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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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Governor Bullock to make first appearance before House Economics Committee

THE House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics will hold its biannual public hearing with the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), Michelle Bullock, on Friday, February 9.

This will be Ms Bullock’s first appearance before the committee, with additional Bank representatives also appearing.

Committee Chair, Daniel Mulino MP, said, "The RBA’s decision at its latest meeting this week saw another pause in interest rate rises — no doubt welcome news for many Australians, including mortgage holders."

Inflation fell to 4.1 percent in the year to December, its lowest level in two years.

"The ABS has shown that our cost-of-living polices across energy bills, rents and childcare are helping, but inflation is still too high," Dr Mulino said.

"The committee takes its scrutiny of the RBA seriously and will continue to examine the bank’s approach to tackling high inflation. The committee is interested to hear how the RBA will factor in future data and evolving risks as it continues to support a return to the target inflation rate."

Public hearing details

Date: Friday, 9 February 2024Time: 9.30am – 12.30pm (AEDT)Location: Committee Room 2R1, Parliament House, Canberra

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

 

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Joint Statement on the implementation of recommendations from the Set the Standard report

TODAY, on the second anniversary of the adoption of the Set the Standard report, we acknowledge that an unacceptably high rate of people, particularly women, in Commonwealth Parliamentary Workplaces have experienced bullying, sexual harassment, or actual or attempted sexual assault at work.

This misconduct is unacceptable, and we acknowledge the grave impact it had or continues to have on previous and current staff.

For two years, the Parliamentary Leadership Taskforce has led the implementation of the Set the Standard reforms. The Parliament thanks the Taskforce for their continuous work and leadership.

Today, we recommit the Parliament to positive change, and acknowledge achievements to date, including:

  • Establishing the Parliamentary Workplace Support Service as a statutory body, offering independent and confidential support to everyone in Commonwealth parliamentary workplaces.
  • Reforms to modernise the Members of Parliament Act to ensure employees are protected from discrimination, as well as refreshed professional development and improved management practices.
  • Undertaking reviews to further enhance inclusivity and dignity of access of Commonwealth parliamentary workplaces.
  • Endorsing clear and consistent Codes of Conduct with consultations on the proposed Independent Parliamentary Standards Commission expected to commence shortly.
  • Supporting the health and wellbeing of parliamentarians and staff with enhanced wellbeing services.
  • Improving work health and safety, with a new framework to manage shared risks.
  • Additional professional development opportunities to support leaders at all levels, particularly induction programs and training on safe and respectful workplaces.

While significant progress has been made, the journey towards truly respectful and inclusive Commonwealth parliamentary workplaces is ongoing.

Cultural change will only come with the goodwill of parliamentarians. We must remain committed to building a workplace reflecting the nation’s values and expectations, ensuring the safety and wellbeing of everyone who works in, and supports the Parliament of Australia.

 

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Australia's approach to trade negotiations: interim report published

THE Joint Standing Committee on Trade and Investment Growth has released its interim report into the Australian Government’s approach to negotiating trade and investment agreements, examining how the process can be strengthened to build on Australia’s success as a trading nation and ensure agreements are of the greatest benefit for all Australians.

Australia’s agreements reduce barriers to international trade and investment for Australian goods and services, playing an important role in creating well-paid and secure jobs, improving our economic resilience, and contributing to economic growth and increased living standards.

Throughout the inquiry to date, the Committee has heard about the immense benefits of Australia’s participation in international trade, as well as the need to consider the potential effect of agreements on a wide range of stakeholders and how the benefits of trade are shared.

Chair of the Committee, Steve Georganas MP, said, “Australia’s approach to negotiating trade and investment agreements has served us well, however the Committee has sought to understand how the approach could be improved to ensure agreements are of greatest benefit to the Australian community.

“It’s evident to the Committee that more transparent consultation processes will allow increased understanding of the impact of trade agreements on stakeholders and that better utilising their insights and expertise can contribute to improved negotiation outcomes for Australia.”

The interim report makes five recommendations focussed on strengthening Australia’s approach by improving transparency, accountability, and oversight in the negotiation of trade and investment agreements. These include:

  • Establishing a tripartite trade advisory committee to achieve a better balance between transparency and confidentiality in negotiations, enabling in-depth and informed feedback to government.
  • Codifying the practice of publishing information outlining negotiation aims and objectives for all future trade and investment agreement negotiations.
  • Providing transparency and information to stakeholders and the public about negotiations equivalent to the information provided by the other party.
  • Regular briefings to parliamentary committees on the status and progress of trade and investment agreements.
  • Undertaking independent periodic reviews of agreements to ensure that they are operating as intended and achieving the expected benefits.

In the final report, the Committee will cover the remaining inquiry Terms of Reference.

So far during the inquiry, the Committee has held six public hearings in Canberra and Melbourne, in addition to receiving 54 written submissions from businesses, unions, industry associations, government agencies, community groups and individuals. The Committee will hear more evidence before the inquiry concludes.

The Committee has thanked people who have taken part in the inquiry by providing written submissions and giving evidence at public hearings. The Committee said it was looking forward to engaging further with stakeholders as it continues the inquiry and will provide a final report in due course.

The interim report can be found on the Committee’s ​inquiry webpage.

 

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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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