Title Environment and Communications Legislation Committee
24/03/2017
Estimates
COMMUNICATIONS AND THE ARTS PORTFOLIO
Database Estimates Committees
Date 24-03-2017
Committee Name Environment and Communications Legislation Committee
Page 1
System Id committees/estimate/1ded90be-f2b7-4356-80d8-4ecaf3d7bde6/0001


Environment and Communications Legislation Committee - 24/03/2017 - Estimates - COMMUNICATIONS AND THE ARTS PORTFOLIO

COMMUNICATIONS AND THE ARTS PORTFOLIO

In Attendance

Senator Fifield, Minister for the Arts, Minister for Communications

Department of Communications and the Arts

Program 1.1

Dr Heather Smith PSM, Secretary, Department of Communications and the Arts

Mr Ian Robinson, Deputy Secretary, Infrastructure and Consumer Group

Mr Richard Eccles, Deputy Secretary, Content, Arts and Strategy

Ms Jo Talbot, First Assistant Secretary, Corporate

Ms Mary Balzary, First Assistant Secretary, Infrastructure

Ms Pauline Sullivan, Acting First Assistant Secretary, Consumer

Dr Carolyn Patteson, First Assistant Secretary, Content Division

Ms Leonie Holloway, Chief Economist

Mr Chris Faris, Assistant Secretary, Post and ACMA

Ms Sylvia Spaseski, Assistant Secretary, Consumer

Ms Kathleen Silleri, Assistant Secretary, Public Interest and NBN Migration

Ms Sarah Godden, Assistant Secretary, General Counsel

Ms Cathy Rainsford, Assistant Secretary, Media Branch

Ms Helen Owens, Assistant Secretary, Content and Copyright Branch

Mr Lachlann Paterson, Assistant Secretary, Regional Deployment Branch

Mr Philip Mason, Assistant Secretary, Market Structure Branch

Mr Andrew Madsen, Assistant Secretary, Broadband Implementation Branch

Program 2.1

Dr Stephen Arnott, Assistant Secretary, Arts Development and Investment

Ms Lyn Allan, Assistant Secretary, Creative Industries

Australia Council

Mr Tony Grybowski , Chief Executive Officer

Mr Tim Blackwell, Executive Director Corporate Resources

Australian Communications and Media Authority

Mr Richard Bean, Acting Chair

Mr James Cameron, Acting Deputy Chair

Mr Brendan Byrne, General Manager, Legal Services

Ms Linda Caruso, Acting General Manager, Legal Services

Ms Jennifer McNeill, General Manager, Content, Consumer and Citizen Division

Mr Giles Tanner, General Manager, Communications Infrastructure Division

Mr Christopher Hose, Executive Manager, Spectrum Planning and Engineering Branch

Mr Alastair Gellatly, Manager, Broadcast Spectrum Planning Section

National Film and Sound Archive of Australia

Ms Meg Labrum, Acting Chief Executive Officer

National Library of Australia

Dr Marie-Louise Ayres, Director-General

Mr Gerry Linehan, Assistant Director-General, Corporate Services

NBN Co Ltd

Mr Bill Morrow, Chief Executive Officer

Mr Stephen Rue, Chief Financial Officer

Mr Peter Ryan, Chief Network Engineering Officer

Mr John Simon, Chief Customer Officer

Office of the Children's eSafety Commissioner

Ms Julie Inman-Grant, Commissioner

Ms Maria Vassiliadis, Acting Executive Director

Mr Stuart Wise, Business Manager

Screen Australia

Ms Fiona Cameron, Chief Operating Officer

Committee met at 0 8:30

CHAIR ( Senator Reynolds ): I declare open this meeting of the Senate Environmental and Communications Legislation Committee. The Senate has referred to the committee the particulars of proposed additional expenditure and particulars of certain proposed additional expenditure for the 2016-17 year for the portfolios of Environment and Energy, and Communications and the Arts and other related documents.

The committee has fixed Monday, 1 May 2017 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. 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 has resolved also that an officer of the department of the Commonwealth shall not be asked to give opinion on matters of policy and shall be given reasonable opportunity to refer questions asked of the officer to senior 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. 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 public interest that could result from the disclosure of the information or document.

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)

I welcome Senator Mitch Fifield, Minister for Communications and Minister for the Arts and also portfolio officers. Minister, would you like to make an opening statement.

Senator Fifield: No thank you, Chair.