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Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee


In Attendance

Senator Brandis, Attorney-General and representing the Minister for Justice

Senator Scullion, Minister for Indigenous Affairs.

Senator Cash, Minister for Employment, Minister for Women, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service.

Attorney-General’s Department

Mr Chris Moraitis PSM, Secretary

Mr Iain Anderson, Deputy Secretary, Civil Justice and Corporate Group

Ms Leanne Close APM, Deputy Secretary, Criminal Justice Group

Ms Katherine Jones, Deputy Secretary, National Security and Emergency Management Group


Mr Michael Pahlow, Assistant Secretary

Civil Justice Policy and Programmes Division

Mr Greg Manning, First Assistant Secretary, Civil Justice Policy and Programmes Division

Dr Albin Smrdel, Assistant Secretary, Courts Tribunals and Administrative Law Branch

Ms Elizabeth Quinn, Assistant Secretary, Legal Assistance

Ms Esther Bogaart, Director, Legal Assistance

Ms Susan Harris, Director, Family Law Branch

Ms Amanda Lilley, Principal Legal Officer, Family Law Branch

Mr Stephen Still, Principal Legal Officer, Family Law Branch

Ms Petra Gartmann, Assistant Secretary, Office of Legal Services Co-ordination

Ms Sara Samios, Principal Legal Officer, Office of Legal Services Co-ordination

Ms Toni Pirani, Assistant Secretary, Commonwealth Representation (Royal Commission Branch)

Civil Law Unit

Mr Andrew Walter, Assistant Secretary

Corporate Services Division

Mr Stephen Lutze, Chief Financial Officer

Counter Terrorism and Intelligence Unit

Ms Julie Taylor, Acting Assistant Secretary

Ms Karen Bishop, Director

Countering Violent Extremism Centre

Ms Jamie Lowe, First Assistant Secretary

Ms Catherine Jones, Assistant Secretary

Ms Elizabeth Brayshaw, Assistant Secretary

Criminal Casework

Mr Ryan Perry, Acting Assistant Secretary

Ms Samantha Losanno, Assistant Secretary

Criminal Justice Policy and Programmes Division

Mr Anthony Coles, Acting First Assistant Secretary,

Mr Chris Collett, Assistant Secretary, Transnational Crime Branch

Defence Abuse Response Taskforce

Ms Kirsty Windeyer, Executive Director

Emergency Management Australia

Mr Mark Crosweller AFSM, Director General

Ms Kate Fitzgerald, Acting Assistant Secretary, Crisis Management Branch

Mr Aaron Verlin, Assistant Secretary, Disaster Recovery Branch

Ms Kelly Williams, Assistant Secretary, Disaster Resilience Strategy Branch

Mr Mike Norris, Assistant Secretary, Protective Security Coordination Branch

Human Resources

Ms Helen Daniels, Assistant Secretary

Information Division

Mr Stephen Andrew, Chief Information Officer

International Legal Assistance

Ms Karen Moore, Assistant Secretary

National Security Division

Ms Sarah Chidgey, First Assistant Secretary

Mr Andrew Rice, Assistant Secretary, National Security Policy Branch

Ms Samantha Chard, Assistant Secretary, Foreign Involvement Taskforce

Mr Samuel Grunhard, Director, Data Retention Implementation

Security and Integrity Reform Branch

Mr Justin Keefe, Assistant Secretary

Office of Constitutional Law

Mr James Faulkner SC

Office of International Law

Mr John Reid, First Assistant Secretary

Mr Bill Campbell QC, General Counsel (International Law)

Ms Sue Robertson, Assistant Secretary

Ms Anne Sheehan, Assistant Secretary

Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse

Mr Philip Reed, Chief Executive Officer

Strategy and Delivery Division

Mr Matthew Minogue, First Assistant Secretary

Ms Ayesha Perry, Assistant Secretary, Strategy and Delivery

Australian Federal Police

Mr Andrew Colvin APM OAM, Commissioner

Mr Andrew Wood, Chief Operating Officer

Mr Michael Phelan APM, Deputy Commissioner, National Security

Mr Ian McCartney APM, Acting Deputy Commissioner, Operations

Mr Ramzi Jabbour APM, Deputy Commissioner, Capability

Australian Human Rights Commission

Professor Gillian Triggs, President

Ms Kate Jenkins, Sex Discrimination Commissioner

Ms Megan Mitchell, National Children's Commissioner

Ms Padma Raman, Executive Director

Ms Julie O’Brien, Director

Australian Security Intelligence Organisation

Mr Duncan Lewis AO DSC CSC, Director-General

Ms Kerri Hartland, Deputy Director-General


Committee met at 09:00

CHAIR ( Senator Ian Macdonald ): I declare open this public hearing of the Senate Legal and Constitution Affairs Legislation Committee. I welcome the minister and the secretary, Mr Moraitis. The Senate has referred to the committee the particulars of the proposed expenditure for 2016-17 for the portfolios of Attorney-General and Immigration and Border Protection and related documents. We are due to report to the Senate on Wednesday, 11 May 2016, and the committee has set 12 noon on Tuesday, 10 May, 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 tomorrow, Friday, 6 May. Witnesses should note that answers cannot be received if the Senate has been dissolved for an election.

The committee proceedings today begin with the examination of the Attorney-General's portfolio, followed by Immigration and Border Protection. All evidence is to be taken in public session, and that applies to questions on notice. Witnesses know that they are protected by parliamentary privilege. It is unlawful to threaten or disadvantage witnesses on account of any evidence they give, and everyone knows that is a contempt. It is also a contempt to give false and misleading evidence. If anyone needs any assistance with the rules of estimates, they should approach the secretariat.

At estimates hearings, all questions relating to the operation and financial position of the departments and agencies that are seeking funds are relevant questions for the purposes of estimates hearings. There are no areas of the expenditure of public funds where any person has a discretion to withhold details or explanations from the parliament, unless the parliament has especially provided otherwise, and I think everyone is aware of the exceptions. The Senate has resolved that an officer shall not be asked to give opinions on matters of policy but shall be given reasonable opportunity to refer questions asked to superior officers or to the minister. This resolution relates to asking opinions on matters of policy and does not preclude questions for explanations of policy or factual questions about how and when policies were adopted. There is an order of the Senate specifying a process by which public interest immunity may been raised, and we have been through that a number of times. Witnesses are specifically reminded that a statement that information or a document is confidential or consists of advice to government is not necessarily a statement that meets the requirements of the 2009 order. Witnesses have to provide some specific indication of the harm to the public interest that could result.

As is my practice, I will ask if anyone would like to make an opening statement. But I have asked the secretariat to let everyone know that, because of the very limited time we have to do two major portfolios immediately following the budget, I would hope that any opening statements might be either in writing or, if not, very, very brief.

Providing the committee and the witnesses have no objection, we allow the media to take photographs on the normal rules that apply, which are that you cannot get my bald spot in, you cannot get the documents that we are reading and you cannot get in between us.

Senator BILYK: I think it is going to be hardest not to get the bald spot!

CHAIR: Yes! I should also indicate that I will make a more valiant effort to comply with the times set out. The times are only indicative, because under a standing order of the Senate, as long as any senator has a question to ask on a particular area, I am obliged to allow them to continue. But we will try, in view of the shortened nature of the proceedings—and they are the first estimates after the budget—to encourage people to stick by the times that have been set as an indicative timing.

With that, I welcome the minister, Senator Scullion, and Mr Moraitis. Does either of you want to make an opening statement? No? Okay.