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Human rights, women’s safety stakeholders to give evidence to inquiry on women and children’s rights

THE Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (JSCFADT) Human Rights Subcommittee will hear from human rights advocates and women’s safety stakeholders in a public hearing to be held today (12 April 2023) in Camperdown, Sydney.

Chair of the Human Rights Subcommittee, Maria Vamvakinou MP said, "We have recently heard evidence detailing the increase of human rights abuses of women and children in recent years, including the prevalence of acid attacks, rape as a weapon of war, and orphanage trafficking.

"After hearing from government agencies recently, the committee is eager to hear from those working in the sector to learn what they’re seeing and what can be done."

Ms Vamvakinou said the Subcommittee intended to hold additional hearings in coming months to support its work on the inquiry.

Submissions to the inquiry were due by Friday, December 16, 2022; however, late submissions may be considered. Submissions containing graphic material will not be accepted to the inquiry. Submissions should be lodged online using a My Parliament account.

Further information in relation to the inquiry is available from the JSCFADT’s website.

Hearing details

Time: 9.15am to 1.15pm (AEDT)​Venue: Auditorium, F23 Administration Building, University of Sydney, Camperdown NSW



Public hearing on National Redress Scheme

 THE Joint Standing Committee on Implementation of the National Redress Scheme will be holding a public hearing tomorrow for an inquiry into the National Redress Scheme.

Commencing at 10:15am, the committee will hear evidence from Knowmore Legal Services, Tuart Place and the Department of Social Services.

The program is available on the committee’s website.

The inquiry is looking into a range of areas, including:

  • The experience of First Nations applicants and applicants with disability in their dealings with the Scheme.
  • Accessibility, performance and effectiveness of support services and legal advice for survivors and their advocates.

The committee is continuing to accept submissions from interested individuals and organisations on the inquiry’s terms of reference on the committee’s website.

discussion paper, an easy English guide and a short video about the inquiry is available on Facebook or YouTube

Public hearing details

Wednesday 12 April 202310:15am to around 12:45pm (Canberra time)Committee Room 2S1, Parliament House, Canberra

The hearing will be audio and video streamed at 



Public hearing on national security bill

THE Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security will hear evidence tomorrow from a range of witnesses for its Review of the National Security Legislation Amendment (Comprehensive Review and Other Measures No. 2) Bill 2023.

The committee will hear from witnesses including Dr Brendan Walker-Munro, the Commonwealth Ombudsman, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, ASIO, the Department of Home Affairs and the Attorney-General’s Department.

“The committee is undertaking a review of the bill on referral from the Attorney-General.” PJCIS Chair Peter Khalil MP said.  

“The Australian Government has been implementing recommendations of the Comprehensive Review of the Legal Framework of the National Intelligence Community (known as the Richardson Review) since its completion in December 2019. This bill would implement a further 10 of those recommendations, across several Commonwealth Acts, related to the Attorney-General’s portfolio. The bill also proposes amendments to the Intelligence Service Act 2001 regarding the number of members and composition of the PJCIS, as well as changes to Ministerial directions issued by the Foreign Minister to the Australian Secret Intelligence Service.

“Careful consideration of the various changes proposed in the bill reflects a central role of the PJCIS, in providing assurance to Parliament that these amendments will be appropriate, proportionate and well considered.” Mr Khalil said.

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

Public Hearing Details

Tuesday, 11 April 202310.45am – 3pm (AEST)Committee Room 2R1, Parliament House, Canberra

A program for the hearing can be found here and the hearing will be broadcast live at



PJCIS to consider Comprehensive Review and Other Measures Bill No. 2

The Bill also proposes to amend the Intelligence Services Act 2001 (IS Act) to provide certainty regarding the level of detail required to describe the directed activities in a Ministerial direction to the Australian Secret Intelligence Service under paragraph 6(1)(e) of the IS Act. In addition the bill proposes amendments to the IS Act on the composition and associated quorum requirements of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS).

Peter Khalil MP, Chair of the PJCIS said, “The committee’s (PJCIS) review of this national security Bill is an important Parliamentary oversight of the implementation of the recommendations of the Richardson Review. The PJCIS review process adds an extra layer of assurance that these changes are not only appropriate but will not have unintended impacts.”

The Attorney-General has requested that the committee report by the end of April 2023. Accordingly, submissions to the inquiry are invited by midday on Thursday, April 6, 2023. The committee acknowledges the very tight timeframe requested for submissions and appreciates all efforts to support the committee with its review.

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



Report released on assistance to stranded Australians during COVID-19

COMMITTEE Chair, Julian Hill MP today tabled the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit‘s report on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's (DFAT) crisis management arrangements during COVID-19.

The committee examined DFAT's role in facilitating the return of Australians who had been stranded overseas during the pandemic due to border closures and travel restrictions, based on a performance audit of this response by the Australian National Audit Office.

The committee expressed deep concern regarding DFAT’s evidence that no advice was provided to inform certain public statements made by Ministers in the previous government during the pandemic.

“This led to confusing and misleading public messaging to stranded Australians in 2020 and 2021, and underscores the responsibility of government ministers to ensure they are informed by sensible and evidence-based advice before making public commitments in such sensitive areas,” Mr Hill said.

“The committee also considers that more could and should have been done by the Commonwealth to provide adequate quarantine facilities later in the pandemic. This was one of the key constraints upon DFAT’s ability to bring stranded Australians home.”

The committee made several unanimous recommendations aimed at strengthening the Australian Government's future crisis response, and ensuring that lessons learned from COVID-19 would be incorporated into existing frameworks, including that:

  • the government formally respond to the 2021 Halton review into hotel quarantine arrangements
  • human rights considerations be incorporated into the Australian Government Crisis Management Framework, and
  • the Auditor-General consider an audit of the updated version of this Framework.

Mr Hill commended the department for its ongoing dedication to assisting Australians across the globe, saying that “it is important that DFAT and the wider Australian Public Service learn from the unprecedented global crisis that COVID-19 posed, so that the Australian Government will be better prepared to assist our most vulnerable citizens during future crises".

The committee focused on matters relating to DFAT's data capability, response coordination, assistance for vulnerable Australians, and procurement practices under the crisis management framework.

The report is available on the Committee’s website.



Proposed constitutional reform legislation referred to new Joint Select Committee

The proposed provisions to amend the Constitution by referendum have been referred to the newly established Joint Select Committee on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice Referendum for inquiry and review.

The Constitution Alteration (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice) 2023 (Bill), introduced to the House by Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus MP, would – if passed at a referendum – amend the Constitution to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of Australia.

It would also establish the Voice, intended to be an enduring institution to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can make representations to the Commonwealth Parliament and the Executive Government on matters that relate to them, improving the development and implementation of laws and policies.

Committee Chair Senator Nita Green said, "The government has now released the legislation which will ultimately be the mechanism to change the Constitution once it has been taken to the Australian public. This is a critical opportunity for the Parliament to examine the legislative provisions and hear from experts to ensure that the bill gives effect to the creation of the Voice.

"The committee is focused on the question of whether the legislative provisions achieve what is intended and give effect to the Government’s stated objectives before it moves to referendum," Senator Green said.

The committee has invited written submissions addressing the provisions of the bill. Submissions to the inquiry must be prepared solely for the inquiry and should not be published prior to being accepted by the committee.

"Prospective submitters should note that the committee does not intend to accept submissions that do not specifically address the provisions of the bill," Senator Green said.

Submissions are requested by COB Friday, April 21, 2023. Further information about making a submission to a committee inquiry can be found at the following link.

The committee intends to hold public hearings. The dates and locations of hearings will be decided shortly and published as soon as possible, a spokesperson said.

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



Audit Committee bonanza: Public hearings for three Commonwealth expenditure inquiries

THE Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit (JCPAA) will hold public hearings this week for its inquiries into Commonwealth procurement, Commonwealth Grants Administration and the Commonwealth Financial Statements 2021-22.

THURSDAY: Procurement Inquiry wrapping up

Thursday 30 March 2023Time: 8am – 9amVenue: Committee Room 2R1, Parliament House, Canberra

The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) and the Community and Public Sector Union will appear before the JCPAA to further discuss concerns about contract management by the Department of Home Affairs. This hearing will allow the Committee to sum up the broader evidence received throughout the inquiry in what is likely to be the last hearing.

FRIDAY: Grants Administration Inquiry continues

Friday 31 March 2023Time: 8.30am – 10amVenue: Committee Room 2R1, Parliament House, Canberra

On Friday, JCPAA will welcome the Department of Finance and the ANAO for the final hearing for the inquiry into Commonwealth Grants Administration. The Committee will consider questions on the effectiveness of the Commonwealth Grants Rules and Guidelines and best practice in the administration of grants programs.

FRIDAY: Commonwealth Financial Statements Inquiry kicks off

Friday 31 March 2023Time: 10:15am – 12:30pmVenue: Committee Room 2R1, Parliament House, Canberra

Also on Friday, the JCPAA will commence public hearings for its inquiry into the Commonwealth Financial Statements. Key themes to be explored include:

  • ANAO concerns regarding Defence’s use of appropriations
  • Financial sustainability of government departments, in the context of media reports that the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry is “on the cusp of requiring a financial bailout”, and concerns regarding the Department of Home Affairs.

Committee Chair, Julian Hill MP, noted that these themes were just two of many matters raised in the ANAO’s audit findings from its review of the financial statements.

"The committee has a particular interest in understanding how Commonwealth entities are managing their financial resources to meet their present and future funding commitments," Mr Hill said.

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



Online gambling companies and major sporting codes to appear before parliamentary committee

THE House Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs will hold public hearings on Tuesday, April 4 and Wednesday, April 5 as part of its inquiry into online gambling and its impacts on those experiencing gambling harm.

Chair of the committee, Peta Murphy MP, said, “On Tuesday, we will question Sportsbet, Tabcorp and Entain (operator of brands Ladbrokes and Neds), and the peak industry body Responsible Wagering Australia, about whether industry is doing enough to limit the harm of online gambling in the Australian community.”

“Research released last week by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) shows that Australians support greater restrictions on gambling advertising, and that gambling advertising encourages people to gamble and to do so in more risky ways.

“The AFL and NRL are major beneficiaries of sports betting, including through sponsorship and advertising, and receiving a proportion of each bet placed on their games. The Committee is interested in hearing how this aligns with the promotion of their codes as family-friendly and socially responsible organisations.” Ms Murphy said.

Also appearing on April 4 are the Australian Banking Association, the Australian Lottery and Newsagents Association, The Lottery Corporation, the Department of Social Services, the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts, and the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

On Wednesday, March 5, the committee will hear from the AIFS about their new research findings.

Programs for the committee’s upcoming hearings are available on the inquiry website here.

The hearings will be live streamed on the APH website:

Public hearing details

Date: Tuesday, 4 April 2023Time: 8:30am to 4:00pm AESTLocation: Committee Room 2R1, Parliament House, Canberra and via videoconference

Date: Wednesday, 5 April 2023Time: 2:00pm to 2:50pm AESTLocation: Via videoconference

Further information about the inquiry, including published submissions, hearing dates and transcripts, are available on the inquiry webpage.



Committee supports covert powers for Anti-Corruption Commission

THE Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) today presented its Advisory Report on Item 250 of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2022.

The report considers Item 250 of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2022, which was passed into law in December 2022.

Item 250 amended section 110A(1) of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 (TIA Act) to allow the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) access to stored communications and telecommunications data.

The committee made seven recommendations in relation to the reform of Australia’s electronic surveillance framework, parliamentary privilege and security of information.

The committee noted that Item 250 gives a wide range of covert powers to the NACC and considered the effect of the use of these powers on parliamentary privilege. The committee recommended the Government ensure the protection of parliamentary privilege in relation to the use of covert powers in its Reform of Australia’s Electronic Surveillance Framework.

Further the Committee considered that the TIA Act should be expressly amended to ensure that the provisions of that Act do not abrogate parliamentary privilege.

The committee also recommended that, given the sensitivity of information to be collected and stored by the NACC, it should be required to comply with the Essential Eight Maturity Model to Maturity Level Three as recommended by the Australian Cyber Security Centre. Finally, the committee recommended that employees at the NACC hold a security clearance of at least Negative Vetting Level 1, with increased requirements up to Positive Vetting depending on their access to sensitive information.

Committee Chair Peter Khalil MP said, "The committee supports allowing what will be Australia’s premier anti-corruption agency the covert powers necessary to undertake its important work. The committee has recommended some additional measures to ensure that the NACC can operate effectively while ensuring necessary protections for parliamentary privilege, and for sensitive information.”

Further information on the inquiry as well as a copy of the report can be obtained from the Committee’s website.



‘War Powers’ Inquiry into international armed conflict decision making

Defence Subcommittee Chair, Julian Hill MP, said, “The power to declare war and send military personnel into conflict is arguably the most significant and serious institutional power, and the gravest decision a government can make.

“Through this inquiry, the committee has carefully and seriously considered fundamental questions regarding decision-making in relation to international armed conflict and parliamentary oversight, both preceding and during the commitment of the Australian Defence Force.

“The committee has concluded there is a clear need to improve the transparency and accountability of government decision-making in relation to armed conflict. Australia’s system of parliamentary democracy is likely to be kept healthy, effective, and well-adapted by making sensible changes that respect our well-established institutions and conventions," Mr Hill said.

“Accompanying recommended changes to the Cabinet Handbook and new Standing Resolutions of both Houses of Parliament, the government has an historic chance to exercise leadership and establish the Joint Statutory Committee on Defence to enhance Australia’s national security while providing increased parliamentary scrutiny of Defence.

“In 1988, Prime Minister Bob Hawke created the Parliamentary Joint Committee on ASIO, rejecting the advice of the Hope Royal Commission not to enhance parliamentary oversight of the intelligence agencies. History has proved he was right to do so, and the government is encouraged to emulate Prime Minister Hawke’s example and act to strengthen national security and enhance the accountability of Defence to the Parliament.

“The committee is convinced that greater transparency and parliamentary consideration of the decision to commit forces to an armed conflict can and must occur, and commends this report, on this most serious of subjects, to the Government”.

The committee’s recommendations are to:

  • Reaffirm that decisions regarding armed conflict are fundamentally a prerogative of the Executive, while acknowledging the key role of Parliament in considering such decisions, and the value of improving the transparency and accountability of such decision-making in the pursuit of national interests.
  • Amend the Cabinet Handbook to:
    • Restore the primacy of the Governor-General under Section 68 of the Australian Constitution to give effect to decisions of government in relation to war or warlike operations, particularly in relation to conflicts that are not supported by resolution by the United Nations Security Council, or an invitation of a sovereign nation
    • Require a written statement to be published and tabled in the Parliament setting out the objectives of major military operations, the orders made and legal basis
    • Require Parliament to be recalled as soon as possible to be advised and facilitate a debate in Parliament at the earliest opportunity following a ministerial statement, based on the 2010 Gillard model, including a statement of compliance with international law and advice as to the legality of an operation
  • Introduce Standing Resolutions of both Houses of Parliament to establish expectations of Executive Government in relation to accountability for decisions in relation to international armed conflict, including regular Statements and Updates from the Prime Minister and Minister for Defence.
  • Establish via legislation a new Joint Statutory Defence Committee, modelled on the Parliamentary Joint Committee for Intelligence and Security, able to receive classified information to improve parliamentary scrutiny of Defence strategy, policy, capability development acquisition and sustainment, contingency planning, and major operations.

Further information in relation to the inquiry is available from the JSCFADT’s website.



Treaties committee supports ratification of landmark convention on eliminating violence and harassment at work

THE Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) has recommended ratification of the International Law Organization Convention concerning the elimination of violence and harassment in the world of work (No 190).

The convention is the first international instrument that commits International Labour Organization (ILO) members to respect, promote and realise the right of everyone to a world of work that is free from violence and harassment, including gender-based violence and harassment.

JSCOT Chair Josh Wilson MP said, “Violence and harassment in the world of work is still far too common. In the five years prior to the 2022 Time for Respect Survey, 41 percent of women experienced sexual harassment at work in Australia.

"This convention offers a genuine opportunity for Australians to recognise that mutual respect and dignity are a central part of work, and to reduce the instances of violence and harassment in the workplace.”

The convention contains innovative provisions, including a world-first in international labour standards in the form of a comprehensive definition of violence and harassment in the world of work, including gender-based violence and harassment.

“In recent years, violence and harassment at work in Australia has been a major part of our national conversation and we have seen long-awaited improvements to our domestic law and policy," Mr Wilson said.

"The committee concluded that ratifying this first-of-its-kind convention would be an important milestone in Australia’s continuing efforts to respond to this issue.”

The convention covers all workers and other persons in the world of work, from full time employees to gig-economy workers, and from people who are in training or volunteering to workers who have lost their jobs.

The convention also covers work in public or private spaces, travelling to and from work, rest breaks, and work-related travel and training.

The report can be found on the Committee website, along with further information on the inquiry.



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