On 13 February 2014, the Senate referred the following documents to the
Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee (the committee)
for examination and report in relation to the Agriculture portfolio and the
Infrastructure and Regional Development portfolio,:
- particulars of proposed expenditure in respect of the year ending
30 June 2014 [Appropriation Bill (No.3) 2013-14]; and
- particulars of certain proposed expenditure in respect of the year
ending on 30 June 2014 [Appropriation Bill (No.4) 2013-14].
The committee is required to report to the Senate on its consideration
of 2013‑14 additional estimates on 18 March 2014.
Variation of portfolios
On 12 November 2013, the Senate amended the continuing order relating to
the allocation of departments and agencies to committees.
The change of allocations reflected the Prime Minister's announcement regarding
the machinery of government changes.
Additional Estimates hearings
The committee considered the Portfolio Budget Statements 2013-14 for all
portfolios at hearings on 24 and 25 February 2014. The hearings were conducted
in accordance with the agreed agenda as follows:
- Monday 24 February – Infrastructure and Regional Development; and
- Tuesday 25 February – Agriculture.
The committee heard evidence from:
- Senator the Hon David Johnston, representing the Minister for
Infrastructure and Regional Development,
- Senator the Hon Eric Abetz, representing the Minister for
- Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck, Parliamentary Secretary to the
Minister for Agriculture.
Evidence was also provided by:
- Mr Mike Mrdak, Secretary of the Department of Infrastructure and
Dr Paul Grimes, Secretary of the Department of Agriculture;
- officers representing the departments and agencies covered by the
estimates before the committee.
The committee thanks the ministers, departmental secretaries and
officers for their assistance and cooperation during the hearings.
Changes to departmental structures
Under the Administrative Order of 18 September 2013, the Department of
Infrastructure and Transport was renamed the Department of Infrastructure and
Regional Development. The Department of Regional Australia, Local Government,
Arts and Sport was abolished with functions relating to regional development,
local government and territories being transferred to the Department of
Infrastructure and Regional Development. The relevant outcomes relating to
these functions are Outcomes 3 and 4.
The Sugar Research and Development Corporation (SRDC) closed on
30 September 2013 with functions, assets and research being transferred to the
industry-owned company Sugar Research Australia. The Agriculture portfolio
roles and responsibilities have not changed since the publication of the
2013-14 Portfolio Budget Statements.
Questions on notice
In accordance with Standing Order 26, the committee is required to set a
date for the lodgement of written answers and additional information. The
committee resolved that written answers and additional information be submitted
by 17 April 2014.
Answers to questions taken on notice at the committee's Additional Estimates
hearings will be tabled in the Senate in separate volumes entitled 'Additional
information relating to the examination of Additional Estimates 2013-14 February 2014,
Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee'.
Documents not suitable for inclusion in the additional information volumes will
be available on request from the committee secretariat.
Answers to questions on notice received from the departments will also
be posted on the committee's website at a later date.
Note on references
References to the Hansard transcript are to the proof Hansard; page
numbers may vary between the proof and the official Hansard transcript.
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