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Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee
09/02/2016
Estimates
FINANCE PORTFOLIO

FINANCE PORTFOLIO

In Attendance

Senator Cormann, Minister for Finance and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate

Department of Finance

Executive

Ms Jane Halton AO PSM, Secretary, Department of Finance

Outcome 1 - Support sustainable Australian Government finances through providing high quality policy advice and operational support to government and Commonwealth entities to maintain effective and efficient use of public resources.

Ms Rosemary Huxtable PSM, Deputy Secretary, Budget and Financial Reporting

Ms Teena Blewitt, First Assistant Secretary, Budget and Financial Reporting

Dr Arthur Camilleri, Assistant Secretary, Budget and Financial Reporting

Mr Mark Reid, Assistant Secretary, Budget and Financial Reporting

Ms Cath Patterson, Acting First Assistant Secretary, Budget and Financial Reporting

Mr Nicholas Hunt, First Assistant Secretary, Budget and Financial Reporting

Mr Mark Thomann, First Assistant Secretary, Budget and Financial Reporting

Dr Stein Helgeby, Deputy Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

Mr Alan Greenslade, First Assistant Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

Mr Nathan Smyth, First Assistant Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

Mr Richard Bartlett, First Assistant Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

Mr Lewis Conn, Assistant Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

Mr Mark Richardson, Assistant Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

Mr Andrew Woolf, Assistant Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

Mr Gareth Hall, Assistant Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

Mr Peter Gibson, Assistant Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

Mr Fabian Harding, Assistant Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

Ms Kerry Markoulli, Assistant Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

Mr John Edge, Deputy Secretary, Commercial and Government Services

Mr John Sheridan, First Assistant Secretary, Commercial and Government Services

Ms Stacie Hall, First Assistant Secretary, Commercial and Government Services

Mr Nick Evans, Assistant Secretary, Commercial and Government Services

Outcome 2 - Support an efficient and high-performing public sector through providing leadership to Commonwealth entities in ongoing improvements to public sector governance, including through systems, frameworks, policy, advice, and service delivery.

Dr Stein Helgeby, Deputy Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

Mr Nathan Smyth, First Assistant Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

Ms Laurie Van Veen, Assistant Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

Mr Neil Roberston, Assistant Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

Mr Lembit Suur, First Assistant Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

Ms Thea Daniel, Assistant Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

Mr Richard Bartlett, First Assistant Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

Mr Lewis Conn, Assistant Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

Mr Mark Richardson, Assistant Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

Outcome 3 - Support for Parliamentarians and others as required by the Australian Government through the delivery of, and advice on, entitlements and targeted assistance

Mr David Fredericks, Deputy Secretary, Business Enabling Services

Ms Leonie McGregor, First Assistant Secretary, Business Enabling Services

General

Mr Robin Renwick, First Assistant Secretary, Business Enabling Services

Ms Mary Balzary, First Assistant Secretary, Business Enabling Services

Ms Rina Bruinsma, Acting First Assistant Secretary, Business Enabling Services

Mr Michael Hirschfeld, Acting First Assistant Secretary, Business Enabling Services

Mr Steven Momcilovic, Acting Chief Financial Officer, Business Enabling Services

Mr Stephen Clively, First Assistant Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

Australian Electoral Commission

Mr Tom Rogers, Electoral Commissioner

Mr Kevin Kitson, Acting Deputy Electoral Commissioner

Mr Pablo Carpay, First Assistant Commissioner

Mr Paul Pirani, Chief Legal Officer

Mr Stephen Blackburn, Chief Finance Officer

Mr Andrew Gately, Assistant Commissioner

Mr Tim Courtney, Acting First Assistant Commissioner

Ms Gina Dario, Acting Assistant Commissioner

Ms Gabrielle Paten, Assistant Commissioner

Ms Anna Robinson, Acting Assistant Commissioner

Future Fund Management Agency

Mr David Neal, Managing Director

Dr Raphael Arndt, Chief Investment Officer

Dr Stein Helgeby, Deputy Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

Mr Nathan Smyth, First Assistant Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation

Mr Peter Carrigy-Ryan, Chief Executive Officer

Ms Bronwyn McNaughton, General Counsel

Dr Stein Helgeby, Deputy Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

Mr Nathan Smyth, First Assistant Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

ASC Pty Ltd

Mr Stuart Whiley, Interim Chief Executive Officer

Mr Mark Lamarre, Chief Executive Officer, ASC Shipbuilding

Mr Ashley Menadue, Chief Financial Officer

Ms Wendy Hoad, General Counsel and Company Secretary

Committee met at 09:00

CHAIR ( Senator Bernardi ): I declare open this meeting of the Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee. Today the committee will commence examination of the department and agencies in the Finance portfolio, beginning with the ASC Pty Ltd and proceeding through the agencies and departmental outcomes listed on the program. The committee may also examine the annual reports of the departments and agencies appearing before it. The committee has fixed 1 April 2016 as the date for the return of answers to questions on notice.

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 purpose 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 the discretion to withhold details or explanations from the parliament or its committees, unless the parliament has expressly provided otherwise. The Senate has also resolved 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 a minister. This resolution prohibits only questions asking for opinions on matters of policy. It does not preclude questions asking for explanations of policies or factual questions about when and how policies were adopted.

Officers and senators are familiar with the rules of the Senate governing estimates hearings. If you need assistance, the secretariat has copies of the rules. I particularly draw the attention of witnesses to an order of the Senate on 13 May 2009 specifying the process by which a claim of public interest immunity should be raised. 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 the document.

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)