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Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee
17/10/2016
Estimates
PRIME MINISTER AND CABINET PORTFOLIO
Australian Public Service Commission

Australian Public Service Commission

CHAIR: I welcome the Minister for Employment and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, Senator the Hon. Michaelia Cash. I welcome back the Hon. John Lloyd, Public Service Commissioner, and officers of the Australian Public Service Commission.

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

The committee has set 2 December 2016 as the date by which answers to questions on notice are to be returned. Officers called upon for the first time to answer a question should state their name and position for the Hansard record, and witnesses should speak clearly into the microphone. Minister, do you wish to make an opening statement?

Senator Cash: I do not, thank you, Chair.

CHAIR: Mr Lloyd, do you wish to make an opening statement?

Mr Lloyd : No, I do not, Chair.

Senator McALLISTER: Thank you for coming, Mr Lloyd. I note that there is a good-faith bargaining matter before the Fair Work Commission in relation to some of the agencies involved in the public sector bargaining process and that you have been asked by the commissioner, in your capacity as the Public Service Commissioner, to attend the conciliations. Is that correct?

Mr Lloyd : No, it is not. We have not been asked to attend the proceedings. We were advised, I think late last week, that proceedings would be commencing this week—I think there may even be a proceeding today; there were directions today on something—but we were not asked, requested or directed to attend.

Senator McALLISTER: Have you been advised of the conciliation process?

Mr Lloyd : Have we been advised about it? Yes.

Senator McALLISTER: Does that advice include an indication that you are able to participate in that process?

Mr Lloyd : It is some time since I saw the actual advice. It seemed to be just a regular advice that there are proceedings coming up, they involve these parties and we were being informed about it.

Senator McALLISTER: Is it your intention to take part?

Mr Lloyd : Not at this stage, no.

Senator McALLISTER: Does it not seem that it might be an opportunity to get a resolution to this matter, which has been ongoing for some time?

Mr Lloyd : In the scheme of our act, bargaining is certainly conducted by the agency itself, in accordance with government policy. That is where the responsibility rests, and I do not see any need for us in any way to be present at those proceedings.

Senator McALLISTER: Minister Cash, is that your view?

Senator Cash: My view relates to the CPSU's application as it pertains to me. You would be aware that the commission found that there was no requirement for the minister to attend these proceedings, on the basis that the minister is not a bargaining agent. The role of the government is to set the parameters within which or the policy under which bargaining occurs. Unfortunately this is yet another stunt by the CPSU, who continue to get in the way of public servants receiving pay rises. You would be aware that when Prime Minister Turnbull came into office we did review the bargaining framework and changes were made. For example, the pay offer went from 1.5 per cent per year for three years, or a variation of that, to two per cent. We also made some changes in relation to the removal of restrictive content. That is very much the role of the government and the minister. The Public Service Commissioner's role is to administer the government's policy and the bargaining framework. I will leave any further questions to him in relation to that.

Senator McALLISTER: Minister you acknowledge, I think, that the role of the government is to establish the policy settings—

Senator Cash: It is to set the framework.

Senator McALLISTER: in which the bargaining takes place, and the bargaining framework itself. That framework is obviously a matter of contention between the parties. Do you not think that it would be helpful for you to sit down with the CPSU and have the discussion about what the parameters of the framework are and what their concerns about that are?

Senator Cash: You would be aware that when I first came into office I did have a meeting with Nadine Flood, the head of the CPSU. Those discussions remain confidential. I think you would also acknowledge that as the incoming minister I did review the bargaining framework and make what I would say are positive changes. I would just note that since the election in July 2016, my understanding is—Commissioner, please correct me if I do not have the updated information—13 new agreements have been put up to vote and, to date, 12 have been successful. Certainly, that is an indication that the bargaining framework is working. A number of agencies, as you know, have already voted up the agreement. Given that 12 out of 13 new agreements put up to ballot since the election have been voted up, it would appear that among many members of the public service what the government has proposed is fair.

Senator McALLISTER: Mr Lloyd, you have started thinking about the bargaining policy for the next round of bargaining and you indicate that you are preparing that for March 2017 in your annual report.

Mr Lloyd : I do not think I have nominated March 2017. The next bargaining round will have to be considered in the coming year.

Senator McALLISTER: The annual report states:

We will develop a policy framework to support the next round of bargaining by March 2017.

Mr Lloyd : Which page are you quoting from?

Senator McALLISTER: Page 18.

Mr Lloyd : This is reporting on the outcomes of last year's corporate plan. It follows that some months out from when some of the current agreements might expire—some of the earlier agreements—you have to think about the next round of bargaining. That certainly will take place next year.

Senator McALLISTER: Have you started developing that policy framework?

Mr Lloyd : No.

Senator McALLISTER: When do you think you will start?

Mr Lloyd : I do not know. It would be next year. I think probably in the first half of next year. I want to give the government advice to consider from me as an appropriate and early time.

Senator McALLISTER: I am surprised you do not have a timetable for developing a bargaining framework if you imagine having it done by March 2017. It is now October. When will you initiate it?

Mr Lloyd : It will be done next year. I am not going to nominate a particular date, but I would say probably in the first half of next year.

Senator McALLISTER: The minister indicated that upon assuming office the present Prime Minister amended the bargaining framework, which indicates, I suppose, that the bargaining framework that was adopted initially produced suboptimal outcomes. Certainly, from where I sit it seems to have been an unnecessarily protracted period of bargaining during which people have had to go without pay conditions and it has produced significant uncertainty. What are the lessons that you think might be learned from this most recent round of bargaining?

Mr Lloyd : The bargaining is still ongoing, so I should be a bit cautious about what I say. My view is that I regret that more employees have not been able to vote up an agreement. It is unfortunate that some staff might have gone two years or more without an increase. That is a considerable amount of money which is lost—lost forever. Also, I think the CPSU particularly, as the main union, has been quite inflexible in its approach to bargaining. Also, at this stage it seems to be taking almost a deliberate approach to, if you like, frustrate and slow the bargaining process. That is regrettable when you are in a bargaining situation. As the minister mentioned, the government made a number of changes to try and facilitate the attainment of agreements, but the unions—except lately for a slight reduction in their headline figure—seem to be quite inflexible in the positions that they adopt.

Senator McALLISTER: Mr Lloyd, is there anything that you will do differently during the next round?

Mr Lloyd : It is too early to say. To me it has been an exercise which has, as you have mentioned, been protracted. But there has been nothing extraordinary about it, except for some of those issues that I mentioned. In any case, I will think about it and give advice to the government. But it is the government's call, obviously, as to what approach is taken in the next round.

Senator McALLISTER: You have identified some things that you wish the union had done differently. I am interested in your view about anything that you will recommend that government might do differently.

Mr Lloyd : I cannot think of any particular issue. I am not speaking for the government; I am administering the bargaining framework.

Senator McALLISTER: Right. Well, I am specifically talking about the bargaining framework and the exercise of your responsibilities. I do not expect you to provide gratuitous advice to the government, but you have some specific responsibilities in relation to bargaining. I do not think the last round has gone particularly well. You have identified things you think some parties ought to have done differently. I am asking you whether there is anything you think your office might have done differently and, consequently, things you would change for the next round as you start your thinking about that.

Mr Lloyd : No, nothing comes to mind. Minister Cash mentioned some of those changes. We did change the approval process to make it less regulatory in its approach—less protracted—and to get the approvals done faster by giving me the power to approve agreements as suitable and conforming with the policy, rather than that going through to ministers. That was one very welcome change.

Senator McALLISTER: As you are thinking about the bargaining policy and getting it ready for March 2017—

Mr Lloyd : No, it is not March. The bargaining policy is not for March 2017. I said we would think about advice to give the government in the first half of next year.

Senator Cash: Can I just clean that up for the record, just so it is not on Hansard that there is a set date of March 2017. Commissioner, perhaps you could just re-explain what that date was. It is not a hard deadline for advice to government.

Senator McALLISTER: I think that would be helpful.

Mr Lloyd : That was covering what was in the previous corporate plan of the APSC in the anticipation that we would have, hopefully, got through the bargaining process by about that time. That has not come to fruition; therefore, in the new corporate plan for the following one, no date like that is mentioned. In fact—I am just looking through the current corporate plan—we have not put a date towards developing a policy framework to support the next bargaining round.

Senator McALLISTER: Why haven't you put a date in? If a date was included in the last corporate plan, why is there no date for this corporate plan?

Mr Lloyd : Consider that when I did that corporate plan the bargaining was still quite fluid. As a said, obviously there will need to be a new bargaining framework developed and promulgated towards the end of next year. I just felt, as commissioner, that there was no merit in pinning down a particular date. As I have said to you now, it is a matter we will obviously be paying attention to in the first half of 2017, but I do not see any great reason or justification to warrant setting a particular month at this time.

Senator McALLISTER: Minister Cash, can you provide any further advice about your expectations for the next round and the timing?

Senator Cash: I would certainly agree with the Public Service Commissioner's analysis of the situation, and the government would expect advice in a timely fashion. At this stage, obviously, the government is focused on this round of bargaining, noting that there is still a considerable period of time before the next round commences.

Senator McALLISTER: You have no fixed date? You cannot give us any indication of when the next round will commence?

Senator Cash: As the commissioner said, it would be the first half of next year.

Senator McALLISTER: You will start preparations for that round?

Senator Cash: We will await the commissioner's advice in terms of bargaining.

Senator McALLISTER: So in the first half of next year you will expect to receive advice from the commissioner.

Senator Cash: Correct.

Senator McALLISTER: The step after that would be to initiate a bargaining process.

Senator Cash: No. For us it would obviously be to set the framework. Again, we are not involved in the bargaining process, as you are aware. The government sets the public sector bargaining policy framework and after that it is up to the responsible agencies to negotiate with their bargaining representatives—I could go on telling you what you already know—in terms of the actual agreements that get put up for ballot.

Senator McALLISTER: Can I ask you, Commissioner, about the Australian Public Service Commission directions 2016?

Mr Lloyd : Yes.

Senator McALLISTER: I understand that previously these directions included a requirement that selection processes remained free from discrimination, patronage and favouritism and that that requirement has been removed in the current directions. Is that true?

Mr Lloyd : Which part of the question are you actually referring to?

Senator McALLISTER: Perhaps I can ask it another way. Do the directions issued on 13 September 2016 include a requirement that selection processes remain free from discrimination, patronage and favouritism?

Ms Walsh : That requirement is a requirement in the act and remains in the act but it has been removed from the directions because one of the aims of the directions was to simplify them. We have removed duplication from them.

Senator McALLISTER: What is the current level of non-ongoing work in the APS?

Mr Lloyd : I think it is a figure of around about 12 per cent. That is the figure that I recollect. I am just looking up some of my figures. As at June 2016 it is slightly less than 12 per cent of the workforce.

Senator McALLISTER: What is the Australian Public Service Commission doing to minimise the level of insecure work in Commonwealth government employment?

Mr Lloyd : Insecure work is not that evident in the public sector, I must say. The Public Service Act acknowledges that the predominant method of engagement is ongoing employment. That is certainly the case in respect of 88 per cent of the workforce. The Public Service has very elaborate protections for people who are excess and by and large, compared to many areas of the private sector, is quite a stable workforce with, in my sense, quite a high degree of security of employment. I think that would be how it would be viewed by most people in Australia.

Senator McALLISTER: Am I to understand that you are content with the level of job security in the Australian Public Service?

Mr Lloyd : Yes, I am.

Senator McALLISTER: So it follows that you are not doing anything to reduce insecure work, because you do not think it is an issue?

Mr Lloyd : I do not think it is a major issue. It has not been brought to my attention in any serious way by agencies.

Senator McALLISTER: Has it been brought to your attention by anybody else?

Mr Lloyd : Not that I can recall, no. I cannot off the top of my head recall it being brought to my attention by any other submissions, no.

Senator McALLISTER: Out of interest, does it feature at all in the staff surveys? I know that you conduct regular surveys of staff.

Mr Lloyd : One thing I do recall from staff surveys is that people have a high degree of satisfaction with their employment conditions, and the inference from that I think is that they are by and large satisfied with it. Helen Bull is the appropriate general manager. She might have something to add about the census data.

Ms Bull : Yes, we have just completed this year's employee census. I do not have the figures off the top of my head, but generally, yes, slightly less than 70 per cent of staff say they are satisfied with their terms and conditions.

Senator McALLISTER: While we are on that, can I ask about a report in The Canberra Times on 5 October 2016 titled '96,000 public servants in new data breach'. Are you aware of the report?

Mr Lloyd : Yes.

Senator McALLISTER: Does the nature of this breach mean that the identification codes for departments and agencies could be used to identify individual public servants who filled in the census?

Ms Bull : Our concern was that there may be a possibility if people could identify what the identifiers were. We did not release that information; that was information that is held by us. But, as far as we are aware, nobody has done that, but we withdrew the data because we had some concerns that it may be possible in very limited circumstances.

Senator McALLISTER: When you say, 'As far as we aware, nobody has done that,' how would you know if they had?

Ms Bull : We have been in touch. When we withdrew the data, we spoke to all the census coordinators. In every agency, there is somebody who manages that information from the agency's perspective, and we have not been advised that anybody has come forward and indicated that there were any issues. We have not seen any reports of it in terms of people's individual data being used.

Senator McALLISTER: So it would be either by a complaint or—and I think this is unlikely—through some form of self-reporting process where somebody fessed up to having done it.

Ms Bull : Yes. We have a State of the service inbox throughout the whole of the census. That information is available to all employees and to agencies so that, if there are any concerns or questions about the information, they can contact us during the time of the census. We have fielded many queries from employees, staff and agencies' employees around how we were managing the data, so we would expect they would continue to use those mechanisms to raise any issues they had with us, and we have not had any queries or concerns about that.

Senator McALLISTER: There have been no complaints—okay. Do you know who accessed the dataset before it was withdrawn?

Ms Bull : No.

Senator McALLISTER: The article, I think, indicated that the dataset was downloaded nearly 60 times before the take-down.

Ms Bull : We are aware that there were 58 of what we might call hits on the website area that hosts our data. We cannot tell from that information whether there were downloads or what people may have done with the data or, indeed, necessarily any indication about who they were.

Senator McALLISTER: So we do not know who looked. Who is still able to review the material?

Ms Bull : Nobody. All data has been removed from data.gov.au, which is where we post it.

Senator McALLISTER: But internally people have access to the information?

Ms Bull : Internally we have always provided access to a different de-identified set of data to agencies through the portal. That would be staff in HR areas who have access to normal HR data.

Senator McALLISTER: So all HR staff across the Commonwealth Public Service?

Ms Bull : No, it would be staff in agencies that have particular authority to access information. Who can do that varies from agency to agency, so there are set people who can access that data.

Senator McALLISTER: Just out of interest, what is the statutory or policy basis for that authorisation? Where do I look to understand how that process of authorisation works?

Ms Bull : Sorry, in terms of agencies?

Senator McALLISTER: You referred to individuals within the Public Service, a subset of HR professionals, who are entitled to access data of this kind. I am asking you: what is the authorisation mechanism, from an administrative perspective, that allows that to take place?

Ms Bull : This is information about the staff they employ. Under the Privacy Act there is provision for access to personal information on the basis that you need to know it. These are employing areas of agencies that are able to access information—a whole range of information—about the staff they employ.

Senator McALLISTER: It is governed by the Privacy Act—that was actually my question. It was a genuine question.

Senator Cash: We will find more information for you and make sure we provide it on notice.

Senator McALLISTER: I understand there is a review taking place to examine the circumstances that led to this happening. Who is conducting the review?

Ms Bull : We are conducting it internally, and we have sought some advice from an outside organisation.

Senator McALLISTER: What is the name of that organisation?

Ms Bull : We have sought advice from Data61.

Senator McALLISTER: Was that by open tender or some other arrangement?

Ms Bull : No, that was a decision made because of their technical expertise in this area.

Senator McALLISTER: The procurement is so small as not to require a formal process?

Ms Bull : I need to take that on notice. That decision was made while I was on leave.

Senator McALLISTER: I think it would be helpful to know what the procurement process has been to get Data61 involved. Whatever that process involved, I would like to understand it—on notice. When do you expect that review to report?

Ms Bull : We are hoping for some further advice within the next two to three weeks.

Senator McALLISTER: That will be the final advice from that review?

Ms Bull : I am unable to answer that, because it will depend on what the advice is.

Senator McALLISTER: You have not set an end date? It is an open-ended investigation?

Ms Bull : We have sought to ensure that the data will be protected. We are still waiting for advice on the technical aspects of that. I cannot answer whether that advice will be the end of the review.

Senator McALLISTER: I asked you whether there was an end date for the review and I think you said no. For clarity, can you just confirm that this is an open-ended review at this stage?

Ms Bull : Our intention is to repost the data when we are sure that the data and the de-identification process meet the requirements of ensuring anonymity.

Senator SMITH: Mr Lloyd, I want to go back to some evidence you gave to Senator McAllister in relation to the CPSU bargaining arrangements. Please remind the committee how long the bargaining has been going on?

Mr Lloyd : It would have commenced in 2014.

Senator SMITH: You said that the bargaining had been going on for 2-plus years, so that aligns. I am keen for you to quantify what the cost of that has been for employees in the Public Service.

Mr Lloyd : Some of them have missed two years of salary increase. With some of these agreements which would have terminated in 2014, people might have had their last increase in 2013.

Senator SMITH: That is closer to three years, then?

Mr Lloyd : For some of them it could be, yes. For someone at the APS4 level, say, an employee whose colleagues voted up an enterprise agreement in July 2015, for example, would have been $2,100—roughly—better off by now. If you take it up to an Executive Level 1 officer, they are behind by $3,295. In addition, given those increases have been lost, the related augmentation of superannuation contributions by the employer has also been lost.

Senator SMITH: Can you quantify that superannuation loss for the APS4 and the Executive Level 1?

Mr Lloyd : The employer contribution is 15.4 per cent of the superannuation salary, which would be about at those levels; so 15.4 per cent of those. It is a few hundred dollars and, of course, interest builds and all that all the times.

Senator SMITH: In layman's terms, the failure to reach an agreement is, in fact, costing members of the Public Service. If you are an APS4, $2,100-plus because that does not include the augmentation for superannuation. If you are Executive Level 1, $3,295-plus because of the augmentation.

Mr Lloyd : Yes.

Senator SMITH: Correct me if I am wrong, I understand that the CPSU claim is for 12½ per cent without any productivity offsets—is that right?

Mr Lloyd : The claim is a bit hard to pin down. It has now come down to 2.5 to three per cent a year, but they also claim some back pay, I think, as part of their claim. It is difficult to estimate. But if you are going at three per cent in three years plus back pay, it is going to head north of 10 per cent, you would think.

Senator SMITH: Are we able to sort of put that in the context of what that might mean for job losses across the public sector? Where did I get the 12.5 per cent? Was that their original starting position?

Mr Lloyd : Yes. Their original starting position was four per cent, I think. It was the claim. So four per cent over three years. I have your other figure somewhere. You question was, I think—

Senator SMITH: I am just trying to quantify what that means for possible job losses across the—

Mr Lloyd : Yes. We estimate a one per cent increase is the equivalent of 1,400 APS positions.

Senator SMITH: Can you give us a more accurate figure on notice?

Mr Lloyd : Yes, certainly. The figure we have is 1,391.

Senator SMITH: That is the accurate figure?

Mr Lloyd : Yes.

Senator SMITH: I was interested in the minister's revelation that 13 new agreements had been struck and 12 had already been voted up. What factors do you attribute for what are very successful outcomes?

Mr Lloyd : I think the staff obviously wanted to get an increase. I think that before the election, the unions, particularly the CPSU, argued that, 'Hang on and don’t vote up an agreement because you might have a change of government and there will be a more generous pay offer if that eventuated.' Essentially, I think it is just that staff want to get their money. I think that is the main reason of most agreements.

Senator SMITH: Their tolerance for a delay in coming to a resolution was tested. They became intolerant at the fact that if you are APS4, you had lost $2,100 and if you were an Executive Level 1, you had lost $3,200.

Mr Lloyd : Yes.

Senator SMITH: So it was a growing impatience around the union strategy.

Mr Lloyd : Yes. That is my expectation. And in some of the agreements which were lost, the vote has been narrow, so there has been a significant number of staff in agencies wanting to get the agreement up. And, of course, the longer the impasse goes on and they do not get an agreement, then they are more likely able to say, 'We want our money.'

Senator SMITH: I was interested just briefly on the APS employment census. I thought I had seen a headlined figure of 76 per cent employee satisfaction. Are we saying it was closer to 70 per cent—not to be sneezed at; 70 per cent is high. I thought it was closer to 76 per cent.

Ms Bull : There are two questions asked in the APS employee census. One is, 'I am fairly remunerated.' The other one is, 'I am satisfied with non-monetary conditions.' The 76 per cent is on the non-monetary side and I think that just under 70 per cent was on the fairly remunerated. But I would need to take that information on notice.

Mr Lloyd : I have got some data here. On my figures, 75 per cent were satisfied with their non-monetary employment conditions. Interestingly, 66 per cent were satisfied with the stability and security of their current job, which I think answers a question Senator McAllister put earlier.

Senator SMITH: Excellent, thanks very much. I might have some more, but I know that Senator Kakoschke-Moore has some questions.

CHAIR: I think she has questions for the Office for Women.

Senator SMITH: Great. I might just—sorry, Senator McKenzie.

Senator McKENZIE: I just wanted to follow up on some questions around the employee living cost index and its relationship to wage growth. I think, Mr Lloyd, previously you have made some commentary around having to see wage offers in the context of the cost of living. Is that still your view?

Mr Lloyd : My word. I think it is relevant to most bargaining that is conducted.

Senator McKENZIE: How do the wage offers of two per cent per annum compare with inflation over the past 12 months?

Mr Lloyd : The living cost indicator is both the CPI and the employee LCI, which is 'employee living cost index'. Both increased by one per cent in the year to June 2016. The increase has been offered, which averaged two per cent per year over three years, and some of the agreements being offered are three per cent in the first year, and then two and one per cent. They compare quite well.

Senator McKENZIE: I would just like to refer to the ACTU wages report, the June 2012 edition, where there is a lot of commentary about the analytical living cost index being better than CPI for actually measuring purchasing power of employees' wages. Can you tell me what the increase in the employee living cost was over the last two years, and has Ms Flood been similarly quoting that report and the strength of that relationship in any conversations she has been having around the current discussions?

Mr Lloyd : I do not have the last two years data for the living cost index. I have the one-year figure. In the last quarter, it grew by 0.3 per cent. In the March quarter of this year, it did not have an increase at all.

Senator McKENZIE: So no increase?

Mr Lloyd : Zero.

Senator McKENZIE: Has Ms Flood been relying on that index at all in any of her discussions with you?

Mr Lloyd : I have not had discussions with her—very limited discussions. It has not come to my attention, no.

Senator McKENZIE: Okay. Have you got any data on the comparisons of wages growth between the public sector versus the private sector over the last 10 years?

Mr Lloyd : Again, we have some of that data. In the last 10 years to 2015, the median APS wage movement was 39.8 per cent. The wage price index in the private sector was 38.3 per cent, a similar figure. For the public sector, over the whole country, it was 41.3 per cent. In the same period—this is where you are heading—the CPI increased by 29.1 per cent, and the living cost index rose by 32.5 per cent.

Senator McKENZIE: Excellent. Thank you. Going to a question you answered for Senator Smith around the survey and 76 per cent of employees expressing satisfaction with their conditions as per the APS employment census, the recent claims by the CPSU that the bargaining policy is forcing agencies to strip away conditions and entitlements—are those claims accurate?

Mr Lloyd : No, they are not at all. There is no requirement to strip out conditions of employment. That is highly inaccurate. The union has complained about some strategies which are really about where they conflate excessive content in agreements, particularly about consultation, union representation rights, some approval requirements for the taking of leave and the process involved in that and how you deal with underperformance and the process involved in underperformance. But there is no stripping of conditions. We have informed the union and we have informed media that that is not the case. We have informed our own employers but still the union argues that point.

Senator McKENZIE: The government workplace bargaining policy retains those provisions which, I would suggest, would be quite generous by community standards.

Mr Lloyd : Yes, some of the provisions. We are well in advance, say, on leave like personal and carers leave—the APS is well in advance; and the National Employment Standards, which apply to a lot of people in the private sector. We have, for example, personal and carers leave of 15 or 18 days a year, with some going to 20 and 25 days a year. So they are quite generous. It is the thing that I am satisfied with; for the Public Service to have conditions which are of a good standard. I think public servants should recognise that. Of course, one where we do stand-out is the superannuation employer contribution of 15.4 per cent, which is markedly in advance of private sector employers which is 9.5 per cent.

Senator McKENZIE: By any measure, it seems quite generous. What do the healthy lifestyle payments contain? A number of agreements from 2011 contained healthy lifestyle payments.

Mr Lloyd : It is often where people are encouraged to get a gym membership and this sort of thing; to pay those sorts of costs, defray those costs. That is one of the purposes. We all should be healthy and monitoring our health. Some of those agreements do provide payments for those purposes.

Senator McKENZIE: So quite generous conditions have been obtained?

Mr Lloyd : Yes, they are.

Senator McALLISTER: A range of agencies have terminated the bargaining progress and have had to recommence because of the issue of non-compliant notices of employee representational rights. Is that a correct statement of the situation, just so we are starting from the same place?

Mr Lloyd : Yes, some did.

Senator McALLISTER: How many agencies issued these non-compliant notices and need to recommence the bargaining process?

Mr Lloyd : 25.

Senator McALLISTER: Right. Enormous amounts of time have been spent on, essentially, bargaining processes which could never have ended in a binding agreement because of this shortcoming. What is the estimated cost of that failed bargaining process?

Mr Lloyd : I do not have an estimated cost. My expectation is that most of the agencies would have quickly rectified the situation and recommenced bargaining. It is very unfortunate. It highlights some of the excessive regulation involved in the bargaining. The commission became aware that some agencies had not issued their notice in the correct form. There is a template in the Fair Work Act. Part of the difficulty—and this was back in 2015—was due to the fact that there was an outdated template on the Fair Work Commission website, which did not help the situation. We have given advice on a number of occasions to agencies to be careful about their notice to ensure it complies with the letter of the law. It is generally a one-page document.

And then I think that a number of people were taken by surprise at the latest decision, that if you did have a defective notice the correction of often a mere minor change was not sufficient—you had to stop and recommence the bargaining. In fact, I think the minority decision of the Fair Work Commission described it as a 'theatre of the absurd'. And I think a lot of people—employers and, I suspect, unions—would agree with that.

Senator McALLISTER: Is it your evidence that you did provide advice to departments—

Mr Lloyd : My word.

Senator McALLISTER: about the approach to issuing a notice of employer representational rights?

Mr Lloyd : Yes. Well, we have on a number of occasions provided general advice at the beginning of the bargaining process about being careful not to deviate from the notice. When we became, as I mentioned, potentially the noncomplying NERRs in late July or early August, we advised agencies in August 2015 that some of their notices might be defective. They were advised to rectify that. We checked the NERRs we had seen from agencies to ensure that they complied. Then, some agencies reissued theirs as a result.

So we have been careful, giving advice on a number of occasions to agencies to ensure that they complied.

Senator McALLISTER: Back in 2015—

Mr Lloyd : And once this decision came down recently from the full bench, we did all that again.

Senator McALLISTER: You mentioned earlier in your remarks that you consider there is excessive regulation in bargaining.

Mr Lloyd : Yes.

Senator McALLISTER: Is it your view that notifying employees of their representational rights is excessive?

Mr Lloyd : No, it is not. My point, though, is that, say if some of these deficiencies are that they have been put out on the wrong paper—they put it out on their agency paper rather than what it is meant to be on: the NERR, I do not know; they might have used the wrong name on the notice—those errors can be corrected, you would hope, in a very straightforward, quick manner. The impact of this decision is, though, that it really caused a whole hold-up to the bargaining, which I think is over the top.

Senator McALLISTER: I will ask you one final and quite separate question. Have you or the commission ever sought advice from the Solicitor-General?

Mr Lloyd : I do not think so. Off the top of my head, I do not think so. I cannot recall it. If you ask me a question I have a responsibility to make sure my answer is accurate, but my initial response is, 'No, I haven't.'

Senator McALLISTER: Okay, thank you.

Senator SMITH: I am just interested, in the last few moments, about some of the jurisdictional differences that might be at play. To start, can you just remind me of the limit that the Commonwealth sets on pay increases under the current public sector wages policy?

Mr Lloyd : An increase at an average of six per cent over three years.

Senator SMITH: An increased average of six per cent over three years. So just in turning to some of the jurisdictional issues: can you give us a sense of what state governments might be doing around wages policy for public sector employees?

Mr Lloyd : Yes. Most, like us, have a bargaining framework and bargaining parameters. Interestingly, South Australia and Western Australia have a maximum increase of 1.5 per cent per annum. New South Wales has 2.5 per cent; Victoria also has 2.5 per cent; Queensland has 2.5 per cent for public servants and three per cent for government corporations; Tasmania has two per cent; and then the two, smaller, territories have three per cent in the ACT, plus a sign-on bonus—

Senator SMITH: A sign-on bonus—do people still do that?

Mr Lloyd : Well, apparently, in the ACT. And the Northern Territory—

Senator SMITH: That might account for their success! Sorry—

Mr Lloyd : And in the Northern Territory, three per cent.

Senator SMITH: So, by comparison, the Commonwealth is upholding its end of the bargain.

Mr Lloyd : Yes.

Senator SMITH: I do not want to traverse over of the old territory, but could you just talk to us a bit more about those healthy lifestyle payments?

Senator Cash: Gym memberships.

Senator SMITH: Gym memberships. For the layman who is listening: how did they work, what agreements were they in and do they still exist?

Mr Lloyd : They still exist, I would think. I think in most of the agreements they have to be receipted, so it is not just a free payment for turning up to work. I think you have got to receipt the fact that you have paid up for a gym—whether you attend the gym or not, I suppose, is another thing. That is basically the system.

Senator SMITH: You have to demonstrate that you have joined a gym but not demonstrate that you have attended a gym?

Mr Lloyd : I do not know.

Senator SMITH: Hopefully, the results would be speaking for themselves as you were going to work every week!

Mr Lloyd : Yes. It would be a lot of regulation to check whether people actually turned up.

Senator SMITH: That would not distress some people in our parliament!

Senator McKENZIE: What about giving up smoking?

Mr Lloyd : Well, I do not think that would attract an allowance.

Mr Spaccavento : My recollection is that, in some of those agreements, quitting smoking programs would have been a reason to attract a healthy lifestyle payment.

Senator McKENZIE: Going through the program, but not—

Mr Spaccavento : I am not sure what we were checking.

Senator McKENZIE: How do we actually assess whether somebody gave up smoking?

Mr Spaccavento : I am not sure what systems agencies would have had in place to check.

Senator SMITH: You have whet my appetite. Healthy lifestyle payments: quit smoking, joining the gym—what else? Swimming lessons?

Mr Spaccavento : I am not sure about swimming lessons. Generally, it would depend on the agency. Agencies might well have had a policy to support these payments. It almost varied on an agency-by-agency basis as to what was available.

Senator McKENZIE: Was one agency more in favour than the others? Obviously, maybe, they put that in their agreement as a result of identifying that their employees needed to hit the treadmill.

Mr Spaccavento : Potentially. The agreement clauses are likely to have been different in each of the agencies that had it or that still do carry it forward now.

Senator SMITH: Excuse my ignorance, but in the contract there is a section that says 'healthy lifestyle payment' and you nominate or you tick a box? How does it work?

Mr Spaccavento : There would be a section described as healthy lifestyle payment or some words to that effect that would then outline the sum of the payment, how much that was, and possibly whether that needed to be backed by a provision of a receipt—something along those lines.

Senator SMITH: Can you give us an example? There must have been an agency or department that was particularly generous or particularly keen on people's healthy lifestyles.

Mr Spaccavento : Off the top of my head, I cannot.

Senator SMITH: I will put this in context. My father was a policeman for 35 years. And so, for some people in public sector jobs across the country, the idea of healthy lifestyle payment would be very, very enlightening. I am keen to understand—have you been in your role for a long time?

Mr Spaccavento : I have been in this particular role since March of this year.

Senator SMITH: Right. Is there anyone else that has been in the role around you that might be able to help us understand, with more detail, healthy lifestyle payments?

Mr Spaccavento : I have actually been involved in bargaining in the Commonwealth public sector for some time before that—this particular role.

Senator SMITH: Great. You sound like the right man. Can you pull out an agency that had generous healthy lifestyle payment arrangements?

Mr Spaccavento : I cannot think of one at the top of my head. I cannot recall any specific examples nor could I name any agencies at the moment that had them. I would need to take it on notice.

Senator McKENZIE: Could you?

Mr Spaccavento : Happy to do so.

Senator SMITH: How difficult would it be to provide an exhaustive list of what constituted a healthy lifestyle payment?

Mr Spaccavento : It would be information that we would be able to ascertain, I think, relatively easily.

Senator SMITH: Great. When did these become a feature of contracts in the public sector?

Mr Spaccavento : My recollection is that during the 2011-12 bargaining round, we started to see more and more healthy lifestyle payments. I cannot recall whether they were a feature of agreements before 2011; they may have been, but I think they came to our attention particularly in the 2011 round.

Senator SMITH: And was there some sort of public sector-wide policy framework that said, 'Encourage healthy lifestyle payments'?

Mr Spaccavento : No, not particularly. There was a bargaining framework that existed at the time, but it did not specifically encourage or discourage healthy lifestyle payments.

Senator McKENZIE: There is no data to inform that, somehow, the public sector had gotten incredibly unhealthy as a workplace?

Mr Spaccavento : Not that I am aware of.

Senator SMITH: Unproductive is not necessarily the same as unhealthy!

Senator McALLISTER: It is a HR strategy that is very common in the private sector, in fact.

Senator SMITH: I am keen to understand exactly how common it is across the Australian public sector, because I think that across the Australian private sector, you will find it is perhaps not all that common. You can provide us with an exhaustive list of healthy lifestyle payments, and details of the agencies and departments that had them.

Mr Spaccavento : Yes.

Senator SMITH: Just talk briefly about the compliance or policing of these. All that was necessary was to demonstrate a receipt of purchase of gym equipment or membership?

Mr Spaccavento : My understanding is the systems varied between agencies, and the evidence requirements would have varied between agencies. My recollection is that many agencies had a reimbursement type of system where you demonstrate the receipt for gym membership, or whatever it was you had taken up, and the payment was reimbursed on that basis.

Senator SMITH: I assume you could only join the gym once in a financial year?

Mr Spaccavento : I could not answer that level of detail. I do not have the agencies' policies. You would think, but I could not answer that in any detail.

Senator SMITH: In the brief interaction we have had, any other healthy lifestyle payments that have come to mind? We have had 'quit smoking', 'joining the gym'.

Mr Spaccavento : No other examples come to mind.

Senator SMITH: Buying a dog?

Mr Spaccavento : I am not sure buying a dog would have been covered. I have in the back of my mind possibly the purchase of fitness equipment could have been covered.

Senator McKENZIE: Sneakers?

Mr Spaccavento : Potentially, but without data in front of me, I could not answer that—

Senator McKENZIE: ASICS must love that one.

CHAIR: Thank you. Are there any further questions? In that case, I thank the Public Service Commissioner.

[17:41]

CHAIR: We will move now to the Office for Women. I welcome Senator Cash in her capacity as Minister for Women, and officers of the Office for Women within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Minister, do you have an opening statement?

Senator Cash: I do not. I am not sure if either of my advisers do. No, no opening statement—straight to questions.

Senator MOORE: Thank you. I always start by asking about the Office for Women staff. I do not know, because I have not been here this morning, whether you have passed around an organisation chart for the whole of the department.

Senator Cash: I do not believe so. Have we brought one with us, or can we take Senator Moore through the current staffing levels?

Ms McIntyre : I do not have an org chart available. I can tell you what the staffing levels are, if that assists.

Senator MOORE: That would be good. Give me the staffing levels, and then you could send me the org chart on notice. That would be fine.

Ms McIntyre : We can do that. Since July, the Office for Women has been elevated to a division in the department and, as such, now has myself as a First Assistant Secretary at the band 2 level. There are currently two band 1's in the Office for Women, a permanent band 1 officer, and a temporary officer who is assisting me to implement the review of the women's alliances. There are four EL2s, 12 EL1s and then there are about 12 APS staff, although they only make up seven full-time equivalents, because there are a number on part-time arrangements.

Senator MOORE: What is the total number at the moment?

Ms McIntyre : At the moment, there are 25.

Senator MOORE: How does that compare with this time last year? I know you were not there, Ms McIntyre.

Ms McIntyre : No, I was not there. This time last year, the women's safety task force was in existence. If you took the Office for Women and the women's safety task force, there were about 26 staff. The women's safety task force had a number of seconded employees from other departments. We are at a similar level, but we do not have that focus on the women's safety that we did at that time.

Senator MOORE: All those positions that you have named on the organisation chart, are they all filled at the moment?

Ms McIntyre : We have got some turnover. I would have to take that on notice.

Senator MOORE: Take that on notice, because one of the things I am trying to find is whether all the jobs are filled, and I am also trying to get some sense of turnover. I am doing that for two reasons: whether it is part of a standard turnover program within the department, which I know does operate; or whether it is people moving in and out for different reasons. I know it is probably both of those, but can you give me some idea, from your perspective as the new first assistant secretary, of your understanding of the stability of the staffing in employment terms?

Ms McIntyre : Maybe I will start with our budgets for 27 ASL. That is 27 full-time positions, which means if people are part-time we can afford a few more warm bodies, if you like. We are under that at the moment. We are currently advertising for a number of positions. I think our turnover is probably a little bit higher than the department's average, but my intention is that we would return it to what you would say would be a healthy level where we had some turnover.

Senator MOORE: Is there an expectation across PM&C around turnover? Is that something HR would be looking at in terms of staffing? When you said it is slightly over what is happening in the department, on what basis is that?

Ms McIntyre : I think turnover is different if you look at outcome 1 and outcome 2. HR is not here, so I do not have available what the average for the department is. But given that we have turned over a number of staff in the three months that I have been there, I would say that it is higher just on observation.

Ms Hatfield Dodds : There is certainly an expectation across the department that PM&C turnover probably is a little higher than the rest of the Australian Public Service because of its nature as a central department. The executive is quite deliberate about bringing people in from other departments. They get central department experience, they bring a lot of value, and they take value back out. I do not know what our turnover is across the whole department, but I think it would be higher than other departments for that reason. I also just want to note that I know that the elevation of the Office for Women to a stand-alone division is certainly a recognition by the government and Prime Minister and Cabinet of the importance of the women's agenda.

Senator MOORE: Within this space, I see that the process we have comes under the social policy area. On notice, I would like a wider one. But what we have got down to is the FAS level, and it has, as you said, next two assistant secretaries. We have got Ms Burmeister and Ms Livingston, and Ms Livingston has an asterisk beside her name. What does that mean?

Ms McIntyre : That means she is currently acting. She is not a substantive SES officer.

Senator MOORE: She is acting at the level and she is full time.

Ms McIntyre : That is correct.

Senator MOORE: Thank you very much for the briefing on the alliances—I should put that on record straight up; I should have said that earlier. It was very useful. I met Ms Burmeister. She is the officer who is taking on the ongoing responsibility of that process, and her position is part time.

Ms McIntyre : That is correct.

Senator MOORE: So, at this stage, Ms McIntyre, you actually have seen that there has been some turnover, but it is your hope, as part of your time in the position, to try to get that more stabilised. Is that right?

Ms McIntyre : That would be my intention, yes.

Senator MOORE: I am sure you are expecting this question. You mentioned that there have be advertisements for staff in your area in the recent past. There was a successful candidate transferred to PM&C from another APS agency recruited from outside into the Office for Women who has a particular salary range, which was identified as being between $96,266 and $105,362. But someone going into the social policy division would have had a salary range of between $101,404 and $115,572. Those advertisements did draw the attention of a number of people, particularly in the women's movement. Can you explain what that difference is and what the background of that is, particularly as the Office for Women is part of the social policy team?

Ms McIntyre : Maybe I can start with the latter question first, which is the history, because that helps to explain why there is a difference. In September 2013, the Office for Women was moved from what was then FaHCSIA into PM&C. At that time, a section 24(3) agreement held all of those positions against the FaHCSIA enterprise agreement. While we are still negotiating a new enterprise agreement for PM&C, any roles in the Office for Women which were transferred at that time remain on the FaHCSIA agreement. That said, the salary is not the only term or condition that will apply to officers. Officers under the FaHCSIA agreement have quite generous terms and conditions. These include more personal leave, more stand-down days, travel allowance, moving days and other terms and conditions which a number of staff consider very valuable. I think the whole package has to be taken into account.

Senator McKENZIE: What about healthy lifestyle measures?

Ms McIntyre : If you give me a moment, I could probably answer that question. I did not put it in my notes.

Senator McKENZIE: It has become topical.

Ms McIntyre : No, they do not have a health and wellbeing allowance.

CHAIR: You are saying that, if the enterprise bargaining agreement process were concluded, these employees would get a pay rise—because they would be moving onto a PM&C salary?

Senator Cash: That is one of the issues. It was a MoG change in 2013. Obviously enterprise bargaining commenced after that. Had they concluded the bargaining, that is exactly right—they would then be under PM&C as opposed to FaHCSIA. That is the outstanding issue. However, I think Ms McIntyre is right: you do need to look at the entire agreement as opposed to just the pay level.

Senator MOORE: The entire package, as you were saying, would be at different level. But some of those conditions you have identified as part of the FaHCSIA agreement are some of the things on the table to be removed from the EB. That is my understanding.

Ms McIntyre : I would leave that question to Corporate to answer.

Senator MOORE: My understanding is that some of the leave arrangements and so on are on the table.

Senator Cash: We will need to take that on notice.

Senator MOORE: Minister, could you please clarify for me: if there were an enterprise agreement concluded, would that mean that everybody in the new PM&C would be at the same level?

Senator Cash: I would defer to the deputy secretary for that.

Ms Hatfield Dodds : I believe that to be the case, but we should take that on notice.

Senator MOORE: Yes, take that on notice. You have one package for FaHCSIA including things and one package for PM&C including other things. If you bring them together, there are going to be ups and downs. I am pleased to see Ms Kelly has rushed to the table to explain to me why that is right.

Ms Kelly : There have been two proposals put to staff which have been rejected—very clearly in the vote. We are currently developing a new proposal, so we are consulting with staff. That new proposal is still the subject of discussions. My understanding of what was put previously is that that would occur—that everyone would move to the one scale, but that it would be over a number of years. It would not be immediate.

Senator MOORE: It is not quite as easy as saying, 'Enterprise agreement concluded; everybody is the same'.

Ms Kelly : There would certainly have been a pay rise for all staff under the proposals that have been rejected. But, in terms of everyone, at each classification level, being on the same level of pay—that was something that would have been achieved over time, over a number of years. I think it was two to three years.

Senator MOORE: I think that is the history with MoG changes. I really wanted to get that on record, because I know how distressed a number of people, particularly in the women's movement, were when they perceived that—

Senator Cash: I think one of the unfortunate things about the reporting was that they blamed it on a gender issue. As you know, that was just not the case.

Senator MOORE: That is the reason I am asking the questions.

Senator Cash: That perhaps did cause some angst that was unwarranted.

Senator MOORE: It is all part of the way the MoG changes go. I am going to put a number of questions on notice about conferences that have been attended, who went, who paid for things and so on. I have a couple of questions on the alliances, seeing we had the briefing. When we had the briefing, it was that there was work going to be done in consultation with the alliances after that. Can I get some feedback about whether those meetings occurred with the alliances, and where it goes now?

Ms McIntyre : As you know, we released the report last Thursday. I do not know whether we have spoken to any of the alliances since then, but the intention is Wednesday this week.

Senator MOORE: So it is Wednesday this week. They have had a chance now to see the report and now the Office for Women is going to meet with them. What is the time frame for the implementation of the changes?

Ms McIntyre : As you know, the alliances have got funding and those funding agreements go until 30 June. Our intention is that we will provide recommendations to the minister by the end of this calendar year. Those recommendations will look to implement all of the outcomes of the KPMG review and there will be a time frame then attached to that implementation plan. Given that we are still in consultation, I am unable to indicate what that might be.

Senator MOORE: Of course. So, Minister, there would be no indication changes in the MYEFO area?

Senator Cash: At this point in time there are no changes. I do not want to confirm it here and now, just in case something came up. But, certainly, in terms of a time frame we very much now want to hear from the alliances. As you know, we want to ensure that we bring everybody with us. So, certainly, the expectation at this stage, unless the Office for Women tells me otherwise, is that early next year we will sit down and look more formally at the implementation of the KPMG recommendations, which we have accepted, but also the feedback that we are receiving from the alliances.

Senator MOORE: So any funding decision would be in next year's budget?

Senator Cash: That is correct.

Ms McIntyre : We would not be recommending any changes to the current year funding and our intention would be that the alliances have got plenty of time and plenty of forewarning if there are any changes in future financial periods.

Senator MOORE: At this point in time, the alliances are looking at the end of their current contracts as of June next year, so anything that goes beyond that will have to be a budget decision. So it would be what happens beyond that period. We just do not know at this stage.

Ms McIntyre : The Women's Leadership and Development Strategy funding, which the alliances are funded under, continues beyond this financial year, so we do not need to go back to budget unless we are going to change the funding envelope.

Senator MOORE: My question remains. We have had this almost two-year process around looking at how the alliances operate. There has been a sense of change, whether it is going to happen or not. At this stage the alliances are confirmed with their money until the end of June next year. Until we have a public decision there is still a degree of uncertainty—no more than normal, but a degree of uncertainty. That would be my understanding.

Ms McIntyre : That is probably correct.

Senator Cash: In saying that, apart from obviously accepting the recommendations of the KPMG review and working with the alliances, at this point in time I do not see a lot of change occurring.

Senator MOORE: Subject your previous—

Senator Cash: Yes. But, certainly, I do not want the alliances to think that—we have been up-front with the KPMG review and we have given it to them quite deliberately, so they can now provide us with the information. And as you know there have been issues over the last year or so that we have been working through. Certainly, it is just settling all of those issues and looking at what they say.

Senator MOORE: I have direct questions about meetings, Minister, so it will be a combination of you and the office. Since becoming Minister for Women, how many times have you met with the national alliances?

Senator Cash: I would need to take that on notice.

Senator MOORE: I am aware of that. I am just putting the question out there.

Senator Cash: Do you mean formal meetings or informal meetings?

Senator MOORE: Both.

Senator Cash: I would need to take that on notice.

Senator MOORE: The interaction between—

Senator Cash: Including my staff, because sometimes if I am unable to my key adviser will meet with them quite deliberately in my absence?

Senator MOORE: I am really interested in you personally as a minister, but in terms of meetings with your officers I am happy to get that on notice and see how you work it through.

Senator Cash: Yes.

Senator MOORE: And how many meeting has the Minister for Women conducted with the alliances and other women's organisations in the last six months, which is a subset of the first one?

Senator Cash: Okay.

Senator MOORE: You have said that the first time the Office for Women will consult with the alliances after receiving the report will be Wednesday this week.

Ms McIntyre : That is correct.

Senator MOORE: Was the summary of the findings of the KPMG report prepared for the minister's office? Did you, Minister, get the draft report in total or did you get a summary from the Office for Women?

Ms McIntyre : I might have to take that on notice, because the report was delivered before I was in this role, so I do know what happened—

Senator Cash: And we had an election as well, so if we can take that on notice.

Senator MOORE: Can the department provide a copy of the summary of the report and the analysis prepared for internal use for the minister's office?

Senator Cash: We will take that on notice and see what we can do for you.

Senator MOORE: I have a question on BoardLinks. We saw a media release saying that there was a function at Kirribilli on 28 September looking at the new stage of the way the board process was going to operate. Can we get details—in this may well be on notice—on the cost of the function at Kirribilli House—the catering and from which allocation that catering or any costing around that function would occur?

Ms McIntyre : The cost of the function was $4,270.16, GST inclusive. I do not have a breakdown, but that was the full cost, which included catering and staff for the evening.

Senator MOORE: If we could have a breakdown that would be good—on notice.

Ms McIntyre : I have only a single invoice, but I will take that on notice and see what I can do.

Senator MOORE: When you say staffing, is that staff who worked on the catering?

Ms McIntyre : Official establishments within the department look after Kirribilli House and any function like this is invoiced to the minister who undertakes the function. So that invoice was produced for that event.

Senator MOORE: The way I read that is that that would cover the costing of the function Kirribilli House. So it would be catering, including staffing providing the catering.

Ms McIntyre : That is correct.

Senator MOORE: What funding allocation does that come out of?

Ms McIntyre : The Australian Institute of Company Directors was provided funding to host four functions this financial year, under the Women's Leadership and Development Strategy. This will actually be paid for out of that allocation.

Senator MOORE: So it actually does not come out as a separate allocation but it comes out as part of the ongoing funding for that particular program?

Ms McIntyre : That is correct.

Senator MOORE: Can you provide the run sheet and the invitation list? I believe was invitation only.

Ms McIntyre : Yes. I can do that on notice.

Senator MOORE: What is the process now for recruiting BoardLinks Champions, which was a new term that came out of that? What is the process for recruiting BoardLinks Champions, what are the criteria for recruitment and is this a voluntary position?

Ms McIntyre : BoardLinks Champions is not new. When BoardLinks was established in 2010, the BoardLinks Champions were established. I do have the criteria for them in my notes but I will have to come back to you with it.

Senator MOORE: If we could get something on that, because it seems to me from reading the media releases that there is a new process in place regarding personal recommendations from a government minister or departmental secretary. It was my understanding that that did not happen before. If you would provide some notes and a briefing that compares and contrasts, because there were comments made by Women On Boards, also, in a public way. As you may know, and certainly the department knows, Women On Boards has always had a high profile public position and also advisory position, and also as a member of an alliance, around the issues of women on boards. Their assessment, and certainly from my personal process, is that there just seems to be a slight change in the way it is operating. So if I get a briefing note on that.

Ms McIntyre : I have found the note.

Senator MOORE: So, what is the difference?

Ms McIntyre : In November 2015 the minister invited 29 senior industry leaders to become BoardLinks Champions. My understanding is that this occurred before BoardLinks was transferred into PM&C from the Department of Finance.

Senator MOORE: Minister, was this a new thing?

Senator Cash: No, there were already champions, and this was reinvigorating and getting further champions on board.

Senator MOORE: New champions?

Senator Cash: Yes, I think the majority of them were new champions.

Senator MOORE: So they were kind of ministerial appointments? Not appointments in the formal sense but the minister determined who those people would be?

Senator Cash: I would have to take that on notice to see whether or not I was provided with a brief from the Office for Women.

Ms McIntyre : That is what my notes say.

Senator Cash: As a: 'These are people we would recommend you have a look at.'

Senator MOORE: That was November 2015.

Ms McIntyre : Yes.

Senator McKENZIE: Ms McIntyre, in your briefing note you said that it was recommendations from the Office for Women to the minister that the minister then acted on.

Ms McIntyre : Yes. There were 29 people invited, of which 15 accepted the invitation and 14 declined.

Senator MOORE: For the 29, the initiation was from the Office for Women. On what basis? What are the criteria?

Ms McIntyre : I would have to take that on notice, because that is well before my appointment.

Senator MOORE: It would be good if we could get the criteria for it being offered to the minister—

Senator Cash: To become a BoardLinks Champion?

Senator MOORE: Yes. That would be good. Also, could we get some information about what criteria BoardLinks Champions use to assess suitability of candidates who contact them? So, if I wanted to be on a board and I contacted BoardLinks Champion, what kind of things do the BoardLinks Champions provide or question on that basis? There must be something on that, so if we could get a briefing note on it that would be good.

Ms McIntyre : I am happy to take that on notice.

Senator MOORE: Economic security and empowerment. Has the Office for Women sought economic modelling on workforce participation initiatives?

Ms Hatfield Dodds : I do not believe we have.

Ms McIntyre : My understanding is that the Department of Employment has, but the Office for Women as not commissioned any ourselves.

Senator MOORE: This comes back to a series of questions I have asked before about the role of the Office for Women, particularly around a couple of things—the G20 women's workforce participation target, which we talked about before, and also the role of the Office for Women in some of these particular policy areas. We have had extensive discussions—Ms Kelly must remember them with warmth—about the role of the Office for Women. Policies go through the Office for Women for consideration on their impact on women, but where does that go from there? From your understanding, particularly as a division, and from within the overall coverage of social policy, is there an active role for the Office for Women when you look at things like the G20 women's workforce participation target? Does the Office for Women get involved in working in that space?

Ms Hatfield Dodds : Yes there is. The Office for Women very much has a leadership role across the Australian Public Service, in terms of giving primacy to women's issues and women's policy and consideration of those issues. The office tries to work early with departments like the Department of Employment on these kind of issues to shape and influence and ensure that there is sufficient consideration being given to women's issues.

Senator MOORE: Has the Office for Women provided or sought advice on women's economic security, as it relates to public policy on superannuation and retirement incomes, including the superannuation reform package announced at budget?

Ms McIntyre : Yes. In terms of reform generally, the Office for Women has recently taken over responsibility from the Treasury for the response to the Senate inquiry 'A husband is not a retirement plan'.

Senator MOORE: That is the one that this committee did, I believe—

Ms McIntyre : That is correct. Given that that has been only in recent days, we are still responding to that. And, superannuation reform generally is the responsibility of Treasury, but we have received a briefing from Treasury in terms of the impacts on women.

Senator MOORE: Regarding the first part of what you said about taking on a role—

Ms McIntyre : Treasury have the lead and the Office for Women now has the lead.

Senator MOORE: The Office for Women now has the lead for the response on the super package?

Ms McIntyre : That is correct.

Senator MOORE: And taking the lead from the Office for Women, but working with Treasury?

Ms McIntyre : We will need to work with a number of agencies, because that sits across employment and Treasury and the Human Rights Commission, I think, because there are some changes to the Sex Discrimination Act recommended, as well.

Senator McALLISTER: Did you say that you have not seen any modelling in relation to the impact of the budget superannuation changes on women?

Ms McIntyre : I have not seen any modelling but I have had briefing.

Senator McALLISTER: So that briefing did not include any reference to modelling of any kind?

Ms McIntyre : I would have to take that on notice and go back to my notes.

Senator McALLISTER: What did the briefing made reference to? What was the briefing about?

Ms McIntyre : That was my first briefing on the superannuation changes, so it was really in relation to the reform package.

Senator McALLISTER: The budget reform package?

Ms McIntyre : The most recent reform package, yes.

Senator McALLISTER: Right. The amended reform package, post budget?

Ms McIntyre : Yes.

Senator McALLISTER: What are the benefits that were described for women in that briefing, arising from the package?

Ms McIntyre : I would have to take that on notice.

Senator Cash: Because Ms McIntyre is new to the role we might go back from there as well to see what briefings were given to the previous person in her role.

Senator McALLISTER: I would like to know what information you have received about the benefits for women arising from the government's package, or the impacts on women arising from the government's package. If there are previous briefings I am interested in those also, but I am specifically asking about the one that you have recently received, Ms McIntyre.

Ms McIntyre : Yes.

Senator MOORE: On the report this committee did about superannuation, when you say you are taking the lead, is that the lead with the government response to the report?

Ms McIntyre : We will coordinate the response.

Senator MOORE: That report came down—I forget the actual date—but that report was actually tabled. I know that six months is a bit of a joke in terms of—

Ms McIntyre : It was 29 April.

Senator MOORE: Have you been given any time frame for when that response will be made available? We have this laughable thing in the Senate called a six-month response to any reports, which, in my time, I think one has met. From April to September, allowing for the election, during which we could do nothing, do you have anything—end of the calendar year, or not at all?

Ms McIntyre : I do not, given that I am going to have to coordinate across a number of departments.

Senator MOORE: I just wanted to see if you have been given any indication of when that work had to be done by. I have a question about Working Womens Centres. I am wanting to know whether the Office for Women has received correspondence from Natasha Griggs, the former member for Solomon, and also the new member for Solomon around the issues of Working Women's Centres and whether there has been any discussion between the Office for Women and the Department of Employment about the role of Working Women's Centres, what they are doing and, as you would understand, concerns about their future.

Ms McIntyre : In relation to the first question, I have not received any formal correspondence, to my knowledge, from the Working Women's Centres. We did have a teleconference with them prior to the Fair Work Ombudsman releasing their grant guidelines—

Senator MOORE: Which was in the last month?

Ms McIntyre : Yes, in the last fortnight, I think.

Senator MOORE: So, you had a teleconference with whom?

Ms McIntyre : There were members of the Working Women's Centres. I do not have the full list of participants who were involved in that. More than one of the centres were represented.

Senator MOORE: Good. Can we get on notice with whom that teleconference was done? And Minister, your job in terms of Office for Women and also employment: is there any particular interaction—with your women's hat—with the policy decision—

Senator Cash: Yes, there is. We extended the funding for the Working Women's Centres—and I know you were very good in advocating for that—until 30 December. The funding, as you know, is actually administered through the Fair Work Ombudsman. The Fair Work Ombudsman are now going out for tendering, I think it was, going forward. And certainly in relation to the Northern Territory Working Women's Centre, my understanding is that the Fair Work Ombudsman was going to provide them with guidance as to how they should apply et cetera. So, they were fully informed on the application process. There was as much guidance as possible so they were able to put forward an application for the next round of funding.

Senator MOORE: And that was not done for Queensland or South Australia?

Senator Cash: I do not know. I would need to take that on notice for you. But certainly you are right: the Northern Territory were the ones who raised probably more queries than anyone else.

Senator MOORE: Thank you.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: I have two or three main lines of questioning. The first is in relation to the most recent Australian government's gender diversity report for 2015-16. That sets out progress towards meeting the government's targets of 50 per cent female participation across all government boards and 40 per cent at an individual board level. In the most recent report we have seen that 11 out of the 18 portfolios have met this target, but we have also seen a drop in the rates of representation of women on boards within seven boards, and there was a 1.4 per cent increase overall in female participation on boards. Noting these statistics, what steps does the Office for Women take in terms of receiving feedback from boards about barriers to greater participation for women? Who do you get that from, and what does that feedback look like?

Senator Cash: I will take that in the first instance, in terms of what I have done as the Minister for Women, and even prior to that as the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women. What we did was write out to all cabinet ministers, basically advising them of what the government's target is and in many instances advising them of the boards within their particular portfolio and when the expirations of their appointments were, so that they were aware of upcoming potential appointments and the fact that this was their percentage and what they needed to get to. So, we have certainly done that. In my own position as the Minister for Employment, you will have noticed that the employment portfolio has not met its target. The employment portfolio is a very good example of one of the issues in relation to government board appointments. In the employment portfolio, 46 out of the 53 positions on boards are actually nominated by external bodies, so the minister does not have discretion in relation to the appointments. They are statutory appointments that an external body puts forward and the minister basically has to sign off on that appointment.

One of the things I have started doing is writing to all the people who appoint to my boards, whether they are an employer body or a union body, and advising them of the government's target and particularly the new target—50 per cent overall, as of next year—and the fact that this is who they have put forward, how many women they have put forward and in many cases how many men they have put forward and asking them to consider the government's gender equality target in any nominations they put forward. It is sometimes a slow process, because board appointments do not come up sometimes for a number of years. But certainly from my perspective we are raising as much awareness as possible and making our expectations very, very clear. I have been able to nominate to one board, and that was a woman.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: I understand that under the current framework these boards are required to report back on the percentage.

Senator Cash: Yes.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: Are they required to report back on why they have not met the government's target?

Ms McIntyre : No. In the return that they provide to us it is simply the statistics.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: Anecdotally, in that case, what sort of feedback have you received about the practical barriers that women are facing or boards are facing to recruit more women into board positions?

Ms Hatfield Dodds : Anecdotally I have not heard from boards to date, but I have certainly heard from a range of women who either are on boards or would like to be on boards. I think there are a range of issues. A lot of it I think clusters around unconscious bias. It is very easy to say, if you are a board, that it is a bit too hard to find a woman. So part of what we are trying to do in this process, through BoardLinks and through other mechanisms, is develop different groups of women across the diversity of women's experience and background from the Australian community to demonstrate that there are many capable women, capable of being on many boards, and that there is a pool that you can easily choose from if you are a board.

Senator Cash: One of the other things we have done is partner with the AICD, because often the feedback you get is, 'I would like to be on a government board but I don't have the relevant experience.' So, we are working with the AICD and basically funding scholarships for women so they are able to undertake the AICD scholarship, whatever that might be, and then have that relevant experience so they can put their name forward and in particular for high-level boards. One of the other things we have done is transparency. You can basically go online and have a look at the statistics. As you have correctly articulated, the board report is published every year. One of the issues we confront, though, in relation to the transparency is that it does not actually acknowledge the external board appointments and who is appointing. So, it looks like government basically can make every appointment, which they cannot. So we have always advised external bodies that, as of next year, from 1 July 2017, the live data will also show who the nominating bodies and who they have nominated by way of gender.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: Will that include any information to be communicated to you about the steps they are taking to meet that target?

Senator Cash: I would need to take that on notice. Again, one of the things I am doing now is going through the process in Employment whereby if a male is put forward to me I will now take the step of writing back and asking them whether they considered females and would they please consider a female before they submit another appointment to me. In some cases they do. In other cases they write back and say, 'This is the most qualified candidate.' But certainly you are right: literally intervening in the many steps along the way is assisting in getting people to understand (a) the government's expectations and (b) the cultural change that is required.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: I have some further questions, but in the interests of time I will put them on notice.

Senator Cash: And we can give you a briefing as well, if you would like one.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: I would appreciate that. Thank you.

Senator Cash: We will organise that for you.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: I have just one final question in relation to the Gender balance on Australian government boards report. In the round of Senate estimates in October last year my colleague Senator Xenophon questioned the process involved in compiling the gender balance report. At the time, the acting assistant secretary of the Office for Women described it as a data collection process but also stated that the office plays a coordination role. Perhaps on notice, if we cannot do so right now, you could elaborate on what that coordination role involves—on notice?

Senator Cash: Yes, I would be more than happy to.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: I will move to my second line of questioning now, which is in relation to the Women's Safety Package. It appears from a series of media releases dated September 2015, November 2015 and April of this year that the Office for Women has a role in coordinating the Women's Safety Package. Can you describe what that coordination role is?

Ms McIntyre : The individual measures within the package are managed by the relevant line agencies. There is a number of agencies involved, including the Department of Social Services, Health, AGD and Education. Our role is overseeing those, monitoring and implementation. But certainly we are not the primary agency for the measures in the package.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: In terms of that oversight role, will you compile a report about the progress of the implementation of the measures?

Ms McIntyre : I do not have the detail on that, but in terms of the second action plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children there is an implementation report, which we would undertake on the third action plan.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: But not a broad report on the implementation of the whole package?

Senator Cash: There actually is. Because the action plan is done in conjunction with COAG, it is something that all women's ministers have a look at. I believe we are currently in the process of getting their final sign-off of the implementation plan. Certainly we can brief you on it, if you like, but also once it is released we will ensure that you get a copy of the plan to date. We can probably also find a copy of the first report, on the first plan, for you so you can see the actual process it has gone through.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: Thank you. I turn now to the issue of intervention orders for domestic violence, or domestic violence orders; they are known by a couple of different phrases. I can see that the Women's Safety Package has placed an emphasis on improving frontline support services, including providing more domestic violence training to police officers. Currently every state and territory has its own intervention order act or equivalent, with differing definitions and protections. Each order has to be reconfirmed if a woman moves or travels interstate, as they are protected only within the state of the order that they applied for. I understand, Minister, that in April last year you spoke on this issue and about a review of the framework. During that interview you noted that you were hoping to have some sort of unification of the framework in place by the end of 2016. What has been the progress of that?

Senator Cash: Thank you for raising that issue. I think everybody here would agree that certainly it was unacceptable that there was not a national scheme in relation to domestic violence orders. Certainly it was something that the sector had been asking for, for many, many years. Under the former Prime Minister, we took the issue of domestic violence to COAG and made it a national priority, and in making it a national priority we asked COAG to deliver on a number of action items. One of those action items was a national scheme for domestic violence orders. COAG agreed that they would implement this. An announcement was made that they would basically ensure that the requisite legislative changes were in place; each state would implement their own legislation to recognise other domestic violence orders. I will take it on notice and get back to you on exactly which states have done this. But certainly COAG agreed to it. Many of the states have delivered on it, but it is just a matter of getting to you the other states that are still working through the issue.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: Thank you. I understand that the funding for the Women's Safety Package was $100 million.

Senator Cash: Correct.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: Could I have a breakdown of the frontline support services that are receiving funding through the package, and in which states they are receiving them?

Senator Cash: Yes. We will get that for you in terms of the second action plan, which is obviously now coming to an end, and then looking forward into the third action plan.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: Also, could I get how much has been allocated to the eSafety website, which also contains information for women who may fear that they are victims of revenge porn and similar offences.

Senator Cash: Yes.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: That concludes my questions for now.

Senator Cash: We will get back to you.

CHAIR: I understand that Senator McKenzie had some questions but, in the interests of time, is going to put them on notice. Senator Moore, did you have any final questions?

Senator MOORE: When can we expect the third action plan? At the end of this year?

Senator Cash: I do not want to pre-empt an announcement—let me just confer on whether it is public—very shortly. Watch this space, Senator Moore. I think one of the issues was very similar to when we came into government in 2013: elections have a tendency to—

Senator MOORE: Sure—all over the place.

Senator Cash: And both action plans were thrown out. But it will be very, very shortly.

Senator MOORE: And in terms of the SDGs: I asked questions this morning of the whole department, and I know that the social policy area is taking the leadership, which is very valuable—having the Office for Women there. But I am particularly interested in what the role of the Office for Women will be in the SDG process, and I will put that on notice.

Proceedings suspended from 18 : 30 to 20 : 01

CHAIR: Welcome back, representatives of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and Senator Brandis. I will go to Senator Wong.

Senator WONG: Mr McKinnon, have you finished what you were going to give me in relation to the 12 April 2016 brief on the Secretary-General issue?

Mr McKinnon : Yes, I have.

Senator WONG: That is the only one?

Mr McKinnon : Yes, and after that we had absolutely no knowledge of any of the exchanges between Mr Rudd and the Prime Minister until we saw them in the newspaper.

Senator WONG: What about the call from Mr Turnbull to Prime Minister Key to essentially move away from the position that Prime Minister Abbott had negotiated? Was PM&C involved in that call?

Mr McKinnon : Sorry, I would have to check on that one separately. I did not; I focused on the direct exchanges between Mr Rudd and the Prime Minister. We have already answered that one in a FOI. We were not able to find any PM&C involvement in that telephone call.

Senator WONG: In that phone call?

Mr McKinnon : Yes.

Senator WONG: So there was no note taker?

Mr McKinnon : No, no nothing.

Senator WONG: Was PM&C aware of any lobbying of other governments in relation to Mr Rudd's candidacy by the foreign minister?

Mr McKinnon : I would have to take that one on notice. I certainly was not.

Senator WONG: For example, was PM&C aware of meetings Mr Rudd was having with the Australian mission to the UN? I assume they would include it in the cable back.

Mr McKinnon : I think I did see such a cable. I would also like to take that on notice.

Senator WONG: More than one?

Mr McKinnon : I really could not say with any confidence. I do think I recall reading a cable at some stage.

Senator WONG: Okay. And did the cable precede the government's announcement that Mr Rudd would not be nominated?

Mr McKinnon : I do not know, and I am not even sure I have the right recollection about the cable, so I really would like to check it.

Senator WONG: Is PM&C aware of the foreign minister authorising the Australian mission in the UN to take soundings from other missions about Mr Rudd's candidacy?

Mr McKinnon : I would like to take that on notice. As I said, after we had done the initial brief and had not received any further request for information or any response, we had no real—

Senator WONG: I am generally asking though.

Mr McKinnon : The point is that it was not an issue within PM&C. The general question I understand. We will check it. But we were not working on it.

Senator WONG: I am just trying to understand. We have two very different versions of events, and I am trying to be careful about the questions I ask you—just to ask questions about what you have actually done as opposed to giving you a political question. The assertion is that the foreign minister authorised the Australian mission at the UN to engage with Mr Rudd and to engage with other missions about this. I will obviously ask this question at DFAT estimates. But PM&C will generally be aware of those sorts of activities. I am trying to understand whether you were aware.

Mr McKinnon : I am not trying to be evasive, although that may be the actual—

Senator WONG: I did not actually call you evasive.

Mr McKinnon : I know.

Senator McKENZIE: It was a pre-emptive strike.

Senator WONG: I am just trying to understand why he is not able to answer.

Mr McKinnon : It might help a bit if I explain that each morning I get a cull of cables, because there are just so many. If we were not working on the issue, there is no particular reason—forgetting even how limited the classification might be been—why I would have seen it. So that is why I would like to check—to see whether the agency was aware.

Senator WONG: That batch of cables goes to the PM's office too, doesn't it?

Mr McKinnon : No, this is my batch.

Senator WONG: And you collate that batch—ministers' offices will receive a selection of cable information.

Mr McKinnon : I am not sure that the PMO does in that way anymore.

Senator WONG: So what do they get?

Mr McKinnon : This is my own cull. They have access to systems.

Senator WONG: They have access to the system. Does no-one say—because there is a lot—'These are the things you need to be aware of'? How is that triaging undertaken—or summarising or whatever?

Mr McKinnon : There are a range of products which are daily updates, such as ONA's daily intelligence update and others by other agencies. Then of course as issues arise they would be pointed to a cable or an issue if they had not already seen it themselves.

Senator WONG: By who?

Mr McKinnon : By whoever had the line responsibility and was looking at it.

Senator WONG: To your knowledge, were any cables outlining Mr Rudd's engagement with the UN mission or the UN mission's engagement with other missions something the PMO would have been aware of?

Mr McKinnon : That is an easier question. You are asking 'to my knowledge'; I have no knowledge that they were aware of it, no.

Senator WONG: Do you get copies of whatever they get? These products that you describe—do they usually have at the top 'Prime Minister et cetera, Deputy Secretary'—what are you now, Mr McKinnon?

Mr McKinnon : Deputy Secretary National Security is the current title. They are to a range of addressees.

Senator WONG: As a result of that, do you know whether these sorts of communications, which essentially advised that this lobbying was going on with the knowledge of the government, were made available to the PMO?

Mr McKinnon : In terms of being on the system, if they were addressed to the Prime Minister they would have been available. But the point is that there are hundreds of these things a day, so the cull is by interest. I, for example, have an interest in certain strategic areas, and my people will get out those things. It is not the same cull that the Prime Minister's office would have, by any means.

Senator WONG: I want to know which cables referencing Mr Rudd's candidature ahead of the announcement—when was the announcement that Mr Turnbull would not be supporting him made? Was it 28 July—the end of July?

Mr McKinnon : I think I have that with me. I will just have to check.

Senator WONG: It was 29 July 2016. What I would like to know is which communications—I do not need to know all the detail of them—including diplomatic communications and cables and suchlike were provided to the PMO that referenced the lobbying of other missions by the UN mission in respect of Mr Rudd's candidacy.

Mr McKinnon : I will take that on notice. I will just make the point that 'provided to' makes it sound like we collated a set and gave it—

Senator WONG: What verb would you like?

Mr McKinnon : Did they have access to, because that relates to the systems.

Senator WONG: Sure.

Mr McKinnon : With all of the wealth of information that is there.

Senator WONG: I appreciate your assistance. You can reconstruct the sentence to make grammatical sense.

Mr McKinnon : We will get that looked at.

Senator WONG: Do you have any knowledge of Mr Turnbull authorising Mr Rudd taking soundings from missions in the UN and visiting other nations to take soundings?

Mr McKinnon : I am sorry, Senator—I was slightly distracted. Could you repeat the question?

Senator WONG: What has been publicly reported is that in May Mr Turnbull, Mr Rudd and the foreign minister reached an agreement as to how Mr Rudd should proceed, and that one of the aspects of that was that Mr Rudd could engage with other missions and also in foreign capitals to take soundings in relation to a potential candidacy. Was any of that something that PM&C was aware of?

Mr McKinnon : We were aware of the candidacy. We were not involved in facilitating any meetings for Mr Rudd. We are not aware of the post in New York organising any meetings for Mr Rudd. Beyond that, we would have to check further.

Senator WONG: Can I ask how you were aware of the candidacy other than through public statements? Were you aware through any other mechanism?

Mr McKinnon : I think that may have been the cable that I alluded to, or reporting from our posts that the candidacy was on foot. But I would like to check that to make absolutely sure of how we knew.

Senator WONG: So you are checking on that, but my question is a little broader. How was PM&C aware of Mr Rudd's candidacy? In particular, was it by way of information other than as a result of public reporting? Did DFAT tell you? Did PMO tell you? What is the way in which you became aware?

Mr McKinnon : I will try and identify the earliest communication we had that had events detailed in it.

Senator WONG: The decision was made at a cabinet meeting on 28 July. We know that because that is what the Prime Minister said. I want to know whether there was a submission before cabinet on that day or evening? It might be a question for you.

Senator Brandis: We do not discuss what matters are on the cabinet business list.

Senator WONG: He already said that it was on the cabinet business list. I am asking whether it was an oral discussion or whether there was a written submission.

Senator Brandis: You asking about proceedings in cabinet.

Senator WONG: I am asking whether it was a written submission or an oral submission.

Senator Brandis: You are asking about proceedings in cabinet, and you should know, as you should remember from the days when you sat in cabinet, that that is not a matter that is publicly disclosed at estimates.

Senator WONG: Things have been asked and answered, but I am simply asking. If you do not want to say whether it was a written submission or not—the Prime Minister has already said it went cabinet, so I am not disclosing anything that might—

Senator Brandis: You have asked me, or through me these officers, about proceedings that you assert took place in cabinet. That is not something about which I will be providing information, nor should the officers.

Senator WONG: I cannot see how saying whether it was written or oral is a matter of huge import. If you do not wish to answer it that is a matter for you, but I just want to be clear—

Senator Brandis: It is not a question of not wishing to answer. It is a question of it not being proper practice for ministers or officials to discuss proceedings of cabinet.

Senator WONG: But the Prime Minister announced this as having gone to cabinet.

Senator Brandis: The Prime Minister is perfectly at liberty to announce outcomes.

Senator WONG: I refer to the article in The Australian on 5 August by Mr Kelly. I ask you to tell us if this is correct:

Post-election the issue went to cabinet last Thursday, July 28, on a submission from Ms Bishop. It was a highly professional submission that set out the case for Rudd.

Is that an accurate report, Attorney?

Senator Brandis: I refer to my earlier answer.

Mr McKinnon : I can now confirm, I think, that PM&C did not know for sure about Mr Rudd's candidacy until that letter of 4 April.

Senator WONG: Prior to that?

Mr McKinnon : We did not know until that time.

Senator WONG: Right, so you did not know prior to that.

Mr McKinnon : There were rumours, of course, but we had no knowledge of it until that time.

Senator WONG: So maybe we can narrow the scope of my previous questions to between 4 April and 29 July. Is that sensible?

Mr McKinnon : That is correct. That is logical. That is exactly right.

Senator WONG: Attorney-General, I assume then, when you publicly disclosed the position of ministers in relation to the cabinet discussion on foreign fighters legislation, you were bending the rule you have just outlined?

Senator Brandis: I think you are confusing yourself.

Senator WONG: Well, you publicly disclosed the positions of various ministers in a cabinet discussion on the foreign fighters legislation.

Senator Brandis: No, I was referring to a controversy which had been widely documented in both newspapers and books. I did not refer to proceedings in relation to cabinet—

Senator WONG: I think you did.

Senator Brandis: and by the way, if what you are pursuing is what I think you are pursuing, you have the wrong act.

Senator WONG: No, I am actually talking about something different. I am not talking about the Solicitor-General point; I am talking about public reporting where you referenced discussions ministers had in cabinet about foreign fighters, and I am asking whether you bent the rule you have just outlined.

Senator Brandis: No, and I have said nothing about the foreign fighters legislation at all, as a matter of fact, and I might say that I have known you too long to accept paraphrases from you. If you want to quote me in direct speech, I will verify the transcript, but otherwise I will not be accepting paraphrases from you, because I find they are too often inaccurate.

Senator WONG: I think you know a lot about inaccuracy, Attorney-General. Mr McKinnon, do you have any knowledge of whether or not Mr Hockey put a view to the Prime Minister or the PMO in relation to Mr Rudd's nomination?

Mr McKinnon : I have no knowledge of that issue.

Senator WONG: What about Mr Minchin?

Mr McKinnon : I have no knowledge of that issue.

Senator WONG: I want to ask this question in relation to a range of articles about what occurred in cabinet, including Mr Joyce's version, which was that the decision was made by majority. This was then subsequently refuted by other members of cabinet. Are you able to clear this up for us, Senator Brandis?

Senator Brandis: I do not know what you are talking about.

Senator WONG: Mr Joyce first said that the decision was made by a majority of cabinet—

Senator Brandis: What decision are you speaking about?

Senator WONG: The one we have been talking about for the last 20 minutes.

Senator Brandis: You are talking about the Rudd matter.

Senator WONG: Correct. So he said it was a decision by a majority of cabinet. That was subsequently contradicted. What is the truth?

Senator Brandis: Again, I am not going to accept paraphrases of Mr Joyce's words from you, and I will not be disclosing proceedings of cabinet.

Senator WONG: Was the Prime Minister's position the same as Ms Bishop's position on the candidature of Mr Rudd?

Senator Brandis: There is only one government position.

Senator WONG: It is the case, isn't it, that the foreign minister in fact supported Mr Rudd's Secretary-General bid?

Senator Brandis: You have heard me before—

Senator WONG: I am just putting it to you—

Senator Brandis: I will not be disclosing proceedings of cabinet. There is only one government position, and that is the decision announced by the Prime Minister.

Senator McKENZIE: Are you confident that a Labor Party cabinet would have had a majority vote for Rudd to be the candidate?

Senator WONG: If we were in government, you could ask me that.

Senator SMITH: Or guess it!

Senator WONG: Or guess it.

Senator WONG: Can I turn to the leak investigations. Mr Fox told me in May that there were two leak inquiries underway as at 5 May 2016. This is question on notice No. 4. How many are currently underway or on foot?

Ms Kelly : I might ask Mr Taloni to answer that question.

Mr Taloni : We understand there are currently no active investigations into cabinet leaks.

Senator WONG: So the two were resolved?

Mr Taloni : That is our understanding. That is the advice from the AFP.

Senator WONG: What were these two inquiries into?

Mr Taloni : From memory, it was previously into an Immigration issue and a Defence matter.

Senator WONG: A Defence matter?

Mr Taloni : That is correct.

Senator WONG: They are finalised. What was the outcome? No further action?

Mr Taloni : I am not aware of the outcome. I am not privy to the outcome.

Senator WONG: Who is?

Ms Kelly : The AFP. That would be a matter you could take up in the Attorney-General's estimates.

Senator WONG: Yes, but presumably they would tell you if there is going to be a further investigation or if the investigation has concluded. It does not just go to them and, whatever happens, PM&C never finds out.

Mr Taloni : Both of those were referred by other departments. They were not referred by PM&C. The outcomes of those have presumably gone back to those departments, as relevant.

Senator WONG: Before I move on to the next thing, there are no current investigations?

Mr Taloni : That is the advice the AFP provided.

Senator WONG: And no referrals by you to the AFP currently underway?

Mr Taloni : That is correct.

Senator WONG: I think I asked you, Ms Kelly, question No. 42 in relation to a tweet by the former defence minister about an NSC discussion. Can you tell me why there are no plans to investigate that matter?

Ms Kelly : I am just getting that question.

Senator WONG: It was No. 42.

Ms Kelly : As stated in the answer to the question, there are no plans to conduct an investigation into this issue.

Senator WONG: I asked why.

Ms Kelly : It is not considered that an investigation is warranted.

Senator WONG: So he referenced an NSC discussion but you think that is fine?

Ms Kelly : As I said, we do not propose to refer that for investigation.

Senator WONG: Who makes that decision?

Ms Kelly : Anyone can refer a matter for investigation to the AFP, but this department—

Senator WONG: Who made that decision? Sorry I interrupted you. Please finish.

Ms Kelly : The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet have not and will not be referring the matter.

Senator WONG: Who in PM&C made that decision?

Ms Kelly : I take responsibility for that decision.

Senator WONG: I am actually just trying to understand at which level somebody makes a decision that a reference to an NSC discussion does not require even a chat with the relevant now backbencher. Is it Dr Parkinson, is it you, or is it someone in your division?

Ms Kelly : It is me, after discussions with the head of the cabinet division, who at that time was Mr Fox.

Senator WONG: That is now you, Mr Taloni?

Mr Taloni : That is correct.

Senator WONG: But you were not involved in this? The decision not to take this further was not a decision you were involved in? Or was it a decision you were involved in?

Mr Taloni : I do not believe I was involved in that decision.

Ms Kelly : My recollection is that it was a matter I discussed with Mr Fox.

Senator WONG: We had a long discussion previously about the document that Mr Oakes had. What has happened with that?

Ms Kelly : That was the document in relation to the costings for the tobacco measure?

Senator WONG: Correct.

Ms Kelly : Dr Parkinson did conduct an inquiry into the release of that material. Was that the Treasury document or the Finance document?

Senator WONG: I just remember him holding up the cabinet document on television. I think Mr Fox and I had a long discussion.

Ms Kelly : I believe that was the Treasury document. Dr Parkinson made inquiries of the Secretary to the Treasury, Mr Fraser, about whether or not the document did emanate from the Treasury and, if so, what the circumstances of its release were. Mr Fraser was not able to provide any definitive advice in relation to the document, and Dr Parkinson concluded that he was not able to take any further action. He did write to Mr Burke, who raised that matter with him, in relation to a report back to him.

Senator WONG: Just returning, Attorney, to the point about cabinet. I think you are right. I think I referenced foreign fighters, but it looks as if it was the citizenship legislation. In an interview with Fran Kelly on 6 October 2016, you said:

What I’m saying to you, Fran, is: as you would recall, this was an issue of very significant political controversy in the late days of the Abbott Government. It was an issue, to be blunt, on which the cabinet was divided between, on the one hand, me and Mr Turnbull and Julie Bishop and others and, on the other hand, the then Prime Minister Mr Abbott and Mr Dutton, who was then the responsible minister, as to how extensive the power of executive detention should be and whether that power should be exercisable over dual citizens or people who are only Australian citizens …

This may, after all, be foreign fighters.

What I am asking is: why is it reasonable to tell Fran Kelly on 6 October about a cabinet discussion but also reasonable for you to refuse to answer questions tonight about a cabinet discussion?

Senator Brandis: Assuming you are quoting accurately from the transcript, it should be clear to you that I am not referring to a cabinet discussion; I am referring to the position of cabinet ministers.

Senator WONG: Very good! There is always a definitional argument.

Senator Brandis: I think words have a meaning.

Senator WONG: Right, so when you say—

Senator Brandis: It is a matter of notorious public fact that different cabinet members did have different views on that issue, as I explained.

Senator WONG: I would make two points. Your very interesting legal defence is that, when you say, 'It was an issue, to be blunt, on which the cabinet was divided between, on the one hand, me and Mr Turnbull and Julie Bishop and others, and on the other hand, the then Prime Minister' and so on, you are not actually referencing a cabinet discussion.

Senator Brandis: Not specifically, no. There were I think—

Senator WONG: Because that would be clear—

Senator Brandis: There were, I think, 22 members of that cabinet, and different members of that cabinet who had different views—

Senator WONG: And—

CHAIR: Senator Wong, please allow the Attorney to finish answering your question.

Senator WONG: I am very happy for him to answer questions.

Senator Brandis: Whether those differences came up during the course of a cabinet discussion is not something about which I am prepared to speak.

Senator WONG: I think you have told everybody in Australia about it, actually.

Senator Brandis: I think you have just disregarded what I explained to you.

Senator WONG: Do you think it is a 'notorious public fact' also that Ms Bishop did not agree with Mr Turnbull?

Senator Brandis: I do not know. I have not been asked that. I would not use that description, no. To be honest with you, Senator—I know you are a little obsessed with this—it is not an issue I have followed very closely or care a great deal about.

Senator WONG: Well, then, as Minister representing the Prime Minister, could you respond to this. I have referenced this earlier in questions—which I am happy to go back to, Attorney, if you were not interested. I think you and I had a discussion about Mr Turnbull's answer in April that the matter would be dealt with when it was a live matter. I think you and I had a conversation about 'live'.

Senator Brandis: Senator, I am sorry if you think I am a pedant, but I am not here to have a discussion with you. I am not here to have a conversation with you.

Senator WONG: I am about to ask you.

Senator Brandis: I am here to answer your proper questions.

Senator WONG: Okay. I am asking you as the Minister representing the Prime Minister. When Mr Turnbull was asked in the parliament on 2 May whether he would support the nomination of an Australian candidate for the UNSG, he responded:

In the event of this matter becoming a live one, certainly the cabinet will consider it and give it due attention.

At the time that the Prime Minister said that to the parliament, did he know that Mr Rudd had written to him in April formally requesting nomination?

Senator Brandis: I do not know. I would have to ask him.

Senator WONG: Well, please do. I am asking you to take that on notice, because it does seem somewhat odd that the Prime Minister would say that to the parliament when—

Senator Brandis: Senator, I have not—

Senator WONG: If I can finish my question—

Senator Brandis: I have not seen the letter to which you refer.

Senator WONG: Well, nor have I.

Senator Brandis: But my recollection—and, as I said a moment ago, it is not an issue that I have followed very closely or taken a great deal of interest in—is that, as late as the date to which you refer, Mr Rudd was emphatically assuring the Australian people, and indeed the world, that he was not a candidate.

Senator WONG: That is not the question I asked you.

Senator Brandis: I have taken the question on notice.

Senator WONG: I know that what people say to parliament appears to be something you have a very flexible view about, Attorney.

CHAIR: Senator Wong, please withdraw that.

Senator WONG: But I am asking you a very clear question.

CHAIR: Could you please withdraw that, Senator Wong.

Senator WONG: I will not withdraw that. He has a flexible view about what people say to parliament. I think that is a matter of record.

Senator Brandis: I actually have a very precise view about accuracy, Senator.

Senator WONG: People know what your view is.

CHAIR: Senator Wong, this is not assisting.

Senator Brandis: I have a very precise view about accuracy.

Senator WONG: Yes, I think everyone knows what you are like, Senator.

CHAIR: Senator Wong, could you please reconsider. I have asked you to consider withdrawing that.

Senator WONG: Which one are you asking me to withdraw?

CHAIR: The comment you made about the Attorney-General's—

Senator WONG: That he has a flexible view about what is said to the parliament?

CHAIR: Yes.

Senator WONG: Well, if it will assist you, Chair.

CHAIR: Great.

Senator WONG: I absolutely stand by it, but I will withdraw it.

CHAIR: That does not quite amount to a withdrawal.

Senator WONG: I just said I will withdraw it.

CHAIR: Thank you, Senator Wong.

Senator WONG: Thank you for taking it on notice, Attorney, but my point is this: the Prime Minister says, 'We'll talk about it when it's live,' but at the same point he has a letter from Mr Rudd requesting that he consider the nomination.

Senator Brandis: Well, (a) I have taken the question on notice.

Senator WONG: Can I just finish.

Senator Brandis: But (b) I have not seen that letter.

Senator McKENZIE: He has already taken it on notice.

Senator Brandis: There is absolutely no point in asking me a question about a letter with which I am unfamiliar.

Senator WONG: Is it a misleading of the parliament?

Senator Brandis: I have taken the question on notice.

Senator WONG: Thank you.

Senator Brandis: And I am not familiar with the letter, nor do I accept your paraphrase of documents, Senator, because I find it too often imperfect.

Senator WONG: Are you going to ask him to withdraw?

Senator Brandis: Imperfect.

CHAIR: I think they were materially different observations.

Senator WONG: All right, I will say his view about what is said to the parliament is often imperfect, and I think the public record shows that. Chair, how about that? Are we all happy with that?

CHAIR: If you feel it is necessary, Senator Wong.

Senator WONG: Okay. Can I also go back to the questions I was asking earlier today about additional staff. I just want to get a bit of time line here. Who is this to? Is this to you, Ms Kelly?

Ms Kelly : Yes, and Mr Rush will assist me.

Senator WONG: Thank you. This is the additional staff to the crossbenchers. Mr Rush, I took a note when you answered me, and I may not have got it down in detail. Your general advice—I think you described it as that. Is that a reasonable description—the general advice about crossbench allocations et cetera?

Mr Rush : I think I described it as advice about past practice and process.

Senator WONG: Thank you. Can you give me the date of that.

Mr Rush : I do not know the date. I do not have that date with me.

Senator WONG: Was it whilst the government was in caretaker?

Mr Rush : No.

Senator WONG: Was it after the election?

Mr Rush : It was after the election and after the end of the caretaker period.

Senator WONG: So there was a hiatus period, as it were, where there was still counting proceeding and so forth.

Mr Rush : That is right.

Senator WONG: Was it during that period or after the government had been sworn in?

Ms Kelly : It was just after the end of the caretaker period.

Mr Rush : It was certainly after the end of the caretaker period. Whether it was before or after the swearing in, I would have to take that on notice.

Senator WONG: Was it prepared at the request of the PMO?

Mr Rush : I believe so, but I would need to check that.

Senator WONG: During this period we know, obviously, the Prime Minister is talking to Ms McGowan and Mr Katter, because that is on the public record. Were you aware as to whether or not this advice was sought in relation to those discussions?

Mr Rush : No, I am not aware.

Senator WONG: Was the issue of staffing raised in those discussions, when Mr Turnbull was talking to the crossbench about supply and confidence?

Mr Rush : I am not aware of the discussion. I was not privy to those discussions.

Senator WONG: Was there any public servant involved in those discussions?

Ms Kelly : Not that I am aware of.

Senator WONG: Was the Prime Minister's chief of staff involved?

Ms Kelly : I cannot assist, but I am happy to take it on the notice.

Senator WONG: I assume you cannot assist, Attorney.

Senator Brandis: No.

Senator WONG: Thank you.

Senator McALLISTER: There was a newspaper article in The Daily Telegraph prior to 17 July, indicating that a party was to be held at the Lodge on 17 July. Can you confirm that that party went ahead?

Ms Kelly : I will have to get Ms Ganly to assist me as to whether or not we have any knowledge or information about that. Do you have any more information about the nature of the function?

Senator McALLISTER: The newspaper article indicated:

PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull will throw open the doors of the Lodge in Canberra tonight inviting every—

coalition—

MP and senator for champagne and canapes to celebrate his government's near-death election experience.

Ms Ganly : I can advise that there was a function at the Lodge on that evening, but it was not official. It came under official establishments, but it was not one for which we ran the guest list or made arrangements. It was all done through the staff at the Lodge.

Ms Kelly : So it was not a CERHOS event. It was done as part of the Prime Minister's entitlement to use the Lodge as his home while he is in Canberra.

Senator McALLISTER: Right, so you will be unable to tell me about the guest list, then. Is that correct? You do not have a copy of that?

Ms Ganly : No, we were not in charge of the guest list and we do not obtain copies of the guest list for those functions.

Senator McALLISTER: I am certain all the other senators in the room know the answer to this question, but what is the nature of the entitlement? Who does pay for a party of that kind?

Senator WONG: I have to say I always forget this. There is a distinction between a CERHOS event and—are you able to remind us of that?

Ms Ganly : Yes. Essentially, CERHOS events are ones that we refer to as official functions. They are functions that are covered from the administered funds for state events and occasions. For example, when the Singapore Prime Minister was here last week, the events were hosted and organised by CERHOS. The menus and the guest list were arranged through them, so the whole event is run through CERHOS.

Senator WONG: And the budget appropriation is to PM&C?

Ms Ganly : Yes. It is administered funds.

Senator WONG: Non-CERHOS hospitality is appropriated through where?

Ms Ganly : Again, there are administered funds for the official establishments, essentially for sustenance, that are used. There are generally arrangements. How this is conducted with the sustenance is not black and white, but if it is a reasonable-sized function, if it is not party political, if it is not fundraising and it is of moderate size, then it is covered under sustenance. Large functions, party political and large private events would not be covered in those arrangements.

Senator WONG: The $2 million per annum, which is budgeted under outcome 1, program 1.1, is sustenance within that line item?

Ms Ganly : I have to have a look at that.

Senator WONG: I think it is page 25 of the PBS. This is the Prime Minister's official residences—just under $2 million a year?

Ms Ganly : Yes, that would be correct. That would cover staffing costs, all the utilities and other costs associated with running official establishments. That is both Kirribilli House and The Lodge.

Senator McALLISTER: You mentioned that a party political function would not ordinarily be contemplated within—

Ms Ganly : If you were doing something to essentially raise money for the party—if it is a cabinet event, if it something to do with parliament, then it is normally covered. If they are large party-specific events, we do not normally cover them.

Senator McALLISTER: And events that involve fundraising?

Ms Ganly : Yes.

Senator McALLISTER: Do you consider that a party such as the one that it appears took place on the 17th, that only involved coalition members and senators, is within the guidelines?

Ms Ganly : Yes. It was not a large function outside the norm.

Senator WONG: The 'guidelines for use of official establishments'—is that what it is still called or is there something else?

Ms Ganly : It is the guidelines.

Senator WONG: Prime Minister Howard had to issue them after the fundraiser at The Lodge, I think. Have they been changed over the last years?

Ms Ganly : There have not been any changes in them recently. I would have to take on notice the question of when they were last updated. They are tweaked occasionally—but no major changes. And it is not black and white. It specifies what cannot be done but there is flexibility with what can be done.

Senator McALLISTER: This particular party, though, would have come out of the budget amount for the Prime Minister's official residences?

Ms Ganly : I believe so. I will take that on notice and confirm it, but I believe it was. I am just aware that the event took place—media reports and also because I am aware that this staff at The Lodge were engaged in it.

Senator McALLISTER: Who is the decision-maker about whether or not the event ought to be accommodated within that sustenance?

Ms Ganly : We see essentially that events are going on at The Lodge or Kirribilli House. To me, I will do approval, or Ms Kelly. So we will authorise events outside, but within the official establishments, and the running of The Lodge and Kirribilli House, the PMO would essentially come to us if they had any concerns that the function fell outside the criteria that we provided to them.

Senator McALLISTER: So you would not intervene—

Ms Ganly : Not on a day-to-day basis—

Senator McALLISTER: unless the PMO sought advice about whether what they proposed was within the guidelines.

Ms Ganly : Or if something came to our attention we would discuss it with them to confirm that it fell within the criteria—

Senator McALLISTER: So you might proactively make investigations.

Ms Ganly : Yes.

Senator McALLISTER: Did you on this occasion?

Ms Ganly : No, we did not, because the size of the function, the budget, was not an exceptional one. It was, as we understood, with cabinet ministers.

Senator McALLISTER: How would you know the size of the function for the budget for the function?

Ms Ganly : This was simply because the staff at the Lodge would let us know if they needed to recruit additional chefs or other staff to assist, and that was not required.

Senator WONG: On how many occasions have chefs or other staff been required?

Ms Ganly : It's for very large functions. The last time we recruited additional chefs for a larger function was back in February, when there was a function at the Lodge when parliament resumed and both sides of politics were invited to a family event at the Lodge.

Senator SMITH: Every parliamentarian was invited.

Ms Ganly : Yes, every parliamentarian was invited. But we do not have a full-time chef at the Lodge at the moment—we bring in casual staff, so I am aware when additional staff are needed.

Senator McALLISTER: I am a little bit confused about the trigger for you paying attention to whether or not to provide advice. I think you indicated that you became aware of it through media reports. Is that correct?

Ms Ganly : I think it was through the same thing that you quoted before.

Senator McALLISTER: Through media reports?

Ms Ganly : That is right. That is my recollection. I would not put hand on heart—I may have heard that something was going on through the staff.

Senator McALLISTER: Right. And then that, combined with the fact that you had not received an approach for additional resources for the function, led you to believe that it was a scale that was appropriate for the sustenance—

Ms Ganly : Yes.

Ms Kelly : Senator McAllister, if I could assist: the staff at the Lodge are very experienced and very familiar with what is appropriate and what is not. If they had any concerns they would always raise them. That would be our experience.

Senator McALLISTER: So concerns could be raised by the Prime Minister's Office or by the staff, or you might initiate them independently?

Ms Ganly : Yes.

Senator SMITH: Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd did not think it necessary to reveal the list of celebrities that he had hosted at Kirribilli, which cost the taxpayer $43,000. I am just looking at a newspaper report from 27 July 2008.

Senator McALLISTER: Is this a question?

Senator WONG: 2008!

Senator McKENZIE: It is about context.

Senator SMITH: I think it is remarkable not that Mr Turnbull invited his colleagues but that previous colleagues like Prime Minister Gillard had not invited their colleagues. That is the really interesting story, I think.

Senator McKENZIE: I think we know the answer to that—you could not have them all in the same room!

Senator McALLISTER: I thought I would bring questions back to the budget papers. That line item for the Prime Minister's official residences in the budget papers shows a fairly steady increase across the forward estimates. Can you explain what the main drivers are for the increasing costs of running the Prime Minister's official residences?

Ms Kelly : I might ask Ms Tressler, our new Chief Financial Officer, to explain that to us.

Ms Tressler : The increase in that line item is due to indexation.

Senator WONG: There is no efficiency dividend?

Ms Tressler : It is just an indexation amount.

Senator McALLISTER: Does that line item reflect all of the costs of running the official residence?

Ms Tressler : Sorry, I am not sure.

Senator McALLISTER: I think it might be that the Department of Finance covers some of those costs. I just wanted to check. By the end of the forward estimates we are heading up to nearly $1.9 million per annum, but that is not the full running cost—there are another range of costs borne by the Department of Finance.

Ms Tressler : I would need to take that on notice, but only indexation is applied across that line item. There is no other increase in there.

Senator McALLISTER: And no efficiency dividends.

Ms Ganly : I can confirm that the Department of Finance looks after the repairs and maintenance, at the current time, for the Lodge and Kirribilli House. The items that would be covered under the administered funds are items such as staff costs, utilities, property and grounds maintenance, communications, food and beverage and storage costs.

Senator WONG: They are included in the $2 million?

Ms Ganly : Yes.

Senator WONG: But not, essentially, capital works and repairs?

Ms Ganly : No, capital works and repairs are not included.

Senator WONG: Ms Kelly, I am sorry. I cannot find on the DPM&C website the guidelines for the use of official establishments. I am happy for you to take it on notice. Is someone able to tell us where you keep that?

Ms Kelly : I will take that on notice and then come back to you on that.

Senator WONG: Yes. Sorry; we were just trying to look for them and could not find them.