Back in defence estimates, the Labor senator Kimberley Kitching says AusTender contract notices indicate the government will spend $5.45m over three years on remuneration for members of the naval shipbuilding expert advisory panel.
Kitching says that works out to be about $1.8m a year, shared among six members. She suggests this is a higher rate than the former naval shipbuilding advisory board members received.
Officials caution that there is a daily rate, so it will depend on work performed. Officials also suggest the estimates include international flights and hotels but they are not spending anything near that rate, due to the Covid-induced move to virtual meetings.
The defence department has committed to clarify the details later in the day.
Over at the Senate estimates into defence, the $90bn submarine program is in the spotlight.
A cabinet subcommittee, the naval shipbuilding enterprise governance committee, has met twice since its creation last November.
The Labor senator Kimberley Kitching has asked members of the naval shipbuilding expert advisory panel whether they have made recommendations or provided advice to cancel the future submarine program on risk grounds.
Chair of the panel, US-based Vice Admiral William Hilarides, said any advice “provided directly to ministers to support cabinet deliberations” would be confidential, together with any recommendations.
The focus moves on to a capacity enhancement review. The Australian Financial Review reported on 1 May that “a major review into Australia’s submarine warfare capability is likely to recommend bringing forward upgrades for the navy’s frigates and Collins class submarines”. Was the naval shipbuilding expert advisory panel made aware of the capacity enhancement review?
I think we became aware when we read it in the newspaper.
Federal court challenge to Australia’s outbound travel ban rejected
Rightwing thinktank Libertyworks has lost its federal court challenge to Australia’s outbound travel ban.
On Tuesday the full federal court unanimously rejected Libertyworks’ bid to overturn the Covid-19 restriction, which had argued that the health minister Greg Hunt has no power to impose a blanket rule stopping citizens from leaving the country.
Justices Anna Katzmann, Michael Wigney and Thomas Thawley dismissed the application and ordered Libertyworks to pay the commonwealth’s costs.
The federal government had argued that, if successful, the case would have “driven a truck” through Hunt’s powers under the Biosecurity Act to impose measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 during the global pandemic.
The case is the fourth failed challenge to Australia’s coronavirus restrictions, after Clive Palmer’s failure to overturn Western Australia’s travel ban, a high court decision upholding the validity of Victoria’s second wave lockdown, and the federal court rejecting a bid to overturn the travel ban from India.
Despite the ban, more than 140,000 Australian citizens and permanent residents have left Australia since the start of the pandemic under a regime of exemptions administered by Australian Border Force.