Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Education and Employment Legislation Committee
06/05/2016
Estimates
EMPLOYMENT PORTFOLIO

EMPLOYMENT PORTFOLIO

In Attendance

Senator Cash, Minister for Employment, Minister for Women, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service

Department of Employment Executive

Ms Renee Leon, PSM, Secretary

Ms Sandra Parker, Deputy Secretary

Mr Martin Hehir, Deputy Secretary

Corporate        

Mr Jamie Clout, Group Manager, Finance, Legal and Governance

Mr Henry Carr, Branch Manager, Finance, Legal and Governance

Mr Glen Casson, Chief Financial Officer, Finance, Legal and Governance

Mr Luke de Jong, General Counsel, Finance, Legal and Governance

Mr Dudley Grounds, Branch Manager, Finance, Legal and Governance

Ms Margaret Kidd, Group Manager, People and Communication

Ms Meredith Fairweather, Branch Manager, People and Communication

Mr Ben Wyers, Branch Manager, People and Communication

Outcome 1 —E mployment

Ms Marsha Milliken, Group Manager, Activation and Work for the Dole

Ms Amanda Cock, Acting Branch Manager, Activation and Work for the Dole

Ms Melinda Hatton, Branch Manager, Activation and Work for the Dole

Mr Derek Stiller, Branch Manager, Activation and Work for the Dole

Ms Stephanie Bennett, Branch Manager, Activation and Work for the Dole

Mr Stephen Moore, Chief Information Officer, Employment Systems

Ms Benedikte Jensen, Branch Manager, Labour Market Strategy

Mr Ivan Neville, Branch Manager Labour Market Strategy

Mr Nick Mowbray, Acting Branch Manager, Labour Market Strategy

Ms Robyn Shannon, Branch Manager, Labour Market Strategy

Mr Anthony Parsons, Group Manager, Quality and Integrity

Ms Medha Kelshiker, Branch Manager, Quality and Integrity

Ms Julie Polson, Branch Manager, Quality and Integrity

Mr Michael Quinn, Branch Manager, Quality and Integrity

Mr Cedric Seveque, Director, Quality and Integrity

Ms Moya Drayton, Group Manager, Youth and Programmes

Ms Kellie Hippit, Acting Branch Manager, Youth and Programmes

Mr Ali Jalayer, Branch Manager, Youth and Programmes

Mr Stuart Watson, Branch Manager, Youth and Programmes

Ms Helen Willoughby, Group Manager, State Network

Outcome 2 —W orkplace Relations and Economic Strategy

Ms Jo Wood, Group Manager, Economic Strategy

Mr Jeremy O'Sullivan, Chief Counsel, Workplace Relations Legal

Mr Adrian Breen, Branch Manager, Workplace Relations Legal

Ms Kelly Hoffmeister, Branch Manager, Workplace Relations Legal

Mr David Rushton, Acting Branch Manager, Workplace Relations Legal

Dr Alison Morehead, Group Manager, Workplace Relations Policy

Ms Jody Anderson, Branch Manager, Workplace Relations Policy

Mr Peter Cully, Branch Manager, Workplace Relations Policy

Ms Alison Durbin, Branch Manager, Workplace Relations Policy

Mr Steve Kibble, Group Manager, Work Health and Safety Policy

Ms Justine Ross, Branch Manager, Work Health and Safety Policy

Ms Debbie Mitchell, Acting Group Manager, Workplace Relations Programmes

Ms Sue Saunders, Branch Manager, Workplace Relations Programmes

Mr Alan Edwards, Branch Manager, Workplace Relations Programmes

Shared Services Centre

Ms Delaine Wilson, Chief Executive Officer

Mr Scott Wallace, Group Manager, ICT

Ms Jill Divorty, Group Manager, Partner Services and Innovation

Ms Kristina Hopkins, Group Manager, Operations Delivery

Ms Jane Hayden, Group Manager, Commercial Services

Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency

Mr Peter Tighe, Chief Executive Officer

Fair Work Building and Construction

Mr Nigel Hadgkiss, Director

Mr Brian Corney, Chief Counsel

Ms Cathy Cato, General Manager, Building Code

Mr Bernie O'Keeffe, Chief Operating Officer

Fair Work Commission

Ms Bernadette O'Neill, General Manager

Ms Ailsa Carruthers, Director, Corporate Services

Ms Louise Clarke, Director, Client Services

Mr Chris Enright, Director, Regulatory Compliance

Mr Jack Lambalk, Chief Financial Officer

Fair Work Ombudsman

Ms Natalie James, Fair Work Ombudsman

Mr Michael Campbell, Deputy Fair Work Ombudsman

Mr Mark Scully, Deputy Fair Work Ombudsman

Mr Michael Clark, Executive Director, Technology and Innovation

Mr Anthony Fogarty, Executive Director

Ms Lynda McAlary-Smith, Executive Director, Proactive Compliance and Education

Mr Tom O'Shea, Executive Director

Ms Antonia Parkes, Executive Director, Advice, Support and Assistance

Mr Steve Ronson, Executive Director, Dispute Resolution and Compliance

Ms Giorgina Strangio, Executive Director, People

Ms Janine Webster, Chief Counsel

Committee met at 08 :59

CHAIR ( Senator McKenzie ): I declare open this meeting of the Education and Employment Legislation Committee on Friday, 6 May 2016. The Senate has referred to the committee the particulars of proposed expenditure for 2016-17 and certain other documents for the education and training, and employment portfolios. The committee may also examine the annual reports of departments and agencies appearing before it.

The Senate has ordered estimates committees to report to the Senate by Wednesday, 11 May 2016, so answers to questions on notice will be required to be returned to the committee by noon on Tuesday, 10 May. Witnesses should note that answers cannot be received if the Senate has been dissolved for an election. However, a motion may be passed at the commencement of the 45th Parliament requesting that answers be provided.

Under standing order 26, the committee must take all evidence in public session. This includes answers to questions on notice. I remind all witnesses that in giving evidence to the committee they are protected by parliamentary privilege. It is unlawful for anyone to threaten or disadvantage a witness on account of evidence given to a committee and such action may be treated by the Senate as a contempt. It is also a contempt to give false or misleading evidence to a committee.

The Senate by resolution in 1999 endorsed the following test of relevance of questions at estimates hearings: any questions going to the operations or financial positions of the departments and agencies which are seeking funds in the estimates are relevant questions for the purposes of estimates hearings. I remind officers that the Senate has resolved that there are no areas in connection with the expenditure of public funds where any person has a discretion to withhold details or explanations from the parliament or its committees, unless the parliament has expressly provided otherwise.

The Senate has resolved also that an officer of a department of the Commonwealth shall not be asked to give opinions on matters of policy and shall be given reasonable opportunity to refer questions asked of the officer to superior officers or to the minister. This resolution prohibits only questions asking for opinions on matters of policy and does not preclude questions asking for explanations of policies or factual questions about when and how policies were adopted.

I particularly draw the attention of witnesses to the order of the Senate from 13 May 2009 specifying the process by which a claim of public interest immunity should be raised.

The extract read as follows—

Public interest immunity claims

That the Senate—

(a) notes that ministers and officers have continued to refuse to provide information to Senate committees without properly raising claims of public interest immunity as required by past resolutions of the Senate;

(b) reaffirms the principles of past resolutions of the Senate by this order, to provide ministers and officers with guidance as to the proper process for raising public interest immunity claims and to consolidate those past resolutions of the Senate;

(c) orders that the following operate as an order of continuing effect:

(1) If:

   (a) a Senate committee, or a senator in the course of proceedings of a committee, requests information or a document from a Commonwealth department or agency; and

   (b) an officer of the department or agency to whom the request is directed believes that it may not be in the public interest to disclose the information or document to the committee, the officer shall state to the committee the ground on which the officer believes that it may not be in the public interest to disclose the information or document to the committee, and specify the harm to the public interest that could result from the disclosure of the information or document.

(2) If, after receiving the officer’s statement under paragraph (1), the committee or the senator requests the officer to refer the question of the disclosure of the information or document to a responsible minister, the officer shall refer that question to the minister.

(3) If a minister, on a reference by an officer under paragraph (2), concludes that it would not be in the public interest to disclose the information or document to the committee, the minister shall provide to the committee a statement of the ground for that conclusion, specifying the harm to the public interest that could result from the disclosure of the information or document.

(4) A minister, in a statement under paragraph (3), shall indicate whether the harm to the public interest that could result from the disclosure of the information or document to the committee could result only from the publication of the information or document by the committee, or could result, equally or in part, from the disclosure of the information or document to the committee as in camera evidence.

(5) If, after considering a statement by a minister provided under paragraph (3), the committee concludes that the statement does not sufficiently justify the withholding of the information or document from the committee, the committee shall report the matter to the Senate.

(6) A decision by a committee not to report a matter to the Senate under paragraph (5) does not prevent a senator from raising the matter in the Senate in accordance with other procedures of the Senate.

(7) A statement that information or a document is not published, or is confidential, or consists of advice to, or internal deliberations of, government, in the absence of specification of the harm to the public interest that could result from the disclosure of the information or document, is not a statement that meets the requirements of paragraph (1) or (4).

(8) If a minister concludes that a statement under paragraph (3) should more appropriately be made by the head of an agency, by reason of the independence of that agency from ministerial direction or control, the minister shall inform the committee of that conclusion and the reason for that conclusion, and shall refer the matter to the head of the agency, who shall then be required to provide a statement in accordance with paragraph (3).

(d) requires the Procedure Committee to review the operation of this order and report to the Senate by 20 August 2009.

(13 May 2009 J.1941)

(Extract, Senate Standing Orders, pp 124-125)

Witnesses are specifically reminded that a statement that information or a document is confidential or consists of advice to government is not a statement that meets the requirements of the 2009 order. Instead, witnesses are required to provide some specific indication of the harm to the public interest that could result from the disclosure of the information or of the document.