Additional Estimates - Report to the Senate
On 10 February
2005 the Senate referred to the Committee for examination and
report the particulars of Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2004-2005 and
Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2004-2005. It also referred to the Committee the
statement of savings expected in annual appropriations, together with the Final
Budget Outcome 2003-04 and the Issues from the Advance to the Finance Minister
as a final charge for the year ended 30
Evidence was received from Senator the Hon Nick Minchin
representing the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources,
Senator the Hon Helen Coonan, representing the Treasurer and the Minister for
Revenue and Assistant Treasurer, and officers from the Industry,
Tourism and Resources and Treasury
portfolios. The Committee thanks the ministers and officers who attended the
hearings for their assistance.
The Committee conducted two days of hearings, on 16 and
17 February, and examined the Industry, Tourism and Resources
portfolio and the Treasury portfolio. In total
the Committee met for 21 hours and 18 minutes, excluding breaks.
Questions on notice
The Committee draws the attention of all departments
and agencies to the deadline of Monday, 4 April 2005 for the receipt of answers to questions taken
on notice from this round. As the Committee is required to report before
responses to questions are due, this report has been prepared without reference
to any of these responses.
Record of proceedings
This report does not attempt to summarise the evidence
presented over the two days of hearings. However, it does include a brief list
of the issues that were traversed by the Committee for both portfolios.
Copies of the Hansard transcript are available through
the internet at http://www.aph.gov.au/hansard/senate/commttee/s-econ.htm.
Copies are also tabled with this report for the information of the Senate.
Matters raised - Industry, Tourism and Resources portfolio
Within the Industry, Tourism and Resources portfolio,
the Committee questioned Tourism Australia,
the department and Geoscience Australia.
It was suggested that in future estimates hearings, the
Committee would segment the portfolio into three separate groupings: Industry;
Resources; and Tourism. This may alleviate the problem, faced by the Committee,
of questions crossing over areas of responsibility and members not being able
to maintain a consistent line of questioning.
Matters examined include the following:
- operational spending and internal costs of
- staffing issues, including levels, locations and
- marketing campaigns and promotions run by
- airline routes between Australia and overseas
markets, namely the North Pacific route;
- ecotourism and the national tourism
accreditation scheme; and
- process of selection and appointment of the
of Industry, Tourism and Resources
- Small Business Incubators and their occupants;
- corporate reporting systems and a new computer
system enabling companies to access AusIndustry programs;
- feasibility study undertaken in respect of the
Australia-China free trade agreement and implications for Australia's
- feasibility studies for the Australia-Malaysia
free trade agreement and past agreements with the United States of America and
- review of infrastructure constraints within the
- issues relating to skills shortages in the manufacturing
sector, construction of a pulp mill in Tasmania, and a space centre proposal
and phosphate mine development on Christmas Island;
- negotiations between Australia and East Timor in
relation to permanent maritime boundaries, revenue from the Greater Sunrise
field, and management of the joint petroleum development area;
- latest developments with Snytroleum regarding
repayment of interest and rights of the Commonwealth to a technology licence;
- Biofuels Capital Grants Program and the
production of ethanol;
- presentation of a paper and a PowerPoint
presentation on stem cell research by an officer of Biotechnology Australia;
- Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme pricing measure
and implications for generic medicines; and
- the Commercial Ready program.
- agency's involvement in the detection of the
Indian Ocean tsunami on 26 December 2004; and
- establishment of an early warning detection
system for the Indian Ocean.
Matters raised - Treasury portfolio
the Treasury portfolio, the Committee questioned the Australian Securities and
Investments Commission (ASIC) and the Australian Prudential Regulation
Authority on the evening of 16
February 2005. The
department and other agencies were examined the following day.
was represented at the hearings only by its commissioners. A senator expressed
frustration that this prevented the Committee from obtaining sufficiently
detailed answers to questions.
examined include the following:
Securities and Investments Commission
- regulation of property spruikers' activities;
- penalty fees charged by banks; and
- superannuation choice-of-fund regime, with
particular reference to advice on choice of funds, switching between funds, and
DIY superannuation funds.
Prudential Regulation Authority
- mortgage insurance in respect to lending
- superannuation, including the new superannuation
choice-of-fund regime, defined benefit funds, grandfathered assets, and policy
Competition and Consumer Commission
- planned rollout by Telstra of a fibre optic
- component price advertising as a form of
- insurance and tort law reform;
- property spruiking;
- unfair contracts;
- petrol price monitoring; and
- tobacco advertising and the use of the
descriptive terms 'mild' and 'light'.
- mass marketed schemes and settlements policy;
- superannuation surcharge tax and unfunded
defined benefit superannuation schemes;
- possible abuse by organisations of their status
as registered gift deductible recipients; and
- implementation of the new superannuation
- costing of mature age workers' tax break;
- Treasury's estimates of revenue;
- Wine Equalisation Tax rebates offered to New
- tax rates and the effects on family tax
- costing of Future Fund and unfunded public
sector superannuation liabilities;
- relationship between interest rates and housing,
consumption and economic growth; and
- the current account deficit.
Senator George Brandis
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