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Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee
05/05/2016
Estimates
PRIME MINISTER AND CABINET PORTFOLIO

PRIME MINISTER AND CABINET PORTFOLIO

In Attendance

Senator Brandis, Attorney-General

Senator Scullion, Minister for Indigenous Affairs

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

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Outcome 1

Overview

Ms Elizabeth Kelly, Deputy Secretary, Governance

Ms Alison Larkins, Acting Deputy Secretary, Social Policy

Outcome 1—Prime Minister and Cabinet

Australian Public Service Commission

Ms Stephanie Foster, Acting Australian Public Service Commissioner

Ms Annwyn Godwin, Merit Protection Commissioner

Mr Marco Spaccavento, Group Manager, Workplace Relations

Ms Karin Fisher, Group Manager, Employment Policy

Ms Clare Page, Group Manager, Corporate

Ms Helen Bull, Group Manager, Employment Planning

Ms Alana Walsh, Acting Group Manager, Employment Strategy

Economic Group

Dr David Gruen, Deputy Secretary, Economic

Ms Kelly Pearce, Acting First Assistant Secretary, Industry, Infrastructure and Environment Division

Mr Neil Williams, Assistant Secretary, Industry, Science and Communications Branch

Ms Paula Stagg, Acting Assistant Secretary, Environment, Energy and Climate Change

Ms Paula Svarcas, Acting Assistant Secretary, Infrastructure and Agriculture

Mr Luke Yeaman, First Assistant Secretary, Economic Division

Ms Josephine Laduzko, Assistant Secretary, Commonwealth-State Relations

Social Policy Group

Ms Alison Larkins, Acting Deputy Secretary, Social Policy

Ms Louise Clarke, Assistant Secretary, Health and Education

Ms Julie Yeend, Assistant Secretary, Social Services, Immigration and the Arts

Ms Louise McSorley, Assistant Secretary, Office for Women

Ms Joann Wilkie, Assistant Secretary, Women’s Safety Taskforce

Ms Susan Fitzgerald, Senior Adviser, Women’s Safety Taskforce

Innovation and Transformation

Dr Steven Kennedy, Deputy Secretary, Innovation and Transformation

Ms Tanja Cvijanovic, First Assistant Secretary, Cities Division

Ms Kate Lynch, Assistant Secretary, Cities Division

Ms Helen Owens, Assistant Secretary, Data Policy

Mr Peter Saunders, First Assistant Secretary, Regulatory Reform Division

Mr Tony Simovski, Acting Deputy Executive Director, Office of Best Practice Regulation, Regulatory Reform Division

Mr Wayne Poels, Assistant Secretary, Regulatory Policy and Review Branch, Regulatory Reform Division

Ms Angela Wright, Assistant Secretary, Regulatory Performance and Engagement Branch, Regulatory Reform Division

Governance Group

Ms Elizabeth Kelly, Deputy Secretary, Governance

Ms Paula Ganly, Acting First Assistant Secretary, Ministerial Support Division

Mr Jamie Fox, First Assistant Secretary, Cabinet Division

Ms Philippa Lynch, First Assistant Secretary, Government Division

Mr Peter Rush, Assistant Secretary, Parliamentary and Government Branch, Government Division

Mr Peter Arnaudo, Assistant Secretary, Honours, Symbols and Legal Policy Branch, Government Division

Ms Amanda McIntyre, First Assistant Secretary, Financial Services Division

Mr Ben Neal, First Assistant Secretary, Corporate Services Division

National Security

Mr Allan McKinnon, Deputy Secretary, National Security Division

Ms Sandra Ragg, Acting First Assistant Secretary, Cyber Policy and Intelligence Division

Ms HK Yu, First Assistant Secretary, International Division

Independent National Security Legislation Monitor

Mr Roger Gyles AO, QC

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Outcome 2

Overview

Mr Andrew Tongue, Associate Secretary, Indigenous Affairs

Mr Richard Eccles, Deputy Secretary, Indigenous Affairs

Ms Elizabeth Kelly, Deputy Secretary, Governance

Indigenous Affairs Group

Ms Liz Hefren-Webb, First Assistant Secretary, Schools, Information and Evaluation Division

Ms Belinda Campbell, Assistant Secretary, Education Programme Delivery and Support Branch

Ms Fiona Sawyers, Assistant Secretary, Education Policy and Coordination Branch

Mr Matthew James, Assistant Secretary, IAG Information, Evaluation Branch

Mr Neil Harwood, Assistant Secretary, Early Childhood and Higher Education Branch

Ms Bronwyn Field, Assistant Secretary, Intergovernmental and Whole of Government Policy and Strategy

Branch

Mr Gavin Matthews, Acting First Assistant Secretary, Community Safety and Policy Division

Mr John Walker, Acting Assistant Secretary, Strategy Policy and Coordination Branch

Mr Benjamin Mudaliar, Acting Assistant Secretary, Community Safety Branch

Mr Robert Ryan, Assistant Secretary, Empowered Communities Implementation Taskforce

Mr Brendan Gibson, Assistant Secretary, Health Branch

Ms Marie Taylor, First Assistant Secretary, Housing, Land and Culture Division

Mr Wayne Beswick, Assistant Secretary, Land Management Branch

Ms Jessica Del Rio, Acting Assistant Secretary, Remote Strategies Branch

Ms Danielle Donegan, Assistant Secretary, Housing Branch

Mr Leonard Hill, Acting Assistant Secretary Culture Branch

Mr Greg Roche, Special Adviser

Ms Susan Black, First Assistant Secretary, Programme Integrity and Engagement Division

Ms Brenda Campe, Acting Assistant Secretary, Grant Systems Branch

Ms Maxine Ewens, Assistant Secretary, Grant Systems Development Branch

Mr Stuart Turnbull, Assistant Secretary, Risk, Compliance and Integrity Branch

Ms Toni Williams, Acting Assistant Secretary, Programme Office Strategy/Policy Branch

Mr Geoff Richardson, Assistant Secretary, Indigenous Engagement Branch

Ms Nadine Williams, First Assistant Secretary, Community and Economic Division

Mr Ryan Bulman, Assistant Secretary, Policy and Engagement Branch

Ms Kirsti McQueen, Assistant Secretary, Economic Development Branch

Mr Paul Denny, Assistant Secretary, Operations and Performance Branch

Ms Gayle Anderson, Acting First Assistant Secretary, Indigenous Employment and Recognition Division

Ms Marion Moss, Assistant Secretary, IAG Legal Services Branch

Ms Melanie Rhodes, Acting Assistant Secretary, Strategic Priorities Branch

Mr Will Story, Assistant Secretary, Constitutional Recognition Branch

Mr Brant Smith, Assistant Secretary, Environment Branch

Ms Rachel Marczak, Acting Assistant Secretary, Employment Policy and Programmes Branch

Ms Kerrie Tim, Principal Adviser, Indigenous Affairs

Mr Luke Mansfield, Deputy National Director, PM&C Regional Network

Indigenous Land Corporation

Mr Leo Bator, Acting Chief Executive Officer

[17:36]

CHAIR: We will now go to the Prime Minister and Cabinet Portfolio and the examination of the department and agencies as set out in the program. I welcome the Attorney-General, Senator the Hon. George Brandis, representing the Prime Minister; Ms Elizabeth Kelly, Deputy Secretary, Governance, in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet; Ms Larkins, the Acting Deputy Secretary, Social Policy, who I think is going to be joining us; and other officers of the department.

I remind officers that the Senate has resolved that there are no areas in connection with the expenditure of public funds where any person has a discretion to withhold details or explanations from the parliament or its committees unless the parliament has expressly provided otherwise. The Senate has resolved also that an officer of a department of the Commonwealth shall not be asked to give opinions on matters of policy and shall be given reasonable opportunity to refer questions asked of the officer to superior officers or to a minister. This resolution prohibits only questions asking for opinions on matters of policy and does not preclude questions asking for explanations of policies or factual questions about when and how policies were adopted.

I particularly draw the attention of witnesses to an order of the Senate of 13 May 2009 specifying the process by which a claim of public interest immunity should be raised. Witnesses are specifically reminded that a statement that information or a document is confidential or consists of advice to government is not a statement that meets the requirements of the 2009 order. Instead witnesses are required to provide some specific indication of the harm to the public interest that could result from the disclosure of the information or the document.

The extract read as follows—

Public interest immunity claims

That the Senate—

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

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

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

(1) If:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

( 13 May 2009 J.1941 )

(Extract, Senate Standing Orders)

The committee has set 17 June 2016 as the date by which answers to questions on notice are to be returned.