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Public Hearing Defence Annual Report 2022-23: Ukraine, Defence health,AI and autonomous weapons armaments

TOMORROW, March 1, the Defence Subcommittee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade will conduct its second public hearing into the Department of Defence Annual Report 2022–23.

The subcommittee will hear evidence from the Department of Defence, government departments, non-government organisations and the Australian public across the inquiry’s focus items:

  • Assistance to Ukraine
  • Defence Health System
  • Capability assurance mechanism
  • Artificial intelligence and autonomous weapons related issues, and
  • Armaments manufacture, procurement and inventory.

Chair of the subcommittee, Julian Hill MP said, “Parliamentary committees are an important mechanism parliament uses to keep a check on government activities and government departments and to hear from experts and public interest groups.

“This year’s inquiry is focussing on immediate priorities such as assistance to Ukraine, the Defence Health System, capability assurance, and armaments manufacture and procurement in a rapidly changing strategic environment. In addition, the inquiry will examine the potential benefits, risks and concerns of transformative technologies such as artificial intelligence and autonomous weapons and their role in future conflict.”

Further information is available on the inquiry webpage with the hearing broadcast live at aph.gov.au/live.

Public hearing details

Friday, 1 March 2024, 8:30am – 3pm (AEDT)
Committee Room 1R1, Parliament House, Canberra

 

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New Parliamentary inquiry – The role of Australian agriculture in Southeast Asia

THE Australian Parliament’s Agriculture Committee has today commenced an inquiry into the role of Australian agriculture in Southeast Asian markets and is calling for submissions from interested stakeholders.

Committee Chair, Meryl Swanson MP, said the Australian Government had prioritised a deepening engagement with Southeast Asia, and noted from the recently released Invested: Australia’s Southeast Economic Strategy to 2040 that Southeast Asia was at the centre of global growth and remained a development and economic success story.

"Agriculture plays a critical role in sustaining the region’s economic growth," Ms Swanson said. "With its continuing population growth, rapid urbanisation, rising incomes and increasing food security requirements, Southeast Asia is one of the fastest growing markets for Australian agricultural exports."

The committee will examine the role of Australian agriculture in Southeast Asian markets in the context of the recommendations in the economic strategy. It will focus on how Australian agriculture can support Southeast Asia’s food security, improving market access and trade systems, and building capability in the region to improve agricultural sustainability, technology and innovation.

The committee is also interested in identifying new mechanisms and emerging opportunities and challenges for Australian agriculture to address key priorities in the Southeast Asia region.

"The strategy identified agriculture and food as one of the ten key sectors offering the most potential for greater commercial activity between Australia and Southeast Asia," Ms Swanson said.

Submissions to the inquiry will be open until May 31, 2024. Further information, including the Terms of Reference can be found on the Committee’s website.

 

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Diabetes inquiry to speak with the Department of Health and Aged Care

A PUBLIC HEARING will be held on Friday, March 1, at Parliament House in Canberra as part of the House Health Committee’s inquiry into diabetes.

The Department of Health and Aged Care will give evidence about the Australian Government’s work on addressing diabetes and obesity. The committee will also hear evidence from the Department of Education about the role of the Australian Curriculum in supporting young Australians to develop healthy habits and skills, and Jess Hart, who lives with type 1 diabetes, about her experiences travelling with diabetes devices.

Chair of the Committee, Mike Freelander MP, said, "Throughout the inquiry, the committee has heard about different ways to improve the way we prevent, diagnose and manage diabetes and obesity in Australia. We will explore these ideas in more detail with the Department of Health and Aged Care at our public hearing on Friday."

Deputy Chair of the Committee, Melissa McIntosh MP, said, "We are looking forward to hearing from the Department of Education about ways that the Australian Curriculum can positively influence the health and wellbeing of young people and help them to develop life-long healthy habits."

The committee intends to hold further public hearings throughout March 2024. Details and dates for further public hearings will be available on the Committee’s website as they are announced.

Public hearing

Date: Friday, 1 March 2024Time: 8.45am – 12.30pm AEDT (Canberra time)Location: Committee Room 1R3, Parliament House, Canberra

A program for the public hearing is available on the inquiry website. A live audio stream of the hearing will also be available on the APH website.

 

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New inquiry into Antarctica

THE Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories will examine the importance of Antarctica to Australia’s national interest in a new inquiry launched today.

Committee Chair, Alicia Payne MP, said, “Australia has a proud history as an Antarctic leader. The Australian Antarctic Territory covers approximately 42 percent of the continent and Australia plays a significant role in maintaining the continent for peace, scientific exploration, and environmental protection.

“Australia’s ongoing and future commitments in Antarctica are now more important than ever. Australia has a responsibility to itself and the international community to remain a strong advocate for Antarctica through its domestic and international policy.

“Our need to keep pace with technological and scientific advancements as well as ensure the protection of the region and its biodiversity will be a key focus of this inquiry.

"We will also be examining Australia’s role in upholding the Antarctic Treaty System and how Antarctica contributes to Australia’s economic and social development,” Ms Payne said.

The committee is welcoming submissions from interested individuals and organisations by April 12, 2024. Further information on the inquiry, including the terms of reference and how to contribute, is available on the committee’s website.

 

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New inquiry into the facilities to support electronic attack aircraft EA-18G Growler

UNDER the Public Works Committee Act 1969, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works will consider a new referral from the Department of Defence into the Facilities to Support Advanced Growler Phase 6 at an estimated cost of $228.2 million.

The works will take place in both Amberley, Queensland and Delamere, Northern Territory. The construction works will deliver new and upgraded facilities for the operation of the electronic attack aircraft EA-18G Growler.

It is anticipated that the committee will travel to Amberley to conduct a public hearing in relation to the project.

The Committee wants to hear from all individuals or organisations interested in the project. The deadline for public submissions is March 8, 2024, with more information available on the Public Works Committee website.

Committee Chair Graham Perrett MP said, "Public submissions and the public hearings will allow the committee to review the purpose, need and public value of the proposed works."

Note: The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works is not involved in the tendering process, awarding of contracts or details of the proposed works. Inquiries on these matters should be addressed to the relevant Commonwealth entities.

 

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First public hearing: Inquiry into the Department of Defence Annual Report 2022-23

TODAY, the Defence Subcommittee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade will conduct its first public hearing into the Department of Defence Annual Report 2022–23.

The subcommittee will hear evidence from the Department of Defence on the inquiry’s first focus item: Assistance to Ukraine.

Chair of the subcommittee, Julian Hill MP said, “The Department of Defence will kick off this inquiry with a public hearing focussed on Australia’s defence assistance to Ukraine. How Defence is providing support through Operation Kudu and how lethal and non-lethal capabilities are transferred to Ukraine in support of its war effort and sovereignty is of great public interest.”

Further information is available on the Inquiry webpage.

Public Hearing Details

Tuesday, 27 February 20245:40pm – 6:30pm (AEDT)Committee Room 1R1, Parliament House, Canberra

The hearing will be broadcast live at aph.gov.au/live.

 

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Public hearing to hear from experts on new citizenship repudiation laws

THE Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) will hear evidence next Monday from a range of expert witnesses for the review of the amendments made by the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Citizenship Repudiation) Bill 2023.

The committee will hear from a range of witnesses, including the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Law Council of Australia and a roundtable of expert academics including Associate Professor Rayner Twaites, Professor George Williams, Professor Kim Rubenstein, the Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness, and Professor Emerita Helen Irving. The committee will also hear from key government agencies: the Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Federal Police.

PJCIS Chair Peter Khalil MP, said, “The Citizenship Repudiation Act is an important pillar in Australia’s national security landscape that was swiftly put in place by Parliament following the decisions of the High Court. The Citizenship Repudiation Act repealed and replaced the relevant provisions to now provide that the Minister may make an application to a court to make a citizenship cessation order in certain circumstances, as part of sentencing on conviction of a person for certain serious offences.

“The committee has received a number of submissions regarding the operation, effectiveness and implications of the recently enacted legislation as well as the proposed Senate amendments.

"The public hearing will allow the committee to hear from expert witnesses regarding the implications of the legislation. The PJCIS will then test this evidence with Government officials from the Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Federal Police.” Mr Khalil said.

Further information on the inquiry can be obtained from the Committee’s website.

Public hearing details

Monday, 19 February 202410.30am – 3:45pm (AEDT)Committee Room 2R1, Parliament House, Canberra

A program for the hearing can be found here and the hearing will be broadcast live at aph.gov.au/live.

 

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Public hearing to hear from experts on proposed military secrets bill

THE Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) will hear evidence tomorrow from a range of expert witnesses for the Review of the Defence Amendment (Safeguarding Australia’s Military Secrets) Bill 2023.

The committee will hear from a number of witnesses, including the Australian Industry Group, the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union, and key government agencies: the Department of Defence and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.

 “The Military Secrets Bill will work to regulate the work that certain former defence staff members can perform for or on behalf of a military organisation or government body of a relevant foreign country," PJCIS Chair, Peter Khalil MP said. "The committee will closely examine the Military Secrets Bill to ensure that it appropriately manages the potential risk of former defence staff members revealing sensitive defence information and placing Australia’s national security at risk.

“The public hearing will allow the PJCIS to hear from industry groups regarding its potential impacts. The committee will then test this evidence with the Department of Defence who would administer this legislation and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation,” Mr Khalil said.

Further information on the inquiry can be obtained from the Committee’s website.

Public Hearing Details

Thursday, 22 February 2024​10am – 12:15pm (AEDT)​Committee Room 2R1, Parliament House, Canberra

A program for the hearing can be found here and the hearing will be broadcast live at aph.gov.au/live.

 

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Audit Committee to scrutinise the Commonwealth Financial Statements

THE Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit (JCPAA) has commenced an inquiry into the 2022-23 Commonwealth Financial Statements which are audited each year by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO).

This audit provides the Parliament with an independent examination of the Commonwealth’s accounts and identifies financial statement risks, issues with governance arrangements, and problems with any internal control frameworks of Commonwealth entities.

The Chair of the JCPAA, Mr Julian Hill MP, said, “The traditional focus on legislative breaches and more serious findings will continue. There will also be a focus on thematic issues including governance for Artificial Intelligence and emerging technologies, the role of internal audit functions and how equity injections to an entity are treated in the accounts when an investment has elements of social and economic benefits. It is concerning that most of the legislative breaches identified relate to incorrect remuneration payments to executives.”

Areas of likely focus for the committee will include:

  • Lack of governance frameworks for managing the use of emerging technologies including Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Robotic Process Automation and risks arising.
  • Role of internal audit and whether guidance would be beneficial to enhance the Australian Government’s system of internal control.
  • Weaknesses in consideration of legal matters in the preparation of financial statements.
  • Appropriateness of Finance’s return-on-investment forecast model and guidance on the accounting treatment of equity injections when an investment has elements of social and economic benefits.
  • Information Technology governance.
  • Key areas of financial statements risk and timeliness of financial reporting.
  • 9 Significant and 36 Moderate audit findings identified by the Auditor-General.
  • 14 legislative breaches identified, noting the majority relate to incorrect remuneration payments to executives and/or non-compliance with decisions of the Remuneration Tribunal.

The inquiry will examine Auditor-General Report No. 9 of 2023-24: Audits of the Financial Statements of Australian Government Entities for the period ended June 30, 2023.

The committee invites submissions to the inquiry addressing the terms of reference to be received by Friday, March 29, 2024. Details of the inquiry – including the terms of reference and public hearings – will be made available on the Committee website.

 

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Tourism and international education in the spotlight

THE Trade Subcommittee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade will hold a public hearing today in Adelaide for its inquiry into Australia’s tourism and international education sectors.

The subcommittee will hear evidence from the international education sector including several universities, TAFE SA and StudyAdelaide. The subcommittee will also hear from the South Australian Tourism Commission and several tourism operators in the Adelaide Hills region.

Chair of the Trade Subcommittee, Senator Deborah O’Neill said, "The public hearing in Adelaide will focus on the intersection between international education and tourism rebuilding post COVID-19."

Further information about the inquiry and program, are available on the inquiry webpage.

Public hearings details

Adelaide

Date: Tuesday 20 February 2024Venue: David Spence Room, 128 King Williams St, AdelaideTime: 8:30am – 4:45pm (Adelaide time - ACST)

 

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PJCIS reports on its activities in 2022-23

THE Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) has today tabled its Annual Report of Committee Activities 2022-2023.

During the reporting period, the committee undertook numerous legislative and oversight reviews, working across 14 inquiries; and presented nine reports to the Parliament on a range of complex national security matters.

The committee held 50 meetings and briefings, including seven public hearings and three site visits. The committee reviewed 13 terrorist listings under the Criminal Code, continued its annual reviews of the administration and expenditure of intelligence agencies, examined four bills before Parliament, and undertook four statutory reviews of existing legislation.

Chair of the committee, Peter Khalil MP said, "The operations of the PJCIS are central to ensuring appropriate and effective national security laws, and accountability of the national intelligence community. The committee’s oversight ensures that our law enforcement and intelligence agencies are best positioned to ensure the safety and security of the Australian public."

The committee thanks all who made contributions to the various inquiries and reviews undertaken over the 2022-2023 financial year.

Further information on the functions and role of the committee, a copy of the annual report and all the reports presented by the committee during the review period, can be obtained from the Committee’s website.

 

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