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STANDING COMMITTEE ON FINANCE AND PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION
12/02/2007
PARLIAMENT PORTFOLIO
Department of Parliamentary Services

CHAIR —I call the committee to order and welcome Ms Penfold and officers from the Department of Parliamentary Services. Ms Penfold, do you want to make an opening statement before I invite senators to ask questions?

Ms Penfold —No, I do not have any opening statements.

Senator FIFIELD —Ms Penfold, I draw your attention to your recent memo of 18 January to building occupants. It advised of a trial in the building of setting the air conditioning temperature at two degrees higher than 22 degrees, which is the usual setting; it was being pursued as a water savings measure. I should commend you at the outset for the concern that you showed to building occupants in that memo where you said:

Please take account of this trial in making your plans for next week, and especially in choosing clothing for the week.

I suspect that you may have rather stealthily been trying to revive the spirit of the Roman senate and were perhaps encouraging senators to wear something more suitable for the temperature, like togas. I was disturbed at the prospect of members of the House possibly wearing shorts and long socks, or maybe a sarong. I am not aware if anyone took that up. I was wondering if you could update the committee on how much water you estimate was saved as a result of the trial and whether those new settings will be permanent and give any other feedback that you have had.

Ms Penfold —Can I just say first that the one thing you did not mention that should also have been a matter of concern is the safari suit.

Senator ROBERT RAY —Don’t forget the goatee beard.

Ms Penfold —I have never associated goatee beards with being cooler.

Senator ROBERT RAY —No, safari suits.

Senator FIFIELD —I think Senator Ray is making the point that they go together.

CHAIR —Goatee beards are certainly not cool, Ms Penfold.

Ms Penfold —I do my best to avoid it. More seriously, over the period of the trial, which was only four days because it was the week with the Australia Day holiday in it, we used on average 50 kilolitres of water less than in the previous week. If I can put 50 kilolitres in context, our target daily use for complying with ACT water restrictions is 870 kilolitres, so 50 out of 870 is a reasonable achievement. We cannot claim that all of that was due to the change in the air conditioning, because the average temperature during that week was also slightly lower: 33.1 degrees compared with 35 degrees the previous week. So, clearly, some of that saving has been because there was less pressure on the whole air-conditioning system. The other figure I should have given was the average use of water by the air-conditioning system, which was around 250 kilolitres in the previous week and just under 200 in the week we were looking at. It sounds to me—and it is confirmed by some other figures we have—that at least a significant proportion of that 50 kilolitres a day saving was due to turning up the air conditioning.

Senator FIFIELD —Is there are also a dollar saving in terms of water not used?

Ms Penfold —There is a dollar saving. It is not a substantial one in the overall scheme of things. I think the marginal cost of water we use is to $2.29 a kilolitre, so 50 kilolitres costs $110 or $115 a day. That certainly adds up.

Senator FIFIELD —Water is cheap in this country, isn’t it?

Ms Penfold —I think that would be a fair statement. Certainly, regarding whatever we do with this in the future and whatever we recommend to the Presiding Officers, we will note the financial savings but they will not be a determining factor.

Senator FIFIELD —Regarding the water savings target, is it 35 per cent?

Ms Penfold —Yes—35 per cent of use from the equivalent period last year.

Senator FIFIELD —Is that something that the ACT government mandates has to be done or is it a target for business or industry?

Ms Penfold —That is the target used by ACTEW and, in order to achieve that, they impose a variety of restrictions on domestic users, and most of us as domestic users are not in a position to say, ‘Well, we’ll save 35 per cent,’ because we do not keep an eye on our meters and so on. So ordinary domestic users get a range of restrictions aimed at getting that overall 35 per cent saving across the territory. We are in a slightly different position for two reasons. Let me go back a step. As far as ordinary residents of the ACT are concerned, I believe those restrictions are mandated and if you are found ignoring those restrictions you may be penalised. For major users, which we are, the way ACTEW operates is to basically give us the target and say, ‘Here’s what we want you to achieve. You can work out for yourself how to achieve it.’ For instance, we do some things that domestic users would not be allowed to do, like we are still using some water on turf—sprinklers on turf—more broadly than the times when ACT residents can do that. The other thing that is, I guess, part of the answer to your question is that, if we were to take a fairly technical constitutional point, I do not think we would be able to be prosecuted for ignoring ACT water restrictions targets if we chose to.

Senator FIFIELD —Has there been much feedback from building occupants about the level of comfort?

Ms Penfold —There has been a reasonable amount, although perhaps not that much, considering how many people work in this building. And I suppose we do have to take account of the fact that we did the trial in a fairly quiet week. I do not have the exact numbers with me now, because we were still getting feedback quite late last week. Each time I put out a new circular about it, another group of people came back to us with comments. It is in the order of 35 comments from the period when I first put out the circular and through the week that we were trialling, and since then some of the later comments may have been ones that people did not get around to sending in, and there were a few more in response to the circular I put out last week which said, ‘Here’s where we’re up to with the air conditioning. Of those, probably the majority of them say, ‘That’s terrific; it’s far too cold in this building normally,’ and then there is a much smaller group who say, ‘No, that’s far too hot for me.’ It suggests to me that we need to look at our whole air-conditioning system in a slightly different way, but most of the people who complained about it being too hot said, ‘Really, it’s always too hot,’ which suggests that 24 degrees up from 22 just exacerbated a problem that they already had—whether it is a problem with how the air conditioning operates in their room or a problem with how their metabolism operates. Who knows. There were a few other comments about areas where there might have been a lot of people gathered. There was one comment, for instance, about a committee room getting rather hot.

What is holding up the submission that I am working on for the Presiding Officers is just pulling that feedback together and analysing it properly, given that it keeps coming in. We are looking at whether there is scope for more variation in where we set air-conditioning temperatures for different parts of the building. We do set the target temperatures in a very large number of different points around the building; it is not just one place where we key in 22 or whatever. Within reason, there is scope for saying, ‘If lots of people think the building is too cold generally, let’s put it up across the board and then adjust it for the areas and the people who really cannot cope with that.’

Senator FIFIELD —You have not found yourself needing to wear more Egyptian cotton or other fabrics that breathe?

Ms Penfold —I tend to favour the cottons and linens anyway, Senator; but also I would have to say that I have got a pretty high threshold, in a sense. I tend to not notice the temperature until it gets really extreme—which is because I am having so much fun with my work.

Senator FIFIELD —Fantastic. So a decision has not yet been taken to make it permanent?

Ms Penfold —No decision has been taken, and the Presiding Officers have not yet seen our submission.

Senator ROBERT RAY —How does the decision to set air conditioning at a specific level for the building affect the individual controls in rooms? Most rooms have a little thing that you can fiddle around with and press a button. Does that override your decision?

Ms Penfold —Those little things only allow you to vary the air conditioning within a fairly limited range—up or down maybe one degree or so. If the Presiding Officers were to choose to go ahead with an ongoing increase, we would need to address, as a separate issue, whether we leave those controls available to people or whether we disable them.

Senator FIFIELD —On another water related issue, I noted another memo of yours which said that, during the break, shower heads were replaced with a water-saving triple-A shower head—which I know Senator Mason has been concerned about previously. Could you give me a breakdown of how many showers there are in the building and the cost of replacing the shower heads?

Ms Penfold —I think there are 270 shower heads. I will have to ask someone behind me for a cost of the shower heads themselves. The staffing costs were, I think, possibly what you call opportunity costs only, in the sense that they were done during that quiet period. Now that I think about it, there might have been one extra staff member rostered for a few afternoons or rostered a bit longer for a few afternoons to finish that. But I would have to get you exact figures and take that on notice.

Senator FIFIELD —If we could get the cost of the shower heads—

CHAIR —Sorry, Senator Fifield. That is for shower heads in individual offices and also in the gym—is that right?

Ms Penfold —It is for all the shower heads in the building. That is the 270. When you think about it, that is 226 suites for members and senators. I do not know how many are in the gym—a handful on each side, presumably. You would know better than I do.

CHAIR —More than a handful, but it has been done across the board.

Ms Penfold —And then a few areas around the building where there are, as it were, generally available bathrooms.

Senator FIFIELD —Were members and senators consulted before the shower heads were changed or notified that they were to be changed?

Ms Penfold —That is a very interesting question. They certainly were not consulted in January, but of course this is the end of a program that has been around for a long time. You might be aware that, in fact, the shower heads in the Senate had been changed quite some time ago. After that, there was a general program by the building maintenance staff such that, whenever a plumber had to go to a suite for something else, he would take a triple-A shower head with him and, if the suite had not already been changed, he would fix that up there and then. That is obviously a very low-cost option. This was just a decision in January when things were fairly quiet—and, of course, as the water restrictions started to bite—that perhaps we could move through the rest of the program and finish that up.

Senator FIFIELD —And there were some problems experienced after the shower heads were put in?

Ms Penfold —There were some problems with the installation that was done in January.

Senator FIFIELD —What were those problems? I guess water either comes out of the shower head or it does not.

Ms Penfold —There is a washer in part of the shower head which regulates the flow. As I understand it, in the shower heads that we had been using earlier, that washer is right down near the shower rose. In the new ones, I think that washer—Senator Mason, you are making this very difficult!

CHAIR —Your plumbing skills are quite amazing, Ms Penfold!

Ms Penfold —I am impressed with myself too, Senator! In the new ones, that washer is up at the point where you screw the new shower head onto the connection, and some of those had been overtightened, with the result that effectively no water came out.

Senator FIFIELD —After you install a shower nozzle, there would be a fairly easy test to see whether your installation has worked, I would think, which would be to turn the tap on.

Ms Penfold —Absolutely.

Senator FIFIELD —I am not a plumber.

Ms Penfold —And I am not a plumber, and I was not doing the installation.

Senator FIFIELD —I guess the additional cost of rectifying this is just labour—someone turning up and readjusting it.

Ms Penfold —That is right, yes.

Senator ROBERT RAY —What did you do with the old shower heads?

Ms Penfold —I do not know. I would have to take that on notice, or possibly there is an answer behind me.

Senator ROBERT RAY —You presumably sold them to other people to use excess water, and therefore it is a zero-sum game.

Ms Penfold —I suspect we did not. I suspect we are more likely to have—

The PRESIDENT —Buried them.

Ms Penfold —possibly buried them, as the President says, or disposed of them in some other way.

Senator FIFIELD —The ACT government probably destroys them so they can never be used again, like weapons! This is my final shower question. I have seen your memo—I think it is about a one-third saving per minute, in terms of the water that comes out?

Ms Penfold —Yes—the figures I have in my mind are 24 litres to nine litres per minute.

Senator FIFIELD —Has anyone ever checked whether people with these water-saving nozzles actually shower longer because it takes them longer to do what they need to do; whether in fact there is actually no water saving but perhaps they have longer showers and use more water?

Senator ROBERT RAY —There is a job for you. You might get on the front bench!

Ms Penfold —No. I confess we have not run an audit of people’s showering habits. I think the best we can do is offer the people in this building the opportunity to participate in saving water and hope that they do the right thing by us. Also, we can perhaps rely on the fact that most of them are very busy people who simply do not have time to stand under the shower for three times as long.

Senator, I do have some of those figures now. We have not sold the replaced shower heads. I am told we hang onto them, possibly for use in an emergency—

Senator FIFIELD —Or hoping for better days in terms of water?

Ms Penfold —As a policy, I doubt that we will ever go back to them. The program that was finished in January involved replacing 50 shower heads, which cost—and these figures are very round but they are in the right ballpark—$50 a head for the 50 showers, and the labour costs probably worked out at about another $50 per shower head.

Senator FAULKNER —Also on water savings, you mentioned the ACTEW target for the building of 870 kilolitres. Is that for indoor and outdoor?

Ms Penfold —That is the total amount. It represents 65 per cent of our total average daily usage for the equivalent three months last year.

Senator FAULKNER —So it is outdoor and indoor?

Ms Penfold —Yes, everything.

Senator FAULKNER —Is it true that last summer 1,012 kilolitres a day went towards outdoor irrigation?

Ms Penfold —That sounds exactly right.

Senator FAULKNER —What is the breakdown between outdoor and indoor water usage on the figures you have there?

Ms Penfold —The 1,012 kilolitres that you have referred to is within a total use of 1,339 kilolitres. Based on a very quick bit of maths, I guess that would be 70-odd per cent.

Senator FAULKNER —The target is 870 kilolitres. When will you know, or do you know, how you have progressed in meeting the target?

Ms Penfold —We have figures on a daily basis. I have a chart—which I would be happy to table, but I will hold it up for present purposes—which shows that we are right on the target usage.

Senator FAULKNER —At this stage, do you expect to meet the target or are you on schedule to meet it?

Ms Penfold —We are working to meet the target. When you see this chart more closely, you will see that we are keeping very close to the target. Occasionally, we go a little bit over or a little bit under it. The rain we got in the last two days has brought us down again. The forecasts for this week are for relatively mild temperatures. This means that, with a bit of luck, by the end of this week we will stay under. If we have another hot week after that, we might go a little bit over, and so on. It is working well so far.

Senator FAULKNER —This includes trials of different types of more drought-resistant grasses for the roof of Parliament House? Is that right?

Ms Penfold —We are trialling some different, more drought-resistant grasses. When you say ‘this includes’, the only significance of those trials for the immediate water savings is that we have kept putting the trial amounts of water on those areas, even though we have eliminated watering in the rest of the peripheral landscape. The trial mainly involves buffalo grass. The trial drought-resistant grasses are in what we call the ‘peripheral landscape’, which is the area outside Parliament Drive. We have basically stopped watering any of that area except for the trial areas. The water we are putting on those areas is included in the water that we have to count.

When you talk about trialling those for the roof, that is jumping quite a long way ahead of where we are at at the moment. What we are trying to work at is what we can get with those grasses and what they might work for. As with changing the air-conditioning temperatures, we will be going to the Presiding Officers with probably a fairly long-term plan or a long-term set of options for what we might do with the landscape in general to save water and to make it less thirsty.

Senator FAULKNER —Given the reductions from 1,339 kilolitres to 870 kilolitres, can you say to the committee how many kilolitres are used watering the grass on the Parliament House roof inside Parliament Drive?

Ms Penfold —I do not have that at my fingertips, although I know that there are people out there who do have those figures and I can get—

Senator FAULKNER —If the person out there knows, let them tell us.

Ms Penfold —We got some of those figures pulled together a couple of weeks ago, but the figures that I saw had some discrepancies in them which appeared to be related to the fact that there was not clear agreement on where the roof was. The grass ramps are a single continuous set of turf but they are not all technically part of a roof.

Senator FAULKNER —I will let you define the roof how you like. The roof is a roof is a roof as far as I am concerned. You just give us the figure.

Ms Penfold —We can get some figures, and whatever figures we get I will be able to tell you which area they cover. As I said, my problem was that I had two sets of figures which both referred to the roof and were clearly covering different areas.

Senator FAULKNER —So they can be provided forthwith, can they?

Ms Penfold —They are being chased right now.

Senator FAULKNER —Thank you very much. In previous figures are you able to say what the proportion was for the roof?

Ms Penfold —I could not tell you that off the top of my head. Once we identify those figures, it should not be too hard to go back and work out.

Senator FAULKNER —Are most of the water features in Parliament House now empty?

Ms Penfold —They are almost empty. Walking around, you would have possibly noticed that some of them have a little bit of water left in the bottom. We are using that water gradually to water bits of the landscape around them. But they are certainly not operating.

Senator FAULKNER —So there are no operating fountains now at Parliament House.

Ms Penfold —Apart from the one inside the Members Hall, which we have not included in this change because it does not use a lot of—

Senator FAULKNER —You mean the central fountain?

Ms Penfold —‘Fountain’ is not—

Senator FAULKNER —The water feature.

The PRESIDENT —The money fountain.

Ms Penfold —The one in which the money gets thrown.

Senator FAULKNER —Through the hard work of this committee, we have managed to have the funds diverted to UNICEF. We do not really know what happened to those funds in the past. It is that fountain—the wishing well.

Ms Penfold —That one is still operating. I would like to make one small qualification, and I have no doubt that I can get a fairly quick answer on this, too. The last time that I inquired about the water features I was told that there was one water feature that had some aquatic plants in it and the landscape staff were working on moving those into some little tubs that they could look after in the nursery before that one could be properly emptied. I imagine that that work has been finished, but I have not heard that. I expect to hear an update on that shortly, too.

Senator FAULKNER —Hopefully, we will be able to have those figures soon in relation to the amount of water on the roof. I have read over the years that there needs to be, just for the protection of the membranes and so forth of the roof of the building, a certain amount of water remaining—a certain dampness, if you like. Is that right?

Ms Penfold —I have heard the same stories. What it seems to amount to, after a bit more investigation of this recently, is that the waterproof membranes over the roof have to stay covered because they are sensitive to ultraviolet light. Apparently they do not have to stay damp, which means that if you were in really dire straits you could put tanbark, astroturf or old copies of Hansard on top.

Senator FAULKNER —I see. I noticed that you have actually publicly canvassed the possible use of plastic turf. That is right, is it not? I read that in a newspaper.

Ms Penfold —I have publicly canvassed that that is a suggestion that we at the higher levels of the department sometimes make as a method of getting across the seriousness of our message that we really need to think very much harder than perhaps has been done in the past about how long we can sustain the current landscape in the current climate.

Senator FAULKNER —So your speculation about the use of plastic turf at Parliament House is not serious; it is just something that was done for a bit of media coverage?

Ms Penfold —No, it was not done for media coverage. It was done, as I said, to draw to the attention of the relevant staff how desperate the situation might be.

Senator FAULKNER —Do you normally draw things to the attention of the relevant staff through the pages of the mass media?

Ms Penfold —No, the media coverage related to what I had said to the journalist was sometimes canvassed around the department. My recollection is that it was reported in exactly that way.

Senator FAULKNER —Has there been any planning done for plastic or astroturf at all? Have any costings been done?

Ms Penfold —Absolutely not.

Senator FAULKNER —So no planning has been done for it at all? It is a throwaway line effectively. It sounds like it is.

Ms Penfold —As I said, it is an indication of how serious things could be.

Senator ROBERT RAY —But it is not any more because you have just blown the cover. You cannot bluff anyone with that anymore when you say you are never going to do it.

Ms Penfold —I may have to move onto the old copies of Hansard. There has been some serious planning—

Senator FAULKNER —We will get to the copies of Hansard soon.

Ms Penfold —There has been some serious thought given to other approaches to the landscape that do not include—

Senator FAULKNER —What serious thought is that then, Ms Penfold?

Ms Penfold —We are looking at a range of things. As we have already discussed, we are looking at more drought-resistant grasses. The trials so far mainly relate to buffalo grass varieties, but there are some other possibilities—some other native grasses and so on—that may also have potential. There is some work being done on the possibility of replacing some areas of turf with quite different sorts of landscape, whether they are groundcovers, native grasses planted in different ways or whatever. Those are the sorts of things we are talking about. That is all at a very early stage. In fact I had a discussion with some of the senior landscape staff only on Friday about developing this into a substantial project.

Senator FAULKNER —Are there any safety issues with the emptying of the main fountain in the forecourt, the main entrance to Parliament House?

Ms Penfold —There could be safety issues. It seems that, when you do not have water in that water feature, it is just a little more difficult for people walking around it to register where the edges are and where to be careful. That is why, having emptied it, we have surrounded it with a fairly dramatic safety fence: to avoid those problems.

Senator ROBERT RAY —Why is it there? An article in the Canberra Times quoted your offsider, Mr Kenny—though he has probably been misquoted. The article said:

He says the fence is a reminder to tourists that Parliament House is not exempt from Canberra’s strict water restrictions.

I assume there is another reason as well for putting the fence up?

Ms Penfold —The basic reason certainly is to stop people falling into it or, as I said, missing their step when they do not have visual cues of the water. I will let Mr Kenny—

Senator ROBERT RAY —Correct the record, Mr Kenny.

Mr Kenny —It is there as a safety measure.

Senator ROBERT RAY —And the side benefit is to remind the tourists that we are on the straight and narrow as well.

Mr Kenny —I think that was an interpretation by the journalist.

Senator ROBERT RAY —Okay.

Senator FAULKNER —Is it true that complaints have been received from people that the fence is an eyesore? I read that also in the Canberra Times. It is possible, in fact, that Senator Ray and I have read the same article.

Mr Kenny —When the fountain was originally being emptied, it was part of a clean-up as a result of the storms that we had here over, I think, the New Year’s Eve period. There was quite a lot of muck that gathered in the fountain. The best way to clean it out was to empty it, and they put a different fence up at short notice, which was a much more robust construction. I did hear complaints—including in the lead-up to the Australia Day concert out the front—that that sort of fence would be not particularly attractive. We replaced that before the concert. As I said, the first fence was put up at fairly short notice because there was some clean-up work that needed to be done.

Senator ROBERT RAY —The timing of that fits.

Ms Penfold —I should add that there have been some minor comments since then about the blue colour around the footings, if I can call them that, of the fence.

Senator FAULKNER —In the DPS annual report 2005-06, the target to cut greenhouse gas emissions here by 1.5 per cent was not met and they actually went up by 4.6 per cent. That is right, isn’t it?

Ms Penfold —That sounds right. Would you have a page reference?

Senator FAULKNER —No, I would not have a page reference, sorry, but someone will have it.

Ms Penfold —Yes.

Senator FAULKNER —Do any of the measures that have been canvassed at this committee this morning—and I was thinking particularly in relation to the air conditioning, but perhaps some of the others—have a positive impact in relation to meeting our greenhouse target here?

Ms Penfold —The air-conditioning trial did have a positive impact and an increase in the air-conditioning temperature would also have a positive impact. The week we ran the trial, we saved a bit over 3.3 megawatt hours of energy out of a total of about 16. It was 16 point something the week before the trial and 13 point something the week of the trial. Again, that was a 20 per cent reduction in energy use and that comes with a corresponding reduction in greenhouse emissions.

Senator FAULKNER —One of the other issues that has, of course, been raised—and I imagine this would be a more significant problem to fix than, say, shower heads—is the fact that there are no dual-flush toilets in Parliament House. I do not think there are any or many; can you confirm that for us?

Ms Penfold —We have been trialling a variety of things to reduce the water used in flushing toilets and urinals. We have trialled a variety of different urinals, starting from the public toilets. I think they started down in the public toilets right at the front of the public underground car park; those are spreading. There is a project on at the moment to switch to dual-flush toilets in most of the outstanding public toilets in the building—that is, in the public areas. We are hoping that, once that project gets going, we can actually move further through the rest of the building and do some more of those, possibly right through.

Senator FAULKNER —How many toilets are in Parliament House?

Ms Penfold —There are 880-odd.

Senator FAULKNER —How many of them would currently be dual-flush?

Ms Penfold —I do not know that I can assert that any of them are. Someone will get that information for us.

Senator FAULKNER —If there are, there are very few, obviously?

Ms Penfold —Very few so far.

Senator FAULKNER —And the plan is to work on that?

Ms Penfold —There is a project already. As it were, the project plans and so on are being worked on by our staff and the contracted project manager. I am not quite sure when that should start but it will not be long.

The PRESIDENT —Eight hundred and eighty bricks might be of help.

Ms Penfold —Mr President, you know better than that.

The PRESIDENT —That is the old-fashioned way of saving water—just put a brick in the toilet cistern.

Senator FAULKNER —I thought you were referring to the fact that in the old days people were used to put a brick in the pan to make it harder for the bloke picking them up. I did not know what you were talking about there!

Ms Penfold —Could I correct two things? First is my own statement that there are 880 toilets. I now have some figures that say 760. The brick in the cistern, which we have all used in other circumstances, does not work in this case because there are no cisterns. All of the toilets just hook into a pipe.

Senator FAULKNER —I thought the President had broken his duck with a good idea, but, sorry about that, he is yet to get off the mark.

Ms Penfold —And I do not think that even putting a large brick in the storage thing would work, because it is a matter of how much pressure gets—

Senator FAULKNER —Fair enough. So do you have the figure on the kilolitreage usage for the lawns for us yet?

Ms Penfold —It is still coming.

Senator FAULKNER —We might come back to that when that is available. I will move on to some other issues, if I could, Chair.

CHAIR —The committee would be delighted.

Senator MURRAY —If you are going to move away from general questions on the building—

Senator FAULKNER —Not necessarily the building, but I was going to move away from water usage. That is how I would describe it. I might say, Senator Mason, none of us has been obsessed about it, and I am pleased to know that Senator Fifield has joined your obsession about the showers. That is terrific.

Senator MURRAY —I just wanted to ask a question about energy. As I understand it, under the energy efficiency program, an energy audit has been conducted of the building. That is right, isn’t it?

Ms Penfold —Is this recent?

Senator MURRAY —The government has a program called Energy Efficiency in Government Operations. Whilst the parliament is not a government operation, certainly in my view, nevertheless the principle applies and, as part of that approach, they are conducting energy audits. I would have thought that, before you would even commence deciding on what you do with energy in the building, you would conduct an energy audit. So I want to establish from you: has an energy audit been conducted?

Ms Penfold —We have recently done our own, whether or not it is an audit. We had a consultant look at our energy use and what we might be able to do in the future. But I do not think that is the same thing that you are asking about, Senator, so we are just pursuing that.

Senator MURRAY —Have you been given any advice on whether or not you should have an energy audit?

Ms Penfold —I have not. This may go back a long way. The answer to that seems to be that there was a minor audit done as part of the consultancy that I just mentioned, obviously to lay the ground work for recommendations for the future, but we are not aware of having been audited directly externally or being expected to produce one ourselves.

Senator MURRAY —With my drawing it to your attention, are you of a mind to consider it, bearing in mind an energy audit implies a holistic review of energy usage and potential savings? The consequence of that is a reduction in greenhouse emissions. You have already drawn our attention to the consequences of raising the temperature of air conditioning—it lowers energy usage and greenhouse emissions. An energy audit is a holistic and total approach to the building, and I understand governments are conducting that in other areas.

Ms Penfold —I do not have any problem with the suggestion that you have made, and it may well be that we need to move to a full-scale audit. I would like to look at the audit that was done as part of that energy review to see whether that is, in effect, what we would like to see or whether we need something more substantial.

Senator MURRAY —Could I ask you to report back to us—not on notice but next time we meet in estimates—on whether an energy audit should be considered, what its costs would be, what its benefits would be or whether you think it is unnecessary?

Ms Penfold —Certainly.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Ms Penfold, I am one of those people who is a perennial complainer about how cold this building is and, indeed, I would have to say it was particularly unpleasant last Monday and Tuesday. Can you explain to me the fluctuations in temperature across this building? You can go into some rooms and they are so cold. Surely that must be affecting our energy usage. Just following up on what Senator Murray said, if we are trying to save energy, why do we have rooms in this building that are so cold that you sit there and shiver? Surely that is part of the bigger picture. Can you explain to me how you regulate? Can’t we do this a bit better?

Ms Penfold —We very probably can, and that was the suggestion I was making earlier: that, having established that there are some parts of the building that clearly are too cold for most of the people who use them, and other parts that perhaps get too hot quite quickly, we should be looking in a more sophisticated way at which parts of the building need to be heated above the standard and whether there are some that need to be cooled below it rather than having a standard temperature pretty much across the board.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —I am really pleased to hear that. For those of us who have had concerns about the temperature in this building for quite some time and have provided feedback, I am really pleased to see that finally we have thought about some parts of the building needing to be cooler and some needing much more direct attention. What happens to the feedback? I have frequently made comments about this. Is there a procedure in place where you do come back with feedback? Have you had complaints? It is just appalling. I have a cold because last week I sat for two days shivering.

Senator FAULKNER —Are you attacking me? Please feel free to attack me about politics but not about the temperature of the building!

Senator MURRAY —She probably has a cold because one of your colleagues sneezed on her!

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Maybe, but if the temperatures were a little—

Senator FAULKNER —I understand they are always sneezing on her, Senator Murray.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Is that what the problem is!

Ms Penfold —If I can set the context, my understanding is that complaints about air conditioning come from senators or members via their departmental service officers, who are in their respective departments. They are fed through to my people—and John can give you a bit more on that in a minute. Similarly, complaints from the ministerial wing come through the Ministerial Wing Support Group and are fed through to us. Anyone else—my staff or external bodies operating in the building—comes straight to us. Mr Nakkan could give you more information about how the complaints are handled.

Mr Nakkan —As Ms Penfold indicated, in general an individual request or complaint about environmental conditions in offices or areas in the building is referred to each department’s departmental service officer. In the Senate, that is through the office of the Usher of the Black Rod. The DSO then calls our Maintenance Services help desk, who take the call immediately and dispatch a tradesman to investigate it. Our building management system monitors temperatures in all areas of the building. Should it get outside standard tolerances, it will normally generate a low-priority alarm, which might then also determine someone to go and investigate it. Complaints about—in this example—cold rooms are not always associated with the pure temperature of the room, so it may not be how much cooling we are putting into that room. There is a fairly complex relationship between temperature, airflow, humidity and other environmental factors.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —All I am saying, Ms Penfold, is that we are clearly addressing this, and I think it would be useful for those of us who have had an interest in this to get some feedback about what we are doing, the procedures and, in particular, parts of the building—and even our rooms. I sometimes find that I put the temperature at a particular point and then somebody who is either cleaning or whatever comes in and turns it back to the negative side. I appreciate that, if that is the facility in my office, I am entitled to regulate that. These are the sorts of things. Those of us who prefer warmer temperatures are doing you a favour. Those are my comments.

CHAIR —That’s the Mediterranean effect!

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —It is the Mediterranean—thank you!

Senator FAULKNER —I want to ask about another matter—first of all to get a very brief update, if you can perhaps provide documentation, in relation to the effective functioning or otherwise of the bollards. That has been pretty well sorted out now, has it?

Ms Penfold —I think we have made a reasonable amount of progress. We had a fair bit of work done on them at the end of last year and finished up with a recommissioning and proper handover. We are now putting together a proper maintenance contract, I think with the people who installed them. I think the maintenance under that will start possibly this month or possibly next month. Since then, the malfunctions seem to have been reduced. There have not been all that many over the last two or three months but, on the other hand, we have to recognise that it has not been very busy for most of that period, so we still have not seen how they are going to perform under pressure as a result of that recommissioning and the new maintenance regime.

Senator FAULKNER —Are they out of warranty now?

Ms Penfold —Yes, I think they are out of the defects liability period. I do not know that we have a warranty as such.

Senator FAULKNER —The defects liability period—was that covered in the recommissioning? Is the recommissioning the last step in that?

Ms Penfold —That is probably a fair description of it.

Senator FAULKNER —So no costs of the recommissioning were borne by DPS?

Ms Penfold —No, we did not pay for the recommissioning. We will be paying for maintenance under the maintenance contract.

Senator FAULKNER —What is the value of the maintenance contract? First of all, is there a base contractual fee and then a workload-dependent element of it?

Ms Penfold —My understanding is that the contract is still being worked through, but—

Mr Kenny —Work that is taking place at the moment will cost $32,000 over the next few weeks and then an ongoing price will be negotiated.

Senator FAULKNER —So work being undertaken at the moment is going to cost $32,000. That is not the recommissioning; that is post-recommissioning, is it?

Mr Kenny —Yes.

Senator FAULKNER —It was not a very effective recommissioning, then, was it?

Mr Bray —The recommissioning process involved a re-testing of the operational system to make sure everything was functioning correctly. It was not that any extra work was done; it was just to check that everything was operating as it should operate. That was what was carried out at no cost to DPS.

Senator FAULKNER —How long did the recommissioning take—half a day?

Mr Bray —It took several days. I cannot tell you exactly, but it was three or four days of testing each of the systems at the Senate entry, the House of Representatives entry and the ministerial entrance. It was a matter of going through each of those areas and testing the actual machinery and software operating procedure.

Senator FAULKNER —I do not know whether ‘recommissioning’ is necessarily the best description of that. ‘Testing’ sounds like a better description—testing at the end of the defects liability period. So they were not recommissioned, were they; they were just tested?

Mr Bray —Testing is part of what we call commissioning. The term is ‘testing and commissioning’. It is one and the other. In commissioning, you set the equipment into full operational mode and, by doing that, you are testing the system to make sure it is operating as it is designed to operate.

Senator FAULKNER —What was the handover date?

Mr Bray —I cannot quote the date off the top of my head. I will have to check that and come back to you.

Senator FAULKNER —You can take that on notice. Can you tell us approximately?

Mr Bray —It was in early to mid-December.

Senator FAULKNER —That is fair enough. I would appreciate it if you could get us the actual date. Since that time, what was the $32,000 spent on?

Mr Bray —The bollards have to go through a routine maintenance process. Every 12 months they go through major maintenance work in a number of activities We have received a price from the contractor to do that work, which we have agreed to. That is $32,000. It is basically a major maintenance activity that will have to be done every 12 months.

Senator FAULKNER —So that is an annual fee?

Mr Bray —That is right.

Senator FAULKNER —That is going to be a contracted annual fee, is it?

Mr Bray —That is right. In principle, yes, it will be.

Senator FAULKNER —And separately to that you have a maintenance contract established.

Mr Bray —That is right. The maintenance contract also deals with responding to call-outs if the system malfunctions or fails. So there will be a call-out rate during normal office hours and there will be an after-hours call-out rate. Obviously, there is also a standby rate where they just stand by the phone and then, if they are actually called in, there is a rate for every hour—for a minimum number of hours—for attending to rectify the problem. They are all the various scenarios that occur. There is also routine maintenance at, say, three-month and six-month intervals as well. We need to negotiate with our maintenance section as to that work and charges that will be paid for that work to be carried out.

Senator FAULKNER —So to get this clear: there is an annual maintenance fee, which is at this stage going to be contracted for $32,000 a year; there is a three-monthly or six-monthly maintenance schedule; and a regular maintenance contract, including a standby rate and a call-out rate. Is that correct?

Mr Bray —That is right. All those issues will be addressed in the one maintenance contract.

Senator FAULKNER —And that contract has not been finalised?

Mr Bray —Not yet. They are still going through the process of negotiating all those terms and conditions. In order to keep the bollards performing properly we have agreed to pay this one-off major maintenance activity, which now needs to be done, whilst the negotiations for the ongoing contract are resolved. So we pay the $32,000, the necessary maintenance work—that needs to be done now—is carried out and, in the intervening few weeks or couple of months, DPS will finalise the ongoing maintenance contract.

Senator FAULKNER —Is that ongoing contract subject to some sort of competitive tendering process at the moment or has the actual tenderer been chosen?

Mr Bray —No, the tenderer is the contractor himself. He is the only provider locally who can service the bollards. There is consideration by DPS as to whether we can carry out some of those maintenance activities ourselves, but the benefits and costs of that option need to be looked at. Certainly, some very simple routine tasks could be done by in-house DPS staff and the more sophisticated work by the external contractor.

Senator FAULKNER —The contract has been determined. The issue now goes to the detail of the dollar sums contained for the various elements of the contract? Is that right?

Mr Bray —That is correct.

Senator FAULKNER —Are you able to tell us what the pattern of use and percentage of malfunctions et cetera have been over the past few months since we last met? Has it been going well, averagely or poorly? What is the assessment?

Mr Bray —Generally, it has been going well. But we do not know whether that is because there has not been the demand on the bollards while the house has not been sitting. The feeling is that it is getting better.

Senator ROBERT RAY —How many bollards have been struck, as opposed to not going up and down, since we last met?

Mr Bray —How many impacts?

Senator ROBERT RAY —Yes.

Ms Penfold —Since?

Senator ROBERT RAY —Since we last met. I know that there has been one, because I was sitting there watching it.

Ms Penfold —There was one on 8 November.

Senator ROBERT RAY —A Comcar?

The PRESIDENT —I can give you a copy of the photo on a DVD, if you like.

Senator ROBERT RAY —I think it might be a different one.

Ms Penfold —Senate entry?

Senator ROBERT RAY —Yes.

Ms Penfold —It does not specify here whether it was a Comcar. The table seems to specify where it is a Comcar.

Senator ROBERT RAY —It was a Comcar. I can assure you of that, because  I saw it.

Ms Penfold —If you say so.

Senator FAULKNER —Can you table the table, which we have done previously?

Ms Penfold —Yes, we can table the table.

Senator FAULKNER —If we can get the detail of that, we can come back to it. Can you take on notice to supply us, when they are available, the actual dollar figures contained in the contract that you are drawing up at the moment? When are you expected to finalise those?

Mr Bray —I would say in at least six to eight weeks, because there are the initial negotiations for the contract and then it has to go through the approval process.

Senator FAULKNER —Ms Penfold, if you could undertake to table those figures when they are available, it would be appreciated. The committee well understand that we cannot have that information until it is available. Before you table it, what is the number of incidents in the last couple of months?

Ms Penfold —The only incident involving damage to vehicles shown since the last estimates hearing is 8 November last year. This is not an incident, as you say, involving a malfunction.

Senator FAULKNER —And the number of malfunctions?

Ms Penfold —The number of malfunctions is a different table. I will table the table showing the 2006 and 2007—it does not have a February date on it but obviously it goes up to some time not long ago—register of faults, the list of incidents involving damage to vehicles and the February register, just in case there is more information in that than there is in the table.

Senator FAULKNER —Thank you.

Senator ROBERT RAY —Moving off bollards—and I do not want to revisit the entire one-way system; I am only asking this from my own objection—it seems to me the major pressure point and remaining problem is the short-cutters using the Parliament House circuit. This is not an empirical study but my impression is that at least one-third of the people who are on the circuit in the morning come in one entrance and go out the other. I am wondering whether you would look at what the legal position is to ban that or at least to bluff it with signs, because it is putting pressure on the one-way system. People who are trying to get in have to wait two or three minutes while all these people come round, turn and then continue on.

Ms Penfold —I had not identified that so far as an issue, and I am not sure what kind of rough evidence we would work on but we can do a—

Senator ROBERT RAY —I could make an easy suggestion: over just one or two days you could have the numbers recorded at Melbourne Avenue and, at the other end, the exact time.

Ms Penfold —Kings Avenue.

Senator ROBERT RAY —That will tell you whether they come into the building or are short-cutting through like I am alleging.

Ms Penfold —Yes.

The PRESIDENT —I must admit that, when I come in in the morning, I come in from Kings Avenue. If you are coming to the Senate side, it is easier to come in that way. You pull up there, and two out of four cars will come round, turn right and keep on going down.

Senator ROBERT RAY —This morning it was seven out of eight. But that was abnormal, I agree.

Ms Penfold —That is at the Kings Avenue intersection?

The PRESIDENT —They are obviously coming in from Melbourne Avenue.

Ms Penfold —We could certainly do a check on how many vehicles go from Melbourne Avenue to Kings Avenue. How we would stop that, as you say, is more problematic. I suspect that the only effective way to stop that is to make that part of the route even more of a pain for people than it might currently be.

Senator ROBERT RAY —That is not what I am seeking. I think it is enough of a pain and, frankly, as justifiable a pain as it is, I do not think another 10 speed humps will help anyone. I do not know the legal position of Parliament Drive, whether it is part of the public roads system or whether it is private.

Ms Penfold —I do not think it is a legal issue so much as a purely practical issue. If you put a ‘no right turn’ at the Kings Avenue intersection from Parliament Drive such that you could not turn out of Parliament Drive down onto Kings Avenue, that would probably stop some of them, but that would make it more of a pain for the rest of us too.

Senator ROBERT RAY —Maybe not such a pain, if I might suggest, if you did it between 7.30 am and 9.00 am only. That stops the short-cutters and hardly affects anyone else who would be leaving the building, I would have thought.

Ms Penfold —You could certainly try.

Senator ROBERT RAY —Anyway, I will leave it with you to have a look at.

Ms Penfold —Thank you.

Senator FAULKNER —Could I ask about email monitoring here at Parliament House? It is true, isn’t it, that DPS effectively has control over the parliamentary email system?

Ms Penfold —It is true that we are responsible for it. I am not sure exactly what you mean by ‘control’.

Senator FAULKNER —What I mean is being responsible for it. Can you indicate to me whether there is any monitoring of emails involving either parliamentarians, senators, members, their staff or parliamentary staff more broadly? Is there any monitoring undertaken at all of emails?

Ms Penfold —The only thing I am aware of—and I do not think this is really monitoring—is the iHateSpam program that some people have. If you have it installed on your computer, it separates your email into what it regards as legitimate emails and the other sort, which it puts into a separate folder in your system and then you can go through and choose to look at those later or get rid of them immediately or whatever.

Senator MURRAY —If I might say, it is a wonderful program. Thank you very much.

Ms Penfold —Thank you, Senator. I do not think that really counts as monitoring by anyone. I am not aware of any, but Mr Kenny might be able to give you more detail.

Mr Kenny —I am also not aware of any monitoring other than I Hate Spam. We do monitor access to websites—we record logs—and we have blocked a couple of websites because we have been advised that they are hostile. There has also been discussion about monitoring in the sense of putting protective markings on email headings, which we do not do. There was an incident last year where one of the other government departments suddenly started blocking emails that did not have this, but that was not something that was done by us, and it was reversed fairly immediately by that agency. I am trying to think of anything else that we would call ‘monitoring’—

Ms Penfold —The only other thing we could mention, I suppose, is that while we do not monitor as such, if we had reason to believe that a staff member was misusing the system we could do a check on emails. That would only be in response to some sort of incident. It is not an ongoing thing.

Senator FAULKNER —But there is no regular monitoring of DPS staff emails, for example, is there?

Ms Penfold —No, Senator.

Senator FAULKNER —They are not accessed by anyone other than the staff?

Ms Penfold —Not to my knowledge.

Senator FAULKNER —Okay. I just wanted to check what, if any, monitoring took place—

CHAIR —Or auditing.

Senator FAULKNER —Or auditing, yes. That is a good word to use too.

CHAIR —Is there any auditing, Mr Kenny?

Mr Kenny —Not what I would call auditing. A number of our technical staff have the ability to access most email directories or folders, but we keep an eye on the number of people we give that level of access to. And we could, if we wanted to, undertake an investigation—and on very rare occasions we may be asked to; but in those instances it is by the person who would be identified as the owner of the email. That is not a standard activity at all. The only other comment that might help is that emails and their attachments remain available within the email system until such time as the person who owns them decides to move them out of their email folder.

Senator FAULKNER —Sure. But I was not quite clear on the first element of what you said. You have got staff who have a capacity to access email folders.

Mr Kenny —Administrative staff, yes.

Senator FAULKNER —Email folders of everybody on the system?

Mr Kenny —I do not know whether all the ones with these privileges can access everybody’s, but for the purpose of discussion they have a level of access that is greater than the rest of us.

Senator FAULKNER —Why do they need that level of access?

Mr Kenny —Because that is part of the administration of the system. Setting it up, running the backups and that sort of thing would require that level of access. It is just for administration. It is not for auditing purposes.

Senator FAULKNER —Are such folders accessed?

Mr Kenny —Other than the situations I have just described, they should not be.

Senator FAULKNER —Anyway, you can assure us that it does not happen.

Mr Kenny —I can assure you that there are a number of activities that do happen that relate to the administration. They are not related to auditing or monitoring.

Senator MURRAY —With respect to that, I can give you two examples where inappropriate use occurs elsewhere. One is in police forces, where police officers have been reprimanded because they were not authorised and did not have appropriate authority to access particular files; the other is the tax office, which has recently disciplined a number of people.

Arising from those two examples, the obvious questions are these. Do you have protocols which prevent inappropriate use of your legitimate system? Do you have a means of ascertaining whether inappropriate use has occurred? Those are the safety mechanisms you need. Obviously, in my example, the tax office did, because they could catch people, and obviously the police did in my example, because they could catch people.

Mr Kenny —I might have to take that on notice in terms of all the detail, particularly about what our protocols might be. However, we do have a situation where, if someone was looking at emails that they had the privilege to but it was not a requirement of their job, that would be logged as part of the normal system processes. So that access would be in there somewhere. If we discovered it then, there would be a number of things that we would be able to do, but I would have thought that an investigation for a breach of the Code of Conduct would be a starting point.

Senator MURRAY —What I am asking for—and you should come back to us with the answer—is this: is there a system which guarantees the integrity of your access, and, if there were inappropriate use, would it and could it be picked up?

Mr Kenny —The answer is that we do have the system, but I will have to get back to you on notice with the detail.

Ms Penfold —Can I just mention that it has been pointed out to me that the other occasion on which an email might be looked at—and this, I think, is implicit in the discussion we have already had, but it may not hurt to make it explicit—is if we pick up someone accessing an inappropriate website. It is possible that the investigation into that would include looking at an email that had sent a link to that website. That, I think, is a fairly obvious aspect. Again, it is not anything that I would describe as monitoring or auditing the emails.

Senator BOB BROWN —What is an ‘inappropriate’ website?

Ms Penfold —Child pornography—that sort of thing.

Senator BOB BROWN —So you have a system to pick that up if it happens? You have a listing of inappropriate websites?

Ms Penfold —I do not know that we have an ongoing list, although we have a protective—

Mr Kenny —We log all accesses. It is, I think, a very time-consuming process if we want to do this, but we can go through those logs and see which computers have accessed what websites. But that is an after-the-event thing; it is not a blocking activity. I referred earlier to a small number of sites which are blocked—or I think they are blocked; they may be warned and then blocked—on advice from the internet security agencies.

Senator BOB BROWN —Are they sites like childhood pornography too, or are they something else?

Mr Kenny —I do not believe that they are childhood pornography; I believe that they are sites that are considered malicious, for example possible threats to the integrity of the computer systems here. So we are talking about virus sites and that sort of thing.

Senator BOB BROWN —With the other sites that are inappropriate and that may involve illegal access to child pornography and so on, how is that monitored? Is that on request from a police agency, or is that a routine thing that is built into your monitoring services?

Mr Kenny —It is not, as far as I am aware, being done by a police agency. First of all, the level of monitoring and blocking that we apply for our own staff is at a higher level—we do more blocking—than for other parliamentary systems users. I will just check, but I do not think we block any other than DPS. We may do it for Senate and reps staff, and I do not know what we do with MOP staffers.

Senator BOB BROWN —I am just interested, with the checking for access to illegal sites, in whether that is a random process or whether you have a specified list and you keep a watch for that. Does it trigger some notification to you if somebody tries to access an inappropriate site?

Mr Kenny —I will have to get some advice on that as well, because you are at a level of detail that I am not confident I can answer absolutely accurately.

Senator BOB BROWN —Has notification gone out to staff that they should know that if they try to approach an inappropriate site—such as child pornography—they are running a risk? I presume that everybody should know that anyway. If that is being monitored in-house, have there been formal decisions made about how to deal with that problem?

Mr Kenny —The answer to the first part of what I think you are asking: do we advise our own people that we do monitor and they are responsible for the sites they go to. Yes, we do. In terms of the formal decision about how we respond to that, it is part of our Code of Conduct processes but in more general terms than specifically talking about access to inappropriate sites. It is about inappropriate behaviour of any sort.

Ms Penfold —I will give you a bit of an update on that. This goes back quite a long way. We have a program called Websense, which I understand was installed in the parliament before 2004—I am not sure how much before 2004—that blocks inappropriate sites in eight categories, including gambling,  violence, game sites and presumably the pornography sites and so on. That is currently applied to everyone except senators and members and the research branch in the library. The list of sites that it blocks is determined, presumably from time to time, by the supplier of that software. They are the ones who are out there checking what is around. I think we are actually in the process of trialling an updated version of that. There is something being done with that, which is probably appropriate if it is now several years old. That, of course, operates as a block rather than as a recording and notifying system.

Senator FAULKNER —I have a question in relation to the Hansard. You mentioned possibly covering the roof of Parliament House with Hansard. I was not surprised that you said that, because it seems to me that the bound Hansards are becoming more and more useless.

Ms Penfold —Sorry; what is becoming more and more useless?

Senator FAULKNER —The bound Hansards. I would like to get to the bottom of that if I could. Could you outline to me when changes were made to the formatting of the bound Hansards?

Ms Penfold —The formatting being the change from doing them all as a single document with running page numbers to the current process of, in effect, binding the officials?

Senator FAULKNER —Just binding the dailies, which is what is happening now.

Ms Penfold —That was made some time in 2004.

Senator FAULKNER —Why was it done?

Ms Penfold —It was efficiency in two respects. We do not produce many bound volumes these days. Off the top of my head, I think it is somewhere around the 300 mark. Putting each day’s version or each week’s version—or whichever—into a single Microsoft Word document with sequential page numbers right through was quite difficult, partly because of the word processing aspects. Word, which is the program we use, is fairly well known for not coping with very large documents. So there was a lot of work just to keep that document stable. The only benefit that I am aware of of having the one lot of page numbers is that you could produce an index—and the index itself took, I think, the best part of three months work.

Senator FAULKNER —Yes, but the index has been junked, hasn’t it?

Ms Penfold —We are not doing the index any more if that is what you mean, Senator.

Senator FAULKNER —It has been junked.

Ms Penfold —Yes.

Senator FAULKNER —Who made that decision?

Ms Penfold —I made that decision on a recommendation from the Hansard people. The theory behind that was that the index was there for the 300-odd sets of bound volumes. All the material incorporated in that is available on the internet, on the Parliament House website, and it is much more readily searchable as an electronic document.

Senator FAULKNER —That is a matter of opinion and it is one that I do not share.

Senator MURRAY —It also assumes that the users are all users of electronic networks. They are not.

Senator FAULKNER —We might get to that. This, by the way, appears to have been effectively done for over a century, but it is all too hard now. I would like to get to the bottom of why it was able to be done for 100-odd years but it cannot be done now. First of all, I would like to know how many people—some public institutions and libraries do—purchase the bound Hansard.

Ms Penfold —I think there is a group who purchase them from the printer, as it were, independently of us.

Senator FAULKNER —But do you know how many there are that do that?

Ms Penfold —No, I do not know off the top off my head. I think we do have that information somewhere.

Senator FAULKNER —If you could provide it to me, I would appreciate it. Do we have that there or not?

Ms Penfold —I do not know if we will, because it is not our information. It will be with the printers and we may have to get it from them.

Senator FAULKNER —Have you received any complaints about the fact that the bound Hansard no longer contains an index?

Ms Penfold —I have heard indirectly that some of our parliamentary librarians and some other legal librarians are unhappy about the absence of the indexes.

Senator FAULKNER —So that has been indirect?

Ms Penfold —That is right.

Senator FAULKNER —Even I have heard that.

Ms Penfold —Indeed, no-one has come directly to me. No-one has put anything in writing to me. The library staff themselves are apparently preparing a comment, but I have not heard anything from outside.

Senator FAULKNER —Let me ask the librarian then. Are you able to say to the committee whether any complaints have been made in writing to the parliament about the issue of the Hansard now lacking an index?

Ms Missingham —Parliamentary Library staff have discussed the production of the new bound volumes and the lack of an index and a single integrated table of contents at the front. I have seen a draft note that is in preparation. However, it has not yet been submitted, because it is being edited.

Senator FAULKNER —But that is a note from DPS to whom?

Ms Missingham —It will be to the secretary of the department.

Senator FAULKNER —I am not asking about that. The secretary of the department has informed the committee that she is not aware of any complaints in writing to DPS. I am asking whether you are aware of any complaints in writing or otherwise about these changes to the bound Hansard.

Ms Penfold —I have information here that there have been two telephone complaints about it, but I do not know who they went to—it was presumably to the Hansard people.

Senator FAULKNER —Who were they from?

Ms Penfold —One was from the Commonwealth DPP. The other one is not identified.

Senator FAULKNER —The Commonwealth DPP and an unidentified person.

Ms Penfold —One who has not been identified to me.

Senator FAULKNER —Can you throw any light on this? We have gone from no complaints to two complaints.

Ms Missingham —A draft is in preparation from the Library and the library community have only just seen the change with these most recent bound volumes, so I would expect that any comments in writing will come over the next couple of months.

Senator FAULKNER —This is new. This has just hit the library community.

Ms Missingham —Yes.

Senator FAULKNER —By ‘the library community’ you mean libraries outside the parliament.

Ms Missingham —I do indeed.

Senator FAULKNER —The libraries have been using the contents and index pages of these things for over 100 years.

Ms Missingham —The libraries and their users.

Senator FAULKNER —And their users, yes. So you are obviously expecting complaints if you are preparing a draft response from the secretary.

Ms Missingham —The Library staff would like to see the index continued, because they believe that it assists.

Senator FAULKNER —The Library staff would like to see it continue. They are right; of course they are right. So would the users of these things. But we have just heard that Ms Penfold made this decision on the basis of advice from somebody or other. Was it the Library?

Ms Penfold —No, it was not the Library. It was from the people who were responsible for producing Hansard.

Senator ROBERT RAY —What was the cost of providing an index each time? That is a vague question, because you will have to define ‘per unit’.

Ms Penfold —The estimated savings—and these do not have money attached to them, but we could work that out—are 13 weeks per year for a senior editor and six weeks per year for a parliamentary service officer level 4. You will recall that this decision was made at a time when DPS was dealing with quite a substantial cut in its budget, which we are still dealing with.

Senator ROBERT RAY —Yes, and you will note that the Senate is rolling in money, so you know where to look.

Senator FAULKNER —Who in Hansard made this recommendation to you? Where did this come from?

Ms Penfold —The assistant secretary, which is where I would expect recommendations from Hansard to come up through.

Senator FAULKNER —Who is that?

Ms Penfold —Currently, it is Therese Lynch.

Senator FAULKNER —So Ms Lynch made the recommendation?

Ms Penfold —No. Ms Lynch has only been with the department for six months or so.

—I made the recommendation.

Ms Penfold —It was actually Ms Barrett who made that recommendation.

Ms Barrett —Yes, I made the recommendation towards the end of 2004.

Senator FAULKNER —Where do the complaints go? Do they go to the Library, as we have heard, or do they go to Hansard? They obviously do not go to you, because you did not know about them, Ms Penfold.

Ms Penfold —If I can clarify what I said earlier, the two telephone complaints, it emerges, are the same telephone complaint. That one went to the Hansard people.

Senator ROBERT RAY —We heard a minute ago how much time was saved. Do you know how that translates into dollars? You heard the evidence that there were three months at one level and six weeks at another. Did you have a dollar savings in mind when the recommendation was made?

Ms Barrett —I cannot remember exactly what the salary levels of those two people would have been at the time, but three months of a senior editor now would possibly be $25,000 and six weeks of a PO4 would possibly be another $10,000 or $12,000. I am not sure whether that reflects current salary rates—I would have to work it out properly.

Senator ROBERT RAY —Were you convinced that this is a total savings measure? These people are probably still employed. Did they do these two tasks, the three months and the six weeks, in the down periods of their jobs or has it released them to do other work or what? I am trying to get to whether the savings are absolutely real or not.

Ms Penfold —I do not think that you should assume that whoever did those jobs still work here or even whether those jobs still exist. There has been quite a bit of rejigging in the whole Hansard area.

Ms Barrett —I am not aware of exactly what the current operational requirements in Hansard are because I left early in 2005. But, as Ms Penfold says, there has actually been a continuous improvement review where there have been a number of efficiencies made in Hansard and the staffing numbers have since changed. Possibly people are not working in exactly the same way that they were then.

Senator ROBERT RAY —I suppose the reverse question is: if this was ever to be restored could we take the figure of $37,000 as a realistic figure or are there other factors that come into play that may make it more expensive? Do you understand the question? If these were the savings and at some stage a reversal of the decision was made would it cost us $37,000 or am I overlooking other costs that would come to bear on this which would make it a more expensive proposition?

Ms Penfold —That question probably should go to Ms Lynch because she is the one who knows how Hansard is now structured.

Ms Lynch —If we were to reinstate the indexes, we probably would need to take a different approach to what we have done in the past. Previously the indexes were put together in the non-sitting periods by staff at the senior level, who are now assistant directors at the PEL1 level, assisted by a PSL4 officer. If we were to reinstate the indexes at this point, we would probably take a different approach in terms of doing it electronically—seeking the Hansard production system to provide that service for us rather than the very slow manual process we have used previously.

Senator MURRAY —Does that mean it is cheaper or quicker?

Ms Lynch —I would hope that it would be quicker and therefore cheaper.

Senator MURRAY —Could you confirm something for me, Ms Penfold and Ms Barrett. Were the users ever consulted about this proposal when it was put to you or the decision?

Ms Penfold —Not to my knowledge.

Senator MURRAY —So no users were consulted as to how it would affect their use of this longstanding facility?

Ms Penfold —Not to my knowledge.

Senator FAULKNER —So after 104 years of having an index to speeches and an index to subjects, someone decides to make this change without consulting any of the libraries or any of the users even though they are still paying the same amount of money for something that they find, basically, entirely useless?

Ms Penfold —I think that last bit is not a fair representation. The people we supply the bound volumes to do not pay for it. We provide that as a free service to them.

Senator FAULKNER —But others do pay for it?

Ms Penfold —Others do pay for it. My very clear understanding—although when we get the figures we will be in a better position to respond on this—is that they were never paying anything like a full price either. They were paying, in effect, the marginal cost of those last few things—and they were not paying it to us. There was an entirely on-the-side arrangement apparently, which was not properly monitored by the former departments, under which the printer was selling that to people. I am not convinced that we were responsible for what was being paid for that, because we certainly were not being paid for the ones we were providing—and we are still not.

Senator FAULKNER —But I am convinced that you are responsible for making a change without consultation which has already affected a number of people and certainly will affect a great deal more as more and more become aware of it. Ms Missingham, why do you have so many concerns about the library community’s reaction to this change? Why have you seen fit to draft a response to the secretary of the department?

Ms Missingham —The library staff who use Hansard have put their concerns down, and that will be communicated. I do not know what the rest of the library community’s reaction to it will be. But, as I said before, these bound volumes have been the first ones to come out without it so I would expect that there will be some comment on it.

Senator FAULKNER —Are you saying that, even for staff working for the Parliamentary Library in this building, there has been an impact in relation to the changes to the contents and indexes? It is having an effect on the way that they do their work too, is that what you are saying?

Ms Missingham —They have a concern that the subject material will not be as easy to retrieve because of the lack of an index.

Senator FAULKNER —That is right—the subject material will not be as easy to retrieve. But nobody thought to even check with one element—the so-called independent Parliamentary Library—before this change was made. Ms Missingham, what you have done as a result of this is draft a response for the secretary.

Ms Missingham —The staff are drafting it.

Senator FAULKNER —When you say ‘a response’, what do you mean? A complaint?

Ms Missingham —A complaint.

Senator FAULKNER —The Parliamentary Library here, which is a part of the Department of Parliamentary Services, is drafting a complaint to the secretary about a decision that the secretary has made and that will be forwarded to her at some point—is that right?

Ms Missingham —Yes.

Senator ROBERT RAY —I ask the secretary: would it be wise, in view of that, to seek Ms Lynch’s memo on what the cost of restoring this would be, using new technology? I thought the import of her contribution was that, if it were ever restored, it would not be as expensive as it was the past. I do not want to put words in your mouth, but that was the import that I took from that.

Ms Lynch —I would hope that the human effort involved in producing the index would be reduced if we were to do it electronically. Our current Hansard Production System, as I understand it, cannot currently produce the index automatically. At this stage, it would probably need to wait until we replaced that system with something a little more sophisticated or, indeed, make a significant change to the current system to do that.

Senator ROBERT RAY —Okay.

Senator FAULKNER —Ms Penfold, it might interest you to know this. I do not actually wallpaper my office with Hansard. I have the advantage of using—and I have done this for many years—the Leader of the Opposition’s Hansards, which I use regularly. I used hard copy and the indexes very regularly. But for many years—and I have been in parliament for a long time—I have provided my bound Hansards to the Northern Regional Library at Moree, which I think they appreciate. Of course, for those who use it in northern New South Wales, things are now basically useless—absolutely bloody useless—just like it is for the Director of Public Prosecutions and so on and so forth. This decision is a very bad one, and you can tell that by the reaction from within the Parliamentary Library itself. I do not care what was driving it; it is a very, very bad decision. Mr President, I hope that you will take some action to do something about it. The truth is that the online searches have grave weaknesses in them. I am sure you can confirm that, can’t you, Ms Missingham? There are weaknesses in the online searches, which is why people use the actual index to Hansard. Can you confirm that?

Ms Missingham —Certainly, in ParlInfo searching there is no subject index. It does not allow you to do that sort of subject retrieval.

Senator FAULKNER —Apart from there being no subject index, there is a limit to the number of results that can be retrieved, the guided search facility does not always turn up results and ParlInfo is very resource heavy—it requires a good, fast computer, and if you do not have that it is a really painfully slow process. And so it goes on. And no thought has been given to this after more than a century. What has driven it, which is savings, is simply not good enough. All we have now, literally, is the bound dailies—that is it.

Senator MURRAY —There is a lot of wasted paper in it, I might say. You get those 12 preliminary pages in each daily which you do not need.

CHAIR —Senator Faulkner, will you change the subject?

Senator FAULKNER —No. I am going to ask something else about this, if I can. I direct this to the President. When I looked at this, I wondered what on earth was happening. Mr President, were you aware of this, by the way?

The PRESIDENT —No.

Senator FAULKNER —I looked at what was then called the DPRS and its report of 2002-03, role and functions—this is for you, Mr President—which said that the department’s vision is:

... to give all Australians the opportunity to see, hear and read the work of their national parliament.

This is critical: ‘... to give all Australians the opportunity to see, hear and read the work of their national parliament’—which I am sure is an objective that you would support. But somehow it has morphed from 2003 onwards—it has changed. It says:

The Presiding Officers have approved the following outcome statement for DPS:

Occupants of Parliament House are supported by integrated services and facilities, Parliament functions effectively and its work and building are accessible to the public.

So, in other words, it has been wound back. With this critical outcome statement—or, if you like, vision statement—I worry that that change has had an impact here, because we ought to be about accessibility and this is something that has gone in the other direction absolutely; we have gone backwards at a huge rate of knots. I really do hope, Mr President, that that is something you can apply your mind to and do something about. It is an appalling change and it requires you to take some action. It has been done without consultation, for all the wrong reasons, without a care in the world in terms of accessibility to this parliament. Someone should fix it.

Senator MURRAY —Mr President, I add the point that I suspect that there is a legal and constitutional requirement that proceedings of parliament should be available to all citizens. I suspect it is a consequence of our Constitution. I would add that to the mix.

The PRESIDENT —I will take the matter up with the appropriate people. I know we did have discussions about the daily Hansard and that they should be numbered—and they are—but I was not aware of this particular issue and I will take it up.

Senator FAULKNER —I ask on notice if we could have a copy of the draft response that is being prepared by Ms Missingham.

Senator BOB BROWN —I want to ask about the business of overseas phone calls where we still ring your office, Mr President, and then ring the switchboard and get put through overseas. You can do that or you can pick up your mobile these days and dial straight out. Has there been any look at reviewing that? A long time ago there was obviously a need to stop everybody phoning overseas, but these days everybody is equipped with a mobile phone which allows them to do just that. Is there any rationale for continuing this process of having to get permission from you before an overseas call is made?

The PRESIDENT —I know this matter has come up before. Finance, I think, put this requirement on—

Ms Penfold —It is a little different. In fact the mobiles are paid for by the department of finance, so if they can afford to let you all ring overseas that is good. The system within the building is paid for by the Department of Parliamentary Services and we do not, at this stage, have funding available to cope with international calls being transferred in effect from Finance’s budget to ours. It is possible that we could put it to Finance that they could give us some of their mobile phone bill budget and we could accept international calls coming out of  the building—

Senator BOB BROWN —It would be good if you could discuss that with them.

Ms Penfold —I would not be too optimistic about getting a fair go out of them. The other side of it—

Senator BOB BROWN —Let me put the point here. It is irrational that, if you are going to make a phone call overseas, you pick up the mobile phone and you do not use the usual phone system—which gives better quality service, by the way—because there is some administrative difficulty. We are talking about a cost-neutral outcome here. I think it really is important to the people using the phone system in parliament that they not be put in this situation. It means that the ability to call overseas using a standard phone with a better quality service is not there if the switch is not available to service it. It is an impediment, and I cannot see any rationale for it. If the difficulty is that there is some costing problem between two departments, I think that should be sorted out.

Ms Penfold —There are two things I would say in response to that. The other aspect of the problem is the difficulty of keeping track of who is making phone calls within the building and being confident that, if we put ISD effectively on all the phones in the building or even the ones in suites, it will be properly used. That is, in a sense, a side issue. The other aspect—the distinction between the two departments—is just one element of the overall peculiarity of the division of responsibility between us, the chamber departments and the department of finance. We are responsible for the IT system within the building and Finance is responsible for the IT system in the electorate offices, which causes these odd gaps. I am more than happy to take it up with the department of finance and suggest that they might to look at a different approach to this. Certainly if it were just imposed on us without some sort of supplementation, and suddenly everyone had to be able to make ISD calls from this building without any sort of controls and that we had to pick up the funding, then that would cause us problems.

Senator BOB BROWN —I would appreciate it if some work were put into that. because it is daft that if you want to make a call overseas you use the mobile phone. For all other calls, you use the handset.

The PRESIDENT —There were concerns about this in the past with regard to people within the building, such as cleaners and others, who may have used this to ring home. I know it may seem unusual, but this matter does arise, as the secretary has said, with the two internet systems. You have a laptop administered here, but the one back in your electorate office is administered by someone else and never the twain shall meet. We have had a fight on that one. There is one other issue that is similar too. I am trying to think what it is. It will come to me shortly. We can have another look at that.

Senator FIFIELD —Just on that, Ms Penfold, you could have that facility just on the member’s or senator’s phone in their office—and I do not know if the phone technology allows it—where the member or senator punches in a code before they can make an overseas call.

Ms Penfold —And we could stop them giving that code to their staff?

Senator FIFIELD —Well, we trust our members and senators, I guess, to certify that they are doing the right thing.

The PRESIDENT —The other issue I was trying to think of was printing, of course. The House of Representatives could go and get all their stuff printed within their own electorate by whomever they chose. In the Senate, we were restricted to using the printer in-house. It has taken us a while but, at last, that has been sorted out. So perhaps there may be some hope for the telephone system a bit further down the track.

Senator BOB BROWN —Just on that, why is it that posters are not allowed to be printed under that printing allowance?

The PRESIDENT —Posters?

Senator BOB BROWN —Yes.

The PRESIDENT —I am not sure. There would be a reason, I guess, but one does not come to mind. You can print calendars. I have been informed that it is not my guidelines, it is SMOS’s.

Senator BOB BROWN —It is not what?

The PRESIDENT —It is SMOS that administers the guidelines for printing.

Senator BOB BROWN —So I will keep the question for them. The other question I have is about surveillance. Have there been any talks by the surveillance organisations like ASIO to install any devices within Parliament House?

Ms Penfold —Not with me, Senator.

Senator BOB BROWN —With anybody else?

Ms Penfold —I would be very surprised.

Mr Kenny —No, I have not heard anything.

Ms Penfold —My assistant secretary in charge of the security area is also shaking her head. Without having the whole 750 staff up here one at a time I cannot give you an absolutely categorical answer, but certainly nothing that sounds like a serious—

Senator BOB BROWN —I would be pleased if you would check on that. It is not possible to get from the Attorney-General that members of parliament are not being surveilled. That being the case, it is a fair question to ask. I would be interested to get your assurance that we are all safe from being surveilled in this parliament.

Ms Penfold —On the basis of what I have just seen here I can certainly assure you that there has been no contact at the senior executive level about that. I would frankly be surprised if it were happening at a lower level without us knowing.

Senator FIFIELD —I wish to raise the issue of function charges in the building for members and senators as to what constitutes a parliamentary function or a non-parliamentary function. You might recall, Ms Penfold, that in August last year you and I had a discussion about a particular function in the private dining room which I booked and which was just for theatre style seating and a lectern—no catering—for a particular group of people, most of whom were my constituents. The purpose of the function was for them to meet with about a dozen MPs and senators from all parties. It was in effect under the auspices of one of the parliamentary friendship groups. You will probably recall that I was surprised when I received a bill for $2,500 for a one-day meeting at which there was no catering—just seats and a lectern—and which was attended largely by my constituents who were here to meet members of parliament. At the time you indicated to me that a review was being undertaken as to the policy of what constitutes a parliamentary or a non-parliamentary function. I am wondering whether that has been completed and whether there has been any change to the view of what constitutes a parliamentary function or whether that view has been re-endorsed. I should say before you answer that you were extremely helpful in resolving my personal case. You were very understanding of the issues involved and I thank you for your assistance at that time.

Ms Penfold —So far we have attempted purely to clarify the policy that certainly dates back to 2001, and possibly to quite a long time before that, with a view to being able to explain it better to all our clients. That has been considered briefly by the Presiding Officers and it has been considered by the joint house committee, although my recollection is that perhaps we did not get as much discussion on it as we might have expected. So that clarification has not yet been endorsed by the Presiding Officers. I am hopeful of getting something back to them in the next little while seeking an endorsement.

There are two issues, however, that I would like to make some more progress on before we come back again on that. One is the question of whether, without accepting functions of the sort you have described as parliamentary functions, we can reach some sort of agreement with the caterers to provide a sort of minimalist catering package that would be an option for those—

Senator FIFIELD —The issue I cited was one where there was no catering, not even water, just chairs and a lectern.

Ms Penfold —I will get to that one, because that is the other thing. The catering is one issue which I know concerns a number of senators and members when they are organising functions that do not fall within the parliamentary functions definition. I think the function that you had involved security costs. That is really the only sense I can make—and I do not remember the details at this stage—of that sort of charge. That is a fairly common security charge, around that sort of $2,000 mark. Have I missed something in this?

Senator FIFIELD —It was just listed as ‘use of private dining room’. There was no mention of security.

Ms Penfold —That was from us, from DPS—

Senator FIFIELD —Correct.

Ms Penfold —not from the caterers?

Senator FIFIELD —From DPS. I am not sure whether DPS take the advice of the catering people, but it is however the function is registered—

Ms Penfold —But if it is registered with the catering people then there is a difference—

Senator FIFIELD —which determines whether it is determined to be a function that should be charged. I do not know whether the initial registration is with DPS or with the Hyatt.

Ms Penfold —Okay. Security charges are really the only significant charge that DPS imposes for all of these sorts of functions. The issue we have with security charges is that, the way this building is designed, there are lots of access points to most venues. Once we let people into the non-public areas or, alternatively, once we let them into the public areas at the point where the public and private areas are opened up to each other because the building is not actually open to the public, we then find it necessary at the moment to maintain security, to have quite a lot of security staff deployed at various, if you like, access points between different parts of the building to make sure that people attending functions, who have, by and large, gone through no clearance process or anything, do not—if I can put it this way—escape into other parts of the building where we might prefer not to have them.

That is the other issue that I am waiting on, at least to some extent, before I go back to the Presiding Officers with this functions clarification: to have a look at whether there are any ways, easily, that we can cut back on the number of security staff without losing the security, if you see what I mean—whether, for instance, we can close some of the access points that we currently open after hours, with the effect that some people moving between two parts of the building might have to walk a bit further to get where they want to and so on. And then there is a longer term look—although this will not hold up the submission to the Presiding Officers—at whether we could do a lot of security more cheaply if we introduced zoning within the building and maybe swipe card access and so on.

Senator FIFIELD —I guess the anomaly is if you book the Senate alcove or the private dining room, these charges are applied. If a committee room was booked, I understand that those charges would not be applied.

Ms Penfold —That is probably right because the committee rooms are with the chamber departments to manage. All those other areas are function venues under the catering contract.

Senator FIFIELD —I guess my issue—and I know you appreciate it—is that different rooms suit different purposes and, from the perspective of a member or senator, they are not particularly fussed whether it is one that is actually under the jurisdiction of the chamber departments or one that the Hyatt has the ability to cater for. They are both rooms in Parliament House which are available for use. I guess that is the issue.

Ms Penfold —I suppose from a senator’s point of view, that is absolutely right. From the caterer’s point of view, one lot of them are rooms that are available for the caterer to make money out of. That may well be the problem.

Senator FIFIELD —I do not want to take up any more of the committee’s time, but I am pleased that it is still the subject of consideration. As I said before, I do very much appreciate the assistance and advice you have given before.

The PRESIDENT —I can assure you, Senator, it is something that is under constant review, because it creates a problem for the Presiding Officers as well.

Senator CAROL BROWN —I think it was in June last year when we had the announcement of the 22-place baby centre to be located in the old staff bar. Could you please give me an update of where we are at with that?

Ms Penfold —We have been out seeking expressions of interest to run the centre. That process closed late last year and we got four expressions of interest. I will get Mr Kenny to give you today’s update, as it were, on the progress of the process of evaluating those expressions of interest.

Mr Kenny —As Ms Penfold has just said, the expressions closed last year. We have I think seven people on an evaluation committee, several of whom are not departmental staff.

Senator CAROL BROWN —Who are they? Where are they from?

Mr Kenny —There is one from the ACT government, one from the press gallery and one is a staff member of one of the senators. We have received—

Senator FAULKNER —Who chose that panel?

Ms Penfold —I think David and I put it together. We started with the internal experts, if you like, and then, as a result of a suggestion at the joint house committee, we added a person from the ACT government’s children’s services area. They are the people who are, I suppose, the ACT experts on childcare centres. Then we thought about the other groups within the building who are most likely to be affected. They appeared to be the press gallery and MOPS. As I say, we have a representative from the press gallery and a representative from MOPS.

Mr Kenny —We have a representative from both the Department of the Senate and the Department of the House of Representatives. Those representatives are the Usher of the Black Rod and the Serjeant-at-Arms. We have sent to and received back from all but one of those people what I will call a conflict of interest declaration. That has not come back from the final person because that person has been away. Last week we were sending out the four expressions of interest to each of the people on the evaluation committee, and I have tentatively scheduled a meeting of that committee for the week commencing 19 February. We are looking at Monday afternoon.

Senator CAROL BROWN —For how long are we expecting this process to continue? When will we be making a decision and how is it going to be made?

Mr Kenny —I do not know how long I expect it to continue, other than that we want it to proceed as quickly as we can and giving the committee and its members ample time to consider the bids and form a view as to who should be the preferred person. I suppose the other slight issue is scheduling time for them to meet, probably to fit in around the sitting schedule. But I would hope that we could proceed very quickly to finalise a view.

Senator CAROL BROWN —When it was announced, we were looking at a June-July opening of the centre.

Ms Penfold —I would be very surprised if we get anywhere near a June-July opening, because there is actually a lot of refurbishing work that needs to be done on the area involved. We have a draft statement of requirements—it is not a final one—but obviously we would not want to finalise that without working fairly closely with the selected provider. In a sense, we have to sort that out before we can finalise the design work on the refurbishment.

Mr Kenny —Absolutely.

Senator CAROL BROWN —I understand that, but it was, I think, part of the press release of the announcement that we would expect the centre to be running, hopefully, in 12 months from the June announcement date.

Ms Penfold —I will take your word on that. I would be surprised if I had fallen into such a trap, but I may have done so. I suspect that, if anything, I would more likely have said that it will not be before 12 months.

Senator CAROL BROWN —So when are we looking at it, then?

Ms Penfold —If I thought we could open it at the beginning of next year—

Senator CAROL BROWN —When I arrived here, my son was nine months old. He is now about 26 months old, so this centre is not going to be available for him. When do you think we could actually see the centre open?

Ms Penfold —It would be lovely to think we could see something at the beginning of next year, but that is not an undertaking.

Senator FAULKNER —What do you mean by ‘it would be lovely’?

Ms Penfold —I would be very pleased.

Senator FAULKNER —I am sure other people would be, too. What is the expected date of the opening of the centre?

Ms Penfold —I do not have an expected date.

Senator FAULKNER —What are the plans? Is there a planned date for opening the centre or is that just in the never-never?

Ms Penfold —No, there is not a planned date, because there is a list of what needs to be done, and we do not even know the full total of what needs to be done until we have worked with the selected provider in order to know how they see the centre operating. Childcare centres are not all that straightforward, in the sense that there are a lot of preferred aspects to them and a lot of general theories but not nearly so many strict rules. For instance, what we do not know for sure at this stage is how many different groups of children the centre might need to cater for.

Senator CAROL BROWN —I would have thought that you would have some clear understanding of that, given—and I have only been here for a short time—that this is a campaign that has gone on for nearly a decade. You would have a clear understanding of the sorts of hours and the sorts of clients that you would be looking at.

Ms Penfold —We understand the hours. What we do not know—

Senator CAROL BROWN —Could I ask another question? Is the all-party Child Care Reference Group that was set up still going?

Ms Penfold —As far as I am aware.

Senator CAROL BROWN —That is not under you?

Ms Penfold —No, that is not something that we organise. My understanding is that it is the one convened by Senator Crossin.

The PRESIDENT —That is through the joint house committee.

Senator CAROL BROWN —The baby centre is for children up to 18 months—is that correct?

Ms Penfold —Yes, that is the current approach.

Senator CAROL BROWN —So are we still looking at child care for children aged 18 months to five years? Is that work still being carried out?

Ms Penfold —At the moment we are not doing any work on that aspect of it.

Senator CAROL BROWN —So we will complete this one sometime next year, maybe?

Senator FAULKNER —Not necessarily.

Ms Penfold —Not necessarily, as the senator said. The point I should make—and this is what I was getting to before—is this: we have an indication from the ACT Children’s Services people that the area we have shown them will fit approximately 22 children. If we found that we could not fill 22 places with children under 18 months, it would be much more sensible to expand what is offered in that childcare centre and increase the maximum age than to simply say, ‘This childcare centre only operates for kids up to 18 months, and if we can only fill half the places, that is tough.’ We do want to keep that flexibility and to work out how to build that flexibility into the centre, and that is partly why I cannot tell you that we have an exactly clear picture of what we have to do now.

Senator CAROL BROWN —I understand what you are saying.

Ms Penfold —And I do not know now how many babies will have been born to people who work in this building by next January. They probably do not even know.

The PRESIDENT —Some of them would have a fair idea.

Ms Penfold —It is only February.

Senator CAROL BROWN —Back to the expressions of interest. You meet on 19 February—

Mr Kenny —That is the intention. I have not had everyone confirm that, but most of the people have said that they are available.

Senator CAROL BROWN —Are you able to give me a time frame as to when you expect to be able to announce the successful operator?

Mr Kenny —As I said a minute ago, I would want to proceed as quickly as possible. I am reluctant to give a time frame, because I have not yet had a discussion with the various people on the panel, and I would not want to be seen to be truncating the amount of time that people need to give it due consideration. But, having said that, we will proceed as quickly as we can. There is nothing else that I am aware of, other than our finding the time to do our deliberating to get to a decision. We do not have a need to meet another milestone before we can take a decision.

Senator CAROL BROWN —Thank you.

Senator FIFIELD —Ms Penfold, I wonder if you could provide the committee with an update on the Parliament House lock contract. The last time estimates met, I think the situation was that you were looking at tendering the replacements for the locks for which patents had expired for a fourth time.

Ms Penfold —I think it might have been the third time. Since then, we have rewritten the statement of requirements. The statement of requirements that we used in the earlier tenders focused very much on getting a new set of locks to slot into the holes that are there now with the locks in them. The more carefully you read the statement, the more it became apparent that all we really wanted was the 2000-whatever version of the 1988 locks. We have now rewritten that to open up the possibility that we may replace those locks with some sort of swipecard access system—which requires a bit of fiddling around. We also contemplated, very briefly, whether we should open it up even further to some sort of biometric recognition system—irises, voice or whatever—and decided that that was probably getting a bit ahead of ourselves at this stage. There are a variety of reasons why members, senators and other building occupants might not be too comfortable with that and it might not be a very efficient process. So we have called a halt at the swipe access point.

I will hand over to Mr Kenny at this point, but I think it is with some of our planning people to have the final touches put to it. Technically it should come first through the finance committee and then the tender will go out onto AusTender.

Mr Kenny —That is a good summary. As Hilary said, there is a bit more work to be done. It is currently with me. The person who had done a lot of the work previously is now on leave. We will progress it whilst he is still away. It will not wait for his return before we prepare it and go to tender.

Senator FIFIELD —So the tender will still be for metal locks with keys?

Ms Penfold —No, it will be for either something like we have now or a swipe card system.

Senator FIFIELD —But not one with a biometric.

Ms Penfold —No, not one with a biometric.

Senator FIFIELD —When was the replacement for the locks first put up for tender?

Ms Penfold —I think it goes back to 2003. I will have the dates here. I will check. The first one was in March 2004.

Senator FIFIELD —And March 2007 is not that far away. Which date are you aiming to have the locks actually installed and completed?

Ms Penfold —The actual installation is one of those things that we would try to do at an appropriately quiet time within the building rather than causing trouble for people during sitting weeks. Off the top of my head, realistically the first such option would probably be July—perhaps more realistic might be whenever the election period is and assuming it will be after that. That might work quite neatly because then the whole place is ‘up for grabs’ and training everybody in a new locking system might be best done then.

Senator FIFIELD —And you are confident that the matter will be resolved through the fourth tender process?

Ms Penfold —I am confident that it will be resolved this time, yes.

Senator FIFIELD —So there will not be a need to go to a fifth tender process. Four tender processes over three years should suffice.

Proceedings suspended from 1.08 pm to 2.13 pm

CHAIR —The committee will continue its examination of the Department of Parliamentary Services. Before doing that, can I just thank you, Mr President, for tabling that letter about your leadership of parliamentary delegations overseas since September 2002. Thank you.

Senator ROBERT RAY —I notice requests for expressions of interest on the replacement of ParlInfo are out, closing on 24 January. Can I have an indication of the timetable of that project, when it is expected to be completed and what the various stages will be?

Ms Missingham —The procurement proposal for that is a two-stage procurement process. We have gone for expressions of interest, and then we will do a formal request for tender. We hope to have the successful tenderer selected before June and then to be implementing in the second half of this year.

Senator ROBERT RAY —And the completion date?

Ms Missingham —The second half of this calendar year.

Senator ROBERT RAY —I notice we have a request for tender for the provision of art consultancy services. What is the purpose of that?

Ms Penfold —The Churcher report recommended some years ago now that, instead of having the person who sourced artworks for the Parliament House art collection on staff, we should engage some sort of consultant who would source works for us in conjunction with the other work through galleries and so on, given that we have a budget of only about $100,000 a year, roughly, to spend on artworks. Rather than going out immediately and engaging such a consultant, we initially started dealing with Artbank. Given that they were doing a very similar job with a slightly larger budget and, in many ways, similar context, we were looking to see whether they might be able to do some of that sourcing work for us incidentally to their own work. We had been negotiating an agreement with them over quite some period until the Director of Artbank resigned around, I think, the middle of last year and the department of communications reviewed the process and decided that perhaps they did not want Artbank involved in that activity. Once it became clear that Artbank was not the appropriate, in effect, consultant, we then decided we would have to go out to market, and that is what we have done in that tender.

Senator ROBERT RAY —That closed last Friday. Is it too late for me to put in?

Ms Penfold —I believe the rules about accepting late tenders are very strict.

Senator ROBERT RAY —Thank goodness for that. Another small matter: what is happening with your department’s survey of mobile phone black spots around the building? Has that been completed?

Mr Kenny —Yes, the survey that was undertaken just before Christmas has been completed. We have the results and we have provided them to Telstra, who are the people conducting the process of examining the problems. I may have the terminology slightly wrong, but they act as the mobile phone communications provider on behalf of all the other providers. That is why they are doing it. They have told us they intend to undertake further research in terms of walking around with monitoring equipment and confirming the signal strength in various parts of the building.

Senator ROBERT RAY —That is a bit of progress. We have the question of deliveries to Parliament House loading dock. You have done a trial period there. Is that complete? Has that worked?

Ms Penfold —When you say a ‘trial period’, as far as I am aware that one is now in its ongoing state, subject to the fact that now that we are using it there are a few things emerging that will probably need to be looked at again in the next little while.

Senator ROBERT RAY —When you say ‘trial period’, I am looking at Mr Kenny’s release. It refers to a trial period between 20 and 27 November. I am wondering how that trial period went, what changes have been made and how well they are working.

Ms Penfold —That was when we first introduced the new processes. It was, I suppose, a trial period in the sense not of seeing whether we would do it at all but identifying whether there were any things we had overlooked in our procedures and so on. After that, we made some small changes to signs and paintings on the road and so on and then continued those operations with some of these minor changes in place. That is now working pretty much as we intended, subject to the fact that there was a minor glitch over Christmas when something went wrong or was about to go wrong with the gate itself, but that as been resolved. So now, yes, the new procedures seem to be basically working okay. I am not aware of any formal complaints, but you may have heard things that I have not.

Senator ROBERT RAY —Mr President, did you read the articles in the newspaper about a week ago on the Comcar service to Parliament House and how MPs were energy wasteful getting a car in—you know, the usual turgid, cheap, junior woodchuck journalistic effort? Since then, has there been a big rush from journalists in the building to cancel their car-parking spots downstairs and walk in? Have you heard anything?

The PRESIDENT —Not that I am aware of. I did see the usual photo of Comcars lined up.

Senator ROBERT RAY —I just thought there might have been a rush from socially conscious journalists to come in by bike.

The PRESIDENT —They still use the lift as well.

Senator ROBERT RAY —Hold on. I am with them there; they might fall.

Senator FAULKNER —This is a question to Ms Missingham through you, Mr President. I am aware of what appears to be some pressure to limit the number of ASIC searches that are undertaken in the library. Can you confirm whether or not that is right?

Ms Missingham —I certainly know that we are charged for ASIC searches and, as with all databases where there is a cost per search, we try to use those responsibly. However, I am not aware of any particular pressure on the ASIC database usage. We only encourage staff to use it responsibly, not to limit their use for any legitimate purpose.

Senator FAULKNER —That is fair enough. I understand now that the charge from ASIC per search is $35. Is that right?

Ms Missingham —I do not know, but I can find out.

Senator FAULKNER —Could someone check that for us. Has this meant any budget change for the parliamentary library at all?

Ms Missingham —We do a smallish number of searches on ASIC compared with other databases that we use. I would have thought that in terms of our total acquisitions budget it was a very small cost. We certainly would not have done anything unusual and would not have thought it would impose a particular cost.

Senator FAULKNER —Given what you have told the committee, there is nothing that has been done at the level of the library to reduce the number of searches or to cut them down, apart from the broad counsel—which I think is wise counsel—that you offer about ensuring that they are not conducted willy-nilly? If a member or senator needs an ASIC search, is it done?

Ms Missingham —Absolutely.

Senator FAULKNER —So I can be assured then that this is effectively demand driven, not cost driven?

Ms Missingham —Yes.

Senator FAULKNER —Thanks for that. I want to ask about two contracts that I have seen in the Gazette. Would you like me to give you their numbers, Ms Penfold?

Ms Penfold —The topics would be helpful, Senator.

Senator FAULKNER —It is about the provision of carpet laying and floor covering services, one for $16,000 and one for $36,000. Both are for Chesta’s Floors. Could you let me know where those carpets are being laid, please.

Ms Penfold —We would have to take on notice the exact location of those.

Senator FAULKNER —I might have some follow-up questions so, while I deal with another issue, do you think someone might be able to check and you could find out?

Ms Penfold —So $16,000 and $32,000?

Senator FAULKNER —Yes.

Ms Penfold —If you give the numbers now, that might make it easier.

Senator FAULKNER —The contract IDs are 1644193 and 1633130. If someone could check that, I would certainly appreciate it. Moving to the continuous improvement reviews: can you tell me now how many continuous improvement reviews have been undertaken?

Ms Penfold —There will be 13 all up. One is finished; three are in their final stages; four started in November last year; and five—so those are the last five—have just started.

Senator FAULKNER —Have any recommendations flowed from the one completed review?

Ms Penfold —Yes. That was the one of Hansard. I will ask Mr Kenny to deal with further questions on that.

Senator FAULKNER —Just briefly, if you can, what were the outcomes?

Mr Kenny —The review group made 45 recommendations, all but one of which were accepted. The one that was not accepted related to the number of executive level 2 officers within Hansard. A Hansard Implementation Working Group comprising Hansard staff was formed to implement the recommendations. The majority have now been implemented. The remaining ones will be implemented over the coming months, and those relate to things such as Hansard’s internal reporting and performance management systems.

Senator FAULKNER —What about impacts on staff? You say that, of those 45 recommendations, all but one have been accepted. Who accepts them at the end of the day? The Presiding Officers?

Mr Kenny —In this case they were accepted by a steering committee that was chaired by me.

Senator FAULKNER —And who does the steering committee report to? Anyone?

Mr Kenny —In terms of the relationship of the business lists that are in committee, no. The conduct of the CIRs is part of, I suppose, the overall departmental governance, because they are covered in the certified agreement, but I am responsible to the secretary, obviously.

Senator FAULKNER —But do you report to the Presiding Officers on these things?

Mr Kenny —Not with these recommendations. They were considered internal operational matters.

Senator FAULKNER —Were there any staff impacts in relation to those 44 recommendations that were accepted, whether it be numbers, redundancies, classification levels and the like?

Mr Kenny —There have been quite a number of staffing implications, including, for example, having the executive level positions become less hands-on and more managerial in terms of the sorts of work that we ask them to do. There were some significant changes within the Hansard Support Unit, which is the role which assists the Hansard editors in producing transcript—for example, running the systems, maintaining the templates and taking responsibility for collating the various bits of information that make up a Hansard: for example, transcripts from the tapes and information that comes from answers to questions on notice that are tabled.

Senator FAULKNER —Can you provide the committee with a copy of those 44 recommendations?

Mr Kenny —Certainly.

Senator FAULKNER —Were they publicised or published in the DPS Dispatch or anything?

Mr Kenny —They would have been published on the DPS portal, the internal intranet site. We can get them for you.

Senator FAULKNER —If you could provide the committee with a copy of those recommendations—and I might flag, Ms Penfold, that at the budget estimates we might have a look at the progress of some of these other continuous improvement reviews, because it sounds as if the process of the 13 is now well underway, even if only one has been finalised.

Ms Penfold —Yes, Senator.

Senator FAULKNER —Just on that, perhaps you might assist me, Ms Missingham. Could you just indicate to us how many of those 13 continuous improvement reviews involve the Parliamentary Library.

Ms Missingham —Two of them do. The Research Branch one is almost completed and has involved extensive consultation with staff. The recommendations are in draft form. The Information Access review has just started off with a committee that is working on the discussion paper.

Senator FAULKNER —So that one is in the early stages?

Ms Missingham —Yes.

Senator FAULKNER —I see. You said the Research Branch one is almost completed. Was that Mr Kenny’s review? Is he chairing the committee?

Ms Missingham —I am chairing the steering committee. The recommendations and report from the Research Branch review will also go to the joint standing committee of the Parliamentary Library, which is meeting on 28 February.

Senator FAULKNER —So, Mr Kenny, is it the case with the two Parliamentary Library continuous improvement reviews that they are dealt with in a different way because of the independence of the Parliamentary Library? Is that right? You do not chair all those?

Mr Kenny —I have not had anything much at all to do with the library ones, and what I have had to do has been mainly through our change manager in providing some assistance in the early stages, in terms of the conduct of the reviews—administrative processes and that sort of thing.

Ms Penfold —If I can break in there, and David will correct me if I have this wrong, the three people who report to me—that is, Mr Kenny, Ms Missingham and our Chief Finance Officer, Judy Konig—have chaired the steering committees in their areas of responsibility. David has no responsibility for the library directly, nor does he have responsibility for what happens in the CFO branch. So the CFO chaired the relevant ones affecting her branch.

Senator FAULKNER —In relation to these reviews, is there an impact on services to members and senators? Is that a critical issue for consideration?

Ms Penfold —I would expect that impacts on senators and members would be raised at higher levels. The reviews are not particularly aimed at changing the services provided, only at seeing whether they can be done more efficiently.

Senator FAULKNER —I appreciate that and I am probably pleased to hear that. But if you have a review, as Ms Missingham has indicated—for example, into the Research Branch in the library—it is quite possible that will have an impact on services to members and senators, isn’t it?

Ms Penfold —Yes, it is possible that it will raise issues that are relevant to services.

Senator FAULKNER —So let me then ask Ms Missingham: has that consideration been a matter for the steering committee? If it has been, how has it been dealt with?

Ms Missingham —For the review of the Research Branch, our intention has not been to change the services that are offered to senators and members but to undertake them more effectively. We have a number of issues within the Research Branch, including an ageing staff profile, so we needed to look at the mix of staff that is required to do the duties. We have done an assessment of the sorts of activities that have been done within the area to make sure that the staffing profile is appropriate to the work that needs to be done. We are not intending to change the services to senators and members—just to do it better.

Senator FAULKNER —Is there any pressure for expansion of areas of service? That has been an ongoing issue, to my knowledge. It has been around for a while.

Ms Missingham —It has been. We are just about to do a survey of users of the Parliamentary Library, particularly focusing on the research service, to ask: what it is that they most highly value from our services, whether they find them easy and accessible, and whether they need us to do new services or extend in different ways. We are certainly finding that the increase in the services, particularly the general briefs and publications that we make available on the internet, has increased dramatically and we need to get information out. In the same way as the Clerk of the Senate was saying this morning, we need to get material out very quickly—particularly Bills Digest services—and we need to keep reviewing those to make sure that they are working well. But I think the survey should give us some information to help us review where we need to take our services.

Senator FAULKNER —But are you saying that that is a separate exercise to the continuous improvement review and that there is no real interface between those two issues?

Ms Missingham —The interface between those two issues is the Parliamentary Library executive, which comprises the heads of both branches and me. We will look at the outcomes of the CIR and we will also look at the outcomes of the survey, as will the Joint Standing Committee on the Parliamentary Library.

Senator FAULKNER —I do not like asking questions that are hypothetical, but I suspect this probably is. Let us say there was to be an expansion into certain areas as a result of the second review you speak of. We appreciate that emphases change and policy interests change. Something that might be a policy interest now may not have been 15 years ago—something like climate change, for example, which I imagine has gone up the Richter scale dramatically. Can that possibly have an impact on the actual continuous improvement review and the actual services and areas of service that staff provide? I am trying to understand whether these are completely separate.

Ms Missingham —The continuous improvement review really is helping us make sure that we are doing the things that we do now effectively and efficiently. The survey and the discussions with the joint committee will help us think about where we should be developing our services into the future. We need to know that we can do those effectively and efficiently as well, so there may be some principles that come out of the continuous improvement review which we are able to take into any new service delivery that we undertake. They are two parts of the same component, if you like.

Senator FAULKNER —Because of the pressure of time, I might flag that I will come back to this in more detail in the budget estimates round. It does sound as if it might be more useful at that time because I suspect we will have a few more of these concluded, or a few more again close to being concluded. Ms Penfold, I did, however, want to come back to what I think is an absolutely critical issue, and it is one that I raised at the last estimates round and which you are well aware of—that is, the issue of adverse reactions to the 2005 influenza vaccinations in Parliament House. I wondered if perhaps you could give us a brief status report of any developments in this area or in relation to this issue since we last met.

Ms Penfold —As far as I know, there have been no developments on the specific matter of the influenza vaccinations, subject to the fact that the person whose illness has been accepted as being possibly caused by the influenza vaccination is still dealing with Comcare about entitlements, treatment and that sort of thing. There have been no other possible consequences reported to us. More generally, after the last estimates committee hearings, I wrote to the two clerks and to the department of finance people who are responsible for ministerial wing support asking them if they had any sense from things coming from their staff that there were any general issues in Parliament House that might be having an effect on the health of people working here. All three of them replied to me that they were not aware of anything that suggested that there were any challenges to health that were peculiar to this building or anything unusual about the health profiles.

Senator FAULKNER —How many people is the department currently aware of for whom there are suggestions that they may have had an adverse reaction to the influenza vaccination in 2005? What is the current number?

Ms Penfold —There are the two we discussed last year who have identified illnesses, one of which has been accepted as being on the balance of probabilities connected to the flu vaccine and one of which might or might not be—however there has been no connection drawn by the treating health professionals. Then there are two other employees of DPS who have identified themselves as having had general health problems in 2005. One of those people had a flu vaccine through the nurses centre—through our program—and one of them had it through their own GP. Having raised the issue of general ill health, they have not provided anything more in the way of information that we can do anything with. That was the position at the last hearing when we discussed it, and there has been nothing brought forward since then.

Senator FAULKNER —So it is just those four identified cases?

Ms Penfold —No, it is one accepted case; one diagnosed illness that may be related; and two general comments suggesting a possible connection with the vaccine. But, of those, only one had the vaccination through our program.

Senator FAULKNER —So four cases where either a link has been drawn or a possible link has been drawn.

Ms Penfold —A possible link with a flu vaccine has been suggested but not with the one provided in this building.

Senator FAULKNER —In one case.

Ms Penfold —In one case.

Senator FAULKNER —So that means that Comcare is involved with only one employee?

Ms Penfold —That is my understanding, yes.

Senator FAULKNER —How does Comcare liaise with an employee in this situation?

Ms Penfold —I do not know the details of that. You would have to ask Comcare about that.

Senator FAULKNER —Do you have a liaison person?

Ms Penfold —We have people in our personnel area who would be, I suppose, around the fringes of that activity.

Senator FAULKNER —What do you mean by ‘around the fringes’?

Ms Penfold —I do not believe it is all channelled through our people to Comcare and the staff member involved. We are informed of things but, as I understand it—

Senator FAULKNER —Who are you informed by? Comcare?

Ms Penfold —I believe so.

Senator FAULKNER —Surely there must be a liaison person of some description?

Ms Penfold —We do have a person in our personnel area who gets the information and certainly will be involved in things such as return to work but, apart from what we can arrange in respect of things like return to work, we are not making the decisions at that point about what is accepted and about the Comcare arrangements.

Senator FAULKNER —My understanding might be out of date but I thought there was, for employers such as DPS, an internal Comcare liaison person and then a designated liaison contact at Comcare. Is that wrong?

Ms Penfold —No, I do not know that that is wrong. As I said, we have a staff member who is certainly involved in Comcare matters.

Senator FAULKNER —And with the specific responsibility for this one identified case?

Ms Penfold —Probably. I would have to say that the progress of individual Comcare cases is not something I would get a daily report on.

Senator FAULKNER —I know; therefore we can just have the official come to the table. Instead of trying to do it all yourself when you know nothing about it, why don’t we just bring an official to the table who does know about it?

Ms Barrett —Yes, we could certainly try to get the person who would have that responsibility here; but my understanding of the process is that we have an administrative responsibility to report to Comcare about particular cases. When a claim is accepted, my understanding is that the relationship between Comcare and the person affected is about particular treatment—that information usually is between Comcare and the person being treated.

Senator FAULKNER —I do not want to trample into privacy details here. Because of time, Mr President, I will revisit this in greater detail at the budget estimates round. I do want to flag with you, Mr President, that I have a very close interest in this and associated issues. I have raised them now at a couple of estimates rounds, but I want to go into some more detail about the progress of this. I happen to believe that we have a duty of care in relation to these employees, and I am sure that everyone at the table—you, Mr President, and the officials at the table—would accept that that is the case too. But what has occurred in relation to this vaccination that has just gone horribly wrong for up to at least four individuals and possibly more is a very serious matter. So I flag that, at the budget round in a couple of months time, I will progress this in more detail. If I do that now, you can make your best endeavours, Ms Penfold, to have the relevant officials appear who can assist us. But I do stress that, when I deal with a matter, I am certainly not going to go to issues that impinge on the privacy of employees. I have never done that in the past, and we will not be starting now. Have we found out about the carpet, by the way, in the meantime?

Ms Penfold —They are still chasing up the carpet.

Senator FAULKNER —Have there been any incidents relating to those little scooters that run around the corridors of Parliament House? Any accidents? Any damage? Not that I am suggesting that Senator Evans was run down by them—he is very fleet of foot.

Ms Penfold —There was some media reporting last year of damage allegedly caused by a scooter, and—

Senator FAULKNER —There was, and that is why I am asking you whether that is correct.

Ms Penfold —I assumed that was why. When we followed that up, we could not find any evidence at all.

Senator FAULKNER —You found the scooter, I hope.

Ms Penfold —We found the scooter, yes, but we could not identify any damage.

Senator FAULKNER —So it is not true, as has been suggested, that there have been scooter races and so forth around the corridor?

Ms Penfold —I have no idea about that. I am not aware of any scooter races around the corridor.

Senator FAULKNER —In other words, as far as you know, there is no suggestion of inappropriate or improper use of this scooter? It was used by Colston, I recall.

Senator CHRIS EVANS —Former senators Denman and Knowles were both seen racing around the corridors at various stages!

Senator FAULKNER —I do not know about that. I know people wanted to put sugar in the petrol tank when Senator Colston was using it, but, anyway, they never got around to it.

Senator CHRIS EVANS —I think a couple of them offered to help him down the stairs!

Senator FAULKNER —So I can be assured that, as far as that scooter is concerned, it has been properly handled at all times? That is all I want to know.

Ms Penfold —You can be assured that, to the best of my knowledge, that has been the case.

Senator FAULKNER —I only really have one other question, which is a question to the President—because I would not dream of asking it of Ms Penfold. It relates to one of the many alerts that are sent out by DPS. This one related to certain areas of the building where you can smoke and others where you cannot smoke. I am interested in the issue of penalties which was raised. What is the penalty if someone is found smoking where they are not supposed to smoke? That is plain English.

The PRESIDENT —Whoever it was would report to the Presiding Officers, and then I presume it would be up to us to take any action, if necessary. Towards the end of last year, the Speaker and I agreed on a six-month trial, from 1 February this year, to implement a ban on smoking in certain areas where there were air-conditioning intakes or whatever, and we agreed that, at the end of the trial, we would see whether we would make those bans permanent. We are mindful of the obligations to senators, members and staff, and I think we all know the environmental damage that can be caused by exposure to passive smoking. The new arrangements were intended to minimise the amount of smoke entering the air-conditioning system but also to not inconvenience those people who do wish to partake in that dreadful habit that some of us have.

Senator FAULKNER —Thanks for that. I did not actually ask what the determination was, but that is helpful for the record to explain in broad terms what is being done. I asked about penalties, and I asked because I read in the Canberra Times—a very reliable source—about Ms Penfold’s comment. It said that Ms Penfold:

… told us yesterday that punishment for repeat offenders depended on who the person was—

Is that right, Mr President?

The PRESIDENT —If it was in the Canberra Times the quote must be from someone.

Senator FAULKNER —I do not know whether the quote is accurate, but let’s not worry about that. I am sure Ms Penfold would have corrected the record if it was not accurate, and I did not see a letter from her correcting the record. All I want to know is: is that the case?

The PRESIDENT —I could suggest a penalty. If a senator is caught smoking we could make them spend a full term in estimates hearings as a penalty.

Senator FAULKNER —You could.

The PRESIDENT —It is one of those things: we will cross that bridge when we come to it or if we have to.

Senator FAULKNER —Or you could make them stand outside your office while you make a decision. That would be tough too. But what is the penalty?

The PRESIDENT —There is no penalty as far as I am concerned, and I have never mentioned any penalty.

Senator FAULKNER —All right. Ms Penfold said that it depended on who the person was. The article said:

… department staff might be “counselled by a supervisor”—

sounds reasonable—

a member of the Press Gallery could be threatened with their pass being revoked—

we could get lucky—

a Member or senator would be dealt with by the Presiding Officers or Whips.

So the buck stops with you. Were you accurately quoted, by the way, Ms Penfold?

Ms Penfold —Fairly accurately, although I think the question I was asked was, ‘what are the sanctions?’ rather than ‘what are the punishments?’

Senator FAULKNER —The ball might end up in your court, Mr President, and if it is a senator you are going to send them off to a course in estimates committees. Fair enough. That is really clear what the penalties are for someone who is smoking in the building, isn’t it?

CHAIR —The committee feels much better for those questions, Senator Faulkner.

Senator MURRAY —Ms Missingham, I wonder if you could tell the committee how your relationship with the new library committee is going.

Ms Missingham —Certainly. The library committee is a very engaged and very positive contributor to the library’s development. They have met quarterly and will continue to meet quarterly through this year, and they have been particularly helpful to me in the work that we are doing on developing a survey. The committee is working very hard to help give us direction and support.

Senator MURRAY —Both you and the secretary are dealing with change items, some of which are sensitive, controversial or far-reaching. Do you use the library committee as a sounding board for proposed change which might be described as sensitive, controversial or far-reaching?

Ms Missingham —Certainly, with any major policy issues relating to our collection development policy or copyright and attribution or access to child pornography—with any major issue that we believe we need to address—we do not just talk to staff in the library and come up with policies; we involve the library committee. A number of issues that we are preparing papers on for the next library committee meeting have in fact been suggested by the library committee, such as our collection budget and our coverage of political party materials. So the library is suggesting some policy issues for discussion by the committee, and the committee is suggesting some issues that the library is responding to.

Senator MURRAY —Do you tend to go to them with a policy or proposal that has already been decided—namely, you are just looking for their final input or approval—or do you approach them in conceptual terms and in broad project terms first?

Ms Missingham —When there is an issue that is very complex and has a number of implications for the delivery of service in the library or on policy, our tendency has been to discuss it with staff to make sure that we are aware of all of the issues that would be faced by our staff. We seek advice before we go to the library committee with a concept to make sure that we have covered off on all of the issues that need to be considered in the development of a policy.

Senator MURRAY —What mechanism do you have to get independent, objective, outside input into key areas of consideration? As an example, a Senate committee like this would tap into the community at large to ensure that it gets input from more than just the department or particular stakeholders. Have you been developing with the library an active set of reference people, contacts and organisations to assist them in their broader appraisal of matters?

Ms Missingham —Perhaps I will take it from two different aspects. With the strategic planning that we did in the library last year, where we looked at the key issues and the areas where we needed to develop our services, we involved all of our executive level staff from both branches to get an idea about the issues we needed to do development work on. Those projects involved looking at peers—for example, state parliamentary libraries, international parliamentary libraries and the National Library—to see how we should develop on particular issues. In addition to that, on the basis of our planning, we are very active in the Australian Association of Parliamentary Libraries and in the Australian library environment to make sure that we are seeking advice where we need to—for example, in the area of copyright policy, where we needed some technical advice, we sought advice from the Attorney-General’s Department and the Australian Libraries Copyright Committee.

Senator MURRAY —It still sounds very in-house. Let me put my question a little differently, and I will put it with an analogy. The analogy is what was discussed earlier with respect to the Hansard—the decision to cut out the index was made without regard to the users. I would expect that in material matters—obviously not run-of-the-mill matters—the users of the library service would be tapped for their views, both into the library committee and your own processes. Have you been developing mechanisms for that to happen?

Ms Missingham —The prime mechanism that we will use this financial year will be our library survey, in addition to seeking advice from the library committee and having sections in the library committee meeting so that we can have quite an open discussion on issues. Some of the issues do not just relate to our library’s services; they relate to things such as oral histories of members of parliament. We have actually gone and talked to people at Old Parliament House and to the National Library about what their programs are so we can think about how that need can be serviced.

Senator MURRAY —Just remind me: is your library survey directed to what I would call external users as well—that is, people like the press gallery, other parliamentary libraries, professional organisations and people who tap into your publications, digests and that sort of thing?

Ms Missingham —It is primarily directed to our clients in Parliament House, and we aim to have all of those clients provide information. In terms of things such as the information we make available on the web, in December of not last year but the year before, we did a survey of the users of the parliamentary web services. That included a lot of members of the public. They gave us a number of comments, including the need to replace the ParlInfo service. They also commented on how they use the service. We use a number of different mechanisms to get input from different communities.

Senator MURRAY —I am always cautious about the use of the word ‘client’ because it obviously has real meaning and real usability, but it also implies a user-pays approach.

Ms Missingham —Yes.

Senator MURRAY —I am of the view that the Parliamentary Library is a national institution—as is the parliament itself—which provides a service to the citizens of Australia in that broad sense through your publications, digests and your broader services to which the public have access. I am really asking about people you would not describe by the term ‘client’. You might think of senators and members as clients in the direct service sense, but there are lots of indirect users of your services.

Ms Missingham —There are a lot of indirect users of our services. While the survey of users of the www.aph.gov.au website gave us some information on that, we are very conscious of the need to deliver information to Australians in particular. With the ParlInfo project, we have actually run some business focus groups with senators, members and their staff and also with the Department of the Senate and the Department of the House of Representatives. In our discussions with those two departments, we have tried to explore what it is that Australians need from us in terms of a really good information service. That has helped build the specifications for the tender stage of the process that we are going through now. How we deliver those information services in a timely and effective manner is something that we are very conscious we need to keep looking at.

Senator MURRAY —On a material matter, if the library committee came to a different view to you and your management team, how would you resolve that difference?

Ms Missingham —I think we would have to have a very detailed discussion about what the issues were, what the options were and what the challenges were. I do not think we would want to be in conflict with the library committee. They represent our users, so we need to be very cognisant of that in any service delivery.

Senator MURRAY —What I am really asking is whether there is a dispute resolution mechanism.

Ms Missingham —There is not a formal dispute resolution mechanism, but it is certainly something that we would seek advice from the Presiding Officers on if that was the situation.

Senator MURRAY —I would have thought the Presiding Officers are the dispute resolution mechanism. I am asking these questions because you have a new set-up.

Ms Missingham —Yes.

Senator MURRAY —We are relying on the library committee to be our reference point when we—and I am using the term ‘we’ as the broader meaning of senators and members—are concerned about something the library is doing. That may lead to dispute, and I think you have to anticipate that and have a satisfactory mechanism for resolving it.

Ms Missingham —That is a point well made and it is something I should discuss with the Presiding Officers.

CHAIR —Are there any further questions from the committee for the Department of Parliamentary Services?

Ms Penfold —Before you stop, we do have the information that Senator Faulkner has just asked for about carpet.

CHAIR —Thank you, Ms Penfold.

Mr Nakkan —The two transactions requested are for the laying of carpet. The $32,000 transaction is for laying carpet in nine suites around the building—that is senators, members and ministerial suites. The bulk of the $16,000 transaction—the $12,500—is for vinyl replacement in the Senate print room, $1,400 is for the Parliament Shop, $720 is for viewing room repairs and patching small damage and a further $320 is for a patch in the Prime Minister’s suite.

Senator FAULKNER —Thank you for that. Can you take on notice the members’, senators’ and ministers’ offices? There is no need to go through them now, but just take them on notice.

Mr Nakkan —The actual ones replaced?

Senator FAULKNER —Yes. Thank you.

CHAIR —Are there any further questions for the department? There being none, Mr President, Ms Penfold and officers, thank you very much for your assistance to the committee today.

[3.11 pm]