Business News Releases

Audit Committee Public Hearings: Hunter Class Frigates, Defence Major Projects and Commonwealth Financial Statements

THE Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit (JCPAA) will hold public hearings on Friday, May 19, for its inquiries into the Major Projects Reports and Hunter Class Frigates, and the Commonwealth Financial Statements 2021-22

The JCPAA will welcome representatives from the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO), the Department of Defence and the Department of Finance to discuss issues arising from and related to the 2020-21 and 2021-22 Major Projects Report and Defence’s procurement of the Hunter Class Frigates.

The committee will also be considering the scope and guidelines of the Major Projects Report to ensure that it continues to support transparency in reporting Defence acquisitions.

“The Auditor-General’s report on Defence’s procurement of the Hunter Class Frigates is deeply concerning. Given the seriousness of the concerns the Committee initiated this inquiry less than 24 hours after the tabling of the report and has scheduled initial public hearings for Friday 19 May.” said Committee Chair, Julian Hill MP.

The JCPAA will also continue its program of public hearings for its inquiry into Commonwealth Financial Statements with evidence from the Attorney-General’s Department, the Australian Signal Directorate and the ANAO on cyber security arrangements and controls.

Mr Hill noted that safeguarding Australian Government information from cyber threats is a continuing and critical issue of concern across the public sector and was an area of interest to the ANAO during its recent financial statements audit.

“The committee is keen to explore ANAO’s findings relating to the implementation of the Protective Security Policy Framework to support cyber resilience in Commonwealth entities” Mr Hill said.

Public hearing details

Date: Friday 19 May 2023Time: 9.30am – 3pmVenue: Committee Room 2R1, Parliament House, Canberra (9.30am-12.45pm)Committee Room 1S5, Parliament House, Canberra (1.30pm-3pm)

Further information about the inquiries is available on the Committee website.



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Audit Committee to examine ‘Watt Review’ procurements related to Synergy 360 activities

THE Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit (JCPAA) has initiated a new inquiry to examine the findings of the Watt review into procurement at Services Australia and the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).

The inquiry will focus on the matters contained in or related to the Independent Review of Services Australia and NDIA Procurement and Contracting (the Watt Review) arising from media reports concerning the activities of government advisory firm Synergy 360.

The issues raised by the Watt Review were being considered as part of the current inquiry into Commonwealth procurement, but following initial hearings the Chair of the Committee, Julian Hill MP, said, "The revelations from the initial public hearings raised serious concerns regarding the expenditure of public funds in the NDIA and Services Australia under the previous government, as well as the conduct of parties associated with these procurements,” Mr Hill said.

“The committee concluded that these issues warrant examination in a fresh inquiry to properly explore the serious issues.

“In the interests of transparency the committee has also released a trove of emails referred to in public hearings that fuelled the media reports that led to the Watt Review.”

The new inquiry will have access to all evidence and materials received during the course of the previous inquiry.

The committee has invited submissions from interested parties by June 6, 2023.

Further information is available on the inquiry website.



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Economics committee to hear from former ACCC Chair, economists and market design experts

THE House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics will hear from a range of experts in competition law, experimental economics and market design on Thursday, May 18, via videoconference as part of the committee’s inquiry into promoting economic dynamism, competition and business formation.

Committee Chair, Daniel Mulino MP, said, “Innovative market designs have been shown to lead to life-changing, and even life-saving, results, so the committee is looking forward to hearing from pioneering economists in this field, including CalTech’s Professor Charlie Plott; UQ’s Professor Flavio Menezes and John Quiggin; and the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Market Design (Professors Simon Loertscher and David Byrne, and Gary Stoneham)."

Dr Mulino said market design could lead to increases in quality of life while simultaneously providing better value for a range of government spending areas.

“A local example is a bus transport pilot for students attending the Northern School of Autism," he said. "Students were travelling up to two hours each way and missing classes. The long travel times increased the students’ anxiety, which led to increased tension among families.

“Market design economists used algorithms to devise a scheme that determined the optimal travel route; the optimal vehicle size; and the prices at which services were provided within the parameters of a maximum travel time of one hour each way. The result was happier children and families for no additional cost to government.”

Dr Mulino said 'matching markets' was another type of market design “and a great example is the kidney exchange system, which has saved many more lives following its implementation”.

‘‘Market design theory can be applied to Australia’s economy in a variety of ways — whether that be designing markets that are fair and efficient, mechanisms that encourage new entrants into the market and prevent collusion, as well as developing platforms and marketplaces that facilitate these transactions," Dr Mulin said.

Market design can also substantially improve procurement outcomes. This could be of direct relevance to a number of quasi markets that have been established for the provision of social services.

The committee has looked at a number of issues relating to market concentration and competition issues more broadly.

Dr Mulino said competition and merger law was another complex area, and the committee was looking forward to hearing from former ACCC Chair Professor Allan Fels AO and other competition law experts, including Professor Deborah Healey (UNSW) and Dr Rhonda Smith (the University of Melbourne) on their experiences and ideas for ways to improve competition, foster economic dynamism and increase productivity.

More details about the inquiry and upcoming public hearings, including the full terms of reference, are available on the committee’s website.

Public hearing details

Date: Thursday 18 MayTime: 9.30am to 2.45pm AESTvia VIDEOCONFERENCE

The public hearing will be broadcast live at



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Regional 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 at the Gold Coast for its inquiry into Australia’s tourism and international education sectors.

The Subcommittee will hear evidence from the international education sector including higher education, ELICOS and VET representatives as well as from an international student tour business. Gold Coast tourism and events organisations will provide evidence to the Subcommittee as well as the Queensland Department of Tourism and the Queensland Tourism Industry Council.

The Chair of the Trade Subcommittee, Senator Deborah O’Neill said, "The public hearing on the Gold Coast will take the committee away from capital cities and shift the focus to tourism and international education sectors in regional locations."

Senator O’Neill noted the importance of "hearing from regional and non-capital city voices as these experiences and needs may vary from capital city counterparts".

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

Public hearings details

Gold CoastDate: Wednesday, 17 May 2023Venue: Anna Rose Room, TAFE Queensland Robina Campus, 94 Laver Drive, RobinaTime: 8:30am – 5pm (AEST)




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Workforce Australia Employment Services Committee continues hearings

THE Select Committee on Workforce Australia Employment Services will continue its inquiry at a public hearing in Canberra on Wednesday,  May 17, with a focus on First Nations peoples, people with disability, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and people with experience of the justice system.

The committee will hear from peak and representative bodies and government agencies, as well as from organisations representing the social enterprise and social ventures sector.

Committee Chair, Julian Hill MP, said, "It's a myth that all unemployed people are ready to work or able to do the jobs available. In fact, the data shows a giant mismatch between what employers are seeking and the enormously complex caseload of unemployed people including skills gaps, disabilities and illness.

"There is strong evidence that the current system has failed to invest in people and is not adapted to their diverse needs, backgrounds, and circumstances," he said.

"Trotting out stereotypes of ‘dole bludgers’ who should just ‘get a job’ will get a headline but won’t actually change anything. Long-term unemployment won’t be reduced without understanding the actual experiences of people.

"Listening is critical so we can make recommendations for a future employment services system that meets the needs of all Australians. Many people argue that social enterprises can contribute much more to helping the most disadvantaged jobseekers to remain engaged and prepare for employment in the open market’.

Further information about the inquiry, including Terms of Reference, future public hearings, published submissions and hearing transcripts, is available on the inquiry website.

Public hearing details

Date              17 May 2023Time              8.45am – 3pmLocation      Committee Room 1R3, Parliament House, Canberra                           and by videoconferenceWitnesses  Australian Council of Social Service                          Economic Justice Australia                          National Indigenous Australians Agency                          Department of Employment and Workplace Relations                          Coalition of Peaks                          Settlement Council of Australia                          Social Ventures Australia                          Social Enterprise Australia                          Justice Reform Initiative                          Western Australian Association for Mental Health

The hearing will be live broadcast via the Parliament’s Watch, Read, Listen website.



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