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JOINT COMMITTEE OF PUBLIC ACCOUNTS AND AUDIT - 21/08/2008 - Effects of the ongoing dividend on smaller public sector agencies
Joint committee
Thursday, 21 August 2008
Effects of the ongoing dividend on smaller public sector agencies

CHAIR (Ms Grierson) —I declare open this meeting, which is the second hearing of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit for its inquiry into the effect of the efficiency dividend on small agencies. Today we will start with a roundtable of the cultural agencies based in Canberra. These agencies have a number of similarities. For instance, their collections are high in value and their land and buildings also appear on their balance sheet. Therefore, depreciation forms a large part of their budget. The committee wishes to explore how the cultural agencies meet the dividend in these circumstances. Another feature that they have in common is that they are meant to grow and develop their collections. This mandate for growth does not sit easily, we are told, with the fact that they are cutting activities to meet their budget limits.

After this roundtable the committee will be hearing from people and organisations which are beneficiaries of, and provide support to, various cultural organisations and institutions. In particular, the committee has received a number of submissions from academics and the library network in Australia expressing concern about the budget of the National Library. One of the goals from the second roundtable will be to obtain the observers’ perspective of the cultural institutions.

We will conclude our hearing today by receiving evidence from the Australian Electoral Commission. The commission’s submission states that its processes and office structure are prescribed by legislation. This means that it has little flexibility in its operations and fewer choices in how it meets the dividend. The committee will investigate how this affects the electoral system.

[9.19 am]