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Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit
National funding agreements

O'LOUGHLIN, Ms Mary Ann, Executive Councillor and Head of Secretariat, COAG Reform Council

Committee met at 12 : 18

CHAIR ( Mr Oakeshott ): Welcome. Although the committee does not require you to give evidence under oath, I advise you that these hearings are formal proceedings of the parliament and warrant the same respect as proceedings of the respective houses. The giving of false or misleading evidence is a serious matter and may be regarded as a contempt of parliament. The evidence given today will be recorded by Hansard and attracts parliamentary privilege. Mr Adams has moved that these proceedings are broadcast in this and filmed. There being no objection, it is so ordered. I hope you are okay with that as a public hearing witness, Ms O'Loughlin.

Ms O'Loughlin : Certainly.

CHAIR: Before we proceed to questions, I invite you to make a brief opening statement.

Ms O'Loughlin : I will; thank you very much. Thank you for inviting the COAG Reform Council to the committee. Let me begin by introducing the COAG Reform Council. The COAG Reform Council is an independent organisation set up by COAG to monitor, assess and publicly report on the performance of governments in implementing nationally agreed reforms. The council is funded by all governments but is independent of individual governments and reports directly to COAG.

In the light of the council's role, the council's submission to the inquiry addresses the third point of the committee's terms of reference:

the need to balance the flexibility to allow states and territories to determine their own priorities with mechanisms for monitoring accountability and ensuring that the objectives of funding agreements are being achieved, noting the role of the COAG Reform Council …

In my opening comments I would like to focus on the council's role in reporting on the national agreements and the importance of both flexibility and accountability. As the committee has already heard and discussed, the funding arrangements between the Commonwealth and the state and territory governments were significantly changed with the introduction of COAG's Intergovernmental Agreement on Federal Financial Relations in January 2009. This agreement established national agreements in the six areas of health care, disability services, affordable housing, education, skills and workforce development, and Indigenous reform.

Under national agreements, governments are accountable for the achievement of agreed objectives, outcomes and targets, and high-level performance indicators provide the mechanism for measuring and comparing performance. National agreements do not include financial input controls on the service delivery of the states and territories. The funding associated with national agreements is in the form of national specific purpose payments. While the state and territory governments are required to spend the funding within the sector for which it is provided, they have full budget flexibility to allocate funds within that sector in order to achieve the mutually agreed objectives and outcomes of the national agreement.

National agreements are outcomes focused agreements. They entail, therefore, a high degree of flexibility for state and territory governments to direct resources to areas which they consider will produce the best results for their state. This is important as it recognises that states and territories need flexibility to innovate and to respond to their populations and circumstances to improve service delivery and achieve reforms. But increased flexibility comes with increased accountability for outcomes for what is being achieved by the governments. To ensure accountability under national agreements, the COAG Reform Council is tasked with conducting a comparative analysis of the performance of governments against the agreed indicators and targets and publishing the analysis and data annually.

There are some challenges in undertaking this role, and I will discuss two here. The first challenge is the adequacy of the performance reporting framework under the intergovernmental agreement. The ability of the council to effectively report on government performance under national agreements is dependent on the strength of the performance-reporting framework—that is, the agreed objectives, outcomes and performance benchmarks and the associated information and data against which the council makes its assessments. The council must be able to assess the jurisdictions' progress over time in the areas covered by the national agreements, and it therefore must have access to adequate and reliable information and data to inform its assessments.

In its report to COAG in the first two years of reporting under the national agreements, the council has called for significant improvements to the performance-reporting framework under the intergovernmental agreement in order to more effectively undertake its task of comparative performance reporting under the national agreements. The two main areas for improvement are (1) strengthened conceptual frameworks for national agreements linking performance indicators with objectives and outcomes and (2) improved availability and timeliness of robust and nationally comparable data. The council are pleased to note that COAG announced at its meeting on 13 February 2011, partly in response to our recommendations, that the performance frameworks of each national agreement will be reviewed to ensure progress is measured and all jurisdictions are clearly accountable to the public and COAG for their efforts. The second challenge in undertaking public accountability for outcomes is time. Effective public accountability based on comparative analysis does take time. It takes time to build up a robust data series that can track trends in performance. It also takes time to see the impact of government reforms reflected in improved outcomes. However, the council is now beginning its third year of reporting under the national agreements and each year the database builds. This means that we can report on three and more years of data and so the basis for comparative analysis—and that means analysis both of the performance across jurisdictions and also the performance within a jurisdiction over time—is significantly improving.

In conclusion, as the council noted in its first report on progress towards the COAG reform agenda, the new institutional arrangements established in the intergovernmental agreement represent a significant foundational achievement. However, like all major public policy reforms, the reforms set out under the intergovernmental agreement challenge conventional practices. The balance between flexibility and accountability under the new institutional framework will be an ongoing challenge. The improvement of the wellbeing of all Australians within a federal system requires a balance between flexibility for governments in achieving outcomes to reflect the wide range of circumstances across Australia and also strong public accountability to give the community confidence that governments are on track to achieve results. The council will be examining the extent to which the institutional features of the federal financial relations framework are being realised in its second report on progress towards the COAG reform agenda, which will be submitted to COAG in September this year and publically released in November. Thank you.

CHAIR: Just for the record, in regards to the current members of the CRC, could you clarify why you are the only person here today? I understand that the chair is overseas at present.

Ms O'Loughlin : Yes. The chair is Mr Paul McClintock and he is overseas. Initially, the invitation came to the chair. When we said that he was overseas the committee secretariat said that it was fine for me to attend. A couple of weeks ago the committee secretariat came back and asked whether any of the other councillors were available. That is a relatively short time to get into their diaries. None of them are based in Canberra. We did check with all of them, but they were not available.

CHAIR: This is an area that is important to our inquiry, so we may come back at another stage and continue the conversations that I suspect that we are going to have over the next 30 minutes. I will ask a couple of questions before handing to others. In your submission, you quite rightly emphasise that the CRC has called for improvements to national agreements in two areas in particular. One is strengthening conceptual frameworks, linking performance indicators with objectives and outcomes. The second, which has come up a number of times in the inquiry so far, is improved availability and timeliness of robust and nationally comparable data. Can you outline the process for you as a CRC of implementation of those recommendations? Do you need assistance from the parliament? Are those two recommendations going to automatically now become agenda items that will be resolved? What is the process of implementation of the things that you have rightfully identified?

Ms O'Loughlin : The recommendations are in our reports to COAG. As I said, we do a report every year on each of the national agreements. We also do a report that is called a report on the progress towards COAG reform agenda once a year. We have raised these issues in both those contexts. The national agreements reports, naturally, are quite individual for each agreement. For example, the disability agreement will go to the problem with the timeliness of a lot of the disability data because it is based on survey data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the one that we have reported on so far goes back to 2003. There is a clear example of a problem with timeliness of data. The individual national agreements reports have quite specific recommendations around their databases, depending on what the subject is. Our annual report on the progress towards a COAG reform agenda is a place where we bring it all together. That is where we have also highlighted problems across the board with the performance-reporting framework. Those reports go to COAG and then COAG considers the recommendations and responds to them. The implementation of the recommendations depends on what COAG decides to do with them.

With regard to the recommendations in the national agreement reports and the overarching report on progress on the COAG reform agenda, those recommendations which go to the performance-reporting framework have been referred to the reviews that are being undertaken into the national agreements, which were announced by COAG at its February meeting this year.

It goes to those review mechanisms that are set up under COAG. We have been asked to be an observer participant in those reviews, which is where we think we should be. We do not think it would be appropriate for us to be part of the review, but we are very pleased that we are an observer of the review and that we can give our opinion, if asked, along the way. As the independent umpire, if you like, we do not think it is appropriate for us to be in the review, only as an observer. That is our status at the moment. Those reviews have begun.

CHAIR: So there is a bit of a strike rate of issues identified by the CRC and their implementation through what seems to be more of a voluntary uptake by COAG. Are you confident that, where you go as a CRC, it has the gravitas to be picked up by COAG and picked up seriously and therefore will be implemented, based on some very real issues identified, particularly this issue of the data lag?

Ms O'Loughlin : I think the important thing here—and I think you are quite right to put such an emphasis on the data—is that it can sound to outsiders as though it is a very prosaic, boring thing to keep mentioning to COAG. But you are right in saying that the foundation of this new approach to federal financial relations is strong accountability. An outcomes based framework, which, across many years, people have supported moving towards because you want to know what the outcomes are for people, not what inputs were provided, is the right reform direction. But without strong public accountability for what actually is being achieved, then you do lose a sense of what the funding has been provided for. So we have emphasised very strongly that this is not just something that is a voluntary part of something that would be 'nice to do'. We emphasise that it is essential to do, because without good data, timely data, data that is comparable across the jurisdictions and also robust data for reporting over time, the COAG Reform Council cannot do its job.

CHAIR: From a public policy perspective, what I am trying to drill down to is this transition. You even mention that you keep mentioning the importance of the data to COAG. Why do you have to keep mentioning it with regard to this issue? What I am trying to establish is if the CRC identifies something of significance such as this, what is the implementation plan that leads to an outcome that sees the issue resolved? If it sounds as though it is a voluntary uptake by COAG, the question for us is: how can we potentially value add to that to ensure what you as a reform council identify gets implemented and leads to an outcome of better value for money for the taxpayer?

Ms O'Loughlin : It is fair to say that it is voluntary uptake. COAG does not have to agree to our recommendations. I suppose the point I am making here is that, from the COAG Reform Council's perspective we do not see it as something we can continue on in our position for year after year if the performance-reporting framework is not improved. We have said that quite strongly. In some areas, we cannot report against the outcomes because either there is no data or the data is not strong enough. So for us it is not 'nice to do'; for us it is an essential underpinning of our role. Although it is voluntary in one sense, in another sense it underpins the reform that COAG have signed off to, so for them, who are committed to the reform agenda, it is part and parcel of continuing it.

I should have said also that in February this year COAG did agree to this series of reviews. Each national agreement is being reviewed. If we go back to the December of not the year before but the year before that, they also looked at the performance-reporting framework and set in train then a heads of Treasury review of the national agreements and national partnerships and the data, so they did have a process before then to have a broad look across the board and look at all our recommendations, plus other views that people were putting forward, on the performance-reporting framework. Out of that review process from the heads of Treasury, COAG agreed to look at the national agreements and review them individually over the next 18 months.

CHAIR: Would I be right to say that the CRC is frustrated by the lack of recognition of the importance of its recommendation around data in its ongoing work? Or would I be right to say that the CRC has confidence that the COAG process gets the significance of the importance of timely data to the reform process? Or both?

Ms O'Loughlin : I am sure COAG understands the importance of timely, robust, comparable data because it is part and parcel of the reform agenda. One of the interesting things about the Intergovernmental Agreement on Federal Financial Relations is that it recognises data development and a national statistical system as an area for reform for all governments, so it is very strong about recognising the importance of good data. It is one of the most encouraging things about the COAG reform agenda that people do understand that we need good, robust, comparable national statistics to underpin public policy and public accountability. So it is in the financial agreement, which is, I think, quite an exceptional recognition by COAG.

The frustration comes in that data development is almost necessarily long term. It is very complex. It is very expensive. And it is not as easy as it might sound from the outside. I will give you an example. For a lot of the issues we report on, because we report on service delivery outcomes, a lot of the data that tells you about service delivery is administrative data. Survey data conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics is useful in some regard, but surveys have a lot of problems associated with them because of their sample size, particularly when you want to do comparable data and also because of their timeliness. They are always going to be lagged to the event that you are reporting on. Administrative data captures the service delivery aspects at the point they are happening, whether it is the enrolment of students in school or whether it is waiting times for elective surgery in hospital. All across the service delivery areas, there are really, really important areas where we are reliant, if we could get better access, on good administrative data.

But the systems for administrative data were set in place for particular purposes. Generally, they were set in place at the state level for the state government's purposes or even for the service providers' purposes, and you are trying to aggregate administrative data not only to, say, the school system of a jurisdiction but then to jurisdictions across Australia so that it is comparable. It takes a long time to agree how they are going to define certain indicators and how they are going to collect the data. It changes computer systems. It changes administrative systems. So the frustration, I think, comes from the fact that it does take time, and yet we are very conscious of how important it is to make the reforms and the improvements happen urgently because of our role being not as effective as it should be.

CHAIR: My final question is, to break this down into the simplest layman's terms, of the $45 billion that are at stake in these agreements, would you be able to provide a rough guesstimate of how much you currently could not report on in dollar terms because of this data issue?

Ms O'Loughlin : We report on all of the agreements to some extent and I would have to go back and do it agreement by agreement and try and get an analysis. That would be something I have not even thought about. Some agreements are actually very good. The National Education Agreement is a very robust agreement. It is robust because it has such good data through the NAPLAN data on literacy and numeracy, totally standardised across primary schools and secondary schools. It is like a census and it happens every year. So it is an excellent database. We go from something like that to something like, as I mentioned before, the disability agreement, which is a very tough one given their data sources and the robustness of the survey data in particular. I can say that we report against all of them to some extent, but to what extent differs according to the agreement.

Mrs D'ATH: I would like to step through the process, Ms O'Loughlin. Does the CRC have any role in the negotiations of the national agreements and the national partnership agreements?

Ms O'Loughlin : No, we don't. They are predetermined not just in terms of the outcomes and the objectives but also in terms of the performance indicators and the benchmarks. Those are predetermined and set.

Mrs D'ATH: So the CRC's role in assessing those agreements and whether the states or territories have met the benchmarks in those agreements and whether, for example, the reward payments should be made, what powers does the CRC have to collect data or request any information from state or territory agencies?

Ms O'Loughlin : If we focus now on national partnerships with reward payments, we report on seven of those, one of which is the seamless national economy. I will put that to one side because it differs from the others, which are three education and three health national partnerships, which I think is the focus more of the committee. Under those, the benchmarks are predetermined. Those six national partnerships differ a lot in terms of the information that we need to assess. If I can give you an example, there is a national partnership on literacy and numeracy. Most of the data for that comes from NAPLAN data. The NAPLAN data is publicly available and we have access to that data. What happens there, though, is that it is collated by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and then the data through ACARA, is sent to us. But that is in a sense quite an easy example of the basis for our assessment.

If we turn to something else which is more qualitative assessment, we have not reported on this national partnership yet but there is a national partnership coming up on teacher quality. The benchmarks and milestones under teacher quality are all qualitative. We will get the information for that from the jurisdictions through the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and it will come to us. However, if we feel that we have not got enough information or if the basis for our assessment is not robust enough, we can go back to both the Commonwealth and the individual states and territories and ask for more information. That is obviously more important in the qualitative areas than in something like the NAPLAN quantitative data.

Mrs D'ATH: So in the main most of the information comes through DEEWR in relation to the three education NPAs. Is it written into the framework agreement?

Ms O'Loughlin : It is.

Mrs D'ATH: That is the role DEEWR plays in collating the data for you. You say you can go back to the Commonwealth or individual states, and I assume that means to the individual agencies within the states. You can ask for additional information. Is there any obligation for that agency to provide that additional information that you are seeking?

Ms O'Loughlin : There is not an obligation, but it is very clear that, if we do not get the information that we need to make an assessment, that is what we will report. An example is one of the national partnerships for elective surgery. It is quantitative data on elective surgery waiting times and we did not get data from Tasmania in time for our first report. It came, but it came too late and we said we were not able to assess performance because we did not have the data. The same sort of judgment by us can be made in any circumstances where we do not think we have enough information to be able to assess whether a jurisdiction has met a benchmark or a milestone. So it is in their interests, given there are award fundings associated with our reports, for them to provide us with the information.

Mrs D'ATH: Putting aside the agreements that provide reward payments, is the funding provided upfront for other programs or is it based on progress payments? I guess what I am getting at is whether, even if they do not provide you with the data and you note that you are not able to form a view because the data has not been adequately provided, the funding is already handed over by that stage.

Ms O'Loughlin : For reward payments, no. The reward payments are contingent upon receiving a report from the COAG Reform Council. Under the national partnerships, where there are project and facilitation payments, we do not have a role for an individual report of performance. But we do have a role in reporting on them as they relate to the objectives of the national agreements. Every year we put out a report on the six national agreements and, under the intergovernmental agreement, it says that we also can assess the performance of related national partnerships when the national partnership is related to the objective of a national agreement. In those circumstances, we can report on those national partnerships that are related and look at any performance information that is available for them.

Mrs D'ATH: It might be too early in the reform process to answer this, but, based on the recommendations that you have already made to COAG—they might not be in relation to many reward payment agreements but rather concerning the review of the other types of agreements you have just spoken about—have you seen any change in the way framework agreements are being written?

Ms O'Loughlin : Not in the way they have been written, because the national agreements have already been written, so we have not yet seen any redrafts of them. But I can say that some of our recommendations have been acted on already. Some of them were fairly easy to do, if I can put it like that. Our recommendations have also clearly influenced the data development committees that go across jurisdictions that tend to be associated with ministerial councils. It gives them some input into where they should put their priorities and their emphasis. We can see definitely, because we have talked to them and they have kept us informed, where our recommendations can be taken up. They do not need COAG's agreement in a lot of cases; they are things that are easy to do and it makes sense from their perspective as much as from ours.

Mrs D'ATH: Are the national agreement reports and the recommendations you have made to COAG public?

Ms O'Loughlin : They are all public.

Mrs D'ATH: There was reference in your submission and opening statement to the COAG review, which they committed to in February this year. Can you tell us anything about that review process? Are there going to be reports and has any time frame been laid out for that review?

Ms O'Loughlin : The time frame is that by the middle of next year they will all be completed. The report will go to COAG.

Mrs D'ATH: I thought COAG was doing the review.

Ms O'Loughlin : The senior officials of premiers, prime ministers and treasuries are involved in the reviews and they will do the report to COAG.

Mrs D'ATH: Thank you.

Ms BRODTMANN: I am really keen to try and get as much of the streamlined data as possible, as are you—what is the quote, 'the timely, robust, comparable data'—at the national level. We had an example earlier of some government departments feeling overburdened by their reporting requirements through annual reports and other vehicles. I want to get a sense from you about whether you think getting this streamlined data would provide overburdened government agencies with another layer of reporting and whether there is any way that we can somehow, not streamline that process, but get some topline indicators that would be useful in providing transparency?

Ms O'Loughlin : That is a very good point. One of the general themes of the council's recommendations is that we think it is best to focus on a number of key indicators, for public accountability purposes, than to go into a lot more drill-down detail. Because our role is public accountability, you need to be able to engage the community and the public in the issues that we are reporting on. If it is far too detailed you are going to lose people's engagement. The prime example of this is the national agreement on health care, which has 70 performance indicators. Furthermore, those performance indicators, where possible, are meant to be disaggregated by Indigenous status, socioeconomic status and remoteness. So you are multiplying a number of the indicators. Our reports on the national healthcare agreements are hundreds of pages long. It is not a good public accountability tool. We are very keen to see that, in these reviews of the national agreements, the focus is on high-level performance indicators where we can have a very strong role in going out to the public with the public accountability function.

Ms BRODTMANN: High-level meaningful?

Ms O'Loughlin : Yes—high-level meaningful, and robust and comparable as well. The intent of the agreements is of course the outcomes framework. The outcomes of the national agreements are very good outcomes. All the governments of Australia have signed off on them for all the people in Australia, wherever they live. The outcomes themselves are very good as directions. It is that we are always conscious of. Our reports are meant to be about how close are we and how much progress are we making towards those outcomes.

Ms BRODTMANN: Do you think the 70 KPIs that are disaggregated by socioeconomic and other indicators gets back to this cultural issue of risk aversion and risk management that I think we are also witnessing? Do you think that people overdo it rather than do it in a sophisticated way—they have all these indicators so everything is covered and there are no holes? Or is it time now that we became a bit more sophisticated, which is what you are suggesting, in terms of our KPIs? That would suggest that we may need a change in culture in the public service to one where we do acknowledge the risk aversion, but that there are ways to manage risk rather than sledgehammer to walnut.

Ms O'Loughlin : That is another good point. In our report to COAG, our progress report of the current reform agenda last year, we did say that we considered that the reform agenda was a foundational achievement and that a huge amount had been achieved in a very short time—and that is to people's credit—but that the cultural changes needed to make it sustainable over time were very significant. One of the changes is a focus on outcomes. You are right: it is not how we have thought about accountability, or what we measure and what we care about, in public policy terms over the past decades in intimate detail at every step of the way. We have thought much more about the level down, about inputs and outputs, and not paid enough attention to what is actually being achieved as outcomes for people. It is a cultural shift. I think that some of the first versions of the national agreements, not all of them, reflect that people need to get up to speed and understand that an outcomes based framework is a very different thing.

CHAIR: I must apologise; I have to go. I am double-booked. I will hand over to the deputy chair. Thank you very much for coming in. Hopefully, we can stay in touch.

Ms O'Loughlin : Thank you.

Ms BRODTMANN: So, in terms of changing to a more outcomes based culture, do you think that that is happening? Are we on our way to that? And what, to you, are the cultural indicators—apart from the KPIs, of course? What sense do you get that things are changing?

Ms O'Loughlin : It is early days for us in terms of our involvement in the national agreement reviews; but, without a doubt, the language there is very much that we have to get much more streamlined and focused and think hard about the connection between the performance indicators, conceptually, and the outcomes. The report that went to COAG from the heads of Treasury was very, very clear and good about this very point. So I am pleased that that view is coming through in the engagement so far in the reviews of the national agreements.

The other thing that I think will help it along is simply the process that we are going through, as the council's reports over time get closer to reporting on outcomes. In the early days, it is much more about setting up the base line. But, once we have three, four, five years of data, really, the focus will be much more on what we can say is being achieved and what progress is being made towards those outcomes. I think that, once we get the reports coming out reflecting this different approach to accountability, they will reinforce the fact that the culture change is where the focus should be. Every year, if you like, we are going to be coming back and saying how much progress we have made towards these outcomes and what can we tell the governments of Australia who care about whether we are making progress or dropping back from progress. So I think the reporting process will reinforce that cultural shift.

Ms BRODTMANN: I am getting the sense that you are quite optimistic about it—that the change is happening, that the change will continue, that these outcomes focused KPIs will become more sophisticated and that it is just a matter of time.

Ms O'Loughlin : I do think time, in this process, is really important. I am glad that we are in our third year of national agreement reporting rather than in our first year, because, with almost 2½ years under our belt, it is important to say that it does take time to set up the basis for it and to be able to make, if you like, the sharp, pointed commentary around the outcomes that we need to in order to strengthen the public accountability. You need the strengthened accountability because the other side of the coin is there is a lot more flexibility under these agreements for jurisdictions to do what they think needs to be done to achieve progress towards reform. That is fine and that reflects our federal system, so it is a good thing, but the other side of the coin is that there also has to be very strong public accountability so that people do know what is being achieved.

Ms BRODTMANN: Thank you.

ACTING CHAIR ( Mrs D'Ath ): I have a couple of questions. You just mentioned a report to COAG by the heads of Treasury; is that a public report?

Ms O'Loughlin : To my knowledge, it is not a public report, although it is something you could ask Treasury about if they are appearing before you.

ACTING CHAIR: Okay. Thank you. Also—and this is putting you on the spot a bit, I guess—if given the opportunity, considering the scope of the inquiry that is being conducted by this committee, is there a particular recommendation that you believe the committee could focus on that would see some improvements in the data collection? We are mindful that recommendations keep being made to COAG—and we are not suggesting that those recommendations are not being taken seriously. But we are here, as the chair said, to value-add, if we can, to the process of accountability, and we know that the data collection is a big issue in achieving that. How else might we be able to do that in any recommendations we make?

Ms O'Loughlin : That is putting me on the spot. Let me answer in this way: we report to COAG and our reports have been strong on these issues, with strong recommendations. We are pleased that we have the response that we have from COAG and that action is being taken. As well is that, the issue of good data for public policy and public accountability goes across every parliament in Australia. If we can see that this is supported as a very good reform agenda, which it is—it is a significant reform agenda for public policy—the COAG Reform Council would be very pleased to see that.

ACTING CHAIR: Considering the time, you may want to take this on notice or you may be able to answer this fairly quickly. Is there a mechanism by which COAG reform reports are tabled in parliament? If not, should there be—for example, annual reports to parliament, made by the Prime Minister, covering all six national agreements, or by the relevant portfolio minister for each agreement?

Ms O'Loughlin : At the moment, our reports, as I said, go directly to COAG. They go to the individual first ministers. They go to COAG and to the Prime Minister, and, at the same time, they go to the premiers and the chief ministers. That is whom we report to. It is not our role or our area of remit to advise on whether there should be other accountability mechanisms for those reports. Our role is to report to COAG and for the individual governments to respond.

ACTING CHAIR: As there are no further questions, I would like to thank you very much, Ms O'Loughlin, for coming along today, giving evidence and assisting the committee with this inquiry. If you have been asked to provide additional information—I do not think there was anything you had to come back to us on—we ask that you provide that within four weeks of the transcript becoming available. If the committee has any additional questions, they will send those to you in writing through the secretariat. Thank you very much for your evidence today.

Resolved (on motion by Ms Brodtmann):

That this committee authorises publication, including publication on the parliamentary database, of the transcript of the evidence given before it at public hearing this day.

Committee adjourned at 13:02