Wednesday, 12 May 2021
Questions without Notice
I thank Senator Patrick for his question. Defence tabled a response to a Senate estimates question from Senator Patrick in relation to this matter. The question, as Senator Patrick has indicated, relates to Defence's application to the AAT against a decision of the Information Commissioner that Defence should provide certain information. Defence considers this information as being confidential information under the terms of the contract for the competitive evaluation process and, accordingly, not for public disclosure. Defence is represented by the Australian Government Solicitor in these proceedings and is co-joined by Naval Group in appealing against the Information Commissioner's decision. Naval Group has engaged its own legal representation. Defence and Naval Group have lodged affidavits and statements of facts, issues and contentions. Both have also lodged responses to the statement of facts, issues and contentions lodged by Senator Patrick. I understand the matter is set for hearing by the AAT on 8 and 9 June.
In regard to the payment of legal costs, Defence has, as indicated in the answer to the question asked by Senator Patrick, assessed that those costs related to these proceedings may be allowable and reasonable under the terms of the Strategic Partnering Agreement between Defence and Naval Group. Naval Group Australia, it should be noted, has been established for the purpose of delivering the Future Submarine program, which is funded by Defence, and the matter before the AAT relates to information provided by Naval Group for the purposes of that Future Submarine program.