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Monday, 3 June 2013
Page: 4953


Ms GAMBARO (Brisbane) (16:36): Mr Deputy Speaker Georganas, I ask that the minister take the answers to our questions on notice and get back to us before the parliamentary recess. Our questions are on foreign aid. In December 2012 and now, again, in May 2013, the Gillard government has hijacked two separate amounts of $375 million from the foreign aid budget, in the process making Australia not only the third largest recipient of Australian foreign aid but also the fastest growing recipient of Australian foreign aid, to the tune of the $750 million announced, within six months. Minister, what criteria were applied in determining that that diverted amount would be $375 million? Why was it not $475 million or $275 million?

On 13 May, Senator Bob Carr undertook to provide information about the impact of the appropriation to DIAC, under Australia's aid program, in the financial year 2013-14. When will this information be publicly released? In Senate estimates last week, DIAC indicated that it does anticipate that all of the recently re-prioritised $375 million will in fact be spent. What will happen to that money if it is not spent? Will it be returned to AusAID or will it simply be returned to consolidated revenue?

Minister, can you also confirm whether or not all of the $375 million in re-prioritised money from the financial year 2012-13 has in fact been spent by AusAID? I note in your response dated 5 February 2013 to my question on notice No. 1337 that DIAC's CFO should have reported and signed off on assistance expenditure for developing countries to AusAID via a six-monthly survey, which in turn would have verified this expenditure against reporting directives. Could you please confirm for me the following: has AusAID received any signed-off reports from the CFO of DIAC verifying assistance expenditure for developing countries; if not, why not? What is AusAID's schedule for these recent CFO sign-offs from AusAID and from all other Australian government agency assistance expenditure for developing countries? Can you also provide an update on the progress in implementing the NGO accreditation reform process. When is it scheduled to be completed?

Please provide an update on progress in implementing the whole-of-government uniform standards for the planning, delivering, monitoring and reporting of official development assistance? When is it scheduled to be committed and when will they be implemented? The AusAID Director-General reported to additional Senate estimates in February this year that they are due to be completed by the end of the financial year. Is that still on track, and will they be used in the coming financial year 2013-14 for all agencies to report their expenditure of ODA?

Could the minister also give an update of the progress of the railway project in Phnom Penh? When is the completion date? Is the project on schedule; and what is the total cost?

I also refer to the Pacific women's solution initiative that was costed at $320 million that Mr Baxter admitted was now money for the program in estimates in October 2012. Will the minister detail how the reprioritisation of $750 million has impacted on that particular initiative?

Also, I refer to the recommendation on the Independent Review of Aid Effectiveness, regarding the need to focus on medical research. What allocation has been made in the financial year 2013-14 to start this process?

Can the minister also answer questions on the Public Service efficiency dividend with regard to budget measures not resulting in a reduction in the number of investigations carried out by AusAID into the allegations of fraud and corruption in the Australian aid program. How many cases of fraud and corruption in the Australian aid program have been reported this financial year? How many investigations are currently active; and how many reported cases in 2012-13 have been upheld following investigation? Is every case officially investigated? How many people currently work in the AusAID risk management and fraud control branch? Is this more or less than the previous financial year? Is the branch's current budget more or less than it received in the previous financial year? How much money has been lost in the 2013-14 as a result of fraud and corruption; and how many reported cases of fraud and corruption were made against aid based staff overseas? Is this more or less (Time expired)