the Great Barrier Reef.63

Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications portfolio 2.23 The committee examined the Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications portfolio on 31 March 2022 and 5 April 2022 by calling officers from the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional

Development and Communications (DITRDC) and associated agencies.

Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications 2.24 The committed commenced its examination of DITRDC by asking general questions. The topics discussed throughout general questions were as follows:

 Online safety initiatives;64 and  One-year extension of the PacificAus TV Initiative.65

Outcome 5: Promote and innovate and competitive communications sector, through policy development, advise and program delivery, so all Australians can realise the full potential of digital technologies and communications services.

2.25 In relation to Program 5.1: Digital Technologies and Communications Services, the committee discussed the following matters:

 Upgraded coverage under the Mobile Black Spot Program;66  Funding for Viewer Access Satellite Television;67  Funding for the Australian 5G innovation initiative;68

59 Committee Hansard, 4 April 2022, pp. 46-47, 49-50.

60 Committee Hansard, 4 April 2022, pp. 47-48.

61 Committee Hansard, 4 April 2022, p. 50.

62 Committee Hansard, 4 April 2022, pp. 50, 52-53.

63 Committee Hansard, 4 April 2022, pp. 53-55.

64 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 78-79.

65 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 77-79.

66 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 71-74, 77.

67 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 82-83.

68 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 85-86.

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 Regional Connectivity Plan;69  Public Interest News Gathering Program;70  Regional journalism cadets funding;71  Funding for regional newspapers;72  Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) international broadcasting;73  ABC funding indices;74  Ministerial requests for digital platforms to block Russian media

platforms;75  Online safety advertising campaign costs, target audiences and public awareness;76  ANAO review of online safety advertising campaigns;77  Absence of whistle-blower protections in non-consensual image sharing

legislation;78  Government response to the 2021 Regional Telecommunications Review;79  Affordability and access of telecommunication services and devices in

regional Australia;80  Departmental staff attendance at Mobile World Congress 2022 in Barcelona;81 and  Indigenous Digital Inclusion Plan.82

Outcome 6: Participation in, and access to, Australia's arts and culture through developing and supporting cultural expression. 2.26 In relation to Program 6.1: Arts and Cultural Development, the committee discussed the following matters:

69 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 86-90.

70 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 80-81.

71 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 80-81.

72 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, p. 82.

73 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 90-91.

74 Committee Hansard, 5 April 2022, pp. 8-9.

75 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 91-93.

76 Committee Hansard, 5 April 2022, pp. 3-7.

77 Committee Hansard, 5 April 2022, p. 6.

78 Committee Hansard, 5 April 2022, pp. 7-8.

79 Committee Hansard, 5 April 2022, pp. 9-10.

80 Committee Hansard, 5 April 2022, pp. 10-11.

81 Committee Hansard, 5 April 2022, pp. 12-13.

82 Committee Hansard, 5 April 2022, pp. 13-14.

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 Funding support for the arts and creative industry;83  Creative Economy Taskforce;84 and  Support for the arts and creative industry in response to the COVID-19 pandemic;85

 Termination of the Supporting Cinemas' Retention Endurance and Enhancement of Neighbourhoods Fund;86  Winding up of the Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand Fund;87  Digital Games Tax Offset.88

Australian Broadcasting Corporation 2.27 Mr Craig McMurtrie, Editorial Director of the ABC, gave an update on the progress of the ABC's independent complaints-handling review:

The independent complaints review is in process. It's with the board. We expect it will be discussed at the next board meeting, which is next month.

…[T]he ABC and the independent reviewers have committed to a transparent process, as you know. The terms of reference were released. There was an issues paper released. Public submissions were sought. It's our expectation that it will continue to be a transparent process.89

2.28 Other matters discussed by the committee included:

 Ms Julia Zemiro's employment status;90  ABC Kids website;91 and  ABC Four Corners program 'The Great Awakening: a family divided by QAnon’.92

Australian Communications and Media Authority 2.29 The committee called officers from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and discussed the following matters:

 ACMA's research tenders;93

83 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 75-77, 79, 93-94.

84 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 83-85.

85 Committee Hansard, 5 April 2022, p. 14.

86 Committee Hansard, 5 April 2022, pp. 14-16.

87 Committee Hansard, 5 April 2022, pp. 17-18.

88 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 94-95.

89 Mr Craig McMurtrie, Editorial Director, ABC, Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 95-96.

90 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, p. 96.

91 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 97-98.

92 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, p. 98.

93 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 98-99.

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 Preparations for federal election and caretaker period;94 and  ACMA's powers to oversee misinformation and disinformation.95

NBN Co 2.30 The committee called officers of NBN Co. In his opening statement, Mr Stephen Rue, Chief Executive Officer, provided an update on the increased internet demand in regional areas and NBN Co's response to ease the demand:

The Committee has heard me say many times before that access to fast and reliable broadband plays a vital role in the lives of people across Australia and is critical for the Australian economy. Regional and rural Australia is no exception.

Broadband demand in regional and remote Australia has been growing rapidly in recent years .… That is why NBN Co welcomes the $480 million investment in the nbn Fixed Wireless network announced by the Federal Government. This contribution from the Government comes in addition to $270 million that will be invested by NBN Co, as well as ongoing investment in the Fixed Wireless network.

Customers on the Fixed Wireless network are expected to see considerable increases in their broadband speeds, more than one hundred thousand premises currently in the Satellite footprint will be capable of being moved across to Fixed Wireless, and those customers who stay on the Satellite network will see an uplift in their data allowances on Sky Muster, and a longer off-peak period and more unmetered data on Sky Muster Plus.

This is a gamechanger for nbn customers in rural and regional Australia.96

2.31 Other matters discussed by the committee included:

 Government relations and media relations staffing;97  Caretaker projects;98 and  Upgrades in regional Australia.99

Australia Post 2.32 The committee called officers from Australia Post and discussed the following matters:

 Election preparation;100 and

94 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 99-100.

95 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, p. 100.

96 Mr Stephen Rue, Chief Executive Officer, NBN Co, Opening statement, p. 3.

97 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 101 and 103.

98 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 102-104.

99 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 104-109.

100 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 109-110.

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 Conclusion of alternate day mail delivery.101

Office of the eSafety Commissioner 2.33 The committee called officers from the Office of the eSafety Commissioner and discussed the following matters:

 Online safety grants for community groups;102  Online safety training for schools and cyberbullying campaigns;103 and  eSafety Memorandum of Understanding and liaison with law enforcement agencies.104

Senator Andrew Bragg Chair

101 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, p. 110.

102 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 111-112.

103 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 112-117.

104 Committee Hansard, 31 March 2022, pp. 117-118.

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Appendix 1

List of portfolio agencies

Agriculture, Water and the Environment portfolio

Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment  Bureau of Meteorology  Director of National Parks  Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority  Office of the Supervising Scientist  Office of the Threatened Species Commissioner  Sydney Harbour Federation Trust

Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications portfolio

Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications  Australian Council  Australian Broadcasting Corporation  Australian Communications and Media Authority  Australian Film, Television and Radio School  Australian National Martine Museum  Australian Postal Corporation  Bundanon Trust  Classification Board  Classification Review Board  Creative Partnerships Australia  National Film and Sound Archive of Australia  National Gallery of Australia  National Library of Australia  National Portrait Gallery of Australia  NBN Co Limited  Office of the eSafety Commissioner  Screen Australia  Special Broadcasting Service Corporation

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Industry, Science, Energy and Resources portfolio

Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources  Australian Energy Infrastructure Commissioner  Australian Renewable Energy Agency  Clean Energy Finance Corporation  Clean Energy Regulator  Climate Change Authority  Snowy Hydro Limited

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Appendix 2

Tabled documents and additional information

Tabled Documents

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Mr Robert Hanlon, Chief Finance Officer, Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources:  Basis for estimated Government investment of more than $22 billion in the decade to 2030

Mr Richard Windeyer, Deputy Secretary, Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications:  Table of consultants' reports into regional media

Ms Susan Charles, Assistant Secretary, Communications, Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications:  Letter from Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP to Ms Samantha Yorke, Head of Public

Policy and Government Affairs, Google, concerning misinformation and disinformation on Russian state media platforms

Mr Stephen Rue, Chief Executive Officer, NBN Co:  Opening statement

Monday, 4 April 2022

Mr Andrew Metcalfe, Secretary, Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment:  Outcome 1.6: Response to questions taken on notice from 31 March 2022

Additional Documents

Friday, 6 May 2022

Dr Stephen Arnott, Deputy Secretary, Creative Economy and the Arts, Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, and Communications:  Letter correcting evidence given on 31 March 2022