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Legal and Constitutional Legislation Committee
- Start of Business
- ATTORNEY-GENERAL'S PORTFOLIO
- NATIONAL NATIVE TITLE TRIBUNAL
- FAMILY COURT OF AUSTRALIA
- ADMINISTRATIVE APPEALS TRIBUNAL
COMMONWEALTH DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS
Outcome 1—To contribute to the safety and wellbeing of the people of Australia and to help protect the resources of the Commonwealth through the maintenance of law and order and by combating crime.
- Output 1.1—An independent service to prosecute alleged offences against the criminal law of the Commonwealth, in appropriate matters, in a manner which is fair and just and to ensure that offenders, where appropriate, are deprived of the proceeds and benefits of criminal activity
- Outcome 1—To contribute to the safety and wellbeing of the people of Australia and to help protect the resources of the Commonwealth through the maintenance of law and order and by combating crime.
- OFFICE OF FILM AND LITERATURE CLASSIFICATION
- OFFICE OF PARLIAMENTARY COUNSEL
- NATIONAL CRIME AUTHORITY
- FEDERAL COURT OF AUSTRALIA
- AUSTRALIAN LAW REFORM COMMISSION
- HIGH COURT OF AUSTRALIA
- AUSTRALIAN INSTITUTE OF CRIMINOLOGY
AUSTRALIAN SECURITY INTELLIGENCE ORGANIZATION
- Outcome 1—A secure Australia for people and property, for government business and national infrastructure, and for special events of a national and international significance.
- AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT SOLICITOR
AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE
- Output group 1.2—Economic crime investigations
- Outcome 2—Those individuals and interests identified by the Commonwealth government of the AFP as being at risk are kept safe and secure as a result of AFP protective services
- Mr Reaburn
- AUSTRALIAN CUSTOMS SERVICE
Content WindowLegal and Constitutional Legislation Committee - 31/05/99 - ATTORNEY-GENERAL'S PORTFOLIO
Senator McKIERNAN —Could I just make a comment about the questions that the department and the agencies of the department took on notice from the last additional supplementary estimates. I am very pleased to put on the record that there is only one outstanding question at this stage. It is commendable, what has happened, and I thank the minister in particular and all concerned who have contributed to that. There has been a bit of a problem in the past, and I am very pleased we have achieved what we have achieved. Hopefully, the standard that has now been met will be continued. Thank you very much.
Senator Vanstone —Madam Chairman, I might respond by saying we had a brief meeting before coming here and, in deciding whether to make opening remarks, it was queried whether I should invite the committee to thank us. It was a short time frame, and these estimates are close together, so to get a better result in a shorter time is a real indication of effort put in. I thought it better not to sing one's own department's praises, and I very much thank Senator McKiernan for his comments.
Senator McKIERNAN —I have a series of questions which go to the new accrual accounting system. They are questions which we intend to put to each and every agency as we wander through. This paper is not in a format which at this stage I would like to give to the committee. What I would seek to do is ask the questions now and request that they be taken on notice by the department and each of the agencies. I will have this sheet amended to remove some of the politics contained in it—have it cleansed, as it were—and then provide you with a clean copy later in the day.
CHAIR —Yes, I think that is a good way to proceed.
Senator McKIERNAN —For each administrative item listed in the resource summaries contained in the portfolio budget statement can the department and agencies provide an estimate of expenses for 1999[hyphen]2000, 2000[hyphen]2001, 2001[hyphen]2002 and 2002[hyphen]2003. Some agencies have provided that information for the next financial year, 1999[hyphen]2000. Can estimates be provided for any administrative items expected within the period of the forward estimates which does not take effect until after 1999[hyphen]2000. For departmental output groups and sub-outputs listed in the resource summaries contained in the portfolio budget statements, can the agency provide an estimate of expenses for each of those four years, 1999[hyphen]2000 through to 2002[hyphen]2003. Can estimates be provided for any outputs that are expected within the period of the forward estimates that do not take effect until after 1999-2000.
On the implementation of accrual accounting can the agency provide an estimate of the total cost of the move to accrual accounting. Can the agency provide details—that is, the cost, the specification, the recipient, and whether a tender was held—of any consultancy contracts awarded in relation to accrual accounting. Have any issues been raised by community and industry groups in relation to understanding the new budget reporting arrangements and, if so, what were they? When did the agency first start using accrual accounting? Some, we understand, started as early as 1992. What historical information is available on the programs on an accrual basis? Can that be provided, along with the corresponding cash-based information. Can each agency provide an itemised list of liabilities they are recording as accounts payable and a cash flow profile of these liabilities.
We want to know why agencies have performance indicators different from those of other agencies for similar type items, such as the provision of ministerial advice and perhaps a global advice from the department if the department asked for a consistency of indicators between the various agencies accommodated in the portfolio of the Attorney[hyphen]General's Department. How do performance indicators actually contribute to the improving outcomes to the final beneficiary of the Commonwealth expenditure? How have the performance indicators in the PBS changed from those previously published in PBSs and/or annual reports, and what was the basis for the change? Does the agency use any other performance indicator that is not published in the PBS for internal management and, if so, what are they, how are they used and why was it decided not to publish them? What consultations were held with groups outside the agency? The final question for taking on notice to all the agencies: how was the department structured in its performance indicators for specific purpose payments in the light of Audit Report No. 31 on the management of performance information for specific purpose payments, a copy of which is on the Internet. As I said, Madam Chair, I will get this document cleansed and provided to the committee for provision to the department and all the other agencies.
We have been advised that there was a considerable amount of information made available to the media, journalists, generally at those lockups; much more, we are advised, than what is contained within the PBS. Perhaps it is a global question to the department, if the
department is able to assist the committee at this time, as to whether or not more information was provided to the media than perhaps has been provided to the estimates committee.
Senator Vanstone —Do you mean at the budget lockup?
Senator McKIERNAN —Yes.
Mr Blunn —The material that was provided in the budget lockup is, as far as I am aware, Senator, the material we traditionally provide for the budget lockup, although in a different form. I am not aware that there was any difference between that information and that contained in these documents. The material that goes to the budget lockup, as you know, is prepared by Treasury and Finance, basically, but this information is derived largely from that. I do not think, in essence, there is any difference. This may be briefer in the sense that it is already a very big document but, in essence, I do not think there is any difference, Senator. I am not aware of any difference.
Senator McKIERNAN —Would you take it on notice to check that that may be the case?
Mr Blunn —Yes, I will.
CHAIR —Senator McKiernan, that is for all portfolios?
Senator McKIERNAN —For all portfolios. We are not pointing the finger particularly at this portfolio.
Mr Blunn —I will take it on notice for this portfolio, if I may, Senator.
Mr Blunn —As I understand, what you are asking me is: is there any material difference between the information contained in this document and the information contained in the budget lockup documentation?
Senator McKIERNAN —That is exactly right. As one goes through these papers, the PBSs, which we will over the next few days, we may have to ask quite a deal of questions before we get to the essence of what the expenditure is programmed for, the detail of it and how it is going to be distributed between recipient groups, between states or whatever. If that type and detail of information was made available to the media, I would argue that that material should be made available to the parliament.
Mr Blunn —Senator, I will gladly take it on notice and I will get back to you as quickly as I can.
Senator McKIERNAN —Thank you, Mr Blunn.
Senator BOLKUS —There were some answers outstanding in respect to the stolen generation which I gather the department has prepared. Can you tell us where they may be? I gather those answers have not been tendered as yet.
Senator Vanstone —We have only got one or so outstanding, haven't we?
Mr Blunn —There is one outstanding, Senator. It was our understanding that it had in fact been answered. We believe it was answered by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. We were seeking to confirm that but that is certainly our understanding. There was one other question which was delayed because it required approval from Finance but I think that has also been provided to the committee. That was a Customs question.
CHAIR —That was the Sturgess report one?
Mr Blunn —Yes. So as far as we are concerned, Senator, all the questions have been answered, although one of them not by us, as I say.
Senator Vanstone —And if it has not, and we are chasing that down to make sure if it has not, you will get it today, possibly this morning but, if not, today.
CHAIR —We will then move on to the first listed area which is the Native Title Tribunal.