Chapter 1 - Additional Estimates 2023–24

Chapter 1Additional Estimates 2023–24


1.1On 7 February 2024 the Senate referred the following documents to the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee (the committee) for examination and report:

Particulars of the estimates proposed additional expenditure in respect of the year ending on 30 June 2024 [Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2023–24];

Particulars of certain proposed additional expenditure in respect of the year ending on 30 June 2024 [Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2023–24]; and

Final Budget Outcome 2023–24.[1]

1.2A reporting date of 19 March 2024 was set for the committee to report on its consideration of the 2023–24 Additional Estimates.[2]

Portfolio coverage

1.3The committee has responsibility for examining the expenditure and outcomes of the following:

Defence Portfolio (including Veterans’ Affairs); and

Foreign Affairs and Trade Portfolio.[3]

Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements 2023–24

1.4The Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements for 2023–24 for the Defence Portfolio, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Foreign Affairs and Trade Portfolio were tabled in the Senate on 7 February 2024.[4]

Questions on notice and Hansard transcripts

1.5In accordance with Standing Order 26, the committee has drawn the attention of the departments and their agencies to the agreed deadline of 5 April 2024 for the receipt of answers to questions taken on notice.

1.6Tabled documents from the hearings, along with responses to questions on notice and additional information provided to the committee, are tabled in the Senate and uploaded to the committee’s website.[5]

1.7A transcription of the committee’s hearings is made available via the CommitteeHansard which is published on the committee’s estimates webpage.

1.8References in this report are to the proof Committee Hansard. Page numbers may vary between the proofs and the final versions of the Committee Hansard.

Defence Portfolio (including Veterans’ Affairs)

1.9On 14 February, the committee examined the outcomes of the Department of Defence (Defence), the Defence Portfolio agencies and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA). The committee received evidence from Senator the Hon. Jenny McAllister, Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy, representing the Minister for Defence. Senior officers from the Defence portfolio also gave evidence, including the Secretary of the Department of Defence, Mr Greg Moriarty.

1.10The committee took evidence from the following departments and agencies:

Department of Defence;

Australian Submarine Agency (ASA);

Australian Signals Directorate (ASD); and

Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Key Issues

1.11The committee discussed a wide range of topics relating to the Defence portfolio, including those outlined in the following sections.

Department of Defence

1.12Mr Greg Moriarty and Chief of the Defence Force, GEN Angus Campbell AO DSC made opening statements.[6]

Appointments to Deputy Commander of the Army Seventh Brigade and allegations of abuse (pp. 15–19);

Approval for acquisition of Taipan Helicopters, known mechanical issues and decommissioning of Taipans (pp. 19 and 30);

Payments by the Defence Force to Colonel Naliva (p. 25 and 45);

Disposal of Defence aircraft (pp. 25–27);

Helmet mounted sight and display software versions and the continued operation of helmet mounted displays (pp. 27–28);

MHR90 Taipan crash in the Whitsundays (pp. 28–30 and 49–51);

ADF workforce retention and recruitment (pp. 31–35 and 80–87;

Procurement of the One Defence Data project (pp. 35–37 and 53–55);

ADF's involvement in the Middle East conflict and strikes on Houthi rebels (pp. 37–39);

Defence Strategic Review (pp. 39–42);

Availability of Defence's frigates and the replacement of the Anzac-class frigates (pp. 42–43 and 65–66);

The decision not to deploy a warship to the Red Sea (pp. 43–45 and 62–64);

Defence export permits (pp. 46–49 and 66);

HMAS Supply repairs (p. 51);

New periscope for the Collins-class submarine (pp. 51–53);

Privatisation of Defence land (pp. 55–56);

Procurement of the BAE Systems Type 26 frigate design and timeline for construction (pp. 56–59 and 66–68);

Upgrades to 73 ADF Reserve and Cadet facilities across Australia (pp. 75–76);

The Ghost Bat uncrewed aircraft program (pp. 76–78);

Australia's acquisition of conventionally armed nuclear-powered submarines (pp. 78–80);

HMAS Toowoomba and interactions with Chinese warships (pp. 87–91);

Funding to Professor Edmund Holmes for research to MRNA viruses and his involvement with Chinese Centre for Disease Control (pp. 9192); and

Government's acquisition of Triton vehicles and Ghost Bat aircraft and costs associated (pp. 92–95).

Department of Veterans’ Affairs

1.13Ms Alison Frame made an opening statement.[7]

Suspension of MATES program (pp. 106–114 and 116–120);

Claims backlog and processing (pp. 114–116);

Response to the committee's report into Adaptive Sport Programs for Australian Defence Force Veterans report (p.120); and

Medical conditions listed on White Card statements (pp. 120–123).

Australian Submarine Agency

1.14Vice Admiral Jonathan Mead AO RAN made an opening statement.[8]

Workforce recruitment, relevant qualifications and experience (pp. 96–98);

Submarine capability and maintenance work at Stirling (p. 98);

Environmental approvals and efforts to achieve a nuclear license (pp. 98–99);

Funding allocated to the US industrial uplift to expedite delivery of nuclear submarines (pp. 99–102); and

Storage of intermediate level nuclear waste (pp. 102–105).

Australian Signals Directorate

Pine Gap’s involvement in the Israel/Hamas conflict (pp. 105–106).

Foreign Affairs and Trade Portfolio

1.15On 15 February, the committee examined the outcomes of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio agencies. The committee received evidence from Senator the Hon. Penny Wong, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Senator the Hon. Don Farrell, Minister for Trade and Tourism. Senior officers of the Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio also gave evidence, including the secretary Ms Jan Adams AO PSM.

1.16The committee took evidence from the following departments and agencies:

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade;

Australian Trade and Investment Commission; and

Tourism Australia.

Key issues

1.17The committee discussed a wide range of topics relating to the Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio, including those outlined below.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

1.18Ms Jan Adams AO PSM and Senator the Hon. Penny Wong made opening statements.[9]

Non-trade programs

Allegations against United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) staff and the Australian Government's response (pp.5–6);

The humanitarian situation in Gaza (pp. 7–12);

The use of language when discussing sensitive diplomatic matters (pp. 19–21);

Funding allocated to UNRWA in previous and current financial years (pp. 12–19 and 21–24);

Australian Government advocacy work regarding the sentencing of Australian citizen, Dr Yang Jun, in Beijing (pp. 24–26 and 64–65);

Updates on the work of the First Nations Ambassador, particularly in the Pacific region and in relation to climate change (pp. 26–28);

The Australian Government's application of sanctions in relation to the Tatmadaw in Myanmar (pp. 28–32);

Updates on the Bayu-Undan CCS project (pp. 32–33);

Elections in Pakistan (pp. 33–35);

Security, Climate and People Movement agreement with Tuvalu (p.35);

Bangladesh elections (pp. 35–37);

Prime Minister's announcement of an additional $50 million in funding for Ukraine (pp.37–42);

Independent review into the Afghan Locally Engaged Employee program (pp. 42–43);

Australia's climate commitment to the Pacific (pp. 43–45);

LGBTQIA+ overseas advocation (pp. 45–46);

Succession of the Dalai Lama (pp. 46–47);

Separation of children from their families in Tibet (pp. 47–48);

China Rainbow's involvement in Socceroos match in Beijing and links to United Front Group (pp. 49–52);

Bringing Russia before the International Criminal Court of Justice in connection with its unlawful invasion of Ukraine (pp.52–54 and 57–60);

Bilateral security treaty with the Solomon Islands (pp. 54–57);

Creation of a stable democratic government in Myanmar (pp. 60–61);

Preparations the Australian Embassy in Washington is taking for the US elections (pp.61–64);

Reestablishing an Australian embassy in Ukraine (p. 64);

Robert Pether's detention in Iraq (pp. 65–67);

The Australia Foundation's costings for hiring Australia House (in the UK) for Australia Day functions (pp. 67–69);

Humanitarian crisis resulting from the civil war in Yemen (pp. 69–71);

DFAT collaboration in relation to strikes on Houthi rebels (p. 71);

Julian Assange's extradition to the US (pp. 71–72); and

Foreign interference at universities (pp. 72–74).

Trade programs

EU Free trade agreement negotiations (pp. 74–77);

Trade statistical pivot tables relating to arms and ammunition (pp. 77–80);

Live sheep trade to the Middle East and collaborations with Department of Agriculture (pp. 80–85);

Chinese trade impediments on lobster and some meat processors (pp. 85–86);

Indonesian trade permit and payment delays for horticulture and live cattle (pp. 86–87);

Agriculture visa and MoU (memorandum of understanding) with Vietnam (pp. 87–88);

Supply disruptions on trade through the Red Sea from Houthi attacks (pp. 88–89);

Terms of reference for the Trade 2040 task force (pp. 89–92); and

Threats to the Australian nickel industry from the expansion of the Indonesian nickel industry and potential World Trade Organisation actions (pp. 92–93).

Australian Trade and Investment Commission

1.19Mr Xavier Simonet made an opening statement.[10]

Austrade job cuts and overseas office closures (pp. 93–95);

Internal information leaks to media (pp. 95–97);

Export market scheme, development grants, the application process and eligibility criteria (pp. 97–99);

Reductions in the Export Market Development Grants budget over coming years (pp. 99–101);

Completion of the Simplified Trade System, expected completion date and progress towards completion (pp. 101–103); and

Implementation of the Thrive 2030 strategy (pp. 103–105).

Tourism Australia

1.20Ms Phillipa Harrison made an opening statement.[11]

Tourist arrival numbers to Australia compared to pre-COVID levels (pp. 105–107);

Australia’s tourist numbers compared to other international markets (pp. 106–107);

Domestic cost barriers for travellers (pp. 107–108); and

Ruby the Roo advertising campaign (pp. 108–109).


1.21The committee expresses its appreciation for the assistance of the Ministers and officials who provided evidence, and support for, the committee’s hearings.

Senator Raff Ciccone


Labor Senator for Victoria


[1]Journals of the Senate, No. 96, 7 February 2024, pp.2853–2854.

[2]Journals of the Senate, No. 76, 19 October 2023, pp. 2170–2271.

[3]Journals of the Senate, No. 2, 27 July 2022, p. 73.

[4]Journals of the Senate, No 96, 7 February 2024, p. 2854.