Business News Releases

Pacific Island nations talk tourism and education

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

The Subcommittee will speak with the following representatives: New Caledonia -  Dr Yves Lafoy, Counsellor; Samoa - Her Excellency Ms Hinauri Petana, High Commissioner, Her Excellency Mrs Anna Main, Deputy High Commissioner; Solomon Islands - His Excellency Mr Robert Sisilo, High Commissioner; Republic of Vanuatu  - His Excellency Mr Samson Vilvil Fare, High Commissioner.

Chair of the Trade Subcommittee, Senator Deborah O’Neill, said, "Continuing the dialogue in relation to tourism and international education between Australia and the Pacific is critical to enable all countries to reach their potential growth in these two important sectors.

"COVID-19 presented some clear challenges to all countries, especially in terms of trade and growth. The Subcommittee looks forward to discussing some opportunities for growth in both tourism and international education, now and into the future," Senator O’Neill said.

Further information about the inquiry and program is available on the inquiry webpage. This hearing will be broadcast via the APH website.

Public hearing

Date: Wednesday, 7 February 2024Venue: Committee Room 2S3, Parliament House, CanberraTime: 9:15am – 10:30am (AEDT).

 

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Economics Committee probe into insurers’ responses to 2022 flood claims: hearings begin

THE House Standing Committee on Economics will hold its first public hearings over the next four weeks as part of its inquiry into insurers’ responses to claims resulting from the major floods in 2022.

Many thousands of people were affected by the floods all along the east coast – from south-east Queensland down to Tasmania. The trauma is continuing for many people – with delays in being rehoused just one issue. A number of the affected towns were also hit again by floods over the recent Christmas/New Year period, compounding the trauma.

The inquiry is considering the experiences of people in dealing with their insurance company and the challenges that insurers faced in responding to a record number of claims.  

The inquiry’s Terms of Reference cover the floods in south-east Queensland and northern NSW in February and March; in greater Sydney and the Hunter Valley in July; in Victoria, NSW and Tasmania in October; and in the central west of NSW in November and December.

Committee Chair, Daniel Mulino MP, is familiar with many of the issues people have faced when making insurance claims and dealing with their insurer.

“Maribyrnong is a riverside suburb in my electorate of Fraser, and it was hit hard by the October 2022 flood. More than 500 homes and businesses were flooded and I and my staff are continuing to advocate for residents who are still trying to resolve issues with their insurer,” Dr Mulino said.

The committee has received numerous submissions – including from consumer advocacy groups that worked closely with policyholders and insurers following the floods; regulators; local councils; and more.

“Many of the submissions articulate the struggles that residents faced, including long delays in damage assessments and repairs, claims being denied because of ‘wear and tear’ exclusions, inadequate cash settlements and poor communication, which all compounded people’s frustrations,” Dr Mulino said. “The committee is looking forward to hearing all the evidence.

“Given the increasing frequency of natural disasters, it is critical that the insurance industry remains robust to withstand these challenges, and that policyholders can be confident that they will be properly supported in future claims regardless of their insurer.”

So far, 391 people have also provided feedback about their experience with their insurer through an online survey, which will remain open for the duration of the inquiry. The committee encourages affected individuals to complete the survey. There is also time for people and organisations to make a submission to the inquiry through this online link.

Australia’s eight largest insurers have also lodged submissions, which have provided insights into how prepared each insurer was to deal with the record number of flood-related claims made in 2022; the measures taken to improve their preparedness for weather-related claims; and the effects of skills, labour and materials shortages on handling claims. The Committee looks forward to questioning the insurers further on these matters.

The first public hearing, involving consumer groups, will be held on Wednesday, January 31.

Public hearing – Consumer groups

Date: 31 January 2024Time: 9.30am to 4.30pm (AEDT)Location: Videoconference

Public hearing – Consumer groups

Date: 1 February 2024Time: 9.30am to 3.00pm (AEDT)Location: Videoconference

Public hearing – Regulators (Australian Securities and Investments Commission, Australian Prudential Regulation Authority)

Date: 2 February 2024Time: 9.30am to 12.45pm (AEDT)Location: Videoconference

Public hearing – Insurance Council of Australia, Major insurers

Date: 5 February 2024Time: 9.15am to 4.30pm (AEDT)Location: Committee Room 2R1, Parliament House

Public hearing – Major insurers

Date: 9 February 2024Time: 1.30pm to 4.45pm (AEDT)Location: Committee Room 2R1, Parliament House

Public hearing – Major insurers, Australian Financial Complaints Authority

Date: 21 February 2024Time: 10.00am to 3.30pm (AEDT)Location: Videoconference

Public hearing – the General Insurance Code Governance Committee, Reinsurers

Date: 23 February 2024Time: 9.15am to 4.30pm (AEDT)Location: Videoconference

Programs for the hearings are available on the inquiry website.

A live video stream will also be available on the APH website.

 

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Committee launches inquiry into the transition to electric vehicles

THE House of Representatives Standing Committee on Climate Change, Energy, Environment and Water has commenced an inquiry into the transition to electric vehicles (EVs).

Chair of the Committee, Tony Zappia MP, said, "Australian motorists are increasingly choosing EVs when purchasing a new car. The percentage of EVs sold is growing every year, moving to 7.2 percent of all new cars sold in 2023 up from less than 3 percent in 2022. The inquiry will consider the necessary resources, systems and infrastructure for this transition and the impacts of moving away from traditional vehicles.

‘The committee will also explore opportunities such as fuel savings and affordability for residents in outer regions to make this shift beneficial for everyone. Our focus will also be on the future of EV battery manufacturing, and we will consider challenges on electricity consumption and demand and our limited EV supply compared to other countries," Mr Zappia said.

The committee is seeking written submissions providing recommendations relating to any or all of the inquiry terms of reference by Friday, March 22, 2024.

The committee will examine:

  • the establishment of resources, systems and infrastructure required to support transition to EVs;
  • the impact of moving from internal combustion engine vehicles, including fuel excise loss, existing auto industry component manufacturers and the environment;
  • the opportunities for fuel savings, such as by combining EVs with other consumer energy technologies and savings for outer suburban and regional motorists;
  • the impact on electricity consumption and demand;
  • the opportunities for expanding EV battery manufacturing, recycling, disposal and safety, and other opportunities for Australia in the automotive value chain to support the ongoing maintenance of EVs;
  • the impact of Australia’s limited EV supply compared to peer countries; and
  • any other relevant matters.

Further information about the Committee’s inquiry is available on the inquiry webpage.

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New Year Audit Committee Public Hearings on Services Australia and the NDIA, Probity and Ethics, and Policy and Program Design

THE Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit (JCPAA) is holding public hearings this Thursday and Friday.

These public hearings include:

  1. The CEO of the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) appearing as part of the procurement at Services Australia and the National Disability Insurance Agency inquiry.
  2. The Secretary of the Department of Health is appearing for the inquiry into probity and ethics in the Australian public sector.
  3. The first public hearings kicking off the new policy and program design and implementation inquiry.

Chair of the Committee, Julian Hill MP, highlighted the importance of starting the year strongly with the examination of the agencies involved in the current committee inquiries.

“The committee was concerned by evidence received last year in a public hearing with vendor Salesforce regarding procurement at the NDIA arising from the Watt Review," Mr Hill said. "The CEO of the NDIA will appear so the committee can examine issues arising, to the extent possible, while further internal investigations continue.

“The Secretary of the Department of Health will appear to explore issues arising from the Department of Health’s earlier appearance in 2023, and the subsequent hearing with the Australian Government Solicitor.

“The committee will kick-off public hearings in the program and policy design implementation inquiry to investigate serious findings across the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), Home Affairs, Treasury, Agriculture, Education and Health and Aged Care to understand the larger issues at play.”

For context, these first public hearings for the policy and program design and implementation inquiry will include:

Thursday

  • A roundtable with the ATO, the Department of Home Affairs, and the Department of Treasury will appear to examine the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) report No. 39 of 2022–23 Implementation of the Government Response to the Black Economy Taskforce report.
  • The Department of Home Affairs will appear to discuss the ANAO report No. 16 of 2022–23 Management of Migration to Australia—Family Migration Program report.

Friday

  • The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry will appear to examine the following reports:​
    • ANAO report No. 6 of 2022–23 Implementation of the Export Control Legislative Framework report; and
    • ANAO report No. 17 of 2022–23 Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry’s cultural reform report.
  • The Department of Education will appear to examine the ANAO report No. 42 of 2022–23 Access and Participation Programs for Regional and Remote Students report.
  • The Department of Health and Aged Care will appear to examine the ANAO report No. 10 of 2022–23 Expansion of Telehealth Services report.

Public hearing details

Date:              Thursday 1 February 2024Time:             1pm–5pm (AEDT)Venue:           Committee Room 2R1, Parliament House, Canberra

Date:              Friday 2 February 2024Time:              9.15am–3pm (AEDT)Venue:           Committee Room 2R1, Parliament House, Canberra

 

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Australia’s road infrastructure at a crossroads

THE House of Representatives Standing Committee on Regional Development, Infrastructure and Transport has today tabled the report for its inquiry into the implications of severe weather events on the national regional, rural, and remote road network.

Chair of the Committee, Luke Gosling OAM, MP, said, "The severe weather events over the past few years have taken a tremendous toll on our road network and our nation. The unprecedented scale and intensity of floods, torrential downpours, and bushfires have caused catastrophic damage to our road infrastructure, exposing its vulnerability against severe weather events and a changing climate.

"Our communities and supply chain networks are heavily reliant upon a safe and functional road network to ensure connectivity and access to health and other essential services, food, fuel, and other resources. We have reached the crossroads of changing climate risks, socio-economic growth, and long-term resilience."

The 26 recommendations made by the committee complement the Australian Government’s announcement to double the Roads to Recovery Program funding over the next four years and aim to build nationally resilient road infrastructure including:

  • collaboration across all levels of government to develop road asset infrastructure resilience guidelines, planning and investment frameworks, and address existing road asset data gaps;
  • engagement across all levels of government, the scientific community, and industry to revise national road design and construction standards and incorporate innovative and recycled road materials and technologies;
  • a review of local government funding allocation to support asset maintenance works under the Australian Government’s Infrastructure Investment Program;
  • consider the distribution of local government Financial Assistance Grant program road component funding;
  • an assessment of betterment access and claims approvals under Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements; and
  • embedding resilience design and construction procurement requirements under the new Federation Funding Agreements on transport infrastructure.

Further information in relation to the inquiry and a full list of its recommendations is available from the Committee’s website.

 

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