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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: I welcome the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Senator the Hon. Scullion; Mr Leo Bator, Acting Chief Executive Officer, Indigenous Land Corporation; Mr Andrew Tongue, the Associate Secretary, Indigenous Affairs; and officers from outcome 2 of the department. Minister, do you wish to make an opening statement?

Senator Scullion: I do. In fact, I have one, but it is very late and I will just table it, Mr Chair.

CHAIR: Thank you very much, Minister. Mr Bator, you are on the phone?

Mr Bator : I am.

CHAIR: Do you wish to make an opening statement?

Mr Bator : Yes, Chair. I would just like to thank you and senators for allowing me to participate by telephone. It is very much appreciated. It has been a very important day for the ILC and Voyages, as great progress was made in respect of the loan with the Commonwealth regarding Ayers Rock Resort. I am happy to answer questions of the committee.

CHAIR: Thank you very much, Mr Bator. Mr Tongue, do you wish to make an opening statement?

Mr Eccles : No, Senator.

CHAIR: Oh, you are there. You are representing him, Mr Eccles, are you?

Mr Eccles : Yes.

Senator WONG: Just to be clear, the minister's statement is being tabled and circulated?

CHAIR: The minister's statement is being—

Senator Scullion: I had an opening statement. It had nothing to do with the ILC.

CHAIR: He has an opening statement which has been tabled and will be circulated to the committee. We will go to questions now.

Senator SIEWERT: Mr Bator, I want to follow up this whole issue of ILC's late annual report and the statements in the media that Minister Scullion threatened to withhold permission to table the report unless it was changed to remove the pages he did not want published. Is that a reflection of either your comments or those of anybody from the ILC?

Mr Bator : No. The minister merely asked for the ILC board to reflect on the accuracy of certain statements made by the former chairperson in the foreword. The minister did not instruct the ILC to change the report. The minister did not indicate that he would withhold tabling of the report. He merely asked for the ILC board to reflect on the contents of that foreword, which they duly did. As you would probably be aware, they included their own statement from Mr Eddie Fry about the directions they would want to take as the board. They did not in any way change any words of the former chair's foreword. That was provided back to the minister, who tabled it.

Senator SIEWERT: Thank you. So nothing in the report was changed other than the additional words?

Mr Bator : The additional statement by the new chair.

Senator WONG: Can I just be clear, because I was going to ask questions about this topic if you do not mind, Senator Siewert.

Senator SIEWERT: Yes.

Senator WONG: Can I just be clear about this. I will come back to the beginning of the process when I have an opportunity, but in fact the dispute was resolved by there being two forewords included in the report—is that correct?

Mr Bator : Yes.

Senator WONG: At whose suggestion were the two forewords?

Mr Bator : The board decided to put the additional foreword in.

Senator WONG: Can you tell us what you say Minister Scullion pointed to as inaccurate information in the foreword of the previous chair.

Senator SIEWERT: That is where I was going.

Mr Bator : My understanding was that the minister was concerned with statements made in relation to the purchase of the Ayers Rock Resort and the government's position on an independent public inquiry.

Senator WONG: Mr Bator, this is very important, because there is an obligation for the tabling of this report. These reports are the way in which these organisations are accountable to the parliament, and through them to the public, so I do want to ask you again: can you tell us, maybe with reference—we probably have the former chair's forward here—which are the statements in it that you say Minister Scullion asserted were inaccurate?

Mr Bator : The minister, of course, can comment himself—

Senator WONG: I will ask him, but I want to ask you what you say they were, because you opened this—

Mr Bator : Because—

CHAIR: Order! Senator Wong, you have asked your question. Mr Bator, I am sorry. I am just trying to establish this so that you get a full opportunity to respond. It would assist if you could speak directly into the microphone or close to the device that you are talking into.

Mr Bator : Sorry about that, Chair. The minister was concerned about statements made in relation to the purchase of Ayers Rock Resort and the government's position on an independent public inquiry.

Senator WONG: I actually want to understand which words in the forward were considered to be inaccurate. At the outset, you were asked a question by Senator Siewert to which you said, 'No, it isn't accurate to say the minister tried to change things; he raised certain inaccuracies.' I want to understand which words, which facts, you understood the inaccuracies were. I do not know where you are, but do you have a copy of both reports from the chairpersons?

Mr Bator : Unfortunately, I do not, Senator. But it was not really a question for me to decide whether it was inaccurate or not. My function was to organise the board around considering the minister's request about their reflection on the comments made in the forward by the previous chair, and I brought it to the board's attention. They considered it and they made a decision about the action they would take regarding the minister's concerns.

Senator WONG: I am sorry, Senator Siewert, do you mind if I continue?

Senator SIEWERT: No, go on.

Senator WONG: How did the minister communicate with you, Mr Bator, about what these inaccuracies were? Was it by phone, email or letter?

Mr Bator : By telephone.

Senator WONG: How many conversations did you have with him and when did you have them?

Mr Bator : I did not have any conversations with the minister regarding this. I had a conversation with his adviser.

Senator WONG: Who was that? Chief of staff or adviser?

Mr Bator : Adviser.

Senator WONG: How many times did he or she call you?

Mr Bator : Yes, they telephoned me in early December and said that there were concerns that the minister and the office had about inaccuracies in respect of the matters which I have mentioned—the purchase of Ayers Rock Resort and the government's position as to the public independent inquiry—and could I ask for the board to be organised such that it could consider its forward to its annual report. I raised it with the board and the board met, considered it and made its decision.

Senator WONG: Thanks. The FOI document, the board briefing paper, is dated 18 January 2016, so I assume that was prepared after your conversation with the minister's adviser?

Mr Bator : Correct.

Senator WONG: You approved the document?

Mr Bator : Yes.

Senator WONG: The copy I have says, 'Approved by Leo Bator, Acting Chief Executive Officer.' It is not signed, but I assume that was approved by you?

Mr Bator : If it was the final of the paper that went to the board on 18 January, if that is the document we are talking about, it probably was not signed. I would have approved it by email.

Senator WONG: Okay. Can I read something to you?

Mr Bator : Sure.

Senator WONG: I am quoting from the document. 'The office of the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Senator the Hon. Nigel Scullion, has advised the ILC's acting chief executive officer, Mr Leo Bator, that the minister will not agree to table the ILC annual report 14-15 in its current form, because the minister believes there are inaccuracies in Dr Casey's overarching report on the performance of the ILC, which forms a foreword to the report. This text is at attachment A.' Do you recall approving the document, including that paragraph?

Mr Bator : I do not exactly recall that, but I am pretty sure I would have read that, yes. But the context of that was that the minister had asked for the board to reflect on the foreword and to make their judgement about those matters that he talked about—the inaccuracies in there. Then, before it was to be tabled for them to make a decision, which they did do and duly went back to the minister, who tabled the report with the additions that the board put in.

Senator WONG: What I am putting to you is that the more contemporaneous document, which is a document of 18 January prepared after the discussion or discussions with the minister's political adviser, states very clearly that you are telling the board that the minister would not agree to table the report in its current form.

Mr Bator : In the context that before he was going to table he wanted the board to reflect on the words in that foreword pertaining to the matters that he believed were inaccurate. The board did that.

Senator SIEWERT: Was it 'reflect and repudiate'? That is what is quoted in the media.

Mr Bator : The board considered the papers put to them, considered the options provided and took their decision regarding the action they were going to take.

Senator SIEWERT: Before this concern was raised by the minister's office, had any of the board members raised any concerns with Dr Casey's foreword?

Mr Bator : Around the time of it I had a chat with the chair. He asked me whether I had read it. He was concerned about the foreword. He reflected to me that it should have been about the performance of the organisation and the things that it wanted to do going forward rather than to be raising matters which were spurious to the performance of the ILC. Matters to do with whether there should be a review of a previous decision were matters that in his opinion probably should not be in the foreword.

Senator SIEWERT: Did he explain why, given that the matters are about a very serious financial situation that that particular purchase had dropped ILC into or is now in?

Mr Bator : If you read the foreword of the new incoming board, their position is really to draw a line under all of the events in the past and to move forward in managing the ILC and its assets for the benefit of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people rather than going over older issues that really are settled.

Senator WONG: Did you have a conversation with the minister or his advisers about tonight's hearing?

Mr Bator : I did not have a conversation with the minister about tonight's hearing, no.

Senator WONG: His office or advisers?

Mr Bator : I have had conversations with the advisers. I have regular conversations with advisers.

Senator WONG: Did you have a conversation about what your evidence would be?

Mr Bator : No, I did not have a conversation about what my evidence would be, but I had a conversation with them. They indicated to me that it was likely that I would be called.

Senator WONG: I am putting to you that the document which most accurately expresses the view that the minister's office expressed to you is the document that I read out to you, which states that 'the minister will not agree to table the ILC report in its current form'.

Mr Bator : Because, in the context that the minister—you are looking at it in a very—

Senator WONG: Sure. Because there were alleged inaccuracies it was refused—

Mr Bator : Yes, but you are looking at it in terms—and this is a continuum of discussions that had been going on for some time. The board well understood that the minister could not direct them in relation to any of their activities.

Senator WONG: No, but I have put something to you. I do not think you have answered my question. I am going to put it to you again in fairness. What I am putting to you very clearly is that the document on which you signed off—which you agreed to put before your board—of 18 January accurately reflects what was told to you by the minister's advise, which was that 'the minister will not agree to table the report in its current form'.

Mr Bator : Unless the board reflects on the foreword in the way that they did do.

Senator WONG: This is the problem. Your advice to the board does not say, 'Can you reflect on it?' It is saying he is not going to table it in its current form—not 'reflect on it' but 'he's not going to table it in its current form', correct?

Mr Bator : Yes, but, again, you have to understand it in the context of a continuum of conversations that were had with the board. The board was clearly of the view that they were an independent board and the minister could not give them directions. You will see in all the material that the board was certainly aware of it. The board considered the matters that had been put in the foreword by the previous chair and they took a decision. That decision was not to change the words in any way and to add the new statement.

Senator WONG: Yes. That is clear, isn't it. The only change that actually occurred was that a second foreword was put in. The foreword from the previous chairperson was not actually changed at all, correct?

Mr Bator : Correct.

Senator WONG: All right. What were the inaccuracies in the previous foreword which have been retained on your evidence?

Mr Bator : The whole foreword in its entirety is there. Nothing has been removed.

Senator WONG: Sorry; maybe you misunderstood the question. Your evidence is that, contrary to the document I have been putting to you, it was not that the minister did not agree to table it; he wanted them to think about, reflect on or take a second look at the report given the alleged inaccuracies. I have asked you to identify the inaccuracies. Are you not able to do that?

CHAIR: I think, in fairness—

Senator WONG: Oh, he does not have the document.

CHAIR: He does not have the document in front of him.

Mr Bator : Sorry; it is not a matter for me. I did not even attempt to explain the inaccuracies of it, because it was well before my time that this was written.

Senator WONG: Sure.

Mr Bator : I merely put to the board that this was an area that the minister was concerned about and that he believed there were inaccuracies in there. The board reflected on that and had a number of options that they discussed. They resolved that they would not change a single word of the previous chair's foreword and that they would add their own foreword to reflect the way that they believe the original Torres Strait Islander people expected the ILC to behave in its dealings with the government.

Senator LINDGREN: I am seeking some clarification here. The FOI documents say that the minister will not consent to table the report while these inaccuracies stand. That is in document 12. Can you explain why the annual report was lodged with the former chair's statement intact?

Mr Bator : That is exactly the point, isn't it? What I am saying is that, in the context of the way that the board understood the paper written to them, they were quite aware of the fact that the minister was merely asking them to reflect on the statement of the previous chair and to make an informed judgement about the direction that they would want to take. They looked at it and they said, 'We're going to add this new statement in there,' and they did not change a single word of the previous board.

CHAIR: Could it be a case that the board did not want to subject themselves to the type of scrutiny of being forced to make changes where they thought it would cause the ire of estimates, and so they chose to add additional comments, if you will?

Mr Bator : I would say that they were very mindful of the minister and of their responsibilities to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. They were very mindful of their independent role, and they were also very mindful of governance arrangements. The conversation was a very robust conversation. They did not want to make changes to the document that was there—the previous foreword. The options that were considered were removal and putting a new foreword in. At the end of the day, they wanted to show that they were a new board with a new direction for the ILC and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Senator SIEWERT: What did you understand would happen if the board decided that they were not going to do anything at all?

Mr Bator : I did not think anything was going to happen. I thought I was just going to report back to the minister in the same way and say, 'The board did as he asked, reflected on the contents of that foreword and they have made this decision.' The minister very much knows that the board is an independent board. In fact, he raised it at a recent strategy meeting with them, so I do not think there is any doubt in anyone's mind about the independence of the board and their role and responsibilities. They made a decision, and that decision was to put a new statement in showing the direction that they wanted to take. They did not make a single word change to the previous chair's foreword.

Senator SIEWERT: Where you have a new board and a financial report from a previous year, have you ever had an experience where this has occurred—where a new board has put in a statement on a previous year's financial report?

Mr Bator : Yes, I had eight years as the Commissioner for Superannuation and the chairman of the Defence Force retirement and death benefits fund. I started on 1 July. I put a foreword in for the previous chair, and when I left on 30 June 2010, a new CEO, chair or commissioner put a new foreword in on my behalf.

Senator SIEWERT: Whose idea was it to put the foreword in the report?

Mr Bator : That was an option. My job would be to—

Senator SIEWERT: Sorry, could you answer my question, please. Whose idea was it to put in the additional foreword?

Mr Bator : It was the board's decision.

Senator SIEWERT: Whose idea was it?

Mr Bator : I provided a range of options for the board to consider. One of the options—

Senator SIEWERT: What were the other options?

Mr Bator : I think the other options were to have no foreword—

Senator SIEWERT: So, in other words, to take out Dr Casey's foreword?

Mr Bator : Correct.

Senator SIEWERT: What were the other ones?

Mr Bator : The other options would have been to modify the foreword, to put no foreword in or to put this additional one in. The board considered all of those options and resolved on this option.

Senator SIEWERT: Were those options ones you developed?

Mr Bator : We developed those; it was not just me. We obviously looked at what the legislation allowed for, what good governance allowed for, what the PGPA Act allowed for and what the ATSI Act required. We developed a range of options. My job is fundamentally to provide options and papers for boards so they can make a decision.

Senator WONG: Was the option of a second foreword raised with you by the minister's staff?

Mr Bator : No.

Senator WONG: Was one of the options that the ILC write a letter from the chair to be made public at the tabling?

Mr Bator : Yes.

Senator WONG: And the minister rejected that?

Mr Bator : I do not think it was the minister who rejected that; I think that was a conversation with a range of people. The concern was that there were inaccuracies within the document and, as I think was outlined at the start of this conversation, these are important documents that are going to be on the public record and if they have inaccuracies in them they need to be considered by the board presenting the annual report. I think the considered view, and I think I had the view myself, was that a letter would be detached from the document so in x-years time you would not have the letter—a letter would be floating off somewhere else—but you would always have the report. Therefore the opportunity for the board to reflect on the way that it wanted to deal with the government and its obligations would have been lost. That is why that option was inferior to the option that the board finally agreed on.

Senator WONG: Minister, it is very clear from the FOI documents that you refused to table the report until inaccuracies were removed—alleged inaccuracies.

Senator Scullion: I agree with you insofar as that is what the draft report to the ILC board says. It has been explained by Mr Bator. When I first saw it I read it as most people would read it. If you read it as a stand-alone paragraph it looks like I would have directed the board. In answer to questions to me in the Senate I have told you that is not the case.

Senator WONG: It is really clear, isn't it? The document he prepares after your staff heavies him says you are refusing to table it until the inaccuracies are removed.

Senator Scullion: I accept some of what you are saying—yes, that is what it looked like. All I am telling you is that neither I nor any of my staff sought to direct the ILC board to change the report or threaten not to table the report. I genuinely do not have anything else to say on that. That is my knowledge. I do not have any knowledge of what happened within the ILC, who drafted the documents. They are the facts of the matter. I did not and nor did any of my staff indicate that it would not be tabled unless they made the changes. We cannot make that direction.

Senator WONG: Would you have tabled the report if they had not put the second foreword in?

Senator Scullion: Yes, I would have. I can still remember the staff member coming in and asking what had happened; he said there were some inaccuracies in the report of the chair. I asked what normally happens—I was not an expert on reports and stuff. They said they could just ask them to correct the inaccuracies.

Senator SIEWERT: What did you think was inaccurate? There are two different explanations going on here.

Senator Scullion: It was not so much what was inaccurate but the way it was put. There was a statement around a senior counsel or a QC or some sort of advice they had received that was not in the board that inferred a whole range of things about decisions that had been made. There was no reference that three reviews had actually been conducted, and all three reviews had not met what the previous chair had wanted. But none of that was in the report, and yet she was able to make allegations: 'We won't have a review.' It was completely one-sided and was not an accurate reflection of what had gone on.

CHAIR: There weren't specific inaccuracies; you are just saying the whole thing was an inaccurate description of what had happened.

Senator Scullion: That would be the best way I would describe it, yes; however, there were some specific issues where she paints a picture and references, legal counsel and all those sorts of things without any of the statements from the legal counsel, because it probably would not have suited her purposes.

Senator WONG: You are pretty grumpy with her.

Senator Scullion: Yes, don't worry about that: she has wasted not only time tonight but years and years where she should have been driving economic development through the ILC instead of some witch-hunt about a time that I cannot even remember.

Senator WONG: Right. Did she ask—is it Ms Casey?

CHAIR: Dr Casey.

Senator WONG: Did Dr Casey have discussions with you about trying resolve some of the financial difficulties the ILC was facing as a result of the resort purchase?

Senator Scullion: I think only in the context of her being very cranky about the fact that the loan from Ayers Rock Resort was going to end up costing them more money. She could see that the funds that might otherwise be invested properly and the ILC were being diverted, or may have been diverted, to paying off the loan. I understood that from some of our initial conservations but, no, there was no direct approach made to me for some particular solution.

Senator WONG: Hang on: that is not right. In June 2015, didn't Dr Casey write to the Minister for Finance proposing that the ILC be allowed to access a one-off loan from the land account to assist in refinancing the Ayers Rock debt? I am using the name of the resort. Again that proposal was put formally to the Minister for Finance and you, and a letter copied to Treasurer. The then ILC chairperson wrote to you again on 28 September 2015 about this issue. You say you did not have discussions or you did not have those communications?

Senator Scullion: The communication you are relating to was a communication with the Minister for Finance—

Senator WONG: No, that is not true.

Senator Scullion: Sorry, I thought your previous—

Senator WONG: I have got Finance. Then I have got Finance and Minister for Indigenous Affairs 3 September 2015 then one on 28th, so it has been raised with the government three times at least in writing and then you twice.

Senator Scullion: I am sorry: I do not have it in front of me, but if you would be able to—

Senator WONG: Well—

Senator Scullion: No, because it is very important. You are saying that the letter on 28th actually requested that we consider financing Ayers Rock Resort. That is what you are putting to me, and you are putting to me that that letter was sent to me, Senator.

Senator WONG: I am actually putting to you your answer to questions on notice from the supplementary budget estimates hearings, okay? If you want to get question on notice—

Senator Scullion: Sorry, I misunderstood you, Senator: I thought you said that I had received a letter from Ms Casey on 28th and—

Senator WONG: Okay: question on notice—I am indebted to my colleague Senator Siewert, a question from her—49, so someone may wish to get a minister a copy of that. Mr Dillon was asked about what approaches to government had occurred asking them to assist with refinancing and he has given evidence-actually, the department has given evidence. The Prime Minister and Cabinet portfolio tabled this answer: first, 29 June 2015, the chairperson writes to the Minister for Finance proposing access of one-off loan. The finance minister responds referring the matter to you—I am not talking about what conversations they had; this is a written request to you. On 3 September 2015, this proposal again, formally put to you and the Minister for Finance, and a letter copied to the Treasurer. On 28 September 2015, another letter from the chairperson asking for formal advice about a way forward after you had raised with the director a preference to explore the access to loan funds. Do you remember all of these approaches?

Senator Scullion: I certainly recall the last reference and I most particularly recall my reference at the Senate estimates when I said—and I am not sure if you were here, Senator—I thought that the answer to this particular challenge was to try to extend the borrowing of the Commonwealth, because that would be done at a lower level.

Senator WONG: Did you do anything with those three letters?

Senator Scullion: I have done a number of things, not necessarily responding or doing something directly with those letters. We had made a decision that the particular element of the loans—

Senator WONG: I am going to come to the loans. That is a budget measure, but pre that did you do anything?

Senator Scullion: There is only one element of the loans under which something was required to be done. That did not fall due until relatively recently. In fact, I do not think it has even fallen due, which is the reason that we are dealing with that at the moment. With regard to the other requests, which were similar to the discussion that was brought up, saying that it would make it hard for the ILC to make other investments, the Minister for Finance was aware of them. I had some conversations with the department but it was not pursued beyond that.

Senator WONG: I would like to know, on notice, what you did in response to the three or four documents that have been referenced in response to Senate estimates questions on notice.

Senator Scullion: I will just say that letters were sent in response to those letters that came to me. We will see if we can provide those letters, which lay out our response and the discussions that would have been had by officials in that regard.

Senator SIEWERT: Discussions with whom?

Mr Eccles : It was some time around mid-2015 when we instigated regular meetings—I think they were quarterly meetings—involving the Department of Finance and the ILC. I think the Voyages guys were there, but I will need to recall. We were discussing with them to get a better understanding about the financial situation that the ILC found themselves in. I would have to check, but I would suggest that well and truly through most of 2015 we were having these regular catch-ups.

Senator WONG: The Minister for Finance gave evidence earlier today—and I assume you are aware of that, Minister Scullion?

Senator Scullion: No, I am not.

Senator WONG: He gave evidence earlier today about the genesis of the concessional loan. If I am wrong, I apologise—it is not intentional—but I think his evidence was essentially that the genesis of that was a discussion between you and him which occurred this year.

Senator Scullion: That is as my recollection is. In fact, it would have been after the last estimates hearing here, I suspect.

Senator WONG: Why did you wait so long? Why did you wait until after the dispute with the board, after there had been a change of chairperson, after a dispute about the report had been resolved? Why did you wait until all of those—

Senator Scullion: I was just reflecting on when I had that conversation and, yes, I did have that conversation. We would have been speaking about that as early as December the year before.

Senator WONG: No, that is not here—

Senator Scullion: Sorry, the discussions were happening not with the Minister for Finance, but I was certainly discussing that with my department in December.

Mr Eccles : We were holding discussions with the Department of Finance and Treasury about the potential for a loan.

Senator WONG: Mr Eccles, I am actually asking the minister questions about what he did.

Mr Eccles : I am sorry, Senator.

Senator WONG: The evidence today, as I understand it, was that officers were talking but nothing actually happened. The budget measure, on the evidence today from Finance, did not arise out of departmental discussions; it arose out of a discussion between Minister Scullion and Minister Cormann—right? I am asking: why did you wait so long to raise it with him?

Senator Scullion: I do not have a specific answer to that. It has to come to a position when you think you are in a position to be able to have sufficient persuasive information—information about Ayres Rock Resort, how it is going and the importance of Ayres Rock Resort—to ensure that, when you make a plea like that to another minister, it sticks. I started getting that sort of stuff together in about December. As I said, we had lots of discussions and I understood they were having discussions at officer levels about more detail. When I had sufficient detail, I approached the minister.

Senator WONG: When did you prepare the NPP for this, Mr Eccles?

Mr Eccles : I would need to take that on notice. We would have prepared the NPP in the usual pre-budget round. But we were certainly gathering the information and we were talking to ILC in quite some detail to understand technical elements of their loan arrangements. I will need to check, but we were absolutely talking to them in, I would say, November and December. But we had been dealing with them throughout, I would suggest, most of 2015 to get a better handle on the impact that it was having on them doing their core business.

Senator WONG: Was the discussion noted, and was it followed up in writing with Minister Cormann?

Senator Scullion: I can recall having the discussion. What happened after that, obviously I would have spoken to my department, and both of the departments would have got on with it. But I just went back and said: 'Look, this is terrific. We seem to have come to a deal. You'll need a few more details about that.' The next challenge, of course, was to persuade the other processes of government that it was a good idea.

Senator SIEWERT: Mr Bator, when did the new ILC board raise the issue of the debt and the problems with Voyages? When did you raise it with the government, and how?

Mr Bator : I am certainly aware that from the very outset the chair had had conversations with the minister about the debt.

Senator SIEWERT: Do you mean Mr Fry?

Mr Bator : Yes. The minister, I think it was in the October Senate estimates, raised the fact that he saw that there should be an opportunity to get a better loan for the ILC, and I know that when Mr Fry commenced, he certainly took that on board. As I understand it, he has had conversations with the minister. He got me and my CFO then to work with the department and Prime Minister and Cabinet. They drew together a working group from Treasury and from the Department of Finance and PM&C, us and Voyages, and we began to do the work necessary to put a case up for the minister to present to his ministerial colleagues. That would have commenced in around November, from memory.

Senator SIEWERT: The previous board had raised this issue with you repeatedly?

Mr Eccles : Certainly the previous CEO and his officers did. As I said, we had been in discussions with the ILC staff, probably from this time last year, about their issue around the interest rates stymieing their ability to do their core business.

Senator SIEWERT: Had you made any responses to the former board? Any concrete proposals about ways forward?

Mr Eccles : I did not deal with the board; I dealt with the then CEO and staff.

Senator SIEWERT: I beg your pardon, the CEO.

Mr Eccles : What was your question again?

Senator SIEWERT: Had you made any concrete discussions about a way forward, rather than just trying to find out what was going on in terms of then moving to a solution?

Mr Eccles : It is fair to say that at that point we were probably in 'discovery mode'—trying to understand exactly what the nature of the challenges were. At some point we would have transitioned to talking about solutions, but I just do not have any recollections about exactly when that was. I do not know if the notion of a loan would have come as a surprise to anyone involved in those discussions.

Senator SIEWERT: I am more interested in the length of time it has taken to get to some form of resolution. I remember hearing a strong sense of frustration about this from the ILC when they were in estimates.

Mr Eccles : The time frame that we worked with—I am not suggesting you do not understand, but this is a very complex matter. As of about this time last year we were working with them to try to work out the best solution to help them perform their core business as best as possible. And we went through a bunch of processes.

CHAIR: Just on the—we want to go to outcome 2, Indigenous?

Senator WONG: Where there are many more questions, but we wanted to go to IAS and the couple of others, because I think Senator Moore has—

CHAIR: Just a moment. I want to confirm that we can finish with the Indigenous Land Corporation.

Senator WONG: Yes.

CHAIR: Mr Bator, may I thank you for you attendance this evening. You can hang up whenever you feel ready.

Mr Bator : Thank you very much.

CHAIR: Thank you very much.


CHAIR: We will move to outcome 2. Are you happy if we take general questions in this space? Senator Dodson, do you want the call or Senator Peris?

Senator DODSON: I have a question for the minister.

CHAIR: Please, fire away.

Senator DODSON: Minister, I will just confirm that in the budget there is an allocation of $100 million being put aside for family violence measures. Is that correct?

Senator Scullion: Yes, that is correct.

Senator DODSON: Can you tell me whether Family Violence Prevention Legal Services will be receiving any of that?

Senator Scullion: No, I cannot. That is because of the timing of this measure. We have made a contribution, and there is an amount laid out, but they are currently consulting. They have not made any decisions at this stage with regard to exactly how much of the quantum will be going to legal services or how much will going to the Indigenous legal aid services.

Senator DODSON: Can you confirm the funding freeze on the legal services in the 2013-2014 fiscal year?

Senator Scullion: I understand there—

Mr Matthews : In respect of the Family Violence Prevention Legal Services, at the time of the MYEFO cuts, they were not applied to the Family Violence Prevention Legal Services. We used the flexibility of the IES to maintain funding for that sector. As it stands today, there are 14 Family Violence Prevention Legal Services across Australia and a secretariat body and the funding has been maintained for all of those services at the same rate. In fact, there has been a bit of an expansion in 2015-2016 as we topped up the northern Australian family legal services to pick another nine communities. So, overall, the amount of funding in 2015-2016 is a little bit higher than it was in 2014-2015.

Senator DODSON: Can you give me that figure?

Mr Matthews : It is about $23 million, up from about $22½ million the year before.

Senator DODSON: And the question I put to the minister, if you are able to answer that, was what opportunity will there be for the Family Violence Prevention Legal Services to access the $100 million that is in the budget?

Mr Matthews : There is a process going through at the moment, as you would be aware, under the COAG process around domestic and family violence. There was an expert report that is one of the feed ins. At the moment, the Department of Social Services, which is leading the development of the Third Action Plan, is undertaking a number of consultations and roundtables across the country. There have been a number of those structured around getting Indigenous input, so there have been Indigenous roundtables. There have been a couple in the Northern Territory and others occurring around the country, bringing together representatives, stakeholders, key providers and the Family Violence Prevention Legal Services have been part of that process. They will feed into that as part of the consultation process and that will inform the decisions around the development of the Third Action Plan.

Senator PERIS: I have questions around the Indigenous Advancement Strategy. I have about ten question. I will shoot through them quickly and hopefully we can get some answers. How much uncommitted funding remains in the IAS strategy and can you provide that by the program stream please?

Mr Tongue : It is approximately $2.8 billion. I will ask one of my colleagues to do the breakdown across the subprogram.

Senator PERIS: That is $2.8 billion?

Mr Tongue : Yes.

Ms Hefren-Webb : In program 2.1—

Senator PERIS: Can you tell me which ones they are?

Ms Hefren-Webb : That is the Jobs, Land and Economy Program over four years, there is $1.4 billion committed and 1.2 uncommitted. For children and schooling, over the four years there is $321 million committed and $540 million uncommitted.

Senator WONG: Is this in a table?

Ms Hefren-Webb : I have it in a table, yes.

Senator WONG: Do you want to table it?

CHAIR: It might assist the committee if you are in a position to table that.

Ms Hefren-Webb : Yes, sure.

Senator WONG: If that is okay. Unless you have rude things about senators noted!

Ms Hefren-Webb : I think it just has his name on it. That is all.

CHAIR: That is fine.

Senator PERIS: How many applications have been approved by the minister since the announcement of the gap-fill round?

Ms Black : Can I just clarify your question?

Senator PERIS: Was there a recent announcement of the gap-fill round?

Ms Black : No. During the Indigenous Advancement Strategy 2014 grant funding round, we had two announcements around that.

Senator WONG: What was the phrase you used—gap—

Ms Black : The gap-filling exercise.

Senator WONG: Sorry; I cannot hear the phrase you are using. I want us to make—

Ms Black : The senator asked about a gap-filling announcement. There has not been a recent announcement, no.

Senator WONG: When was the last gap-filling round announced?

Ms Black : It was during the Indigenous Advancement Strategy grant funding round in 2014. There were two announcements: one in March 2015 and one in May 2015. The period between March and May was when we redressed some funding gaps through that grant funding round.

Senator WONG: March and May 2014 or 2015?

Ms Black : It was 2015.

Senator WONG: I think the question stands: how many applications have been approved since that time?

Ms Black : Yes, absolutely. I just wanted to clarify the question before I answered.

Senator SIEWERT: It is the actual number of applications since then that we want to know about.

Ms Black : From 1 July 2014 to 29 April 2015, the total grants approved and published were 5,836.

Senator SIEWERT: And there have been 36 grants since then?

Ms Black : Grants approved, yes. Those are published grants.

Senator SIEWERT: That is after the grant round?

Ms Black : That is excluding the grant round.

Ms Hefren-Webb : Quite a lot of those are very small grants related to individual wage subsidies.

Senator WONG: Can you give us grant number and aggregate quantum?

Ms Black : The dollars?

Senator WONG: Yes. How else would you do it?

Ms Black : I was just checking.

Senator WONG: You could have been thinking, 'She might be asking something else.'

Ms Black : The total funding so far—again, this is for approved grants—is $1.7—

Senator WONG: No; I am sorry. You are answering Senator Peris's question about the number of applications approved in this time frame, 1 July 2014 to—what was the first one?

Ms Black : We have taken it through to 29 April 2016.

Senator WONG: You said 5,836, and I wanted the dollar value.

Ms Black : It is $1.7 billion.

Senator SIEWERT: Before we move on to the next question, Ms Hefren-Webb, you made the comment that some are wage subsidies. Have we got a quantum on which were those little one-off individual wage subsidies compared to which were actually grants and projects?

Ms Black : Yes, we do. We split it up, which was the demand-driven part of the IAS then. So that was employment, and 3,763 were employment related activities.

Senator PERIS: Are you able to tell me how many applications are currently with the department and how many are with the minister's office?

Ms Black : We currently have 35 community-led proposals in the department being assessed and seven tailored assistance employment applications being assessed as well. But I will take that on notice and just check that I have not missed any other applications that have come in.

Senator PERIS: Those two are with the department. Do you know how many are with the ministers?

Ms Black : I would have to take on notice how many are sitting with the minister.

Senator PERIS: Of those that you have just mentioned, how many applications are ready to be sent to the minister's office for approval?

Ms Black : They are being assessed now. I would have to check where they are up to in the assessment process.

Senator PERIS: How long does an assessment normally take?

Ms Black : It depends on how complicated the application is. We usually try to move through them as quickly as we can, but sometimes it will take a discussion with a regional manager. If it cuts across two or three programs, we have to work across two or three programs as well. There is not an average time; it really depends on the complexity of the application.

Senator PERIS: Do you envisage them being resolved in the coming weeks or months?

Ms Black : I would have to check. It is hard to say, globally. Some of them may be very simple applications; some of them may be more complicated applications. As I say, we progress them as quickly as we can.

Senator PERIS: What is the quantum of funding for projects that have been recommended by the department that are yet to be approved by the minister?

Ms Black : The 35 community led ones are for a total of $47 million. The tailored assistance employment ones are for a total of $6 million. But, as I say, I would like to check to see whether there are any others. They are just the two categories I have brought with me.

Senator McALLISTER: Can I just clarify? They have been recommended but not yet approved?

Ms Black : No, not yet. They are just being assessed.

Senator McALLISTER: The senator's question was about programs that had been recommended by the agency but not yet approved.

Senator PERIS: Yes, that is the question I asked.

Senator WONG: Perhaps, in order to not put you in a difficult position, what is the quantum of applications currently before the minister with advice from the department? Is that a better way of expressing it?

Senator Scullion: Perhaps I can help with that. I would rarely have more than five ever, because I think it is really important that the minister's office does not hold it up. It is all pretty cumbersome as it is. I think I have considered two today. I do not think there are any after that. But there will no doubt be some coming up from the office. For the sense of completion, I also signed a brief today to take care of caretaker arrangements—the delegation to the department to go and make decisions over a period of time and some things around that.

Senator WONG: Who is the delegate? Would that be you, Mr Tongue?

Mr Tongue : Mr Eccles and I are the delegates.

Senator Scullion: Both of you.

Senator PERIS: How many applications has the minister approved since the beginning of the year?

Ms Black : Calendar year or financial year?

Senator PERIS: Calendar year, so since 1 January this year.

Ms Black : I do not have that with me. I am sorry.

Senator PERIS: Do you have it for the financial year?

Ms Black : I have it globally for you, which I have given. I do not have it broken down by financial year. We could do that quite quickly, though, for you.

Senator PERIS: Okay. Maybe this is a question for the minister. What about in the last four weeks? How many applications have been approved?

Senator Scullion: How many would I have approved?

Senator PERIS: You said that you have approved a couple in the last couple of days.

Senator Scullion: I do not have a recollection of how many the number would be. There is a regular flow amongst the briefs, though some are IASs and some are a whole range of other things. I can take that on notice, though.

Senator PERIS: That would be great—thank you. What is the process for releasing funding under the IAS during the caretaker period? I think you have given us some documents.

Senator Scullion: Perhaps you can explain in detail, Mr Tongue.

Senator WONG: Can I ask that it not be in too much detail.

CHAIR: Not too much detail.

Mr Tongue : The usual caretaker conventions apply. Because we cannot operate unless we have ministerial approval, anything that we have to hand that the minister has approved we are processing—so contracting that money. Under the caretaker arrangements, we are able to do that through the caretaker period.

The arrangements that we have put in place would enable us, subject to communication between the minister and the relevant shadow, to deal with anything that might come suddenly and unexpectedly during the caretaker: a community that runs out of food or a community where there is a particular problem. Between us, Mr Eccles and I hold the delegation, but we would need to work through a process with both sides of politics to make sure that you are happy that money was spent in the caretaker period. Other than that, the only authority we have to spend money is the authority that the minister has given us by signing away briefs that we are now processing.

Senator PERIS: How many applications have you received since the revised guidelines came into effect which I believe was on 21 March?

Ms Black : I think that would be the number I gave up before. So from 21 March, we have received 35 community-led applications and seven tailored assistance employment applications. Because we were required to assess applications right up until 21 March from the previous guidelines, and there were 68 demand-driven applications as well.

Senator PERIS: Have all the organisations who have been receiving funding that expires on 30 June 2016 finalised renewing funding agreements?

Ms Black : We are going through a process just now of talking with organisations whose funding is ceasing on 30 June.

Mr Tongue : Very quickly, if I could dive in. One small funding round that happens during the caretaker period is the NAIDOC funding round—small amounts of money for celebratory activities; a lot of small grants. We are processing that as quickly as we can and that is something that we may need to raise during the caretaker period. It is a very small amount of money—$1.6 million or so; lots of grants.

Senator SIEWERT: In regard to the employment process, the CDP process versus the new process announced in the budget—PaTH. Have you been involved in any discussions about how the new CDP process will interact with that process and whether Aboriginal young people in remote communities will be able to participate in that process?

Ms N Williams : The new package announced by the government, the youth jobs pathway program, does not apply in CDP regions. In that regard, it will not impact on remote jobseekers that are serviced by the CDP.

Senator SIEWERT: When was that decision taken?

Ms N Williams : As you are aware, the Community Development Program was introduced fairly recently—on 1 July. The arrangements under that program mean that jobseekers have access to many of the opportunities that are set out in the youth jobs PaTH package already.

Senator SIEWERT: Do employers get the $1,000 support? Do they get an extra $100?

Ms N Williams : Jobseekers do not, but employers do receive some support.

Senator SIEWERT: Aboriginal young people in remote communities do not get the additional $100 a week?

Ms N Williams : No, they do not.

Senator SIEWERT: And they are still required to work 25 hours under Work for the Dole?

Ms N Williams : Young people on activity-tested income support in remote areas are required to do 25 hours of mutual obligation. Those mutual obligations in remote areas are more flexible than under mainstream programs, so they can include Work for the Dole. They also generally include activities such as training, support for numeracy and literacy training, drug and alcohol support, drivers licence training as well as access to a whole range of community based activities that are more volunteer like in nature.

Senator SIEWERT: But they do not get the same access and support that their peers will get in other areas.

Ms N Williams : They certainly get more of the same types of supports that a person will get in mainstream.

Senator SIEWERT: They do not get paid an extra $100.

Ms N Williams : No, they do not get paid an extra $100, but they do get a broad range of support, an intensive level of support—

Senator SIEWERT: And they are required to work longer.

Ms N Williams : They are required to participate in up to 25 hours of activity like every other Australian.

Senator SIEWERT: That is not the same as Work for the Dole.

Mr Eccles : You need to look at the entire process around CDP, which I have spoken to you in some detail about, including the incentives for employers to take people from the stock into work.

Senator SIEWERT: Can you just remind me how much they get?

Mr Eccles : An employer who takes someone from CDP stands to benefit—

Ms N Williams : It is around $7,000.

Mr Eccles : Yes, $7,500, at a 26-week outcome.

Senator SIEWERT: That is not the training money though.

Ms N Williams : Training money is, essentially, encapsulated in providers' outcome fees. So providers are required to ensure that jobseekers receive a broad range of training, including vocational and non-vocational training as it relates to a potential job.

Senator SIEWERT: I have lots more there, but we are going to run out time. I have a question around suicide prevention money for the Kimberley, which I raised with the minister previously. I have provided some information to your office around the money that was announced in 2012, I think, which was specifically aimed at the Kimberley. There is some suggestion that that money was never spent and I am trying to find out whether that is accurate.

Mr Tongue : If I could clarify: is that the reference in today's media to $17.8 million?

Senator SIEWERT: Yes. This has been going around for some time. I have not seen today's media. The minister is aware that I have raised this previously.

Mr Matthews : That is funding through the Department of Health. It is something that would need to be progressed in detail. That announcement went through and then there was the national review around mental health and that then formed a part of the government's response. Out of that was the $85 million commitment for mental health for Indigenous Australians, which includes funding for suicide prevention. So the funding is embedded as part of the $85 million that flows out of the government's response to the mental health review.

Senator SIEWERT: Which $85 million? When was that commitment made? Sorry, I cannot remember.

Mr Matthews : That was made, I think, late last year as part of the government response to the—

Senator SIEWERT: I understand what you are saying. In other words, the money was never spent when it was committed in 2012, as far as you are aware.

Mr Matthews : For any more detail, you would probably need to pursue the Department of Health because it is in their portfolio. Our understanding is that the process is largely that there was a review around all of the mental health programs and there was the government response, and then there is the Indigenous-specific component and it rolls into that.

Senator SIEWERT: Okay. I find that outrageous. It is not your fault that that money was promised and never spent. It is no wonder that organisations in the Kimberley are up in arms.

Mr Matthews : There are things that have been put in place through PM&C. For example, we do have the critical response team that was specifically set-up in Western Australia to go into community post-suicide. So there are a number of things that the government is doing through the Kimberley.

Senator SIEWERT: We are very short of time, so I will not continue to argue the point, although I could.

Mr Matthews : I am not arguing the point, I am just saying that there are a number of things that are underway in the region around the issue generally.

Senator SIEWERT: And perhaps if the money had been spent in 2012 when it was promised, you would not need such a response right now.

Senator DODSON: We could be here all night obviously, but we are not going to be—

CHAIR: We can't.

Senator DODSON: I do pay respect to the other groups who are waiting to be called. Minister, I do have two quick questions in relation to the cut of $23.1 million out of the IBA that is going to the Prime Minister's department. I am intrigued by the rationale that surrounds this given that the IBA was set up to do exactly the sorts of matters the purpose for which this is being taken from them. Can you explain what the rationale is?

Senator Scullion: I can. First of all, I think some of the reporting on this has been unfortunate. So it is useful to be able to clarify some of that. The department can belt me and intervene if my figures are not exactly right. IBA indicated to the department that there seemed to be a challenge about whether they would be able to continue. They had discovered a technical constitutional inconsistency about whether they were able to provide this support to small business. The way it was resolved easily and quickly was to say, 'If that is the case, we'll just take out the appropriation and give it back to you with some sorts of arrangements around how you were to do it.' That is exactly what is happening. It is not remaining in IES. An identical amount of money is available to IBA to do exactly that, and we are in the process of turning it around. It is going to be used in exactly the same way as it was always intended to be used.

Senator DODSON: Are you intending then to rectify the legislation in order to deal with that anomaly?

Senator Scullion: It was easier to do it this way, to simply—

Senator DODSON: I understand that, but I am wondering whether your intention is to rectify that anomaly or whether you are going to sustain this in a systematic process?

Senator Scullion: The intention was that it be a one-off process—it is there, done and fixed. It was easier to do this way than through legislation. As you will come to appreciate, legislation is a very slow process, a very tiresome process. IBA and I thought this was the best way to go about it.

Senator DODSON: Fine, I do not want to progress it any further. PM&C are not known for—

Senator Scullion: Beneficiary to—

Senator DODSON: No, not necessarily that; for running programs, that is all.

Senator PERIS: I understand that Indigenous Community Volunteers have put a couple of applications in. Can you advise where things are at with them?

Mr Tongue : Indigenous Community Volunteers have put a few applications in. I will look to my colleague Ms Hefren-Webb to see where we are up to there.

Ms Hefren-Webb : Those applications are still under consideration.

Senator PERIS: What does that mean? What is the time frame that they can expect an answer?

Ms Hefren-Webb : We would try to respond to them as soon as possible.

Senator PERIS: Are you aware of the urgency around the situation? Like a lot of other organisations, they may have to close their doors on 30 June.

Ms Hefren-Webb : We are conscious of the set of circumstances around Indigenous Community Volunteers.

Senator PERIS: You cannot give me a time frame around when you will be able to advise?

Ms Hefren-Webb : As soon as possible.

Senator PERIS: One week? Two weeks?

Ms Hefren-Webb : I am not able to give you a time.

Senator PERIS: Anyone? Before 1 July? 30 June?

Ms Hefren-Webb : We are conscious of timing.

Senator WONG: Is this a decision that can or cannot be made during caretaker?

Ms Hefren-Webb : As Mr Tongue said, we would need authority from a minister to expand funds or subject to those caretaker arrangements.

Senator PERIS: In regard to the Remote School Attendance Strategy, can you provide the latest attendance data for schools within the remote school attendance data?

Mr Tongue : We certainly can.

Senator PERIS: If you have that, you could table that.

Mr James : Yes, I have the latest data. I can table that.

Senator PERIS: Thank you very much.

CHAIR: Thank you.


CHAIR: We will now move to the Office for Women. I welcome the Minister for Women, Senator Michaelia Cash, and officers from the Office for Women. Minister, do you or your officers wish to make any opening statement?

Senator Cash: No, proceed to questions.

CHAIR: Thank you.

Senator MOORE: Thank you to the Office for Women. I do apologise that we have drawn one of the late ones again. I have a lot of questions and I will go through them very quickly. In relation to the report on the recent UN Status of Women conference, we have had reports in the past. Is there a process to get a copy of this report?

Ms McSorley : Yes, there would be. I do not want to speak for the minister, but we are in the process of preparing that. The Ambassador for Women and Girls represented the minister this year. They were very strict on timing this year, so the Ambassador for Women and Girls needed to shorten the statement that we had prepared as she was delivering it, so it took a little while for us to check the draft against what was delivered. We are just going through that process.

Senator MOORE: Is it possible to get a copy of the original proposed presentation? Just to see what was there.

Ms McSorley : Absolutely.

Senator MOORE: There is no-one better than Natasha to be able to think on her feet. It is a really tough thing to do. I just want to clarify: should any questions about the new National plan for Violence against Women and Children go to DSS or to you?

Senator Cash: You could try asking it of us—

Senator MOORE: There is always this issue about how the two interact. I think a previous officer gave an answer to Senator Dodson around a bit of the process. Where are we at with the consultations and the development of the third plan, and when is it due to come in?

Ms Larkins : The third action plan is due to come into effect early in the next financial year. We are in the process of undertaking consultations with stakeholders at the minute; DSS is running those. They will continue to run through caretaker period.

Senator MOORE: And the funding for the third plan—where is that?

Ms Larkins : There has been funding set aside in the budget, but it has not yet been allocated. There is consultation with states and territories.

Senator MOORE: So $100 million has been set aside in last Tuesday's budget—

Ms Larkins : Correct.

Senator MOORE: in preparation for how you are going to flesh out the third plan. And we would be expecting that early in—is it July-August?

Ms Larkins : Yes, that is my expectation. It may be a bit later.

Ms McSorley : It might slip a little bit.

Senator Cash: It is just the election, obviously. It gets in the way.

Ms McSorley : The work is underway and is progressing at a pace. There have been some consultations already.

Senator MOORE: And the $100 million—that is the actual funding for that?

Ms McSorley : Correct.

Senator MOORE: In the PM&C budget papers on page 23, the Domestic and Family Violence: New Initiatives To Break the Cycle of Violence—that is not the new plan, is it? That is extra funding. I just want to clarify that, in the budget papers—and I know you will be able to do this for me—it is a combination of PM&C and DSS. On page 23 of the budget measures in PM&C it says against Domestic and Family Violence: New Initiatives that the series of $10 million is being taken away from PM&C, then when you look at the complementary budget papers for DSS on page 141, under the same initiativeDomestic and Family Violence: New Initiatives To Break the Cycle of Violence—there is $33.3 million for 2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19, and it reads that $33.3 million goes to DSS and $10 million comes out of PM&C, so that the total is $23.3. I am reading these things out, and I know I should hand you the DSS papers, but I cannot understand what that means.

Senator Cash: We have an official figures list—

Mr Matthews : Okay, so—

Senator MOORE: I know, and if anyone can do it, you can. I have heard you give explanations before, Mr Matthews. Tell me how that works.

Mr Matthews : Essentially, what you have in DSS's budget papers is the $100 million that references—that is the money that goes to DSS, so that's—

Senator MOORE: Is that the safety plan or the proposed new plan?

Mr Matthews : That forms the $100 million for the third action plan.

Senator MOORE: So that is the third action plan money?

Mr Matthews : Yes.

Senator MOORE: But the explanation does not give that in the paper.

Mr Matthews : No. So the $32.2 million comes from the Prime Minister and Cabinet from outcome 2.3 as a contribution towards the $100 million for the third action plan.

Senator MOORE: What is the $10 million?

Mr Matthews : If you look at the budget paper on page 23 you will see that, across the forward estimates, there is $10 million in 2017-18, $10 million in 2018-19 and $12.2 million in 2019-20; so that forms the $32.2 million contribution from PM&C towards the $100 million. That cross-references with the other.

Senator MOORE: It is a very difficult methodology of seeing it, and it possibly should explain that somewhere.

Mr Matthews : Yes, the budget papers often are a little tricky to read when there are things moving around.

Senator MOORE: They are often tricky; I absolutely share that. That makes it clear that that money is fine now. That is good. Where is the money for alliances in the budget papers? They are due to finish at June.

Ms McSorley : They have been given an extension for a further 12 months. The money for funding the alliances is in the appropriation for the Women's Leadership and Development Strategy.

Senator MOORE: It is part of the grants?

Ms McSorley : Yes.

Senator MOORE: And that will give the current five alliances—the augmented alliances, because of the multicultural augmentation—in the grants—and I have the latest round of WLDS grants here, because I was going to ask about those—

Ms McSorley : I thought you might, Senator.

Senator MOORE: I was going to ask about how they have been expended. Across the financials, there seems to be a slight decrease across the WLDS grants. I will give that to you; we are not going to work through that bit by bit tonight in the time we have.

Ms McSorley : That is just a terminating measure.

Senator MOORE: Yes. So the money is there, but we do not have anything committed; they have not come through the grants list since the last estimates. We do have indications of a number of things that will be spent: STEM, building the evidence-based gender indicators, the tool kit against business pregnancy discrimination, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Women Leaders in Sport, CSW Australian engagement and the 'stand together' event. Have they already come out of the 701,158 that has been expended? In the budget papers for 2016-17, it says against the grants that 701,158,000 has been spent.

Ms McSorley : Senator, what page are you referring to?

Senator MOORE: They were my own notes. I took them from the budget papers, so I did not know. It says that for 2016-17, 701,158 has been spent. I want to know whether that 701,158 includes those ones I have just read out.

Ms McSorley : Senator, you reeled off a list of names.

Senator MOORE: Yes, these are from all the website—

Ms McSorley : After we account for all of those, there is about half a million left.

Senator MOORE: I think they must be already in there, because these have not appeared in those grant allocation things yet.

Ms McSorley : The rules around that are that we need to provide notification of those formally through the various reporting mechanisms within two weeks of signing the agreement.

Senator MOORE: And that is before they come up on the grant list.

Ms McSorley : Yes, so they will come up then. We are still negotiating agreements.

Senator MOORE: So I take it that, with those ones on your website, you are in the midst of negotiating agreements with those.

Ms McSorley : The ones on the website that go on the list are the ones we are formally reporting because we have signed the agreements. For some of the ones you mentioned there, we are still negotiating agreements. Once they are signed, we will provide notification on the website.

Senator MOORE: And then the extension of the alliances for 12 months will go through. Before it pops up, that will come out in the grants. How much will that be for an extension of the alliances for 12 months?

Ms McSorley : Off the top of my head, one year's extension is $280,000 if I round it—$281,000, I think.

Senator MOORE: And that will come through well before it goes into caretaker.

Ms McSorley : We are discussing it with them now. They are already starting to have discussions about their work plans for the next 12 months.

Senator MOORE: Yes. In answer to a question on notice last time, you told me when the expectation for the work plan will be, so that will be right in the middle of the whole election process. I do not expect to see that on the website at that time. Was it KPMG that did a report on the grants?

Ms McSorley : Yes.

Senator MOORE: And you had it at the last estimates, Minister.

Senator Cash: I did not have it.

Senator MOORE: We had it. Has it been to you now, Minister?

Senator Cash: Recently, and I have to say I have not yet had an opportunity to have a very good look at it.

Senator MOORE: So you now have it. On my question about whether it will be made public, which I asked last time and the time before, it will be in due process?

Senator Cash: It will be, yes.

CHAIR: Senator Moore, Senator Lindgren had a question on DV.

Senator MOORE: Sure. Go ahead. That is fine.

CHAIR: We are pushed for time.

Senator LINDGREN: On the 'break the cycle of violence against women' campaign that was recently launched, by any chance do you have any preliminary statistical data on how the campaign is going?

Ms Larkins : I am not sure. If you will just give me a minute, I will see if I have anything with me on it.

Senator LINDGREN: Sure.

Ms Larkins : What data were you thinking of?

Senator LINDGREN: Basically any feedback from the campaign—is it working?

Ms McSorley : DSS are running that so we do get updates but I am not sure whether we have that in our pack with us. If you were to ask them, they would be able to give you hits on the website, the interaction and the feedback through social channels on all aspects of the campaign.

Senator MOORE: So we could get the details on what is in the campaign, the spend—we can get all that stuff from DSS?

Ms McSorley : Yes.

Senator MOORE: And I expect, Senator Lindgren, that would include the evaluation process—they would have that in place; they own that.

Ms McSorley : My apologies—I do have the data. They are reporting to us regularly on how it is going.

Senator LINDGREN: Can you give us the current staffing in the Office for Women?

Ms McSorley : The staffing as at 29 April is 26.59 full-time equivalents.

Senator MOORE: How many of those are on contract and how many are permanents?

Ms McSorley : I might have to take that on notice.

Senator MOORE: And are you expecting any changes?

Ms Larkins : We have not done our budget process for next year yet within PM&C, so it is too early to say.

Senator MOORE: Ms McSorley, what about your position? The last time we asked you you were on a contract. Are you on a continuing contract now?

Ms McSorley : I was on a temporary transfer.

Senator MOORE: What are the terms of the temporary transfer?

Ms Larkins : Ms McSorley is on temporary transfer from the Department of Employment.

Senator MOORE: Is that on term contract? Is it three months, 12 months, two years?

Ms Larkins : It was initially six months but it has been extended.

Senator MOORE: For another six months?

Ms Larkins : It has not been extended for another six months. We are still in the process of talking about that.

Senator MOORE: There are a couple of positions at that level in the department. I am not picking on your position alone, Ms McSorley, it is just as you are the director of the Office of Women I want to know the status in the process. Can we get the detail of the status of the other positions—whether they are permanently in the area—

Ms Larkins : You are really wanting to know permanency versus contract staff within the Office of Women, including Ms McSorley's position?

Senator MOORE: Absolutely, one of the reasons being the transfer between areas to see exactly how it operates. We do talk about the role the Office of Women has at budget. The minister knows that I have been in contact with her in her other hat about the Working Women's Centres and the budget, and the minister may well get a question on that tomorrow. Has the Office of Women had any communication about the role of Working Women's Centres and funding for them and how they work?

Ms McSorley : We see all the budget measures and we provide advice in the context of the budget, just as every other line area of PM&C does. I did it take a call from one of the directors of Working Women's Centres pressing the case about their concerns about their funding and subsequently I asked a question of the Department of Employment about what was going on with that.

Senator MOORE: So the process of engaging in such discussion was part of your role—you have had contact about Working Women's Centres?

Ms McSorley : They called me, as I say; obviously we have oversight of budget measures.

Senator DODSON: This may not be the appropriate question for the Office of Women, but I just want to know if there are any programs that are targeted at reducing the escalating rates of Indigenous women's incarceration.

Ms Larkins : I think it is probably a question we could take on notice and come back to you from our colleagues in PM&C. We do not have any visibility on that.

Senator DODSON: It is not a relevant question to—

Ms Larkins : It is the wrong part of the PM&C, but we will certainly take it on—

Senator DODSON: This is to do with women, isn't it?

Ms McSorley : Senator, you raise a really good question. I do not have any visibility of the programs but I am aware of the increasing rates of Indigenous women's incarceration. In terms of our role, as a policy area, that is certainly part of the thinking that we are doing where we are, if you like, at the centre of government and looking at policies and programs, and asking those questions. We would have to take the rest on notice in terms of detail.

Senator DODSON: I would be interested to know what the programs are. Thank you.

Senator MOORE: I have a two-part question: one, can we check in the women's leadership grants in the last couple of years whether there have been any applications on this issue of Indigenous women's incarceration? That seems to be the pot that people who have particular issues apply to about doing any work. I am just interested whether there has been any application on the issue of Indigenous women's incarceration. This is a link between this area and the next one, which is around the gender equity paper that was released last week gender equity in the Public Service. I am using that as a link, Chair, as we have got no more time for the Office of Women questions but I would like some answers from the Office of Women and the Public Service Commission on the policy paper that was released last week. Was the Office of Women involved with the development of that paper?

Ms McSorley : We were intimately involved from the germination of the idea through to the execution and delivery.

Senator MOORE: Did you work with the Public Service Commission on that?

Ms McSorley : Yes.

Senator MOORE: I will ask the Public Service Commission about what role they had, but the paper is a very interesting and valuable paper, I think. I will be interested to see how the two areas work together. Was it only the Office of Women and the Public Service Commission that worked on it?

Ms McSorley : You would have to ask the Public Service Commission of the detail of the process.

Senator MOORE: Because the Public Service commission has the—

CHAIR: Thank you, Senator Moore, for your cooperation. That concludes questioning for the Office of Women. Thank you, Minister. Thank you, officers, for your attendance.

Senator MOORE: Officers, I am not putting questions on notice tonight, because it is meaningless going into this process.

CHAIR: Senator Moore, you can put questions on notice and ask them to be resupplied. So if you put them now, even if the parliament is prorogued, you can—or whatever it is—request them to be resubmitted immediately afterwards but you will not be able to—

Senator MOORE: I was just going to put them on notice in the chamber when whatever happens happens.

CHAIR: They would not be estimates questions then.

Senator MOORE: No, they would just be questions on the issue.

CHAIR: Okay, whatever you would like.

Senator MOORE: Thank you so much.