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Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet


CHAIR: Attorney-General, do you wish to make an opening statement?

Senator Brandis: No, thank you, Mr Chairman.

CHAIR: Ms Kelly, do you wish to make an opening statement?

Ms Kelly : Just briefly, Mr Chair.

CHAIR: Please proceed.

Ms Kelly : The members of the department's executive that are in attendance for the session are Mr Allan McKinnon, Deputy Secretary, National Security; Dr David Gruen, Deputy Secretary, Economic; Dr Steven Kennedy, Deputy Secretary, Innovation and Transformation; and Ms Alison Larkins, Acting Deputy Secretary, Social Policy. Other senior officers will be available to assist as required. As noted in the department's advice to the committee on 2 May, Mr Greg Moriarty, the Commonwealth Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, is absent from today's hearing due to interstate travel. Mr Moriarty will be represented by Mr McKinnon.

In relation to executive changes since the last hearing, on 29 February Ms Rebecca Cross, the Head of Domestic Policy, took up a secondment with Bupa as head of government relations. Ms Larkins is currently acting in the renamed position of Deputy Secretary, Social Policy. But I am pleased to announce to the committee that this will be Ms Larkins's last appearance for PM&C for the moment, as she has been appointed today as deputy secretary at the Department of Health. The secretary has today announced that Ms Lyn Hatfield-Dodds has been appointed as Deputy Secretary, Social Policy for PM&C, commencing in July. Other changes include that on 29 February the vacant deputy secretary position formerly held by Dr Heather Smith was renamed Deputy Secretary, Innovation and Transformation. Acting arrangements were put in place until Dr Steven Kennedy commenced in the position on 18 April. I have an updated organisational chart that I can provide to the committee.

Senator WONG: Thank you for that information, Ms Kelly. I wanted to check the status of Ms Cross's employment. She has been seconded but she is in a government relations role for a private company—is that right?

Ms Kelly : Yes, that is right.

Senator WONG: So she retains her substantive position?

Ms Kelly : Of course, no SES officer owns any particular position, but she retains a position as an SES officer in the APS. She is on leave without pay from the department.

Senator WONG: I am wondering about how the potential conflict of interest arrangements are managed, because the particular role is government relations.

Ms Kelly : Yes.

Senator WONG: So it is not an academic or policy position; it is directly involving liaison with government while she remains, whilst on leave without pay, an employee of the government and in fact a member of the Senior Executive Service.

Ms Kelly : Mr Neal might assist.

Senator WONG: Can you also tell me when you do that, Mr Neal, if this is a common occurrence and what precedent there is for this.

Mr Neal : Ms Cross is on a secondment under the Business Council of Australia secondment program, administered by the Australian Public Service Commission. The arrangement is that between the two organisations there is an MOU which has confidentiality clauses and things like that in it.

Senator WONG: How long has that program been running?

Mr Neal : I would have to double-check that, but I believe it has been about six months.

Senator WONG: Six months?

Mr Neal : Something like that.

Senator WONG: I understand the Prime Minister has said publicly that he will not visit the Governor-General tomorrow to seek a double dissolution. Has the department been informed of when Mr Turnbull will visit Government House?

Ms Kelly : That is a matter for the Prime Minister. The department has not been informed that the Prime Minister has made a decision on the matter.

Senator WONG: Has the department been informed of the timing of his visit to Government House?

Ms Kelly : The department is assisting the Prime Minister and providing advice for him in relation to those matters, but, no, the department has not been informed of the time of the visit.

Senator WONG: Will the houses of parliament be dissolved immediately, or will the Prime Minister seek to continue to use the resources of government for a few more days? It is probably a matter for you, Senator Brandis.

Senator Brandis: Yes, I think it is. I think we are getting a little ahead of ourselves and I do not really think, until there is a dissolution, that it is appropriate for me to answer these questions. The Prime Minister made it perfectly clear as long ago as March that, in the event that the Senate would reject the ABCC bills a second time so that they would be bills to which section 57 of the Constitution applied, there would be a double dissolution election. He made it perfectly clear that, in that event, the election would be held on 2 July, and he has on several occasions—indeed, I think as recently as this week—again affirmed that it was his intention to advise His Excellency to dissolve both houses of parliament under section 57 and hold an election on 2 July. He has not done that yet, and when he does that we will all know, but at the moment we are in the realm of conjecture. Senator, you would not expect the government to pre-announce these things—

Senator WONG: No, nothing ventured, nothing gained. I am moving on.

Senator Brandis: It is not the done thing.

Senator WONG: I am moving on. Can we at least confirm this: the government's sitting pattern provides for a sitting of both houses next week. Can you at least confirm that the parliament will not sit next week.

Senator Brandis: I cannot confirm that.

Senator WONG: Oh, you cannot confirm that! I understand from what was advised to the—

Senator Brandis: I am sorry, Senator Wong. Let there be no ambiguity. The sitting pattern of both houses of parliament for the time being is as it is in the sitting program. In the event that there were to be a dissolution under section 57 before Monday, obviously the parliament would have been dissolved and that sitting program would no longer be operative.

Senator WONG: Sure. Senator Brandis, we know you visited ExCo today because it was advised, I think, in the committee.

Senator Brandis: Yes, I was.

Senator WONG: Subsequently, I think you have announced three appointments today at least. Can you tell me how many appointments were approved at ExCo today?

Senator Brandis: No, I cannot. There were quite a few but I could not put a number on it.

Senator WONG: So many you cannot recall?

Senator Brandis: I did not say that. I just said I do not know how many there were, but there were quite a few.

Senator WONG: What else were you rushing out the door, Senator Brandis?

Senator Brandis: Senator Wong, are we going to be like this?

Senator WONG: Seriously.

Senator Brandis: Why don't you ask me factual questions?

Senator WONG: All right. Did you approve any legislative instruments, such as those to give effect to the Medicare pathology cuts?

Senator Brandis: The business of ExCo was conducted in a regular manner. It was a fuller agenda than usual, as you would expect towards the end of the life of a parliament. The decisions of ExCo will be either announced or gazetted in the regular fashion.

Senator WONG: So many appointments you were delayed in returning to the estimates committee.

Senator Brandis: No; I was not delayed at all.

Senator WONG: I think you were; that is why they were told you could not be there.

Senator Brandis: No. I was not there, so ex hypothesi I do not know what was said, but I can tell you what the arrangements were. I was routinely scheduled to attend ExCo this morning.

Senator WONG: So—

Senator Brandis: I am sorry—if I may finish my answer please. And Senator Scullion kindly stepped in to represent me. I believe what the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee was told was that I was at ExCo and would be back later in the morning, and I was.

Senator WONG: Given all the fuss that you and others made about Mr Bracks being appointed to New York in May ahead of a September election, I assume you would agree with the criticism by the community or the opposition of you making no fewer than three appointments some days, or hours, before the Prime Minister calls an election.

Senator Brandis: I recall that there was an issue about Mr Bracks's appointment, and I do not recall the issue was as you have described it, but it is not something that I have thought about for some years, as a matter of fact. To the best of my recollection, there was criticism of Mr Bracks's appointment because of a much closer proximity to the election than—

Senator WONG: No. That is not right. It was not within 24 hours or 48 hours of an election being called.

Senator Brandis: I honestly do not remember.

Senator WONG: Well, you disappointed Kay Patterson.

Senator Brandis: I honestly do not remember the facts and circumstances that were the basis of the opposition's criticism of Mr Bracks's appointment, although I do have a recollection that they seemed to me at the time to be well made. There were appointments made today, and I announced the appointment, in particular, of an Age Discrimination Commissioner, the Hon. Dr Kay Patterson; of a Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Mr Alastair McEwin; and of a Human Rights Commissioner, Mr Edward Santow.

Senator WONG: Ms Kelly, can I ask when you were aware of the decision to bring the budget forward a week.

Ms Kelly : The information in relation to the date of the budget was included in a draft letter that I saw on the afternoon of Sunday, 20 March, but it was made clear to me that that was merely a draft and nothing was final, particularly the dates. It was on Monday, 21 March when the Prime Minister announced that that I became aware that the date of the budget had changed.

Senator WONG: That draft letter was from who to whom?

Ms Kelly : From the Prime Minister to the Governor-General.

Senator WONG: Of the budget?

Ms Kelly : Yes.

Senator WONG: We have not met since you got that. Is this a draft letter that deals with the prorogation?

Ms Kelly : That is correct.

Senator WONG: I am not trying to be difficult, but I think that was made public. So it is in the draft letter to deal with the prorogation of the parliament that there is a reference to the budget being moved?

Ms Kelly : Yes.

Senator WONG: Remind me: how did you come to see the draft letter?

Ms Kelly : That was emailed to me on the Sunday. It was around lunchtime, but I did not have the opportunity to see it until in the early afternoon.

Senator WONG: From who?

Ms Kelly : From the Attorney-General's office.

Senator WONG: Chief of staff? From the Attorney himself?

Senator Brandis: I do not think we talk about individual staff members in these proceedings.

Senator WONG: Minister or staff?

Senator Brandis: You may take it that all communications from my office in relation to this matter were done on my behalf.

Senator WONG: But from the office and not the department—not DLO?

Senator Brandis: That is correct.

Senator WONG: Who else in the department saw that letter?

Ms Kelly : Only myself and Ms Lynch, the first assistant secretary of the Government Division.

Senator WONG: Was Dr Parkinson aware of the letter?

Ms Kelly : Not the detail of the letter, although in general terms he was aware that the matters were being discussed.

Senator WONG: How do you know that?

Ms Kelly : That is my recollection.

Senator WONG: I was not trying to be difficult. I was just trying to ascertain whether you know that because he told you that—the basis of your knowledge—or because he had seen email discussions? I am just trying to understand the basis of—

Ms Kelly : The basis of my knowledge are my discussions with him around that period. But, in terms of the detail of draft letters, those are matters that the secretary would leave to me.

Senator WONG: Sure. When was Dr Parkinson aware that the budget would be brought forward?

Ms Kelly : I cannot answer that question, but I am happy to take it on notice.

Senator WONG: He has not indicated that to you?

Ms Kelly : No.

Senator WONG: We know from answers to questions both today and, helpfully, the answer to a question on notice which was provided to me that neither the Secretary of Treasury nor the Secretary of Finance was aware of the budget being brought forward until the Prime Minister's public announcement.

Ms Kelly : As was I.

Senator WONG: Well, you saw it in a letter—a draft letter; I acknowledge that.

Ms Kelly : A draft letter where it had been made clear to me, very plainly, that the dates in particular were not yet decided upon.

Senator WONG: Sure. I understood that. I was not trying to dismiss the caveat. I understand the caveat. But you were aware of that date and the proposition on the Sunday.

Ms Kelly : I was aware that that was one date that had been put into a draft letter. My focus on the draft letter was obviously on seeing that the requirements of the Constitution had been complied with.

Senator WONG: Can I go to the measure in relation to the national cities agenda.

Ms Kelly : Steven Kennedy, who is the relevant deputy, has just ducked out. He will be back after the dinner break, or Dr Gruen can—

Senator WONG: I am happy to wait—that is fine. I might deal with this: Mr Burke wrote to Dr Parkinson after an article appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald which was headed, 'Malcolm Turnbull's office tells ministers to submit their election policies, as poll chatter grows'. The issue that the opposition raised, via Mr Burke, was around the assertion that:

Work has been underway in Coalition ranks on the policy development process since the beginning of the year. It is being led by Senator Sinodinos and a team of bureaucrats in a centralised policy unit …

Are you aware of this correspondence, Ms Kelly?

Ms Kelly : Yes.

Senator WONG: Mr Burke wrote, I think, in February. I think Dr Parkinson has now replied—he wrote back in April, apologising for the delay. What is the centralised policy unit? Can you pass any light on that?

Ms Kelly : I am not able to. I cannot add to Dr Parkinson's reply to shadow minister Burke.

Senator WONG: You might be able to; you never know. There is a public assertion about a centralised policy unit. Can you tell me whether there has been any change since the change of Prime Minister or since the change of government in terms of a central policy unit function within PM&C or within the government?

Ms Kelly : No.

Senator WONG: So you do not know anything about—

Ms Kelly : Sorry, I should qualify: not within PM&C. I cannot speak more broadly, but certainly not within PM&C—or to my knowledge.

Senator WONG: If I said to you that there is a publish assertion that there is a policy development process led by Senator Sinodinos and a team of bureaucrats in a centralised policy unit, there is nothing you can tell me about that?

Ms Kelly : No.

Senator WONG: And you can say to me there is no member of PM&C or officer of PM&C who is involved in such a unit?

Ms Kelly : I am not aware of such a unit, so I think it follows that I am not aware of anyone being involved in that unit.

Senator WONG: This is what I find a little difficult about Dr Parkinson's letter. He is asked to provide advice: 'I seek advice on the composition of the central policy unit, together with the description of the work undertaken to date.' He does not actually answer that question. He simply says: 'I assure you that the APS will conduct itself consistent with the act. I agree and reiterate that they should not be tasked with policy development for a political party.' Is there or is there not a unit?

Ms Kelly : There is no such unit in PM&C.

Senator WONG: Is there one in the Prime Minister's office?

Ms Kelly : Not to my knowledge. It is not something that I can speak to.

Senator WONG: So I would not find it on the org chart, presumably?

Ms Kelly : Not the last time that I looked!

Senator WONG: Has PM&C worked on coalition election policies?

Ms Kelly : PM&C—as you would expect and as I would expect all government departments to be doing at this stage in the election cycle, with the parliament due to expire at the end of the year—has begun the process of thinking about the preparations that departments undertake, but that is really no more than you would expect of any department.

Senator WONG: What does that mean?

Ms Kelly : It means that we have begun to think about the things that we would do if an election were held, about the preparations that we would need to make and about the things that we would need to have ready.

Senator WONG: That was not actually my question. I assume you are thinking about caretaker, you are thinking about incoming briefs and those sorts of things. Is that right?

Ms Kelly : Yes.

Senator WONG: No, my question was a different one. Has Prime Minister and Cabinet done any work on coalition election policies?

Ms Kelly : The department has continued to serve the government of the day in relation to policy matters and it has continued to act absolutely appropriately in accordance with the APS code of conduct and values in doing so, as we still have. We are not in caretaker and we continue to serve the government of the day.

Senator WONG: Have you cited any documents provided to you or your officers in the department which are coalition election policy proposals?

Ms Kelly : No.

Senator WONG: Dr Parkinson apologises to Mr Burke for the fact that his letter was mislaid. I do want to try and understand how it is that a letter to the secretary from a member of parliament, who is both the shadow minister for finance and the Manager of Opposition Business, gets mislaid.

Ms Kelly : I have to take full responsibility for that. Dr Parkinson provided it to me and it did become connected to our other papers and it was overlooked. It was only when it was followed up by the processing area that it was discovered. It is completely my responsibility and I did offer to apologise for it. Dr Parkinson said he was happy to do that and he did so was my understanding.

Senator WONG: Thank you for being clear about that. I appreciate that. If I have superannuation questions, are they for Dr Gruen? He will not like these questions. He is going to say' 'I cannot answer that; that is a matter for government.' But we will go through that, right?

CHAIR: You might want to put them on notice then and save us all some time.

Senator WONG: He is a professional public servant. Dr Gruen, what is your title now?

Dr Gruen : It is Deputy Secretary, Economic.

Senator WONG: Have you seen any work conducted by Treasury as to the indicative cost of the Ten Year Enterprise Tax Plan over the 10-year period? Clearly the four years is in BP 2.

Dr Gruen : Clearly four years is in BP 2. Questions about that enterprise tax plan should go to Treasury.

Senator WONG: I intend to do that. That is not what I asked. Have you seen any work?

Dr Gruen : The question of whether I have seen it puts me in the following position: if I had seen such things, that would be in the context of discussions in cabinet. That is where I would have seen them. And I am not in a position to discuss those things. Revealing whether or not I have seen them, I think, gives information about what was discussed in those meetings so I am not in a position to answer that question.

CHAIR: Basically what you expected.

Senator WONG: Actually it is better than expected because, unlike most of the politicians, he has not denied it but he has answered as he has answered. Have you seen Treasury costings of the tobacco tax over 10 years?

Dr Gruen : I would give the same answer.

Senator WONG: The interesting thing about that of course is the government has chosen to release the latter. Is that correct?

Dr Gruen : I am not aware.

Senator WONG: There was television coverage including a journo holding up a cabinet in confidence document.

Dr Gruen : We are not aware that the government has released it.

Senator WONG: Did you not look at the papers a couple of days ago? Did you not see Laurie Oakes with a cabinet document? Did no-one in PM&C worry about that?

Dr Gruen : I was not aware of that.

Senator WONG: Fair enough. Has there been any investigation initiated in relation to the cabinet paper leak?

Ms Kelly : No.

Senator WONG: That is interesting. Why not?

Ms Kelly : I might get the assistance of Mr Fox.

Mr Fox : I think you are asking: had there been an investigation—

Senator WONG: Have you initiated any investigation to the cabinet document leak in relation to the tobacco tax costings over 10 years?

Mr Fox : No.

Senator WONG: Why not?

Mr Fox : The document I saw with Mr Oakes on the TV was a document labelled 'PROTECTED Sensitive: Cabinet' but was not in fact a cabinet document.

Senator WONG: How do you know that?

Mr Fox : It did not look like any of the documents that were before me in cabinet. It might have been something prepared to inform cabinet but was not in fact a cabinet document.

Senator WONG: What did it say at the top?

Mr Fox : That is the classification. It does not mean anything.

Senator WONG: What did it say at the top?

Mr Fox : It says 'PROTECTED Sensitive: Cabinet'

Senator WONG: It says 'PROTECTED Sensitive: Cabinet' and you have initiated no inquiry as to how a protected cabinet sensitive classified document—

Mr Fox : Documents that are labelled 'PROTECTED Sensitive: Cabinet' are not necessarily cabinet submissions for example.

Senator WONG: So that makes it okay? So governments of the day can release documents like that, willy-nilly, and nobody in the public service worries about it?

Mr Fox : I am not aware of how that document got to Mr Oakes.

Senator WONG: The journalists in the gallery are very clear about how that document was released and who provided it. Are you telling me—

CHAIR: Senator Wong, you have made a statement that clearly Senator Brandis has taken an issue with so I think he is entitled to raise what is effectively a point of order.

Senator Brandis: I am perfectly well aware that the rule of evidence does not apply at these committees but even that being said it is really improper for a question to be premised to a public servant on the basis of 'well we all know what the journalists in the gallery are saying about this'. Apart from the fact of who cares what the journalists in the gallery might be saying, Senator Wong is premising a question on the assumption that what anonymous journalists in the gallery she says are saying about a document is in fact true.

CHAIR: I do think that is a reasonable point and would ask you to perhaps rephrase your question.

Senator WONG: Look at it this way, I think it is extraordinary. I do not see how it is possible for you to tell me that this is consistent with past practice. I can recall in government how concerned departments were if documents such as these were put into the public arena. I can recall when we were in government, Treasury and Finance being very careful about what they were prepared to have in the public arena. And now you are sitting here and telling me there because it was not actually a technical cabinet submission it was only 'protected cabinet sensitive' that somehow that is okay.

Mr Fox : That is not exactly what I was saying.

Senator WONG: Okay, will you tell me what you are saying.

Mr Fox : You asked whether we in PM&C had initiated an investigation and I said that no we did not. You asked why and I said it was because that document was labelled 'protected sensitive cabinet' but was not something that I had as a cabinet document within PM&C. It may be that Treasury may wish to do so—I do not know.

Senator WONG: So what is the point of a document classified 'PROTECTED Sensitive: Cabinet' if nobody in the public service cares if it is leaked to a journalist?

Senator Brandis: I think, again, there are assumptions built into that question.

Senator WONG: He has accepted that it has gone to a journalist

Senator Brandis: We do not know in what circumstances this document had allegedly come into Mr Oakes' hands but the point, as Mr Fox said, is that PM&C did not initiate an inquiry if the document did not necessarily have its genesis in PM&C. So if you want to ask whether Treasury initiated an inquiry, perhaps you could put that question in Treasury estimates but not to this witness, who has given all the evidence he can give in answering your question of did the PM&C initiate an inquiry and he has told you that they did not.

Senator WONG: Dr Parkinson has been on the public record about the importance of not politicising Treasury, Finance et cetera. He is the head of the public service. I would like to know: is he not concerned in any way given his past statements at the provision of a document headed 'protected sensitive cabinet' to a journalist? I presume you would want to take that on notice.

Ms Kelly : I will.

Senator WONG: And I would like to know how consistent with his past practice as a secretary to not initiate some form of inquiry about such a leak being used for political purposes. I mean, this is a document produced 'protected cabinet sensitive' which has been made public—and I do not think that is disputed—for political purposes. It politicises the public sector and it politicises Treasury and Finance—

Senator Brandis: How can you say that? Once again, you are—

Senator WONG: and the premier department in the public service is saying 'not our problem'.

Senator Brandis: Senator Wong, once again you are building unverified assertions into your question. We know there was a document of the kind you described. We know it appeared in the public domain because a named journalist, Mr Oakes, had it. That is all we know. All these imputations, inferences, assertions and conjectures on your part amount to nothing.

Senator WONG: Ms Kelly, were you aware that the document had been made public? When were you aware, I should say?

Ms Kelly : Yes, I was.

Senator WONG: When were you aware?

Ms Kelly : I cannot recall exactly, but it was very recently brought to my attention.

Senator WONG: Were you aware before or after the document was referenced by Mr Oakes on television?

Ms Kelly : I believe it was after.

Senator WONG: It is pretty important—you believe?

Ms Kelly : It was after, Senator Wong. It was actually Mr Fox who brought it to my attention.

Senator WONG: Mr Fox, were you aware before or after?

Mr Fox : It was after. In fact, I became aware the day after the story appeared on the news in the evening. It was drawn to my attention in the middle of the next day.

Senator WONG: By whom?

Mr Fox : I do not recall who brought it to my attention, I have to confess. I think it was one of my team in the department.

Senator WONG: Has this matter been raised by Dr Parkinson, or by you or by any other officer from PM&C with the Prime Minister's office?

Ms Kelly : I have not had the opportunity to discuss this matter with Dr Parkinson. As you can imagine, it is an extremely demanding time. I have not had the opportunity to speak with him about it. I will convey your concerns and I will speak with him about it, but I have not had that opportunity as yet.

Senator WONG: Mr Fox and probably around a million other people saw a document that was labelled 'PROTECTED Sensitive: Cabinet' on television. Do you not believe that that undermines public confidence in the APS?

Senator Brandis: As you know, Senator, witnesses cannot be asked to make editorial comments.

Senator WONG: It certainly undermines public confidence and parliamentary confidence in the APS.

Senator Brandis: They can be asked factual questions. If you want to be political rather than asking for information about the budget estimates, that is a matter for you.

Senator WONG: It is about budget estimates, because it goes it a Treasury costing that was released publically.

Senator Brandis: You have asked whether these witnesses know about it, and it has been established that they do not.

Senator WONG: Dr Gruen, did you know about the document being made public before or after Mr Oakes showed it on national television?

Dr Gruen : I learned that the document had been made public about five minutes ago.

Senator WONG: Had you seen the document before, Dr Gruen?

Dr Gruen : Again, in line with the answer that I gave to the other question, had I seen this document it would have been in the context of ERC discussions, and so I do not think it is appropriate for me to be passing judgement on whether I had seen it.

Senator WONG: It is not passing judgement; it is a statement of fact.

Dr Gruen : You are quite right.

Senator WONG: Mr Fox, after you saw that it said, 'PROTECTED Sensitive: Cabinet', what did you do?

Mr Fox : It is a document I had not actually seen before, which is consistent with what I said to you earlier about it not being a document that was in a cabinet submission as such. I presumed it was a document that had been prepared in order to inform costings on a particular policy. I mentioned the fact to Elizabeth later that day. I also spoke to the cabinet secretary's office about the fact that I had been alerted to the clip. I then looked at the clip to see that there was a document marked, 'PROTECTED Sensitive: Cabinet'.

Senator WONG: When did you decide that there was no requirement to investigate the matter further?

Mr Fox : I do not think I reached a firm conclusion on that. I think that was two days ago. I do not think I reached a firm conclusion that it either did or did not require further investigation. I think I accurately answered your question as to has one been initiated, and the answer is no. But I do not think I actively turned my mind to whether I should or should not initiate one at that point.

Ms Kelly : And in fairness to Mr Fox, that would be my responsibility and I would make that decision in consultation with Dr Parkinson. I have not had the opportunity to discuss the matter with him yet, and I will do so at the first opportunity.

Senator WONG: So you have not yet considered whether you need to investigate—is that an accurate summation of your position?

Ms Kelly : I have not yet had an opportunity to discuss the matter with Dr Parkinson. There are a great many things happening this week, and I have not had the opportunity to discuss that with him.

Senator WONG: In having that discussion, I would ask that some of the past conduct and statements of Dr Parkinson and other officers, as well as the principle of the impartiality of the APS, be considered. Notwithstanding the Attorney-General's defence, I do not think that anybody looking at that leak would believe it was done for any other reason other than for political purposes.

Senator Brandis: Senator, you say 'defence'; I am just pointing out to you what the evidence is, and I am just pointing out to you that what you say is merely conjecture and political spin.

Senator WONG: This question is in relation to superannuation, so this to Dr Gruen. The former Prime Minister said on 1 July last year:

We made a very clear commitment prior to the last election that there would be no adverse changes in superannuation under this government in this parliament …

Do the superannuation measures in this budget meet this test?

Dr Gruen : I think that the Treasurer and the Prime Minister have been very clear about the superannuation measures in the budget. They have made clear statements that a small proportion of the most well-off superannuants are having their tax arrangements changed in such a way that their returns in the future will be less than they would otherwise have been.

Senator WONG: Does the retrospective application of a lifetime cap for non-concessional super contributions meet Mr Abbott's commitment regarding no adverse changes under this government?

Dr Gruen : I do not think it is a fair characterisation to say that it is retrospective—

Senator WONG: It goes back to 2007, doesn't it?

Dr Gruen : to the extent that people have—

Senator WONG: Sorry, can we pause on that? Doesn't the lifetime cap calculation go back to 2007?

Dr Gruen : It does, but if people have accumulated more than $500,000 in their accounts up to now they will not be required to do anything with that. So it is not retrospective.

Senator WONG: It is in the sense that if you have less than that, then everything you have put in prior to now counts.

Dr Gruen : It does.

Senator WONG: Do you think that is not retrospective? Past actions count for the purposes of new law.

Dr Gruen : Let me give you an analogy to explain why I do not think it is. If I build a car factory in Australia under the assumption that 57½ per cent tariff will apply for all time and then a government comes along and reduces the tariff—and I think you have heard of such an example—then the decisions that you made before the cut in the tariff were made on the basis that you did not think it was going to happen. I do not think that is retrospective, and I think that if you cannot change anything unless it has no impact on anyone currently alive, then we cannot do anything.

Senator WONG: I agree with that, but this is different, isn't it, because people were making savings decisions and personal investment decisions? We are up for superannuation changes, but I am making a different point about retrospectivity. I am making the point that the analogy does not work because in this circumstance you had the Prime Minister of the country, who had made a commitment that there would not be changes.

Dr Gruen : I think probably I should direct you to Treasury for detailed discussions about superannuation. I think I have said all I can usefully say.

Senator Brandis: There is another point that needs to be made, Senator Wong, because I know that some on your side of politics have made some false claims about this. Retrospectivity when we speak about taxation or financial affairs is a legal concept, and the essence of the legal concept is to change a pre-existing liability or obligation. There is nothing in relation to any of these alterations or changes to superannuation that is retrospective in any recognisable sense of the word. This is once again a political assertion unverified and unsupported by any principle.

Senator WONG: Mr Abbott said on 1 July last year:

… we aren't ever going to increase the taxes on super, we aren't ever going to increase the restrictions on super because super belongs to the people. It's your money. It's not a piggy bank to be raided by government whenever it's short…

Was Mr Abbott consulted on the superannuation changes made in this budget?

Senator Brandis: You know you cannot ask about cabinet process and you know—

Senator WONG: He is not in the cabinet.

Senator Brandis: If I may finish, please.

Senator WONG: Sure, but he is not in the cabinet.

Senator Brandis: And you know from your previous experience in government that budget decisions are deliberations of the cabinet and of the relevant committee of cabinet, the expenditure review committee of cabinet. It is a well-known matter that at no stage during the preparation of the 2016-17 budget was Mr Abbott a member of the cabinet.

Senator WONG: So there was no alteration to the process? There was no decision to go and consult him about these matters?

Senator Brandis: Mr Abbott, since his loss of office as Prime Minister, has been a member of the backbench.

Senator WONG: Mr Fox, are you able to tell me how many leak inquiries are currently underway?

Mr Fox : I would have to take that on notice. I am aware of two, but I would not want to tell you categorically that is the answer.

Senator WONG: Wouldn't you know?

Mr Fox : Not necessarily—if they were in another department and they had not come to my division, for example. I am personally aware of two, but there may be others I am not aware of. I think the answer is probably two, but it may be different.

Senator WONG: That is fine. I was confused as to why. Do those two inquiries relate to cabinet or non-cabinet documents?

Mr Fox : One we discussed before in the last estimates—

Senator WONG: You remember better than I, probably. Which one was that?

Mr Fox : That was the one from the immigration department that we described as a pre-exposure draft. Do you remember that one?

Senator WONG: Yes. Okay.

Mr Fox : And the other one was a document that was the subject of discussion around the submarines. It was made public that there was an investigation into that one as well.

Senator WONG: On the Business Advisory Council, I got an answer to question on notice No. 120 following the supplementary round last year, in which I was told that Mr Turnbull had decided to discontinue the BAC and the last meeting was on 29 July 2015. Does someone have that answer? I can give you a copy. Do you need a copy?

Dr Gruen : That would be helpful.

Senator WONG: It is highlighted. It has markings but it is only highlights. It is my only copy.

Dr Gruen : I will give it back.

Senator WONG: It is a great idea to come to estimates with past questions on notice, because occasionally I go back.

Ms Kelly : It is on its way. We are not as fast as you are.

Senator WONG: Was the answer accurate?

Dr Gruen : As far as I am aware, the answer was accurate. The Prime Minister has decided to discontinue the Business Advisory Council; that is true. The last meeting of the council was hosted by the former Prime Minister on 29 July 2015 in Sydney. It is correct, yes. The council met—

Senator WONG: Can you—

Dr Gruen : I am just going through it one at a time.

Senator WONG: It is okay. He is being accurate.

Dr Gruen : I am slow. I apologise.

Senator WONG: I was a little surprised to hear Mr Newman—who was the chair?

Dr Gruen : He was the chair.

Senator WONG: He is the chair?

Dr Gruen : He was the chair.

Senator WONG: He said on the ABC last month:

The Prime Minister, Mr Turnbull, has given me the assurance that I'm still the chairman of the Business Advisory Council.

Dr Gruen : Mr Newman is no longer the Chair of the Business Advisory Council—

Senator WONG: So why is he—

Dr Gruen : Let me—

Senator WONG: Is there a communication problem?

Dr Gruen : I am hoping I can answer your question. His term expired on 19 September. This was confirmed in the Prime Minister's letter dated 11 November 2015 to council members notifying them of his decision to discontinue the council. That date was 11 November 2015.

Senator WONG: Yes, but this is an interview from last month.

Dr Gruen : I think Mr Newman may have forgotten about this letter. I cannot speak for him. The Prime Minister sent a letter to council members, which was dated 11 November 2015, notifying them of his decision to discontinue the council.

Senator WONG: Okay, so there is not a misunderstanding or some other appointment that he is conflating that you are aware of?

Senator Brandis: It is not really fair to ask Dr Gruen what may or may not have been in Mr Newman's mind.

Senator WONG: Has Mr Newman been appointed to another position?

CHAIR: The evidence is what the evidence is with respect to this.

Senator WONG: One with a similar name?

Dr Gruen : Not as far as I am aware.

Senator WONG: Fair enough. I want to check the status of one election commitment that the coalition made before the 2013 election. The coalition's economic plan for Tasmania, released in August 2013, said:

The Coalition believes there is scope for appropriate Commonwealth agencies or functions to be relocated in whole or part from Canberra to Tasmania.

It said:

It makes intuitive sense to relocate, for example, Commonwealth agencies like the forestry functions of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to Tasmania.

Have any Commonwealth agencies been relocated to Tasmania in the term of the government?

Dr Gruen : I would have to take that on notice. Not to my knowledge.

Senator WONG: Ms Kelly, do you know of anything that has been relocated?

Ms Kelly : It is Dr Gruen's area.

Senator WONG: Is it?

Ms Kelly : I cannot assist.

Senator WONG: So why is it his area? That was called a handball.

CHAIR: The question has been taken on notice by Dr Gruen.

Senator WONG: I asked a different question: why is it his area?

Ms Kelly : Economic policy is—

Senator WONG: It is sort of economic policy. It is called an economic plan but it is actually about where government agencies are. Do you have any knowledge, Ms Kelly, of any agencies going to Tassie?

Ms Kelly : I do not.

Senator WONG: And you have to take it on notice, Dr Gruen?

Dr Gruen : I would.

Senator WONG: So can you tell me if forestry has gone to Tassie?

Dr Gruen : No, sorry. I would tell you if I knew.

Senator WONG: Okay. Thank you.

Dr Gruen : I am not trying to be difficult.

Senator WONG: No. To your knowledge no and you will check on notice?

Dr Gruen : Precisely.

CHAIR: It is 6.30. At the request of Labor senators we are going to resume a little bit later after 8 pm.

Senator WONG: Thank you. I appreciate that.

CHAIR: You first mentioned 8.10. Would you like it later?

Senator WONG: No, 8.10 is fine.

CHAIR: Are you sure? Mr Gruen?

Dr Gruen : Will PM&C be required?

Senator WONG: Yes.

CHAIR: Yes, they will.

Senator Brandis: For how long, Senator Wong?

Senator WONG: It depends how much you and I argue, George.

Senator Brandis: Senator Wong, please do not be flippant. This is important. The program provides for three hours for PM&C. Can you give us please an estimate as to when you expect to be finished with PM&C?

Senator WONG: I am not in a position to give that.

Senator Brandis: So you are not prepared to give an estimate?

Senator WONG: No, I am just not able to, because it does depend on what the answers are. I would not have thought too long, but there—

Senator Brandis: So we may conceivably be here till 11 o'clock with PM&C?

Senator WONG: I hope not.

Senator Brandis: Well, can you give us your best estimate?

Senator WONG: You know, George, you cannot be rude to people and then expect them to—

Senator Brandis: Can you give us your best estimate?

Senator WONG: Seriously?

CHAIR: Order!

Senator WONG: It is just the usual George Brandis behaviour.

CHAIR: Senator Brandis, we will try to identify when it is going to be. Suffice to say that PM&C will be required immediately after the break. We are going to suspend now and resume at around 10 minutes past eight.

Proceedings suspended from 18:30 to 20:13

CHAIR: We will resume the Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee budget estimates hearing. We are going to continue with the Prime Minister and Cabinet portfolio. For the benefit of anyone listening, there is some time still to go with this and then we will go to the Indigenous Land Corporation, the Office for Women and the Australian Public Service Commission—they are still required, in accordance with the program. We will go to questions now.

Senator McALLISTER: I have some questions about the implementation of the cybersecurity strategy. It is going to cost $194.9 million over four years; is that correct?

Ms Ragg : The strategy is going to cost around $230 million over four years.

Senator McALLISTER: How is that being sourced? Is all of that money being offset by cuts to Defence? Is that correct?

Ms Ragg : No, that is not correct. Funding is coming from a range of portfolios, from Defence, from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and from the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.

Senator McALLISTER: If it is being funded by savings made in other departments, why is it a measure in the PM&C portfolio?

Ms Ragg : The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet is the lead for cyber policy within the government, and so we developed the Cyber Security Strategy. But a range of agencies are responsible for delivery of the initiatives within the strategy.

Senator McALLISTER: I understand that $38.8 million will go to relocating the Australian Cyber Security Centre to a more flexible facility.

Ms Ragg : That is correct.

Senator McALLISTER: Is it the case that the centre is currently located at the ASIO building?

Ms Ragg : That is correct.

Senator McALLISTER: When did the centre first commence?

Ms Ragg : The centre was opened in November 2014.

Senator McALLISTER: What did it cost to establish the centre when it first opened in the ASIO building?

Ms Ragg : That is a question I will have to take on notice.

Senator McALLISTER: No-one can help?

Ms Ragg : I can source some information.

Senator McALLISTER: Do you know, Mr McKinnon?

Mr McKinnon : No, we do not have the figures going back that far. We will have to take that on notice.

Senator McALLISTER: Why was it originally located in the ASIO building?

Mr McKinnon : A range of venues were considered at the time. They had spare space and it was seen as a good fit at the time. After consideration of all of those factors, it was chosen.

Senator McALLISTER: When you say 'good fit' what does that mean?

Mr McKinnon : That means they had space that fit about the right number of people we thought in there. An element of it was going to be from ASIO. It was not more elaborate than that. It was a space that was the right size for the centre and, given some of the elements that they would be dealing with, it was thought to be a good idea.

Senator McALLISTER: So it was the right size but also the right operational fit, perhaps?

Mr McKinnon : There is an always an argument about the operational fit. At the heart of it, the cyber centre deals with some very secure things—that is perfect for the ASIO building. Ideally, though, you would want walk-up access for all of your business clients and the ASIO building is not so good for that. ASIO is working really hard on all the business liaison staff—the figures are very impressive—but that is an inherent tension in wanting to work on deep cyber secrets with business.

Senator McALLISTER: I think that is a more plausible explanation than space, really, in that there is plenty of floor space in Canberra that you could have chosen.

Mr McKinnon : No, we were confident about the security that ASIO offered and their ability to put the centre in there was a very clear. It was not that much of a stretch; it was a building under consideration and it was chosen.

Senator McALLISTER: Why then has the decision been made to relocate the centre?

Mr McKinnon : It has grown in size, and now we are looking at a different conception of our cyber policy, including much more interface with business, with growth centres and so forth. We are growing cyber security, working in partnership with business, so it does not fit as well as it did.

Senator McALLISTER: Where will the new centre be located?

Mr McKinnon : That is yet to be determined for sure.

Senator McALLISTER: Is there a process to identify the location?

Mr McKinnon : A range of buildings are being considered.

Senator McALLISTER: Are the same security issues that drove its placement in the ASIO building in the first instance still at play in the selection on this occasion?

Mr McKinnon : Yes, they are. We would want to have an element of the building, wherever it was, that was able to be certified to a secret standard, at least—maybe even top-secret. What we would also want to have is very good walk-up access for business, if we could have that as well. We are trying to get the best of all worlds here.

Senator McALLISTER: Right. It is not cheap, is it? It is going to be a $38 million shift?

Mr McKinnon : That is not cheap, no, but it costs a lot of money to move a significant facility, and this facility has already outgrown the space that it is in. We can either leave it there in a space that it has outgrown and defeat its purposes of better interaction with business, better interaction with academia and so forth or bite the bullet and move it to a space that suits, but we will look very carefully to make sure that we get the right one.

Senator McALLISTER: How did you determine the $38.8 million cost, if your destination has not yet been established?

Ms Ragg : The costs have been determined by the Department of Defence. They have been made in estimates based on the requirements for the ICT infrastructure in particular. Other than that, you would be best placed to ask Defence about the specific make-up of the cost.

Senator McALLISTER: So, despite the fact that it is in the PM&C budget papers as a PM&C initiative, you cannot tell me what the breakdown of the costs is?

Mr McKinnon : For each of the elements of the cyber strategy, we made costings. In each case they were done with the agency that was best placed to be doing the delivering. As this is a Defence move, predominantly Defence staff still, they have done this one.

Senator WONG: Hang on; isn't this in your PBS?

Mr McKinnon : Yes, it is.

Senator WONG: Then you can answer questions about it.

Mr McKinnon : Yes, that is the answer we are giving that.

Senator WONG: What? 'It's in our portfolio's PBS, but please go and talk to Defence,' who will say to us, 'It's in PM&C's PBS, and they should be able to explain it to you'?

Mr McKinnon : Defence did the costing on the move, just as other elements of the strategy were costed by those agencies that are doing delivery. We developed the policy and the strategy in conjunction with those agencies. They are still going to be doing the implementation of it.

Senator WONG: But it is your money—

Mr McKinnon : No, it is not funded out of PM&C.

Senator WONG: I am just trying to find the table—sorry, I have just been half listening and looking at something else. Please go on.

Senator McALLISTER: You might talk us through these arrangements, I guess, from a budget administration perspective. Your assertion is that this measure, which appears in the PM&C budget papers, is nonetheless not to be delivered by you, and you have no knowledge of the costings which underpin the measure; is that correct?

Mr McKinnon : That is not quite right. I did not say 'no knowledge'. We worked with these agencies as they did the costings, but in essence it was a normal process. If it was putting on more cyber experts, that was costed with Finance. If it was moving a centre, that was costed with Finance by Defence. PM&C are not going to be moving those people, and I do not think we have anybody in the centre ourselves.

Senator WONG: So why is it in your PBS?

Mr McKinnon : PM&C has cyber policy responsibility. It has portfolio responsibility. The strategy is one where PM&C took the lead in driving towards consulting with industry, developing the policy and developing all the measures in conjunction with the relevant delivery departments, and they did the costings. And then it was a question of getting the budget, most of which comes from Defence. I accept that it is a little bit of a hybrid, but that is the way that it worked.

Senator WONG: It is kind of like a ghost PM&C measure. It appears in your papers, but all the underlying funding, costing and implementation is someone else's.

Mr McKinnon : It is very much alive, but as we go through implementation we will continue on in this pattern so that PM&C will have an oversight role to ensure that it is implemented as per the strategy by agencies—well, in conjunction with agencies—but we will not be funding it, and we will not actually be running any of the measures.

Senator Brandis: I think it is the difference, Senator, between costing and attribution. It is attributed to PM&C because PM&C is the lead department in a multidepartmental and multi-agency facility.

Senator WONG: But it has no people. There are no—

Senator Brandis: But, as Mr McKinnon said, the costing was done largely by Defence.

Senator WONG: But there are no PM&C people involved.

Senator Brandis: Nevertheless, PM&C is the lead cybersecurity policy—

Senator WONG: Just so we are clear: it is in the PM&C papers. PM&C is the lead agency. It has no PM&C money and no PM&C officers.

Mr McKinnon : When you say 'no PM&C officers'—

Senator WONG: I thought that was your evidence, Mr McKinnon.

Mr McKinnon : I said in the ACSC, in the Australian Cyber Security Centre. PM&C developed the policy from the start. PM&C did the consultation with industry. It was about a two-year process. PM&C worked with the Prime Minister as we did that consultation with industry. PM&C developed the measures. PM&C then worked with the agencies that were going to be implementing and funding to cost the measures. And now PM&C will be working in an implementation and coordination role as the policy is implemented.

Senator McALLISTER: I suppose we can reserve judgement about how effective that coordination process is going to be. We will assess that at some future estimates. But one could observe that it does make some of the accountability functions a little more difficult when a whole range of measures are included in one budget paper; senators come to scrutinise those measures on the basis of the agency that owns that budget paper; and then that is not able to happen.

Mr McKinnon : We are very happy to bring back details of the costings on any of the elements that you are interested in. We are not disowning it in that sense.

Senator WONG: Hopefully, there will be a change of government, so this advice will not be something I will have to worry about as much, but I would have thought that being able to describe a measure that is in your own portfolio and the costings in the PBS would be a useful thing to be able to do at estimates.

Mr McKinnon : As I have said, the costings in relation to the movement, for example, looked at costings of IT relocation, people relocation—we can get you more detail, but it is a fairly standard building movement and people movement costing.

Senator WONG: Okay. I am just trying to get to the Cities Agenda before the break. Dr Kennedy, can I ask about 'Implementing the National Cities Agenda' at BP2, page 135. That shows a reasonably simple bring-forward from 2018-19 to 2016-17. Can you just explain to me why there is not a corresponding reduction in the 2018-19 year in the PBS at page 23? Am I just missing something in that line item?

Ms Kelly : Could you give the page numbers again?

Senator WONG: The budget measure is in BP2, page 135. Then I am looking at the PBS, the corresponding break-out table, at page 23.

Dr Kennedy : It just has the 4.6? I will just get—

Senator WONG: It only has the positive, not the negative.

Dr Kennedy : The spend in 2016-17, yes.

Senator WONG: Yes. Where is the 2018-19 reduction?

Ms McIntyre : Page 23 in the PM&C budget papers shows the appropriation to PM&C. BP2 is the whole of government, and the offset comes out of the Environment portfolio.

Senator WONG: Thank you. So 4.6 came out of Environment into PM&C. Can you tell me: is there any remaining allocation to Environment in this for a Cities Agenda?

Ms McIntyre : No, there is not. The Cities Agenda was a single-year funding in 2015-16, and there is a single-year funding for 2016-17.

Senator WONG: How is this appropriation going to be spent?

Dr Kennedy : In broad terms, it will establish around 16 staff, around 16 ASL, in that year. In addition, the Cities Division will have secondees from other departments, and beyond the ASL costs there would be a supplier cost—the capacity to engage consultants to support the policy work undertaken in the division.

Senator WONG: How many secondees?

Dr Kennedy : At this stage we are anticipating 10 to 12 secondees.

Senator WONG: So we are doing 26 to 28 ASL equivalent?

Dr Kennedy : Yes.

Senator WONG: Does that include administered funding for contractors and so forth, or is there a separate allocation?

Dr Kennedy : No. The $4.6 million is the allocation for the departmental and, if you like, supplier costs associated with that for the cities program.

Senator WONG: So what relationship does 'implementing the National Cities Agenda', as outlined in Budget Paper No. 2, have with the Smart Cities Plan released last week?

Dr Kennedy : The unit we are just discussing produced the Smart Cities Plan.

Senator WONG: 'Produced'? But they have not started. They have started, have they?

Dr Kennedy : There was the unit that came from Environment who were working on cities policy. A number of those staff have come across. Some are seconded. The ASL I have been talking about is the way I anticipate the $4.6 million will be spent in 2016-17. In terms of the number of staff in the Cities Division at the moment, I will get my colleague to come up, but I there are 20-odd, I think.

Senator WONG: Twenty?

Dr Kennedy : I will just get her to confirm.

Senator WONG: Are the 16 additional to the 20?

Dr Kennedy : No.

Senator WONG: Twenty will become 16. Is that right?

Dr Kennedy : There are secondees. So there is funding for staff in PM&C, there was funding for staff in Environment and then, on top of that, they also seconded staff from other departments. I will just confirm for you the current numbers in the Cities Division.

Ms Cvijanovic : We currently have 21 staff working on cities policy in PM&C. Six of those staff are PM&C staff members, 12 are staff seconded from the Department of the Environment, plus we have three Environment graduates, making 21 staff. In the past, when we were part of Environment, we also seconded staff as necessary from across the public sector, including from the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development; Industry, Innovation and Science; Social Services, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation; and the Treasury.

Senator WONG: Okay. When did you come over? What was the start date?

Ms Cvijanovic : Sorry, I do not have the start date in my documents.

Senator WONG: Just approximately—this year, last year?

Ms Cvijanovic : It was this year. In February-March, I believe it was.

Senator WONG: February-March. Okay. That is fine. Is the totality of the $4.6 million departmental funding? There is no grant funding; it is a policy function?

Dr Kennedy : That is correct.

Senator WONG: Are there any staff in Infrastructure or seconded from Infrastructure?

Ms Cvijanovic : We have had—

Senator WONG: Working on the National Cities Agenda, sorry.

Ms Cvijanovic : Until 29 April, we had six staff from Infrastructure. Previously, we had had seven staff. Two of those staff have permanently transferred over to PM&C. The remaining Infrastructure secondees returned to their portfolios when our MOU expired on 29 April.

Senator WONG: Are there policy functions in Infrastructure on the Cities Agenda? I am just trying to work out: are there still policy functions within Infrastructure on the Cities Agenda or is the entirety of the policy function now in this unit?

Dr Kennedy : The government's cities policy will be driven out of this unit, but there are policy officers in the infrastructure department who work on cities policy in the broad, and we will liaise with them, of course, because these are matters that are integrated across infrastructure, planning, transport and a range of matters that that department has expertise in.

Senator WONG: Right. The MOU to which you referred earlier—was that only in relation to staff or was it also in relation to liaison, communication and those sorts of things?

Ms Cvijanovic : It was in relation to staff and also access to broader services. But I would need to take the detail on notice.

Senator WONG: Sure. I am just wondering if someone can assist me with how this has developed. Could someone tell me which minister was looking after cities policy this time last year?

Ms Cvijanovic : This time last year I do not believe that cities policy, as conceived, was looked after by anyone. It would have been looked after by the department of infrastructure and regional services.

Senator WONG: Was there any articulated, explicit policy at that point?

Ms Cvijanovic : Not as far as I am aware.

Senator WONG: Can you tell me which minister was in charge of cities policy six months ago?

Ms Cvijanovic : That would have been in December. In December, that would have been Jamie Briggs.

Senator WONG: Was it the infrastructure department or the environment department handling it then?

Ms Cvijanovic : It was in the environment portfolio.

Senator WONG: And what was the public or the explicit policy—the guiding policy?

Ms Cvijanovic : It was to develop a national cities agenda.

Senator WONG: Who is the minister now?

Dr Kennedy : It is now Minister Angus Taylor.

Senator WONG: And PM&C is looking after it?

Dr Kennedy : That is correct.

Senator WONG: And the overarching policy is the Smart Cities Plan or the national cities agenda? I do not understand how they work together.

Ms Cvijanovic : The government has articulated a policy called the smart cities policy, which is the national cities agenda.

Senator WONG: So the national cities agenda and the Smart Cities Plan are the same thing, they are just different names?

Ms Cvijanovic : Yes.

Senator WONG: Mr Taylor is the parliamentary secretary; so who is the minister? I am not trying to be tricky. Is it the Prime Minister who is the senior minister?

Dr Kennedy : The Prime Minister is the senior minister, yes.

Senator WONG: And there is no one in between? There is not a minister assisting?

Dr Kennedy : No.

Senator WONG: As to this infrastructure financing unit that has been announced—is that in Infrastructure Australia?

Dr Kennedy : The government has announced it will establish an infrastructure financing unit. It has not announced the location of the unit, and it is a matter for the government as to when it makes more information available on that.

Senator WONG: When was that announced?

Dr Kennedy : That was announced last Friday—

Senator WONG: With the plan?

Dr Kennedy : I beg your pardon?

Senator WONG: With the Smart Cities Plan?

Dr Kennedy : With the Smart Cities Plan.

Senator WONG: Has any funding for that unit been announced?

Dr Kennedy : No. There is no measure in the budget. There is no separate funding that has been announced. I think it will be a matter for government, but I would anticipate that the government would see a number of the existing functions within government coming together to meet the cost of the financing unit.

Senator WONG: But as to the announcement last week of an infrastructure financing unit: we have no unit established, we have no department identified to host it, we have no budget measure and, at this stage, we have no funding. Is that accurate?

Dr Kennedy : The government announced that it would establish the unit. It will make announcements as it chooses fit, subsequent to that.

Senator WONG: The four facts that I identified—are they correct or not?

Dr Kennedy : It has not made announcements around the facts you spoke to.

Senator WONG: Thank you. I understand the Smart Cities Plan has a thing called 'City Deals'—is that right?

Dr Kennedy : That is correct.

Senator WONG: Where is the funding for those? From where will the funding for this be sourced?

Dr Kennedy : City Deals are about agreements across levels of government and potentially with other players, including business—that would be local government, state government and the federal government. It is not a program that gets funded from an administered bucket. The notion with City Deals is to bring together a whole-of-government exercise across all those levels to ensure that moneys that are already flowing are best utilised and that those governments work together to improve the productivity and growth prospects across the region that they are doing the deal in—hence, City Deals. City Deals have been a mechanism to drive reform that has been used in the UK and the US, and there is interest in the same in Canada. They are a mechanism that is known as a way of getting collaboration across multiple levels of government and business, and, if you like, bringing together land-use planning reform and, potentially, other reforms, and also of making sure the infrastructure is best spent.

Senator WONG: Have any particular targets, milestones or time frames as yet been set in relation to the City Deals?

Dr Kennedy : The government has not made announcements about which cities it would do deals with or exactly when. That is again a matter that is in its hands.

Senator WONG: There is also a component of the plan which talks about measurement and a discussion about the lack of baseline data et cetera, indicating that the government would 'work with the states and territories, councils, communities and the private sector to identify key city metrics and the data required to assess performance', and so forth.

Dr Kennedy : Yes.

Senator WONG: I just want to know who is responsible for the task of data collection.

Dr Kennedy : That is going to depend on the nature of the deal and the nature of the reform. To use an example, when these deals have been done in the past a couple of the metrics are typically around growth and jobs. For example, if a City Deal is trying to drive an increase in productivity in an area over and above what it otherwise would be, you would look at what you expected the prospects for growth and jobs to be and then measure the extent to which your policies were improving the difference. If they were a measurement of the extent to which a regulation was negatively or positively affecting an area, it would be simply a matter of measuring how that regulation was playing. So it is not a notion of, 'We'll run a survey and we'll measure every aspect.' It will very much depend on the reform being pursued in that area.

Senator WONG: That is fine, but is it this unit which will work out which data needs to be collected?

Dr Kennedy : It will be part of the deal, so, if you like, the unit would be part of providing advice to the Commonwealth, if it were reaching a deal with the state and the relevant local government, about exactly what metrics would show success.

Senator WONG: Do you have any idea of how long it might be before key city metrics might be identified?

Dr Kennedy : They will come up through the City Deals, and it will be a matter for government, frankly, as to how quickly it pursues those and which ones it does first.

Senator WONG: Thank you. Can I move to caretaker conventions, Ms Kelly. You issued revised guidance, I think, last month.

Ms Kelly : Yes.

Senator WONG: I have not sat down and compared the two. Are they minimal changes? Are you able to tell me if there were any changes made and, if so, what they are?

Ms Kelly : I can get Mr Rush to do that, very concisely.

Senator WONG: Thank you.

Mr Rush : Sorry, Senator. Could you repeat the question.

Senator WONG: You issued revised guidance on the caretaker conventions last month. I am asking: are there any changes that have been made in that from the 2013 guidance document?

Mr Rush : Not significant changes. The guidance includes a new section 1.4 in the introduction, which provides further explanation about consultation with the opposition. There are some adjustments.

Senator WONG: Which consultation?

Mr Rush : Consultation with the opposition.

Senator WONG: What has changed?

Mr Rush : There is a new section 1.4 in the introduction to provide more explanation about the process for consultation with the opposition.

Ms Kelly : I understand that that is in response to a JCPAA report recommendation, and it is implementing the recommendation of that committee.

Mr Rush : That is correct.

Senator WONG: Thank you.

Mr Rush : There are some minor changes in the sections that deal with advertising and, in particular, internet and social media. Those were made in consultation with the Department of Finance and the Digital Transformation Office. The other changes are very minor and relate to links, references to other documentation and so on.

Senator WONG: Thank you. I do not want to spend too long on this, but just remind me what the process under the conventions is for reviewing government advertising campaigns ahead of the caretaker period.

Mr Rush : The process commences at the commencement of caretaker. On the commencement of caretaker, all government advertising campaigns by noncorporate Commonwealth entities—departments and the like—are ceased. The Department of Finance, in consultation with PM&C, provides some advice to the government of which campaigns might be appropriate to restart and then continue during the caretaker period. The government then seeks the oppositions' agreement to a list of campaigns that might continue.

Senator WONG: I think Ms Kelly alluded to this. I think we referenced IGB—I do not want to verbal you, Ms Kelly, but I think it was turning your mind to what things need to be done. I would assume, Mr Rush, that given the number of campaigns on foot you do not just start the preparatory work on assessing those on the day the Prime Minister goes to Government House. I presume you have started that process?

Mr Rush : The Department of Finance has certainly started that process. We have had some preliminary discussions—

Senator WONG: They said that I should ask you! We could bring them back, if you want.

Mr Rush : The relevant area of the Department of Finance that administers campaign advertising takes the lead on the identification of the campaigns. We would certainly be consulted as that process rolls out, but the process is conducted between the Special Minister of State and the shadow special minister of state, not between the Prime Minister and the opposition leader.

Senator WONG: Right. Well, they probably should have been a little more helpful. Does Dr Parkinson have any role there?

Mr Rush : No. It is possible that the secretary would be involved—certainly, the departments are involved. It does not specify a level of officer involved in the process of advice for government.

Senator WONG: No, but if it is SMOS to SMOS I am just trying to work out, if caretaker convention guidance is PM&C—

Mr Rush : That is right.

Senator WONG: the extent to which PM&C engages. For example: I assume you make sure that Finance's advice to the SMOS is consistent with your understanding, or your view, about what the guidance requires?

Mr Rush : That is correct. I think the rationale for the involvement of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet is connected to PM&C's role in relation to guidance on the caretaker conventions.

Senator WONG: I think you said they stop and then they restart?

Mr Rush : That is correct.

Senator WONG: What sort of time frame is that?

Mr Rush : As soon as we know the timing of the dissolution of the House of Representatives the campaign advertising area of the Department of Finance instructs the media agency that is used to make media placements for government campaign advertising. They would already have had discussions with that agency so that they know how to stop, to the extent that it is possible.

There are delays and so on, of course, in some particular media placements that might prevent immediate cessation of advertising. But most of that advertising can be ceased within a 24-hour period.

Senator WONG: Okay. But as yet decisions have not been made—is that what you are saying? There have been consultations—I have to say that I should have asked that!—with the agency? Is there only one? Or are there a number?

Mr Rush : The media placement agency is a single agency.

Senator WONG: Single contract? Okay.

Mr Rush : Yes.

Senator WONG: Thank you.

Senator McALLISTER: I have some questions associated with COAG. The Senate referred the outcomes from the last COAG to the references committee, and so we have had quite some discussion about them. But I just have some specific questions about the interaction between that process and the budget.

Ms Kelly : Ms Larkins will start with those questions.

CHAIR: Your final appearance for us, Ms Larkins.

Ms Larkins : For this committee.

CHAIR: For this committee, indeed.

Senator McALLISTER: What consideration had been given to the inclusion of the state income tax levy as part of the 2016-17 budget?

Ms Larkins : I will have to ask one of my colleagues to help me on that question.

Dr Gruen : Apologies, could you repeat the question?

Senator McALLISTER: That is all right. I would like to understand what consideration was given to the inclusion of the state income tax levy as part of the 2016-17 budget.

Dr Gruen : I think it would be best to address that question to Treasury just on the grounds that they are the ones who prepare the budget. I think it makes most sense for you to ask them.

Senator McALLISTER: Dr Gruen, we had a hearing here previously with the references committee where Treasury indicated that the bulk of the work relating to tax in preparation for the COAG meeting in April was undertaken by PM&C. That is why I am asking you this question. Had those proposals been progressed at COAG they may well have had some impact on the approach taken in this budget. I am asking what consideration was given to the inclusion of the state income tax levy as part of this budget.

Dr Gruen : The answer is that, as you say, had they been progressed then they may well have had implications for the budget. As they were not progressed, certainly no work relevant to the Commonwealth budget was done on them in Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Senator McALLISTER: Was there any work done about the proposal to withdraw public education funding from the states?

Mr Yeaman : As Dr Gruen indicated, because there had not been any decision to proceed with the plan, there was no government decision to withdraw from education. All options around what elements of tied grants or untied grants would have been affected by the proposal were for further discussion. So again there were no budget implications of that.

Senator McALLISTER: So, despite this sort of fairly major intervention in the structure of the Federation at COAG, there had in fact been no work done that would have allowed that to have been progressed into the budget?

Mr Yeaman : As we indicated in the Senate inquiry last week, we provided general advice around the potential implications of such a plan if it were to proceed but, as it did not proceed, there were no formal implications for the budget.

Senator McALLISTER: What would you have done had the state premiers actually agreed to the Prime Minister's plan? What would have happened then?

Senator McKENZIE: Is that a hypothetical question?

Senator McALLISTER: Well it goes to the question—

Senator McKENZIE: Nice try. I was not asleep enough at this point.

CHAIR: I think that is a reflection on the chair.

Senator McKENZIE: Not at all, Chair.

CHAIR: Could you ask the question again, Senator McAllister?

Senator Brandis: We will listen carefully, Senator McAllister.

Senator McALLISTER: A meeting of COAG took place in April where a major proposal to reform the Federation was put before premiers. The evidence this evening from PM&C is that there was no preparation to take any of those proposals into the budget. The conclusion I am left to draw is that, had premiers actually agreed to this proposal, the government may not have been prepared to take the necessary steps to put these proposals into the budget.

Senator Brandis: What is your question?

Senator McALLISTER: My question is: is this correct?

Senator Brandis: Is what correct?

Senator McALLISTER: There was no work done.

Senator Brandis: I can tell you myself that a great deal of work was done because for a start there was a very detailed cabinet submission considered by the cabinet.

Senator McALLISTER: It is a shame you were not here at our last inquiry, Senator Brandis, because one of the things we delved into was the outcomes of that cabinet decision and the ability of Commonwealth public servants to engage with any certainty with their state counterparts with a clear government negotiating position.

Senator Brandis: I am flattered that you missed me, Senator, but all I can tell you is—

Senator WONG: I am not sure if she said she missed you!

Senator Brandis: of course, my department was not closely involved with the process. However, to the extent to which I was personally involved as a participant at the cabinet meeting which considered a submission, I can assure you there was a very detailed cabinet submission, into which a very large amount of work had obviously gone.

Senator McALLISTER: Can you explain, then, the kinds of details that were canvassed. Obviously we cannot have all of the material, but can you tell us what kinds of issues were contemplated by cabinet.

Senator Brandis: I am not at liberty to, but you have raised the broad topic of the matter that was raised by the Prime Minister with the first ministers. I can tell you that that matter was the subject of discussion in cabinet on the basis of a detailed cabinet submission.

Senator McALLISTER: Previously, officers from Treasury have been unable to confirm whether or not the prospect of state premiers raising income taxes was in fact part of the government's proposal. The effect of their evidence really was that they simply did not know, and of course Mr Turnbull and Mr Morrison made different statements about that—I think in a single day. How detailed was this cabinet discussion if it left officers, and indeed participants, without a clear understanding of whether or not income tax could be raised as part of the proposal?

Senator Brandis: There are a few things to say about that. First of all, obviously I am not going to talk about what was said at a cabinet meeting, but I think I should, as I have done, reveal to you that there was a detailed cabinet submission and quite a thorough discussion. I say that in order to ensure you do not make the error of thinking that there had not been a lot of work done, because plainly, from my own knowledge as a participant in that discussion, there had been.

Secondly, I do not know what was said at a previous estimates committee by public servants from Treasury, and I cannot comment on that. I suspect none of the officers from PM&C at the table are in a position to comment on evidence in a different Senate inquiry. If you would like to refer—

Senator McALLISTER: Unhappily for Ms Larkins, she was present.

Senator Brandis: If I may finish, if you would like to refer us to the Hansard transcript and put particular items of evidence to witnesses, and if it is within the knowledge of those witnesses to be able to comment on that evidence, then that is the course you should take.

Thirdly, of course, no Treasury officer attends cabinet meetings. The only public servants who attend cabinet meetings are officers of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Senator McALLISTER: I think I am going to move on, because we had a long conversation about this last week.

Senator Brandis: If you had a long conversation about it, Senator McAllister, you have the better of all us at the table who were not present during this long conversation.

Senator McALLISTER: Ms Larkins was present.

Senator Brandis: I see. Ms Larkins, I am sorry. Ms Larkins was present, so Ms Larkins is better informed than anyone else at the table on this matter, I dare say. But please go on, Senator McAllister.

Senator McALLISTER: That is okay. What was the impact of the actual outcome of the 42nd meeting of COAG on the preparation of the 2016-17 budget?

Ms Larkins : Clearly the decision that was reached with states in relation to hospital funding was reflected in the budget. There was also at COAG an agreement that there would be further consultation with states and territories on schools funding, and there has been a subsequent budget decision that underpins that consultation and commitment.

Senator McALLISTER: What is the budget measure that underpins the consultation?

Ms Larkins : There has been a commitment to additional schools funding and further discussions and negotiations with states in line with the COAG agreement—the COAG communique.

Senator McALLISTER: Was there a new plan for tax reform developed as a result of premiers rejecting the Prime Minister's proposal?

Ms Larkins : Do we call it 'tax reform', David?

Dr Gruen : I am not sure, Senator, whether you are referring to the work that is going to continue under the aegis of COAG—is that what you are talking about?

Senator McALLISTER: No. There is a range of tax initiatives in the budget.

Dr Gruen : Yes.

Senator McALLISTER: I am interested to know whether, as a result of the COAG meeting, there were any adjustments made to the budget measures around tax—because tax was a major issue at COAG.

Dr Gruen : I do not think that I would be at liberty to discuss whether the results of COAG had any implications for the tax measures. That was a matter for government deciding what measures it would bring forward.

There was an extensive and detailed process leading up to the tax package that was announced in the budget. That process went on through the Expenditure Review Committee meetings that occurred both before and after COAG.

Senator McALLISTER: Okay. Do you have a follow-up, Senator Wong?

Senator WONG: Mr Rollings, was it you who said there was not detailed analysis? I think that you said there was early stage, broad concept and that you had not done much quantitative assessment as to dimensions because of where it was—

Senator McALLISTER: That was Mr Rollings from—

Senator WONG: I am sorry! Wrong person!

Mr Yeaman : Are you referring to tonight, Senator, or—

Senator WONG: No—it was the Treasury official I think, wasn't it, on the last occasion.

Mr Yeaman : Yes.

Senator McALLISTER: I just want to refer to a response by Mr Turnbull's office to an FOI request made by the shadow attorney-general, Mr Dreyfus. Mr Dreyfus was seeking documents stored on Mr Turnbull's private email server which were related to national security and international relations. I understand that you would have a copy of the letter. It is referred to as FOI PMO 2015-047 in the document management system.

Ms Kelly : Yes.

Senator McALLISTER: The response says that processing this FOI would require examination of the content of hundreds of emails. My question is: does that mean that Mr Turnbull has hundreds of emails that may contain documents related to national security and international relations on his private server?

Ms Kelly : This, of course, was an FOI request to the Prime Minister's office, rather than to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. I have a copy of the decision that was provided by the decision maker in the Prime Minister's office to Mr Dreyfus. That decision sets out that because the terms of the request were so broad, they would capture a whole range of emails on the server. That was the context in which that decision was made.

I cannot take it any further than the information that is in the decision that has been provided to Mr Dreyfus.

Senator Brandis: Can I expand on that answer, please? I receive a number of FOI requests from Mr Dreyfus as well. I do not mean to be too scathing, but Mr Dreyfus's FOI requests are usually very poorly expressed because they are invariably too sweeping, and because they are too sweeping they very commonly elicit—quite properly—the response that they fall within the exemption in the act that excuses a person of whom an inquiry is made if there would be an unreasonable administrative burden involved in meeting the request.

To meet an FOI request of this kind, it does not follow from what Ms Kelly has said that there is any particular email that deals with national security matters. The point is, because the request is expressed so widely and so unskilfully, that every email that could conceivably contain such a matter would have to be looked at so that the basis on which the decision maker has made this decision, invoking the section of the FOI act which, as I said, excuses the decision maker where compliance is unreasonably burdensome, would have done so because to undertake a thorough search of every email would have involved potentially thousands or tens of thousands of emails. It does not at all follow from that that any single one of those may have contained material of the kind being sought.

Senator McALLISTER: Are there documents on the Prime Minister's private email server which relate to the National Security Committee of cabinet or national security more generally?

Senator Brandis: I am quite sure that the Prime Minister is very careful in relation to his obligations to keep secure material that ought to be kept secure. It has just been pointed out to me that in the response to Mr Dreyfus, on the third paragraph of the second page, the decision maker says this:

The Prime Minister takes seriously the obligations imposed by the FOI act on this office. We would be happy to process a request in revised terms. It may assist you to know that a search for the term 'National Security Committee of Cabinet' was conducted of the emails on the server and no documents were identified that fell within that part of the scope of your request. A request that identified more clearly the documents you are seeking could be processed without unreasonably interfering with the performance of the functions of the Prime Minister. For example, you could consider including only emails that refer to national security or to international relations in the subject line, as this would involve a much less resource intensive search process. You might also like to consider specifying a date range for the documents, as that would also reduce the number of documents to be examined.

The decision maker goes on to say in the following paragraph:

In that regard, I can assure you that the Prime Minister takes national security extremely seriously and that all classified documents are dealt with by this office in accordance with the Commonwealth Protective Security Policy Framework.

That is your answer. Firstly, as I said, that the Prime Minister and his office do take their obligations very seriously. Secondly, that they are dealt with in accordance with the Commonwealth Protective Security Policy Framework. Thirdly, that Mr Dreyfus's request was expressed too widely to be compliant with the FOI act. Fourthly, and helpfully, the decision maker has actually—albeit not required to do so—searched for the term 'National Security Committee of Cabinet' and that search revealed that there was nothing there. Fifthly, the decision maker has helpfully offered suggestions as to how the search terms might be narrowed so as to help Mr Dreyfus to understand how he could make his FOI request compliant.

Senator WONG: This is the same Mr Dreyfus who beat you in the AAT recently, isn't that right?

Senator Brandis: No, it is the same Mr Dreyfus who is unfamiliar with section 5 of the Commonwealth Constitution.

Senator McALLISTER: Did you have any role in drafting the letter in response to the FOI?

Senator Brandis: No, I am not the decision maker.

Senator McALLISTER: Did you, Ms Kelly?

Ms Kelly : The department provides assistance and advice to the Prime Minister's office in dealing with FOI requests but, ultimately, the letter is a letter from the decision maker in the Prime Minister's office. We may have provided advice and assistance in putting the letter together but, ultimately, the letter is written by the decision maker.

Senator Brandis: I hope that helps, Senator McAllister.

CHAIR: It is great assistance. Thank you, Attorney-General. That concludes questions, I think, for the section of Prime Minister and Cabinet. I think we are now going to go onto questions with Indigenous Land Corporation. It is going to be combined with outcome 2 of PM&C. We are waiting for—

Senator Brandis: Mr Chairman, I am sorry to interrupt you. Mr McKinnon has just said something to me that is highly relevant to the questions just asked by Senator McAllister. I think it would be helpful, if only for the sake of completeness, if Mr McKinnon were able to advise the committee of what he has just said to me.

Mr McKinnon : No-one in the Prime Minister's Office or the Prime Minister have the administrative privileges to take anything off Top Secret, Secret or Confidential—which are the national security classification systems—and download them onto a private system. They cannot do it.

Senator WONG: No. The Prime Minister has access.

Senator Brandis: On top of the five considerations I raised with you before, Senator McAllister.

Senator WONG: Hang on. In response to that—

Senator McKENZIE: I just want to hear the point of clarification.

CHAIR: Just a moment. This is the risk of opening up a can of worms with you helping. But—

Senator WONG: You can all sit down.

CHAIR: Senator Brandis, if you would add to Mr McKinnon's additional information; and, Senator Wong, if you had something to add, we will go to that.

Senator Brandis: The point I would make, shortly is: as Mr McKinnon has just pointed out, not only was it not done but, for various technical reasons, it was actually not possible to be done.

Senator WONG: Mr McKinnon, is it possible, though, for the Prime Minister to email someone and in which he discusses or references matters that might be classified and might relate to the National Security Committee of Cabinet, national security more generally or Australia's international relations?

Mr McKinnon : The originator of a document determines the classifications. So if he put in something about his personal plans, a cabinet meeting, or whatever, that is up to him.

Senator WONG: A document could consist of an email containing classified information even though the document itself is not classified.

Mr McKinnon : It is possible to refer to something classified and talk it into your—

Senator WONG: Or classified information—even if you do not attach the classified document.

Mr McKinnon : Of course, that is possible.

Senator WONG: Okay. And it is quite possible that the Prime Minister—

Mr McKinnon : But he would not have had anything that was classified as a national security document.

Senator WONG: No. It is quite possible that he could have an email which included classified information, even if he did not attach the document that was itself classified.

Mr McKinnon : It is contemplatable. It is not the same as having a national security document on his system.

Ms Kelly : Just for completeness, Senator Wong, it would be remiss of me not to add that the Prime Minister made it clear in his press conference when this matter was first raised.

Senator WONG: Ms Kelly, that is really something a politician should say, not you. Seriously, that should be the minister—

CHAIR: Order!

Ms Kelly : The Prime Minister made it clear that any material that is classified or sensitive remains within a government system.

Senator WONG: And you wonder why we get a bit grumpy. That is something for the minister, not for the—

CHAIR: Order! All right. I do not think this is adding to the fact finding.

Senator Brandis: Seriously, Senator Wong, Ms Kelly is a respected, professional public servant, and she does not deserve to be slapped down in that sneering way by someone like you.

Senator WONG: Senator Brandis, if I can say, you are certainly an expert on sneering to have a discussion—

CHAIR: I do not think this is helping at all. What we are going to do—

Senator WONG: I am making a point. If a political intervention is made then it ought to be made by you, not by the Deputy Secretary of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

CHAIR: is we are going to conclude this part of the Prime Minister and Cabinet—

Senator Brandis interjecting

Senator WONG: Well, she should pass it to you, and you should say it.

CHAIR: Order! Senator Brandis; Senator Wong.

Senator WONG: [Inaudible] three public servants who behave appropriately and—

CHAIR: Order! We are going to conclude this part of PM&C. We are now going to move on to the Indigenous Land Corporation, outcome 2. Thank you, Senator Brandis, for your attendance and for your officers. I now invite the Minister for Indigenous Affairs.

Senator WONG: Can I just quickly—I misquoted Mr Pyne before.

CHAIR: Minister, just excuse us for one moment, while Senator Wong had something to add.

Senator WONG: Yes. In fairness to Mr Pyne—and I know that Senator Bernardi will be happy about that.

CHAIR: Order!

Senator WONG: I think earlier today in questions to the ASC, I quoted Mr Pyne from an interview with Mr David Speers. In fairness to Mr Pyne, I thought I should correct the record before the committee rises this evening. When Mr Pyne said, and I think I quoted him, 'You could assume they would win it,' he was, in fact, referring to the Adelaide to Tarcoola rail line.

CHAIR: Rather than Adelaide United soccer team.

Senator McKENZIE: Or 'as we fly as one'.

CHAIR: Order!