Rail Industry Innovation Council terms of reference

Overview, membership and operation details for the Rail Industry Innovation Council.

1. Overview

The Rail Industry Innovation Council (the Council) is a key element of the Australian Government’s National Rail Manufacturing Plan (NRMP). The NRMP is a key feature of the Future Made in Australia election commitment and aims to stimulate the Australian rail industry by ensuring more trains are built in Australia to support skilled manufacturing jobs and the local rail industry.

The Council is an independent, non-statutory body located within the Department of Industry, Science and Resources (DISR), to provide strategic advice to government on innovation priorities and facilitate practices that engender competitiveness in the rail manufacturing sector.

2. Responsibilities

The Council will enhance Australia’s competitiveness in research and development, commercialisation, and rate of technology adoption. The Council, chaired by the National Rail Manufacturing Advocate, will work with the Office of National Rail Industry Coordination (ONRIC) to:

  • provide strategic advice to government on research, technology adoption, commercialisation and the competitiveness of the rail sector
  • promote research and development in the industry to improve its ability to compete in local supply chains and international markets
  • facilitate and build connections across industry and the research sector to foster greater collaboration to support both short-term and longer-term fundamental and applied research and innovation
    • this includes supporting technology adoption in the sector
  • identify longer-term research and innovation priorities for the rail industry including opportunities to support a digitally enabled and sustainable rail industry of the future that contributes to the decarbonisation of the Australian transport sector
  • improving access to skilled workers to help Australian manufacturers design and develop high-value products for local and international markets
    • this includes identifying a range of levels and types of education, training and pathway opportunities to support competitive advanced local manufacturing.

3. Membership

The Assistant Minister will select nominees for the Chair and membership of the Council. These are significant appointments and require the approval of the Prime Minister and/or Cabinet before appointment by the Minister for Industry and Science.

The Council will consist of up to 11 high-profile members including the Advocate as the ex officio Chair and a Senior Executive representative of ONRIC as an observer. Members will have expertise relevant to rail, including specialists in rail manufacturing, peak bodies, unions, technology and innovation. The Council aims to have a balance of skills and experience, gender, geographic and multicultural spread. 

Members will be nominated, approved and appointed in a staggered approach to balance the need for refreshing the Council membership and maintaining continuity of expertise for terms of up to three years.

3.1 Chair

The Chair will have the following responsibilities:

  • convene and chair the Council meetings, manage the Council agenda, guide discussion, oversee recommendations and ensure follow up actions from Council meetings are undertaken
  • liaise with the Secretariat to plan the Council’s meeting agendas, approve papers relevant to Council meetings and draft minutes prior to their circulation
  • consult with Council members and monitor the progress of their work
  • represent the interests of the Council in a range of fora and liaisons with internal and external stakeholders
  • meet with the Assistant Minister for Manufacturing and Senior Executive leader of ONRIC as required.

3.2 Members

Individual members of the Council should:

  • understand the key activities, outcomes and deliverables anticipated to be delivered through the Council
  • in consultation with the Chair, work with key stakeholders in the rail manufacturing industry to assist in achieving greater opportunities for the growth and development of the rail manufacturing industry in Australia
  • support the Advocate with the initiatives, activities and outcomes being pursued by the Council.

4. Resignations

Council members must notify the Chair and the Secretariat in writing if they intend to resign from the Council.

The Chair must notify the Assistant Minister for Manufacturing in writing if they intend to resign.

5. Operations

5.1 Meetings

The Council will meet up to four times a year. Further meetings of the Council can be held out-of-session if there are items Council members wish to consider and implement outside scheduled Council meetings.

Meetings require a minimum of 50% of Council members and the Chair to be present to make up a quorum. Meetings can be held face-to-face or online, depending on the preferences of Council members.

Council members should advise the Chair and Secretariat in writing if they are unable to attend a Council meeting. The Assistant Minister for Manufacturing, in consultation with the Minister for Industry and Science, may terminate a Council member’s appointment if they fail to attend more than three meetings without notice.

5.2 Secretariat

The department, via ONRIC, will provide secretariat support services for the meetings and operations of the Council more generally.

The Secretariat will:

  • liaise with the Chair in preparation for meetings
  • draft meeting minutes and follow up on agreed actions
  • provide administrative support for the Council’s operation.

5.3 Reporting

Following each meeting of the Council, the minutes of the meeting will be provided to the Assistant Minister for Manufacturing for information.

The Chair will provide an annual report to the Assistant Minister for Manufacturing outlining key activities and achievements over the last 12 months along with future activities planned for the coming 12 months. The annual report will also provide advice on overall progress on improving the competitiveness of the Australian rail industry.

6. Code of conduct

All Council members must comply with a Code of Conduct specifically developed for Council Members. The Code of Conduct provides, but is not limited to, the following areas:

  • ensuring Council members perform their duties impartially, uninfluenced by fear or favour
  • ensuring Council members can be respectfully frank and honest in official dealings with colleagues
  • receiving only the agreed official remuneration for performing their role
  • not soliciting or accepting any benefit, advantage or promise of future advantage that relates to the Council
  • being scrupulous in their use of public property and services, and not permitting their misuse by other persons.

The Assistant Minister for Manufacturing may terminate a Council appointment in writing for breach of code of conduct or performance issues.

7. Disclosure of interests

All Council members, prior to their appointment, must sign a Private Interests Declaration (PID) ensuring that their private, business and financial interests (including taxation affairs), do not conflict with their responsibilities as members on the Council. Additionally, the Council members’ private interests must not cause embarrassment to themselves or the Australian Government.

The Assistant Minister for Manufacturing may terminate a Council position if the member provides false information in their PID or breaches their role.

If a Council member identifies a new conflict of interest not identified in the PID which impacts on their work on the Council, they must immediately advise the Senior Executive leader of ONRIC. 

The full list of potential conflicts is outlined in the Conflict of Interest Policy, Acknowledgement and Declaration, which are provided to Council members on appointment.

8. Remuneration

The Council is a non-statutory advisory body and therefore does not require a determination for remuneration under the Remuneration Tribunal. The Department will determine remuneration for Council members based on Remuneration Tribunal determinations for similar part-time public office roles.

9. Media

If Council members are contacted by the media on topics relevant to their Council role, they should contact the Senior Executive leader of ONRIC and the Department of Industry, Science and Resources media team, for clearance. Where possible, Council members should respond to media queries in writing and seek clearance through ONRIC and the Department first. Council members wishing to contribute to publications on rail issues and speak at conferences pertaining to rail issues should first inform the Senior Executive leader of ONRIC and the department’s media team.

10. Amendment, modification or variation of Terms of Reference

The Terms of Reference may be amended, modified or varied following consultation with members of the Council and the agreement of the Assistant Minister for Manufacturing.

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