On 08 February 2006,
the Senate referred to the Committee the examination of estimates of proposed additional
expenditure for the financial year 2005-2006. The Committee is responsible for
the examination of the Attorney-General’s portfolio and the Immigration and Multicultural
The Committee was required to report on its consideration of
the additional budget estimates on or before 29 March 2006.
The Committee met in public session on 13, 14, 17 and 27
February 2006 for a total of 29 hours 05 minutes.
The Hansard of the proceedings records the examination of
estimates and may be accessed through the internet at:
The Hansard is also available on the Parliamentary database.
An index of the Hansard for each portfolio appears at
Appendix 1 and Appendix 2.
The Committee heard evidence from Senator the Hon
Minister for Justice and Customs who represented the Attorney-General and from
Senator the Hon Amanda
Vanstone, Minister for Immigration and
Officers from both departments and associated agencies also
appeared. The Committee thanks Ministers and officers for their assistance.
Questions on Notice
The Committee notes that the Standing Orders require the
Committee to set dates for the lodgement of any written answers or additional
information and for supplementary hearings. The Committee resolved that the
deadline for the submission of written answers and additional information by
both portfolios would be close of business on Friday, 31 March 2006.
In this report, the Committee draws the attention of the
Senate to issues and concerns raised over the four days on which hearings were
held. These included:
Minister Ellison advised the committee that the
government had directed officers not to answer questions directed to them
concerning the Cole commission of inquiry into certain Australian companies in
relation to the United Nations (UN) Oil-for-Food programme, pending the
completion of the commission's hearings.
Both the Attorney-General's Department (AGD) and
the Australian Federal Police (AFP) were questioned in relation to documents
supplied to them concerning the actions of certain "undisclosed persons."
Officers were further questioned as to how, and under what circumstances,
section 72 of the Constitution, (pertaining to the removal of Federal Justices)
might be activated.
The committee inquired into the funding arrangements
under which the National Community Crime Prevention Program operated. A number
of questions were asked, with some taken on notice by officials, specifically concerning
an application for grant funding by Hillsong Emerge.
Both Minister Vanstone and the Secretary of the
Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs made opening statements to
the committee. The statements outlined, amongst a number of other subjects, the
department's progress in implementing the recommendations of the Palmer Inquiry.
At the conclusion of Mr Metcalfe's opening remarks, a document was tabled for
the benefit of the committee, detailing the status of a series of initiatives
being implemented as a result of the Palmer inquiry.
The committee sought information on the initial
mental health screening of detainees, the composition and membership of the
detention health advisory group and the provision of any necessary follow up
mental health care.
Officers were also extensively questioned
concerning the provision of Integrated Humanitarian Settlement Services (IHSS)
in the Newcastle area and the death in November 2005, of Richard Niyonsaba,
shortly after he and his family arrived in Australia following their acceptance
as Burundian refugees from Western Tanzania.
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