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Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee
17/10/2016
Estimates
PARLIAMENTARY DEPARTMENTS
Parliamentary Service Commissioner

Parliamentary Service Commissioner

[11:11]

CHAIR: I welcome the Parliamentary Service Commissioner, the Hon. John Lloyd. Mr Lloyd, do you wish to make an opening statement?

Mr Lloyd : No, I do not.

Senator McALLISTER: The Clerk of the Senate has indicated that she intends to retire and generous things were said about her earlier today. Will you be playing a role in the selection and appointment of a new Clerk?

Mr Lloyd : No, I do not think so. I think it is a matter for the President and consultations with senators, as I recall.

The President: That is correct, Senator McAllister.

Senator McALLISTER: Have you been officially informed of the Clerk's retirement?

Mr Lloyd : No. I have read it in the media. I have not received any correspondence, as such.

The President: Senator McAllister, if I could clarify, there is no requirement for the Parliamentary Service Commissioner to be involved. The legislation is quite specific and places that responsibility with me.

Senator McALLISTER: Mr Lloyd, when were you appointed as the Parliamentary Service Commissioner?

Mr Lloyd : It would have been December 2014, the same day that I was appointed Australian Public Service Commissioner.

Senator McALLISTER: One of your functions, as I understand it, is to advise the Presiding Officers on the management, policies and practices of Parliamentary Services. How frequently have you provided advice to the Presiding Officers on those topics?

Mr Lloyd : As I say in my annual report, the provision of the advice is intermittent.

Senator McALLISTER: How frequently?

Mr Lloyd : I would have to take that on notice. It is not every week or every month; it is as an issue arises. When my advice is sought it is provided.

Senator McALLISTER: So your approach is to provide it when sought. How does this ordinarily come about? Is it a written request or is it something less formal?

Mr Lloyd : Sometimes they are written requests; sometimes it will be contact. Also, I think that there is a reasonable degree of liaison between the Public Service Commission and the staff of the parliament—for example, the parliamentary services department.

Senator McALLISTER: When did you last provide advice of this kind?

Mr Lloyd : I would have to think about that. I would have to take that on notice. I just cannot call up an instance straightaway.

Senator McALLISTER: You cannot recall the topic of the last time your advice was sought?

Mr Lloyd : One matter I was providing advice about was certainly the review that I conducted of the parliamentary services department. In that case I think my last advice would have been in August of this year.

Senator McALLISTER: August 2016.

Mr Lloyd : Yes.

Senator McALLISTER: But you cannot be certain that that was the last time you provided advice to the Presiding Officers.

Mr Lloyd : I would have to take it on notice, Senator. I do not want to give you wrong advice. That was certainly the one I recall. I would have to check whether there has been anything since then.

Senator McALLISTER: On notice, would it be possible to provide a list of the advices provided to the Presiding Officers during your time as Parliamentary Service Commissioner and the dates on which that advice was provided?

Mr Lloyd : Is that formal written advice you are asking for?

Senator McALLISTER: Yes.

Mr Lloyd : Yes.

Senator McALLISTER: I asked earlier how this function was exercised—whether it was formal or informal—and I think you indicated it was both. Do you have records of the informal advice that you provided?

Mr Lloyd : I do not know about records. I could not guarantee that. It is not that dissimilar to my functions as Public Service Commissioner. You know, you have a formal role which is exercised often in a formal way. To do it effectively you and your staff do often engage with agencies at different times—frequently, sometimes, when there is an issue; sometimes not as often. So it is a very similar role to the role I discharge with Public Service departments and agencies through my other position.

Senator McALLISTER: The keeping of records of how advice is provided in that other position is not standard either, then.

Mr Lloyd : Certainly, written advice is always on the record and retained. But I have 200 staff and they deal with 100 agencies.

Senator McALLISTER: In your other role.

Mr Lloyd : Now that advice and interaction in that other role takes various forms: phone contact, meetings or whatever.

Senator McALLISTER: In any case, going back to the question I asked you to provide on notice, you will provide a list of written advice that you have provided in your time as Parliamentary Service Commissioner. If you could give some consideration to what documentation is available to you regarding the informal advice you have provided in exercising that function, we would appreciate it. At the request of the presiding officers, you are also required to inquire into and report on other matters relating to the Parliamentary Service. How often have the presiding officers requested such a report since you became the Parliamentary Service Commissioner?

Mr Lloyd : I will take that on notice.

Senator McALLISTER: Can you tell us when you last made such a report?

Mr Lloyd : As I mentioned, I provided a report in regard to the review of the parliamentary services department in August. You said 'other matters'. I was not quite certain what you are looking at there.

Senator McALLISTER: I am really interested in the way that your functions, as set out in relation to your position, are being performed. One of your functions is to inquire into and report on other matters relating to the Parliamentary Service at the request of the presiding officers. I am asking: since you became the Parliamentary Service Commissioner how often have the Presiding Officers requested such a report?

Mr Lloyd : I will take it on notice.

Senator McALLISTER: In doing so, would you be able to provide a list of reports provided to the Presiding Officers during your time as Parliamentary Service Commissioner and the date on which those reports were provided?

Mr Lloyd : I think I can do that, Senator, yes.

Senator McALLISTER: Thank you very much. I have no further questions.

CHAIR: There being no further questions, I thank the Parliamentary Service Commissioner. We look forward to welcoming you back in your other capacity later today.

Mr Lloyd : Thank you, Senator.