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Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee
22/05/2017
Estimates
PRIME MINISTER AND CABINET PORTFOLIO
Office of the Official Secretary to the Governor-General

Office of the Official Secretary to the Governor-General

[14:54]

CHAIR: I welcome Mr Mark Fraser, Official Secretary to the Governor-General, and Mr Paul Singer, the acting deputy official secretary. I thank you both for your flexibility in cooperating with our slightly amended running order today. Mr Fraser, do you wish to make an opening statement?

Mr Fraser : Yes, just briefly. Thank you very much, Chair. In March this year, the Governor-General marked his third anniversary in the role. The office has continued to seek new and innovative ways to expand the Governor-General's outreach and engagement. To date, Their Excellencies have spent approximately one-third of their program in rural, regional or remote Australia, including visiting more than 150 locations on over 360 separate trips. They have participated in approximately 2,400 official engagements and have welcomed around 125,000 guests to both properties. Within the office, we have now rolled out a new electronic document and records management system, an EDRMS, which is a significant enhancement to the way we work. Within our honours area, we continue to streamline systems and processes to be more accessible and efficient, including seeking to promote more diversity in nominations. We also continue to deliver on our annual property works program, with a significant program of works currently underway at Admiralty House. Thank you, Chair. I look forward to answering the committee's questions.

CHAIR: Thank you, Mr Fraser.

Senator McALLISTER: Nice to see you again.

Mr Fraser : Thank you, Ma'am.

Senator McALLISTER: Can you advise whether there are any specific budget measures that have affected your office?

Mr Fraser : No, there are no specific measures.

Senator McALLISTER: Did you submit any new policy proposals around the submissions into the budget process?

Mr Fraser : No.

Senator McALLISTER: What is the budget for the office in 2017-18?

Mr Fraser : The total appropriation for the office is $19.405 million. That is broken down into a number of components, the first of which is our departmental ordinary operations, which is $10.932 million. There is a departmental capital budget of $391,000. There is an administered capital budget of $3.214 million. There is an administered item for the Australian honours and awards system of $1.509 million and a special appropriation for the Governor-General's salary of $425,000. Prior-year appropriations are estimated to be $2.934 million to fund provisions for recreation and long service leave liabilities for employees and remaining expenses for 2016-17.

Senator McALLISTER: They are all for the coming financial year?

Mr Fraser : That is correct.

Senator McALLISTER: I understand it is complex because there are capital allocations in there and, as you indicated, prior-year appropriations, which I assume are carried forward.

Senator WONG: Could you explain that? There is the $2.934 million, which you described as a prior-year allocation. Do you mean it was allocated previously and then rolled over?

Mr Fraser : Yes. I will invite my chief finance officer to the table. They are funds that have been provided for previously, for—

Senator WONG: They are two different things. Are they always allocated or are you saying these are allocations which have been rolled over—the remainder has been rolled over to this financial year? Which of the two are you saying?

Mr Paul : Yes, you are right. It is the latter. It is the unspent departmental appropriation from previous years which we set aside to meet our leave liabilities. If you look at the resource table in the Portfolio Budget Statement, you will see that, right at the top, the very first row essentially relates to that.

Senator McALLISTER: Mr Paul, we are just seeking the relevant statements.

Mr Paul : On page 273 of our PBS, table 1.1, the very first row is what Mr Fraser was referring to.

Senator WONG: Prior-year appropriations available. Did you have to get the finance minister's agreement to roll over? This is the unspent appropriations which often go back.

Mr Paul : Which is an non-lapsing appropriation. We retain the extent to which we have to meet our leave liabilities. This is true for most agencies. If you look up any other agency's table 1.1, it should have the same line items in there.

Senator WONG: Okay.

Senator McALLISTER: I am sorry, this may be obvious in the papers. Does that global figure of $19.405 million represent an increase or a change from the previous year?

Mr Fraser : No, it does not. It is essentially the same.

Senator McALLISTER: Can you give me an indication of whether there are any significant changes in the trajectory over the forward estimates?

Mr Fraser : No significant changes are envisaged. That is essentially the operating budget. At some time in the future, I think the office budget will need to be rebased. It has been a long time. I cannot remember in the last 10 or 15 years the office budget being rebased so at some time in the future, that would need to happen. A lot of things have changed in the context of how the office operates things like travel. The expectation of governors-general to travel to represent Australia abroad are very different to what they would have been when the budget was originally based.

Senator McALLISTER: In the 2015-16 annual report, which goes to this question about the overall resources, it stated that continued budgetary pressures will necessitate ongoing close monitoring of expenditure. What monitoring processes are in place?

Mr Fraser : That is, in fact, a very simple and clear statement. The office operates within the budget it is provided by government each year. Year-on-year, we need to become more efficient simply to maintain parity with increasing supplier costs, staff expenses and the like. Our staff expenses represent around 70 per cent or slightly more than 70 per cent of our ordinary overall departmental operations; therefore, we need to think smarter each and every year just to maintain the status quo. My back-of-envelope figures indicate we need to become five per cent or six per cent more efficient every year just to maintain and operate within our existing budget.

Senator McALLISTER: Are those staff principally deployed in the operation of the official residences? Is that correct?

Mr Fraser : No. The largest measure of staff is actually within the honours and awards secretariat. That is the group of staff who look after the entirety of the Australian honours and awards system. There are more than 40 awards they look after. Within the honours and awards branch, we currently have an FTE of 32.63. We have an executive branch, which performs a range of functions with 20.7 FTE and an enabling services branch—it is essentially a corporate services branch—with 25.83 FTE. That brings us to a total FTE of 79.16. Just as a point of reference, when I started in the office around 8½ years ago, the FTE was around 96 and it is now 79.

Senator McALLISTER: What is the enabling staff role?

Mr Fraser : That is the function such as IT, property and services, human resources.

Senator McALLISTER: The operation of the official residences is incorporated in that or is that separate?

Mr Fraser : It comes within the executive branch. So within that branch, we have work units that look after His Excellency's forward program. We have reporting within that structure: speech writing; media relations; the executive team—myself and the acting deputy official secretary; the Governor-General's EA—an EA that is shared by both myself and my deputy; and the household team.

Senator McALLISTER: Mr Fraser, you indicated that the back-of-envelope calculation about the informal efficiency dividend that you are seeking is five per cent or six per cent. Where did you make that saving in the last financial year?

Mr Fraser : It was across-the-board. We look at everything we do and try and do it as efficiently as possible. To give you an illustration, across the expenses for the ordinary operations of the agency, we are spending about five per cent less now than we did six years ago and of course there have been inflationary pressures, increases in supplier expenses over that period of time.

Senator McALLISTER: Would that line item include the travel?

Mr Fraser : Travel is one of those areas that is less discretionary, because it sort of is what it needs to be.

Senator McALLISTER: But it is within that line item, is it?

Mr Fraser : It is within that; yes, it is. But there have been areas like office expenses and requisites—postage and freight is down, the overall expenditure on hospitality-related costs is down by over a third over the last five years—that is the amount of money that we are spending on hospitality. And yet we are managing to do more than we have ever done; we are just doing it much more efficiently—the style, the format, the nature of the hospitality that is offered.

Senator McALLISTER: It is also mentioned in that annual report that the office will trial 'a number of structural changes relating to the delivery of executive, corporate and enabling services'. I think you have raised some of them. Is there anything else that you think we ought to be aware of?

Mr Fraser : Senator, again, it is just that constant striving to meet the budget bottom line at the end of the day. So what we have done is some structural changes that we are currently trialling at the moment and, basically, that results in one less FTE overall. We are trialling those arrangements for a 12-month period and seeing how that goes. It has been a mixed bag. Things have been pretty stretched in that area, and we will have to revisit, at the end of that trial, how we proceed and how we manage to staff those functions.

Senator McALLISTER: I think Senator Wong has some follow-up questions, but can I just ask whether your annual report this year will contain some explanation of the global approach to the savings task?

Mr Fraser : I would be delighted to provide that.

Senator WONG: On the capital works, obviously there are some pretty substantial works being done—on which residence?

Mr Fraser : There are significant works at Admiralty House, particularly this year and into next financial year.

Senator WONG: Have you taken us through the budget for those?

Mr Fraser : No, I have not.

Senator WONG: Do you want to do that?

Mr Fraser : Certainly.

Senator WONG: And just explain to me: are they being funded out of the departmental capital budget and the administered capital budget that you identified before? Or is there a separate line item for those?

Mr Fraser : No, that is being funded out of the appropriation that we have for ACB, the administered capital budget.

Senator WONG: So that is the 3.214.

Mr Fraser : That is correct.

Senator WONG: Can you just tell me what that line item was? Mr Paul, can you tell me what the administered capital line item was last year?

Mr Paul : Sure. I can refer you to table 3.1 of our portfolio budget statement. For 2017-18, we have been allocated 3.2 million—

Senator WONG: Yes, 3.214. I asked what it was last year.

Mr Paul : 2.936 million.

Senator WONG: And what is it over the forwards per year—so how much is it for 2018-19?

Mr Paul : 2.277; 2.809 in 2019-20; and 2.826 in 2020-21.

Senator WONG: When did it first bump up?

Mr Paul : It bumped up in the budget of 2015-16 where we had a new policy proposal put through. We did get an ACB, an administered capital budget, before that. But the new policy proposal raised it to—on average—around $2.7 million.

Senator WONG: Per annum And is that ongoing?

Mr Paul : An ongoing measure, yes.

Senator WONG: And there was no reduction in the departmental capital budget or the appropriation itself, for that?

Mr Paul : The departmental capital budget, essentially, is to replace our departmental assets, but this is pretty much to preserve the heritage properties.

Senator WONG: But how was it funded previously?

Mr Fraser : We had a 10-year vice-regal heritage management plan that was funded in the 2005-06 budget. It was a global sum of around $16 million, by memory, and that lapsed.

Senator WONG: And how was it budgeted?

Mr Paul : It was a departmental equity, as an equity injection.

Senator WONG: Okay. So when that ended—how much did you say that was over the 10 years?

Mr Fraser : It was around $16 million.

Senator WONG: Now you have gone from 2.7 to 3 per annum—I am sorry, did you say 16 million?

Mr Fraser : That is correct. And there were some prior year—

Senator WONG: And that was over 10 years, so it was about 1.6. So you have got just under double that per annum.

Mr Fraser : No, that is not quite right. We had the budget measure of around $16 million. There were some own funds, some agency contribution, of around $3.7 million, from memory, that were contributed, so that gave us a total property program closer to $19 million or $20 million over that 10-year period, or, if you wish, an average of around $2 million a year. The current funding package over the next four years averages $2.72 million per year for maintaining the condition and capability of both heritage properties.

Senator WONG: It was front-end loaded though. If it was 2.9 and then 3.2, you are spending more than your 10-year average in the first two years. But it might be legitimate. I am just making the point.

Mr Fraser : The program has been developed through the budget process. Essentially, what we have is some experts who come in and advise us about the sorts of work that need to be conducted over that—

Senator WONG: So you are spending more in the first couple of years than the average over the 10 years?

Mr Fraser : I think it is marginal. There is some variation based on the priorities.

Senator WONG: It is half a million dollars.

Mr Fraser : Yes. I think that probably the nature of that is that we have some clarity over those first few years. We have specific projects in mind that can be costed perhaps more easily than those unknowns in the out years.

Senator WONG: For Admiralty House, what is the total expenditure anticipated over the decade—or for this set of works?

Mr Fraser : The total amount is a global amount across both properties, and it will vary from year to year.

Senator WONG: No, I understand that. I am just asking: how much will the Admiralty House works cost?

Mr Fraser : I am happy to tell you. It is not over 10 years. The Admiralty House project that we are working on at the moment is approximately $3.5 million.

Senator WONG: Over?

Mr Fraser : It is over a three-year period.

Senator WONG: Are you are anticipating that that will stay within budget?

Mr Fraser : Yes, I am.

Senator WONG: And Kirribilli? Is there a project there equivalent?

Mr Fraser : Not that I am aware of. We do not have any oversight of Kirribilli.

Senator WONG: Sorry, I meant Yarralumla.

Mr Fraser : Oh, Yarralumla. This is the dynamic nature of the property program. It may be that over a year or two we are focusing on particular projects at Admiralty House and doing very little in Canberra—

Senator WONG: I understand that.

Mr Fraser : and conversely it may be that we—

Senator WONG: Sure. You do quite a lot of works at Admiralty House.

Mr Fraser : Do we do quite a lot of works?

Senator WONG: You are doing quite a lot—

Mr Fraser : We are at the moment.

Senator WONG: Yes. I am not making a criticism about that. There is obviously a very large rebuild program—

Mr Fraser : Yes.

Senator WONG: being engaged in there. There is nothing equivalent at the moment at Yarralumla; is that correct?

Mr Fraser : No, there is not.

Senator WONG: Are you anticipating something to that extent?

Mr Fraser : No, there is nothing on the forward program.

Senator WONG: The $3.5 million over the three years for Admiralty House encompasses essentially the complete—what is the best way to describe it? It says gutting and refurbishing of all of the kitchen area—

Mr Fraser : Yes. It is a program of works. It is basically designed around an accessibility directive. What we are seeking to do is have the house accessible to both guests and visitors. The house, of course, is 175 years old, so it does not have the sorts of facilities and amenities that you might expect in a contemporary home, so the project involves, particularly, accessible toilet facilities in the front of house. There are no accessible toilets. That then necessitates redesign of the floorplan area, the back-of-house areas particularly, and accessibility to the first floor of the property, which has not previously been accessible other than via a staircase. There have been some works to address deterioration to the heritage fabric of the building. They are all being done as part of—

Senator WONG: You are revamping the kitchens, aren't you? Is there somewhere that the scope of the works is outlined?

Mr Fraser : There are a number of documents. Firstly, we have a heritage strategy, and the heritage strategy is on our website. That gives some direction about the sorts of things that we are seeking to do to maintain the condition and the capability of the properties. We report in our annual report the detail of each project that we do each year. Of course, here in Senate estimates we are very open about the nature of that work. The kitchen work that you referred to, which is being done as part of this project because of the functional synergies and the dependencies in this program of works, was last refurbished over 35 years ago. This will be a much smaller kitchen because of the loss of footprint associated with the new works and there will be efficiencies achieved in the redesign of the kitchen.

Senator WONG: Can you tell me about the current value of the contract. What is the contracting structure? Is there a principal contractor? How are you managing that?

Mr Fraser : There is a construction contract. It is essentially for the building works, and that is $2.795 million.

Senator WONG: Who is that with?

Mr Fraser : Gartner Rose has been engaged to undertake those services.

Senator WONG: So the $3.5 million over three years includes the $2.79 million.

Mr Fraser : It does.

Senator WONG: And the additional?

Mr Fraser : It is essentially for all the other sorts of consultants and contract services: architects, consultancies for kitchen design, heritage, archaeological works and project management.

Senator WONG: Can you give us that breakdown on notice: who it is and the value of the contract—just to save time? Can I move to Prince Philip. There was an announcement regarding Prince Philip stepping down from all public engagements after August. There was obviously quite a lot of media speculation about the health of the Queen and Prince Philip. I want to know whether or not the Governor-General received any advanced notice of the statement published by Buckingham Palace.

Mr Fraser : I did receive some informal advice from my colleagues at Buckingham Palace before the public announcement was made.

Senator WONG: How long before?

Mr Fraser : It was that morning. I believe it was early that morning, but the public announcement was made in the UK by 10 am or 11 am.

Senator WONG: About how long before it became public?

Mr Fraser : A few hours—two or three hours beforehand.

Senator WONG: Was it by telephone call?

Mr Fraser : It was by text message.

Senator WONG: Did you convey that to the Governor-General?

Mr Fraser : Yes, I did.

Senator WONG: Anyone else?

Mr Fraser : No.

Senator WONG: Has the Governor-General conveyed a response following this announcement?

Mr Fraser : I am sorry, Senator, I am not sure—

Senator WONG: Has the Governor-General conveyed any response or made any public statement in relation to the Duke of Edinburgh post this announcement?

Mr Fraser : No, he has not.

Senator WONG: Mr Joyce made a public statement commending Prince Philip for his years of service to the Commonwealth. Do you know whether or not the Prime Minister has conveyed any similar remarks?

Mr Fraser : I do not know.

Senator WONG: Has the Governor-General been in contact with Buckingham Palace in relation to this matter?

Mr Fraser : Not in relation to this matter, no.

Senator WONG: Is there a reason for that—conveying whatever his good wishes are?

Mr Fraser : The Governor-General does correspond personally, from time to time, with both Her Majesty the Queen and perhaps through her to the Duke of Edinburgh. He does so on their birthdays and other notable occasions. He is in regular contact.

Senator WONG: But not in relation to the Duke's announcement?

Mr Fraser : There has been no contact that I am aware of.

Senator WONG: Are there any offices that the Duke of Edinburgh holds in Australia that he will now step down from?

Mr Fraser : Again, I do not have any visibility or involvement with those matters.

Senator WONG: Are there any responsibilities in Australia or for Australia that he will now relinquish?

Mr Fraser : We would have no oversight or carriage of those things. They would be between the Duke of Edinburgh's office—

Senator WONG: You are the Queen's representative; aren't you?

Mr Fraser : Yes, indeed. The Queen is, of course, the sovereign head of Australia and there is no constitutional relationship with the Duke of Edinburgh.

Senator WONG: Of the 780 organisations of which Prince Philip is patron, president or member of, according to the statement from Buckingham Palace, are you able to advise how many organisations are Australian?

Mr Fraser : No, I am not.

Senator WONG: None?

Mr Fraser : None. I have no visibility of that.

Senator WONG: When was he last here?

Mr Fraser : He last visited with Her Majesty the Queen. I believe that was in 2011.

Senator SMITH: I would like to talk about 'London Bridge'. How many people in the Australian government are aware about London Bridge?

Mr Fraser : I can tell you from my perspective that our office, of course, is in contact with Buckingham Palace, and if—

Senator SMITH: So the office of the Governor-General is aware of London Bridge. Who else is aware of London Bridge?

Senator Wong interjecting

Mr Fraser : The terminology that you refer to—

Senator SMITH: Senator Wong, you are stealing my thunder. This is a very important point.

Mr Fraser : I assume you are referring to the issues surrounding the possible, or eventual, demise of the Queen?

Senator SMITH: I think that is not the right choice of words, Mr Fraser! But, in all seriousness, there was an article in The Australian newspaper which talked about the secret plans that had been obtained by The Weekend Australian with regard to arrangements for London Bridge, which is the codename given to the passing of the Queen. In Australia, who is aware of the plans and circumstances and protocols around London Bridge?

Mr Fraser : I would not be using the terminology 'London Bridge' myself. However—

Senator SMITH: That is how it is described in the article.

Mr Fraser : It may well have been. I am aware of the press reporting. What I can say is that my office is in contact with Buckingham Palace and, as you might expect, we have plans in place for such an eventuality. My colleagues at government houses across Australia have had discussions both with me and with Sir Christopher Geidt, the Queen's principal private secretary—

Senator SMITH: That is in the article; that is right.

Mr Fraser : on these issues, and I work closely with my colleagues in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet equally on these issues.

Senator SMITH: So the official secretaries to state governors—and, I am assuming, administrators in the Northern Territory—the office of the Governor-General and officials in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet are the only people in Australia that know about the 'secret plans', to quote from The Australian newspaper story. Is that correct?

Mr Fraser : Again, I would not use that terminology.

Senator SMITH: No, no. Sorry, Mr Fraser, I am quoting from The Australian newspaper which says:

These secret plans, obtained by The Weekend Australian …

Mr Fraser : I would not describe them as secret plans. They are, of course, sensitive because of the subject matter, and they are being dealt with very sensitively within the bureaucracy.

Senator SMITH: How many people know:

… that the Governor-General considers it appropriate—

Again, I am quoting from the article—

that he makes the first formal public announcement of the Queen's death in Australia.

Mr Fraser : I do not intend to go to the detail of how the Governor-General might mark or might—

Senator SMITH: But to quote from the article:

The Weekend Australia can reveal that the Governor-General considers it appropriate that he makes the first formal public announcement of the Queen's death in Australia.

Mr Fraser : A lot of people might think that that would be a natural and normal thing for the Governor-General to do. However, in the context of—

Senator SMITH: Only those, like ourselves, paying close attention to these things, Mr Fraser.

Mr Fraser : Of course, in relation to these particular plans, I would not wish to publicly discuss the nature of any planning that is in place.

Senator SMITH: That is not necessary, because The Australian newspaper published them. Who else would know that Mr Turnbull and Mr Abbott have each been briefed more than once on these arrangements?

Mr Fraser : I would not know. I have no involvement in briefing the Prime Minister.

Senator SMITH: Who would it be who has drafted the speech for the Prime Minister?

Mr Fraser : Again, nothing I could comment on.

Senator SMITH: Finally, it says:

The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet has advised that, upon accession to the throne, the wife of a king regnant automatically becomes Queen …

Of the limited number of people that know about these 'secret plans', to quote The Weekend Australian, can you assure me that these arrangements did not come from Government House?

Mr Fraser : Absolutely.

Senator McALLISTER: I have a lot of questions, but I am conscious that Senator Cash has limited availability. I fear that we may have to ask the gentlemen to return.

CHAIR: Okay. I will excuse you for a moment and we will return. We have to move to Office for Women and the Australian Public Service Commission, but we look forward to welcoming you back you soon, Mr Fraser.

[15:24]

CHAIR: I welcome Senator Cash in her capacity as Minister for Women, and officers Ms Lin Hatfield-Dodds, Deputy Secretary, Social Policy Group, Office for Women; and Ms Amanda McIntyre, First Assistant Secretary, Office for Women, within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. Minister, do you wish to make an opening statement?

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

CHAIR: Ms Hatfield-Dodds, do you wish to make an opening statement?

Ms Hatfield-Dodds : I do not, thank you.

CHAIR: Senator Moore.

Senator MOORE: Minister, I am keen to know exactly what time you have available, because we have gone over time.

Senator Cash: No, it is not a problem at all. I am also here for the APSC—

Senator MOORE: So we can flow on.

Senator Cash: so you can absolutely go through. I am now in your hands.

Senator MOORE: Good. I just wanted to make that clear before we be started.

Senator Cash: Not a problem at all.

Senator MOORE: I know that Senator Waters has questions as well, so if I start a topic she might want to jump in. My first question is around the women's alliances, and it is to do with their funding. In terms of the budget papers, we looked at the funding going into the future years. I am interested to know whether there is any provision for an annual CPI increase.

Ms McIntyre : No, there is not a CPI increase. The funding provided for the closed round and the open round is $281,000 per alliance.

Senator MOORE: For the six alliances?

Ms McIntyre : For the three-year period, yes.

Senator MOORE: Has it been raised with you as a concern about meeting the problems that is expected to cause in terms of preplanning and so on—not having a CPI increase? Was that raised with you?

Ms McIntyre : Not in relation to preplanning. Obviously, people have raised with us whether indexation would be applied. We are certainly looking to work with the alliances, going forward, to make their operating models more efficient so that the funding goes further, which is potentially better than a CPI increase in terms of actually making their funding available for on-the-ground work, as opposed to administrative costs.

Senator MOORE: I know one of the issues raised in the general review of the alliances was the budget, and the particular point that was made in that area was the large reliance on volunteers—that the alliance model is almost completely reliant on volunteers—and the problems that could have for the effective and, I think, extraordinary work that the alliances do. I cannot imagine the process without having their work. But there is no availability within the budget at all to augment their funding in line with CPI?

Ms McIntyre : The funding that has been set aside at the moment does not have a CPI increase. As part of the general funding review, we did look at the different associated costs and found that the alliances have quite different cost structures. Some of them have very heavy rent costs and administrative costs. Some do fund project officers; others rely on volunteers. So one of things that we want to work with them on—and I completely agree with you that the alliances are really valuable and the work they do is really valuable—is make sure that we can actually streamline that so they are spending less on administration and we are getting efficiencies through supporting them to cut down their administrative costs, so there is more money for the on-the-ground work.

Senator MOORE: How is that going to operate? They have just started, they have a four-year—

Senator Cash: Three years.

Senator MOORE: Three years.

Senator Cash: Yes, 2017-18 to 2019-20.

Senator MOORE: I was being hopeful! They have a three-year program now. It does seem to be an extremely tight time frame in terms of a flat budget and the talk about cutting back on processes. Is there work being done now that will help them?

Ms McIntyre : Absolutely, yes.

Senator MOORE: What kinds of things?

Ms McIntyre : We are looking at how the department can support them—for instance, with communications, by improving technology and information flows so that the alliances themselves are not having to spend huge amounts of money on communicating with their members. Individual alliances might not have enough money to build a communications platform. If we could build one for five alliances to share, and host it, that would cut down their costs and it would allow us to have better communication flows. They are the kinds of things that we are looking at doing very, very quickly which would mean that, after the first 12 months, hopefully, they have some administrative efficiencies.

Senator MOORE: How will that be quantified? It will have a cost to it. You will be able to quantify what these savings will be?

Ms McIntyre : We are looking at paying that not out of the alliances money but out of the department's money.

Senator MOORE : So that would be augmented funding, to an extent, that does not come under the process.

Ms McIntyre : You could put it that way.

Senator MOORE : Would we be able to get detail of that? It is no good to have a plan that you have costed around one amount of money, yet to make it effective you have needed augmentation that comes out of other budgetary processes.

Ms McIntyre : In terms of running it ongoing?

Senator MOORE : Yes

McIntyre : Our plan at the moment would be to fund that out of the department and not out of the alliances.

Senator MOORE : Is this information shared across all the alliances, so there is no sense that one alliance is being favoured over another or something like that?

Ms McIntyre : It is in its very early business case development. If it comes to fruition they would have quarantined areas that individual alliances could use for their own purposes, but we would also have shared space where we could collaborate between government and the alliances, and the alliances could collaborate with each other.

Senator MOORE : Can we get detail of that as it becomes clearer

Ms McIntyre : Absolutely

Senator MOORE : The other issue around funding was that the people who are employed to do the work—the, usually, one staff member per alliance; I think that is all they have got—would be covered by an award which has increases that have come through. Has that been built into the funding?

Ms McIntyre : It has not been built into the funding. There would have to be efficiencies out of other areas that the funding was being spent on to compensate for those wage increases.

Senator MOORE : Was that clearly identified? I read the tender documents, which are extensive, but I did not see anything about being aware of salary costs in those documents and that there could be increases.

Ms McIntyre : We do not supplement for salary costs. It is a fixed amount of grant funding and how the alliance chooses to employ people or work with that fixed amount of funding. There is not any supplementation for wage increases.

Senator MOORE : That is an area where other grants have got CPI increase which is used for that. That was not considered in this funding?

Ms McIntyre : It is certainly not the way this tender has been put together.

Senator MOORE : The National Foundation for Australian Women released analysis last night showing that measures contained in the budget will produce EMTRs of 100 per cent or more for some women. Was the Office of Women aware of that report?

Ms McIntyre : We were aware that they were going to release the report. We were not aware of the timing. We do now have a copy, noting it was released at five o'clock last night.

Senator MOORE : I understand. That particular issue around modelling of EMTRs is one of the issues in the APS.

Ms McIntyre : It is, yes.

Senator MOORE : Did your office request, or request to see, modelling from Treasury on the EMTR caused by tax and transfer measures in the budget?

Ms McIntyre : Not specifically, no. While we provide advice on individual budget measures, as you know, the effective marginal tax rate is a combination of all of those measures coming together. So, no, not specifically.

Senator MOORE : Is it something that you would do? I mean I know that everything that goes through the Office of Women could have an impact on women. As this has been clearly identified in the strategies as a core element, I am searching to see whether the Office of Women would have any further role in looking at any work around that area.

Ms McIntyre : Could we request it from Treasury? Yes, we could. Hence our role sitting in PM&C to give us the ability to request information like that. We have not at this stage, but in preparing advice for government it would always be an option available to us.

Senator MOORE : So will you?

Ms McIntyre : Possibly.

Senator MOORE : The Balancing the Future strategy states:

… the Government is taking action to boost women's workforce participation by:

…   …   …

c. Examining the tax and transfer system and its impact on women …

Which department or agency is undertaking this work? You are not, because you are not asking for the modelling. Which department is doing it?

Ms McIntyre : It would either be Treasury or Employment, depending on which measure it was, but tax and transfers is Treasury.

Senator MOORE : So Treasury has the primary responsibility. I understand it crosses over to others, but how is the work being conducted? Do you know how that is being done?

Ms McIntyre : That would be a matter for Treasury.

Senator MOORE : Office of Women does not own this, even though it has been identified by the Office of Women as a key issue.

Ms McIntyre : Our role is to coordinate policy across government. We do not have any modelling capacity within the Office itself; we have to draw on other people's—

Senator MOORE : That is why you have to ask them for the modelling: you cannot do it yourself. You have said you are not asking for the modelling.

Ms McIntyre : I have not asked for it. I possibly could ask, depending on the advice.

Senator MOORE : You possibly could maybe ask for that modelling. You have not done that. I would have thought that a coordination role involves getting all those pieces, that there would be an expectation that the Office of Women would be coordinating this as a high-profile issue. That is not the case?

Ms McIntyre : Certainly we provide advice to the minister, and, should that advice need to draw on the modelling, then we would request the modelling.

Senator MOORE: The modelling that is being done by Treasury?

Senator Cash: I know where you are going, Senator Moore. There are a number of discussions that I am currently having with the Office for Women in relation to a number of policy areas. Ms McIntyre is not yet in the position to actually provide the final advice as to what has been provided to me.

Senator MOORE: It was one of the core things that came out of the G20 commitment. In the answers to questions we put on notice last time, we found out that there was actually a task force looking at this issue, and my understanding was that that was an Office for Women coordinated task force.

Ms McIntyre : Certainly we are doing some work around the G20 target, yes.

Senator MOORE: What work are you doing?

Ms McIntyre : We are providing some advice to the minister. We would not talk to that advice until we have provided it to her.

Senator MOORE: No. I do not want to know what the advice is. I want to know what the work is. If the task force has been set up to respond to the G20 commitment, about which we have had a lot of discussion in this place—I fully understand that the Office for Women does not do the work. But, as it had set up a special task force to ensure that the work is being done, I would think that there would be a role. Can you remind me how many people are in that task force?

Ms McIntyre : I can on notice. We have got a break, and I will come back to you, because I do not want to put the wrong number on the record.

Senator MOORE: That is okay. But there is a team. It is not one or two; it is a team doing this.

Ms McIntyre : There isa team, yes, and we are providing some advice to the minister on what measures could be done to meet the G20 target.

Senator MOORE: You are providing advice, but you are also coordinating?

Ms McIntyre : Yes.

Senator Cash: Coordinating with all other portfolios. That is right.

Senator MOORE: That means bringing all the information together?

Senator Cash: Correct.

Senator MOORE: But you have not seen the information from Treasury?

Ms McIntyre : No. We have not asked them for any modelling.

Senator MOORE: When will the outcomes of the examination be made public?

Senator Cash: Over the next few weeks to months.

Senator MOORE: That quickly? That is what I am trying to get—over the next few weeks?

Senator Cash: Yes.

Senator McALLISTER: Are you saying that there is modelling in relation to effective marginal tax rates that will be made public or—

Senator Cash: No. Sorry. I thought we were talking about the broader working group in terms of the G20.

Senator MOORE: There are two things. There is the G20—

Senator Cash: Yes.

Senator MOORE: which is all the issues around the G20. One of the specifically identified elements of the G20 was the EMTR stuff.

Senator Cash: No. I have not received advice yet on that. That is what I am still waiting for from the department.

Senator MOORE: So what we are going to see in a couple of weeks is a plan?

Senator Cash: That is what we are working towards.

Senator MOORE: The plan?

Senator Cash: For the G20. I thought that was what specifically the question was about.

Senator MOORE: So you are working towards a plan for the G20 which does include EMTR work, which has not been—

Senator Cash: Again, I am awaiting advice from the department as to what the final formulation will be.

Senator McALLISTER: It does or does not? Are you saying that you are yet to decide whether or not to undertake EMTR analysis?

Senator Cash: That is something that the department is working through in terms of the broader strategy on the G20.

Senator McALLISTER: It is fair to say, though, that, if you are still working through it, you are yet to decide whether to undertake an analysis on effective marginal tax rates.

Senator Cash: Not at all. The department constantly talks to the different portfolios in terms of the gender lens being brought across varying decisions.

Senator McALLISTER: Minister, either your government is undertaking modelling on effective marginal tax rates or it is not. At this point in time, has anyone in government been asked to undertake this work?

Ms Hatfield-Dodds : While the Office for Women has not done the modelling on EMTRs, we know that the Department of the Treasury has done modelling on EMTRs. I expect that, as we work through development, we will be accessing at least the policy work that comes out of that modelling, while we have not actually accessed the modelling itself.

Senator Cash: So you would need to direct the questions over to Treasury in terms of that particular modelling.

Senator MOORE: In Balancing the future: the Australian Public Service gender equality strategy 2016-19, under the section headed 'G20', it lists the commitment:

To support Australia's G20 commitment, the government is taking action to boost women's workforce participation by …

It lists a number of key strategies, one of which is clearly:

Examining the tax and transfer system and its impact on women and their families …

My understanding from that document—which we will ask the APS about when they come—which has now been around for over 12 months is that the government has committed to examine the tax and transfer system and its impact on women. That was clearly my understanding.

Senator Cash: We have certainly looked across the board and in all portfolios in terms of how each portfolio can contribute to meeting the G20 target.

Senator MOORE: From my understanding, the answer we have been given is that there is definitely work being done, and it is being done by Treasury.

Senator Cash: Correct.

Senator MOORE: If any of us want to see it, we have to get it from Treasury?

Senator Cash: You put the questions to Treasury.

Senator MOORE: When it comes to having the work done, are you coordinating it?

Senator Cash: Correct. This is the constant discussion we have, even when I was in opposition: what is the coordination role of the Office of Women?

Senator McALLISTER: I have one follow-up question on that before we move on. Given that this work is being done in Treasury and it is a matter of weeks since your government brought down a budget, why, as Minister for Women, have you not sought a briefing on it in advance of the budget? The budget provides the perfect opportunity to respond to whatever insights have been produced by the modelling. I am puzzled as to why you would not have sought advice about the outputs from the modelling prior to the budget. Why have you waited until now?

Senator Cash: It is not that we have waited until now. The Office of Women is in constant discussions with other portfolios. As I have stated, we are currently in the process of finalising the broader G20 strategy.

Senator McALLISTER: You had a very good opportunity in the budget, as the person coordinating women's policy, to address some of these issues. You had information and analysis being undertaken in the competent agency that could have informed budget response and yet you do not seem to know anything about it.

Senator Cash: We provide advice to other portfolios—or the Office of Women does—and they can take you through the process, if you like, of the impact of budget measures. Ultimately decisions are made by the Treasurer but we are finalising the broader G20 strategy.

Senator MOORE: And the strategy itself will be available in a couple of weeks?

Senator Cash: That is anticipated, yes.

Senator MOORE: What is the time frame for responding to the overall G20?

Ms McIntyre : Are you talking about 2025?

Senator MOORE: You made a commitment to look at these issues. We now have an agreement that there will be a strategy to do that, and that will be finalised within a couple of weeks. What is the time frame for then having the kinds of work Senator McAllister was talking about?

Senator Cash: All of that will be outlined within the strategy which will be released publicly—

Senator MOORE: Is there an outer limit to that, Minister?

Senator Cash: What you mean by 'outer limit'?

Senator MOORE: When does it have to be completed by? The G20 meets at different points, and I expect there would be report backs, particularly as Australia was so influential in driving that agenda in Brisbane. Brisbane was two years ago?

Ms McIntyre : 2014.

Senator MOORE: So Brisbane is now almost 3 years ago, and that was when this commitment was made. I have never been to a G20 meeting, but I would expect that at these meetings there would be a particular focus on the commitments that were made by all the different nations. Your strategy will now be part of that report back—that you have actually achieved the strategy.

Senator Cash: Correct.

Senator MOORE: I would think there would be key points beyond that at future G20s, where there would be the expectation that people would report on what had been achieved and they would share that knowledge. The model was that each country would have their own commitment and the overall idea was that all the commitments would be gathered into the G20 commitment. That is right, isn't it? Australia would put forward its own work but it would be expected to share that to help—

Senator Cash: Correct. My understanding is, and correct me if I am wrong, that it is at the employment ministers' meeting that that feedback occurs.

Senator MOORE: I am really keen to know exactly what 25 per cent by 2025 means—25 per cent of what, 25 per cent based on what? Is that going to be clearly identified in the strategy?

Ms McIntyre : Yes. It has been clearly identified in the past. It is closing the gap by 25 per cent, so Australia's gap was 12 per cent. It means—

Senator MOORE: Based on figures for when?

Ms McIntyre : Based on 2014 participation rates of men and women in the workforce. I would have to seek advice from my Employment colleagues, but that workforce is, I think, defined as 15 to 54. Again, they are global numbers. For us, that was closing that gap by three per cent.

Senator MOORE: Based on 2014 figures as determined by Employment. That data would also take into account workplace gender equity figures?

Ms McIntyre : Yes. That number then translates into an absolute number of people in the workforce, but obviously that fluctuates if men's workforce participation changes. We are, at the moment, on a trajectory that would get us there.

Senator MOORE: All that will be clear? There has been no report back on how that is going. One of the things I checked on the website was to see, under Employment or under WGEA or under the Office for Women, whether there was any report back. We hear about the trajectory, but we do not see it. It has not been made public in terms of the process.

Ms McIntyre : That is good feedback.

Senator MOORE: In terms of the documentation, so we all know what it is going to be about.

Senator Cash: It will be canvassed within the strategy.

Senator MOORE: How big a document are we are talking about with the strategy? It seems to be growing. It is very useful to have a standing point to say, 'This is what we are going to do.' That will include the concept and the history as well so people will know what it is talking about?

Ms McIntyre : At this stage, it looks at where we were in 2014 and where we are projected to be. It gives you the visual around the trajectory and what goes into calculating that.

Senator MOORE: One of the key issues is to see the budget changes that came in—the role they were playing and what they are expected to play in the trajectory. That will include that?

Ms McIntyre : Yes.

Senator Cash: Once it is released, we can give you a private briefing.

Senator MOORE: The committee may be interested in it.

Senator Cash: If the committee would like a briefing on it, I am more than happy to offer that to the committee.

CHAIR: We will break there.

Proceedings suspended from 15:46 to 16:00

CHAIR: We will now resume with the Office for Women.

Senator WATERS: Thank you for coming today. I have got quite a few questions here about the issue of the 1800RESPECT contract, so I hope you have got the documents to hand. Is the Office for Women aware of the issues that have been reported in relation to that 1800RESPECT number—it was a 7.30 Report a little while back.

Ms McIntyre : Yes. While we are not actively involved, we are regularly briefed by DSS on the matter.

Senator WATERS: So you aware that the rape and DV services Australia—RDVSA—which employs 110 staff and has decades-long history of providing women-led specialist services is at risk of shutting down because of a tender process that is being over seen by the social services minister?

Ms McIntyre : I am aware that that is what has been reported, yes.

Senator WATERS: Have you met with either MHS or the minister about this?

Ms McIntyre : No, we have not.

Senator WATERS: Did the minister or DSS ask for your advice on this issue?

Ms McIntyre : No, it is not our advice to give. The relevant department is DSS and the relevant minister is Minister Porter.

Senator WATERS: Has Minister Porter or DSS asked the Office for Women for advice about this issue?

Ms McIntyre : No.

Ms Hatfield-Dodds : No, but they have been providing us with briefings.

Senator WATERS: They have been briefing you, but have they asked you for advice?

Ms McIntyre : No.

Senator WATERS: Do you see it see it as your role to advocate within government to stop a highly regarded service like this from being shut down?

Ms McIntyre : Our role is to ensure that the services exist; it is not to advocate for a particular provider.

Senator WATERS: So what options are available to you to ensure that that service is going to keep being delivered ideally by the best placed folk to deliver it?

Ms McIntyre : I think that you should direct your specific questions to DSS. Our understanding is that there is a tender process underway and that that tender process will result in a service being provided. We have not been given any information which would suggest that that is not going to be the case.

Senator WATERS: Okay. So you do not involve yourself at the level of detail about what is the most appropriate service body to be delivering those services?

Ms McIntyre : We are not involved in the evaluation. That role is for DSS.

Ms Hatfield-Dodds : However, I would add: if Office for Women formed a view that the tender process was in any way unsound, not merit based, open or professionally run, then certainly I think we would have a responsibility incumbent upon us to advise at least the Minister for Women about that who would then take that up.

Senator WATERS: Thank you. Just regarding that tender process: there seems to be a lack of clarity—I am hoping you can disabuse me or perhaps or set the record straight. Who has asked for the review of the tender—is it the minister, the department or MHS? Does anybody know?

Ms McIntyre : Review of the tender?

Senator WATERS: Yes. The fact that they are even undertaking this exercise at all.

Ms McIntyre : So the current funding was coming to an end, and this is a normal government process to put new funding in place.

Senator WATERS: The funding does not end for another two years, so I do not understand.

Ms McIntyre : Is that the funding for Medibank Health Services?

Senator WATERS: It is the contract that MHS then basically subcontracts down—and they do that at the moment to RDVSA, if I am getting that acronym correct. I understand that MHS is currently reviewing that subcontract.

Senator Cash: It is not a government tender—

Senator WATERS: It is not the head contract, which is still on foot for another two years, so I am wondering why MHS are doing that and at whose behest.

Ms McIntyre : I can take it on notice but my notes say that the subcontract does expire on 30 June 2017. That is my understanding, but I can check that.

Senator WATERS: So the contract that MHS has with RDVSA expires and, hence, they are reviewing the process.

Ms McIntyre : That is my understanding, yes.

Senator WATERS: Does government have anything to do with the process?

Senator Cash: Just to be clear, the Office for Women itself does not have any role in the tender. This specific aspect runs from DSS, so the questions could be put to DSS if you wanted detailed analysis.

Senator WATERS: I will do that. I guess I am just trying to get—as well as the detail, which I will take up with DSS—what role the Office for Women should play in an example such as this. Forgive me, but I am always left a little baffled as to what the Office for Women actually does, after we have these estimates sessions—and it is not impugning on yourselves. Harkening back to some of the earlier questions, if the input into the budget is limited, then the input into important decisions, like this, is limited. Can you please tell me what it is that you do?

Senator Cash: I do not think the evidence that was given by the officials' input is limited. Perhaps Ms Hatfield-Dodds can take you through, in DSS, the relationship that the Office for Women has with them on 1800RESPECT.

Ms Hatfield-Dodds : Essentially, we have a close working relationship with the Department of Social Services and on 1800RESPECT, and other more operational out workings of the government's women's safety program, the Department of Social Services is very much running the tender. But we have an overarching coordination role and a role in ensuring that the government's commitments to women around women's safety, women's participation and women's economic empowerment are all lived out. Our role in 1800RESPECT is not so much to have a view about, particularly, that subcontract between Medibank Health and any other third party but to ensure that, from a central perspective in the Australian government, the line is working and is providing women with the services they need.

We do know that the new triage model, that came in in August 2016, was brought in to reduce very high wait times and high call-abandonment rates. That has been a really successful model. We have been looking at the outcome of the 1800 number, in terms of the services that women can access; that is around wait times and call-abandonment rates. DSS were particularly keen to ensure what happens is that when women ring 1800RESPECT they are not kept waiting on the line and they do not give up, hang up and move on.

Senator WATERS: I am glad you raised that, because you have jogged my memory. My understanding is that, yes, the answer rates have gone up but that the quality of the service people are receiving when they call the number has dramatically dropped. This is because they are untrained people being used and there is far less quality assurance and supervision. It is all very well to answer the phone but the first response is critical. If women are not getting a supported and expertly trained response, then, it could have drastic consequences.

I am pleased to hear that you raised that because I think that is something the Office for Women should concern itself with; hence my interest in this subcontract. RDVSA are experts. They have a long history. They have been around for donkey's years. They know what they are doing. I am hoping to get some more information about how the Office for Women will involve itself in this process to ensure that, as you say, those measures can be best met.

Ms Hatfield-Dodds : I would say this actual activity is held by their social services portfolio, so Minister Porter and the Department of Social Services have primary responsibility for it. Our understanding is that the triage model has provided specialist trauma counsellors to people who need specialist trauma counselling. I just do not have the detail with me, because this is a social services activity.

I would assume that if people are reporting that they would prefer longer engagement on the phone it may be that they have been triaged into a space that they do not think—I would imagine that most people ringing 1800RESPECT would prefer to speak to a trauma counsellor. There is a clinical model around that now, where people are directed to a particular level of service. And that was to try to decrease the wait times, and to increase the quality of the interactions. But the Department of Social Services has got all that information to hand.

Senator Cash: Can I just give you some additional information in relation to the first-response triage model. As you know, Senator, it was introduced on 16 August 2016, and the reason it was introduced was to respond to what had been considered unacceptable wait times and a high rate of abandonment of calls. In terms of the statistics to date, from 16 August 2016 to 31 March this year, 43,717 calls were received and 90 per cent were answered, and approximately 73 per cent of calls were answered within 20 seconds. To give you a comparison with what had occurred previously—and the reason that the triage model was moved to—in the 2015-16 financial year, 63,273 calls were received but only 33 per cent were answered. With the introduction of the triage model, the rationale behind it was very much that trauma specialist counsellors can focus on assisting callers that need the specialist trauma support, rather than assisting callers whose needs can be met by qualified professional first-response counsellors. And so, when you look at how the model has evolved, it is now more responsive—and if we look at the statistics, it certainly is more responsive—and it is a more supportive service, providing a more targeted service depending on what you need.

Senator WATERS: Who is making the decisions about whether trauma counselling is required, though? If the people who are answering the calls in the first instance are not trauma specialists, how are they to know that they need to refer a person to a trauma specialist? I guess my broader point is, no-one objects to the phone calls being answered—that is, of course, the whole purpose of the service. But my question is: why was it deemed that this be subcontracted out to a private provider who is now on-subcontracting? And there are question marks over whether they will continue to subcontract out to the appropriate personnel. Why was there not more funding provided so that the calls could be answered by the appropriate personnel? It is not a zero-sum game here.

Senator Cash: Ultimately, those decisions are made by DSS. But in relation to the funding—and I can try and get it for you whilst we are here—we have continued to make additional investment in 1800RESPECT, as you know; I believe we have spoken about this at previous estimates. But in terms of the ultimate decisions about the subcontract et cetera, you would need to put those questions to DSS.

Senator WATERS: In relation to the money that was sought by RDVSA so that they could appoint additional counsellors and answer every call, that application was not successful, and the money instead went to MHS—in fact, more money went to MHS than the amount RDVSA had even asked for in the first place. So the government picked the more expensive and private option. Who made that decision?

Senator Cash: That is for DSS.

Senator WATERS: As the Minister for Women, do you have any involvement in those sorts of decisions?

Senator Cash: We are in constant discussions with DSS regarding 1800RESPECT. Our role is to assure that the service is provided and to ensure that there is adequate funding for the service. Ultimately, though, decisions in relation to the contract are made by DSS. But we provide feedback to them on the feedback that we receive, so they know the types of stakeholders that are responding to us. But ultimately the decision is made by Minister Porter.

Senator WATERS: Have you made representations to Minister Porter or had discussions with him about this?

Senator Cash: We have had discussions, yes.

Senator WATERS: And have you advocated for the retention of RDVSA—to keep that subcontract?

Senator Cash: The discussions we have are obviously confidential. But certainly, even following the last estimates—and you will recall that Senator Moore, or it may have been yourself—

Senator WATERS: No, I was having a baby at the last one. I missed the last estimates.

Senator MOORE: It would have been a combination of myself and Senator Rice.

Senator Cash: We obviously raised all of these issues with Minister Porter, and got an extensive briefing on them. Ultimately, though, our role is to ensure that the money is there, the service is being provided, and it is being provided to support women suffering from domestic violence.

Senator WATERS: Sure. It needs to be a quality service, though—

Senator Cash: Absolutely.

Senator WATERS: so I would hope that as Minister for Women you are taking him to task for this.

Senator Cash: It is not so much taking him to task, or taking the DSS to task. It is also about, for example, call waiting times—they were unacceptable. They were absolutely unacceptable.

Senator WATERS: Yes, but the solution is to give them some more funding so they can do the job. You do not need to contract it out to a private provider.

Senator Cash: And—I have not got it with me and I am trying to get it for you now—we have provided additional funding, in particular in relation to the second action plan under the national plan. Specific additional funding was provided for 1800RESPECT.

Senator WATERS: To MHS, though, or to—

Senator Cash: We are trying to get that for you now.

Senator WATERS: The extra funding was provided to whom?

Senator Cash: 1800RESPECT.

Senator WATERS: Who then gave it to MHS?

Senator Cash: I will need to find that out. That is what I am trying to get for you now.

Senator WATERS: Okay. Thanks for that. Can I move very quickly to some general budget questions. The 2016-17 Gender lens on the budget report that was released last night by the National Foundation for Australian Women, NFAW, which Senator Moore referred to earlier, is really quite a damning assessment of the budget, and in my view it is a very fair assessment. Marie Coleman, who heads up NFAW, said that the combination of the proposed Medicare levy increase, the freezing of family tax benefit and the student loan earlier repayment threshold means that the budget is 'particularly harsh for women'. What is the Office for Women's reaction to that assessment?

Ms Hatfield-Dodds : I think you are asking for the Office for Women's judgement or view of government policy, and we do not do that as public sector employees. But what we can tell you is that the government has prioritised five areas in the budget for women: helping working families with better access to child care and preschool; supporting women to participate in the workforce, reducing violence against women and their children, strengthening the family law system to protect domestic violence victims, and improving women's health—and there are a range of measures against those five priority areas.

Senator WATERS: Okay. Perhaps I will come at this from another angle. The other assertion by NFAW is:

… there has not been any effective gender aware analysis in the formation of this Budget.

Is that the case?

Ms McIntyre : I think the statement is untrue in the sense that we do provide analysis on each and every budget measure. That analysis is not released, and therefore the correct statement is that there is no publicly available analysis. It is certainly our role to give frank and fearless advice to the government, but it is up to the government to choose—

Senator WATERS: To ignore it, as it sounds like they have done—again.

Ms McIntyre : 'How that is taken into account' was what I was going to say.

Senator McKENZIE: Stop verballing us, please. Senator Waters is verballing—

Senator WATERS: Calm down, Bridget.

Senator McKENZIE: Calm down?

Senator WATERS: Yes.

Senator McKENZIE: Well, don't harass the witnesses.

Senator WATERS: I am not harassing the witnesses.

CHAIR: Thank you, senators.

Senator Cash: Senator Waters, I have had a look at the NFAW gender lens report, and I also disagree with much of what has been stated. I think the Office for Women have articulated that they provide comment on the development of budget measures from a gender perspective, and that is the consistent evidence that has been given at numerous estimates. But also, when you actually do go through the budget, there are a number of measures that do deliver for women, particularly in relation to domestic violence and, certainly, in relation to participation in the workforce.

I do note that one of the comments that were made in the document that you are referring to was that there was no real focus on I think it was youth unemployment and, in particular, women. But it failed to note the $850 million investment that the government made in the last budget over the forward estimates, and the fact that the PaTH program had formally commenced on 1 April. So I myself do not necessarily agree with the comments that have been made. I think the budget itself has a number of measures which do deliver for women.

Senator WATERS: Okay. I was going to ask how strongly you are pushing cabinet on these matters, but you will not be able to answer me—

Senator Cash: Unfortunately.

Senator WATERS: so there is no point asking. For my final question, I want to ask about the women's budget impact statement, which we had for a good 20-odd years. It stopped being prepared in I think it was 2013, and we have been asking for it to be returned ever since. Does the Office for Women agitate for the return of such a document—a public document?

I hear that you say you provide private advice—although no-one can ever see it, so we do not know what it is or whether it has been adhered to; we just see the budget and see how bad it is for women. But does the Office for Women advocate for the return of the women's budget impact statement, as a public analysis of the gender impacts of the budget?

Ms Hatfield-Dodds : The Office for Women provides advice to government, and particularly to the Minister for Women, on how best to communicate its gender budget story and its gender-based goals with the broader community. But no, the Office for Women does not advocate for particular measures like that.

Senator WATERS: Minister, have you pushed for the return of the women's budget impact statement?

Senator Cash: We actually send out a summary of the budget and the measures that deliver for women, on budget night, to all relevant stakeholders. But in saying that, if you look at the last few women's budget statements that you are referring to, they just became glossy documents. I prefer to focus on policy. As I said, we send out a summary on budget night. At the moment, we are very much focused on delivering the participation strategy.

Senator MOORE: Minister, are we on the mailing list for that summary document?

Senator Cash: I do not send it out; the Office for Women does.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: Is this the media background brief? Is that what we are talking about?

Senator Cash: Yes, that is it.

Senator McKENZIE: So you have got it?

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: I am not too sure how it is distributed. It seems like it is not distributed too widely.

Ms McIntyre : It is on the Office for Women website.

Senator MOORE: So it is not a separate document.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: Minister, at the last round of estimates we had a discussion about gender balance on government boards, and some steps the government was taking to improve the situation thereof. One of the things that the Nick Xenophon Team has been pushing for—for quite some time—is the 'if not, why not' reporting: if a board has not reached its gender target, that there be some sort of explanation about that. At the last estimates you said:

The other thing we have done, in terms of our writing to ministers and external bodies, is that I have approved an, 'If not, why not?' So they actually have to justify the appointment that they make if it is not a suitably qualified female.

Can you tell me a little bit more about this 'if not, why not' reporting initiative that the government has developed?

Ms Hatfield-Dodds : It kind of is what it says on the can. What happens is, when different government entities provide names to the Office for Women, and then to the Minister for Women, if there is not at least a good gender balance in the names that come up and if it is for a board where the overwhelming dominance is male, the minister now sends it back and says to that agency, 'If not, why not? Please go out and proactively look to find women who are competent, capable and expert to be considered for this board.'

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: Does the 'if not, why not' reporting include a report that is given to the minister?

Senator Cash: The report will have to be given to cabinet. So, when we go through board appointments at cabinet—without disclosing cabinet processes—the relevant minister will need to justify to cabinet why the particular appointment has not been made, or why a particular appointment is not of a woman, to ensure the targets are met.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: So that report would be prepared every time a new board member has been appointed. Is that correct?

Senator Cash: Correct. We get the gender balance at every meeting.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: Who gets to see that report? Is it just the minister and cabinet?

Senator Cash: It is cabinet-in-confidence. In saying that though, as at 1 July—as I think we have discussed at previous estimates—the data will go live. For example, the data for external bodies that appoint as well, because there was not transparency around that process. We are trying to encourage as much transparency as possible; you will be able to go and see who is appointing to a particular board, and the gender analysis.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: Returning to the 'if not, why not' reporting, I would like to make a proposal and see what the level of interest is. If there are reports being made per appointment, would the government look at preparing a report—once a year, twice a year—on board appointments and releasing information about 'if not, why not' on a de-identified basis?

For example, you could say, 'These departments did not appoint women. They attributed this to a lack of females applying for the job or a lack of suitably qualified females' just so the public is aware about some of the barriers that exist in relation to achieving gender equality.

Senator Cash: I can certainly take that on board and discuss that with my colleagues. As you would be aware, there is quite a bit of information that is obviously made public in terms of statistics. We are trying to enliven even further transparency as of 1 July in terms of taking it to the next level, with outside bodies to a point, and ministers have little or no discretion over those appointments. But, certainly, I am happy to talk to you offline as well as to what further processes we could consider.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: With the further information about who is appointing to government boards, will that be available on your website? How is that going to be distributed or made public?

Ms McIntyre : Formerly, once a year, we will include that in the board links report that we do annually, so it will be included in that data. At the moment, we do not do interim reporting throughout the year, primarily, because quarterly data changes and, depending on how many board appointments there are in a quarter, the data can get a little bit skewed. So we do it on an annual basis so it is comparative, but it will be included in that.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: I move onto a different subject area now—and that is some of the budget measures that do affect women. One of them is some money that has been provided to expand Specialist Domestic Violence Units. These units are often located within community legal centres or some health services. I understand that the Attorney-General's Department has responsibility over how that funding is allocated, but I would like to know from a general sense what input the Office for Women had in how that funding was allocated?

Senator Cash: Is this in relation to the definition of domestic violence?

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: No—Specialist Domestic Violence Units that are being set up within some Community Legal Centres and health services to support women who are experiencing domestic violence. I wanted to know what the Office for Women's input was in terms of that particular policy.

Ms Hatfield-Dodds : So the Office for Women has input for this one in particular and issues like this at the early stage of the policy development: where might government be thinking about allocating its resources and for what purpose? In terms of the actual money allocated to specific units, that is a matter for tenders and all the rest that the Department of the Attorney-General manages.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: So it is fair to say then that your involvement is identifying the need for perhaps these wraparound services, but then it is up to AG's—

Senator Cash: Correct, but also providing, obviously, the feedback that we receive in relation to the varying services. Certainly the feedback that we have received via the Office for Women and myself in relation to the Specialist Domestic Violence Units is that they have been very well received, and that is why you see additional—

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: Expanded funding.

Senator Cash: Yes.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: Just turning to another budget measure, which is the extension of funding agreements to tackle homelessness, can you talk me through your office's involvement in that funding policy area?

Ms Hatfield-Dodds : Again, it is a very similar process where we were in conversation with agencies across the Commonwealth government around the impact of homelessness, particularly on women. So women, as you would be aware, are a very high proportion of homeless Australians. Our policy advice was around taking that seriously and adding our weight to the policy advice around extending that funding and locking it in.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: In terms of developing that policy advice, do you meet with stakeholders or providers of homelessness services, especially for women?

Ms McIntyre : We would not normally go out and meet with stakeholders on individual budget measures, because the Office for Women is not the primary owner of any of those policy pieces of work. The relevant departments do—

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: But you contribute to the formulation of the policy.

Ms McIntyre : That is right.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: So, in order to contribute to the formulation of the policy, do you meet with stakeholders to get information about where their concerns lie and where they see funding gaps?

Ms McIntyre : Not on individual budget measures but, obviously, through women's alliances and other stakeholders, we are often provided information in general stakeholder engagement that then helps us inform the positions that we talk to other departments about as the budget evolves. That is ongoing: it is not just something we do at budget time; we do it throughout the year.

Senator Cash: This is an ongoing issue and has been for many years now, in terms of the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement but also women fleeing from domestic violence and the extent to which the services could be provided to them.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: Finally—I think I read it in the budget paper right—your office has received a $312,000 funding cut between this year and next year. Is that right? Is your funding going down?

Ms McIntyre : No, our funding is not. I think what you are referring to is the change in the Women's Leadership and Development Strategy. There was funding for the last four years for the Woodrow Wilson partnership, which ceases at the end of this year.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: How much was that funding worth?

Ms McIntyre : This year it is about $300,000.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: So that is where that figure came from.

Ms McIntyre : I think it is about 350, and there is a little bit of indexation in next year. That money ceasing, plus indexation, will give you the net change.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: Was that the Woodrow foundation?

Ms McIntyre : The Woodrow Wilson and Public Service partnership.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: What did that do?

Ms McIntyre : It was about women in the Public Service. That money was spent on initiatives for leadership women in the Public Service. It is a memorandum of understanding with the Woodrow Wilson foundation in the United States.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: Will that work be continued by your office or will that work in that space stop now that the funding has gone?

Ms McIntyre : We will do an evaluation of the partnership at the end of the agreement and provide some advice to the minister as to whether we think that it is worth entering into a further MOU.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: So, at this stage, it has not been replaced by anything. You are waiting for an assessment and then advice to the minister?

Ms Hatfield-Dodds : While it is not being replaced by anything, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet is developing a diversity inclusion strategy. That is a department-wide strategy about not just gender but also some other dimensions, so LGBTIQ staff, CALD staff, staff living with disability and First Australian staff. We are trying to ensure that we are identifying and removing barriers that might stop particular population groups in our department reaching their potential.

Senator Cash: If you would like a briefing on that issue particularly, I am more than happy to have a briefing provided to you.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: That would be great. Thank you.

Senator McKENZIE: Continuing on how the budget delivers for women, I just wondered if you could let us know what the government is doing to strengthen the family law system.

Ms Hatfield-Dodds : The government is investing in establishing parenting management hearings. That is one of the measures, which is designed to be a non-adversarial forum. It is a new forum to resolve less complex family law disputes between self-represented parties. It is trying to take people out of the high-impact system as much as possible. That is a $12.7 million investment in the budget. The budget also provides nearly $11 million to the Federal Circuit Court, the Family Court of Australia and the Family Court of Western Australia to employ additional family consultants. That is around assisting with the early management of cases where there are allegations of family violence or child abuse. That is designed to be a preventive measure. In the budget, the other key measure here is the commissioning of the Australian Law Reform Commission to undertake a comprehensive review of family law system—the idea, of course, being that subsequent budgets may pick up some of those recommendations that arise out of that review.

Senator McKENZIE: Did the report Senator Waters was quoting from go to the NDIS, to having a system like that fully funded and to the impact that that would have on any single mothers, who are typically the people left caring for children with a disability? If you could, take that on notice.

Ms McIntyre : We will take that on notice.

Senator McKENZIE: I want to know to what level they looked at the budget measures across the board and the impact that would have on women, particularly low-SES women. What announcements in the budget went to support women's health?

Ms Hatfield-Dodds : Sorry to interrupt you, Senator McKenzie, but, on that issue around the NDIS and supporting women into the caring workforce, the first thing to say is that we know that, in Australia's future labour market, one of the big growth areas—in fact the biggest growth area—is predicted to be the caring workforce. So the government in this budget has invested $33 million to boost the local care support workforce. The first two foci areas of that will be the disability workforce and the aged care workforce largely because they are the first workforces to be moving towards a consumer directed care model with competition around them. Those workforces are under rapid transformation at the moment and are desperately looking for more people to come in and boost them up, so they are ideal areas for women and men to move into as the growth area of the economy.

Senator McKENZIE: What about women's health and the budget?

Ms McIntyre : Included in the budget was an investment of nearly $65 million over four years for BreastScreen Australia to enable more than 200,000 women aged from 70 to 74 to continue to have access to screening services. It also included $41.6 million over the forward estimates for the Victorian Cytology Service to support the early detection of pre-cancer cervical conditions. There was targeted indexation for a number of diagnostic imaging items including mammograms, which is a part of the broader Medicare indexation measure.

Senator MOORE: A lot of questions will be on notice, as you would expect. I have one question about the time use survey that has been done by stats in the past. The next one was going to be scheduled in 2019. Are you aware whether that is still going to be the case? It is a survey that is used a lot in looking at the active participation of women in the workforce.

Ms McIntyre : We have been talking to the bureau of stats about it.

Senator MOORE: I will be asking the question of the bureau of stats as well.

Ms McIntyre : My understanding—and it would be good for you to clarify with them—is that if they undertook it now, it would still have to be the same paper based survey. But they are looking at whether there is an option, which would not only be cheaper but also more efficient, to deliver an electronic app based survey.

Senator MOORE: Has the Office of Women been approached to provide funding to help with that survey?

Ms McIntyre : As you know, we do not have funding for other government departments, but certainly they have advocated to us around supporting it.

Senator MOORE: Is there no capacity there for other departments to make an application for the women's grant programs?

Ms McIntyre : The size of the time use survey would not be able to be absorbed within our funding.

Senator MOORE: What was the size of that survey and what advocacy was provided to the Office of Women?

Ms McIntyre : It was more than $3 million.

Senator MOORE: So the bureau of stats has actually indicated that is something they would like to do? I have asked them about that but they did come to the Office of Women to see if there was any support for that.

Ms McIntyre : We have got a working group around a number of women issues, and certainly data from the time use survey of 2006 is still being used. A time use survey is a very useful evidence base.

Senator MOORE: Minister, has there been any formal discussion with you about the need to have such a survey?

Senator Cash: There have not been formal discussions as such. But in relation to the survey itself, my understanding is they are looking at ways to facilitate a better use of technology to capture the data.

Senator MOORE: Which is caught up in the whole decision.

Senator Cash: Obviously we do not have the budget unfortunately to provide the money that they require.

Senator MOORE: On notice, can the committee get some indication about what data sets are available and what are being used, particularly under this heading of 'women issues'—the various things around what you have to report, particularly the G20 commitment and also the SDGs.

Ms McIntyre : And CEDAW as well.

Senator MOORE: If we could get a clear indication of what data sets exist and then what gaps there are. We will have a look at that as well.

Ms McIntyre : We can do that. Chair, Senator Moore did ask about the FTE of the workforce participation team. The current FTE is 3.75.

Senator MOORE: That is not much more than a couple.

Senator McALLISTER: Minister, I think in your earlier responses you indicated that the Office for Women provides advice on every single budget measure.

Senator Cash: Not every single budget measure. You will need to ask the Office for Women. I am not in a position to actually say that.

Senator McALLISTER: You do oversight them.

Senator Cash: Absolutely, I do. Perhaps Ms Hatfield-Dodds can explain the actual role for you.

Senator McALLISTER: To be really specific, I would like to understand how it is that you input, if at all, into the budget process and what the nature of those inputs are. Are they written documents, are they conversations, is there a spreadsheet? I would like to understand what it looks like when your organisation involves itself, if it does at all, in the budget process.

Ms Hatfield-Dodds : The Office for Women, like every part of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, sees almost every cabinet submission—certainly every cabinet submission it is cleared to do—as it goes on its way through to cabinet and so is able to express a view on every single one. Generally, there are constraints. There are a lot of cabinet submissions going through, so the office tends to target advice and target analysis of budget measures or policy measures that are going through to cabinet.

Senator McALLISTER: What is the basis for that targeting? Do you have a framework or a risk matrix? How do you actually do this?

Ms Hatfield-Dodds : The basis of the targeting is the government's priorities around women: women's workforce participation, women's safety and leadership. They are the lenses that we bring. The Office for Women will have views on developing policy around issues like homelessness because that is a women's safety issue as well as, potentially, an issue around women's economic participation. There are the homelessness measures in the budget. The more that we can move people through the experience of homelessness and keep people's time of homelessness very short the more we can help them reconnect with the world of work. The Office for Women's role in terms of policy advice to government is functionally no different to any other part of the department. What is different is that its focus is on gender equity and women.

Senator McALLISTER: When you are thinking about participation, does that include economic equality? You would appreciate that the outcomes of participation, we hope, are that men and women, perhaps in the distant future, migrate towards having equal economic opportunities and experiences. Do you consider the impact of taxation measures on women? Would that be targeted in your risk matrix?

Ms Hatfield-Dodds : Yes, we do.

Senator McALLISTER: Did you consider the impact of the half-a-per-cent increase in the Medicare levy on women? Did you provide advice on that?

Ms McIntyre : Yes, we did.

Senator McALLISTER: Minister, are you able to share the nature of that advice?

Senator Cash: No, I am not, because it is cabinet-in-confidence.

Senator McALLISTER: Is there any point at which you anticipate publishing any analysis of the impact of such a change?

Senator Cash: It is cabinet-in-confidence, so—

Senator McALLISTER: It is cabinet-in-confidence, but there really is not anything to stop you from moving to a position where the budget is analysed for its impact on women, now that the budget is public, and publishing those results. Do you have any analysis about—

Senator Cash: It would be highly unusual for any government, regardless of who is in power, to publish information that is cabinet-in-confidence. I am sure you would understand that.

Senator McALLISTER: But I am not asking for the information that is cabinet-in-confidence; I am asking whether or not you are planning to undertake an analysis of the impact for women of increasing the Medicare levy across all income levels.

Senator Cash: The department has already provided advice in relation to that. But it is cabinet-in-confidence.

Senator McALLISTER: And it is not your intention to seek advice that could be made public?

Senator Cash: Again, I am not going to get into this argument with you. As you know, the budget process across the board is a process that is undertaken in cabinet-in-confidence. I have to say, though, I think the budget delivers significantly for Australian women.

Senator McALLISTER: Have you received any correspondence, Minister, or had any conversations with people in the sector about producing a women's budget statement?

Senator Cash: Not, probably, for some time now. I think the government's position has been quite clear in relation to the actual production of a glossy document. I understand there are calls every year for the government to produce a women's budget statement—or, should I say, a glossy document—but our position has always been: we focus on the policy and we provide an update on budget night of the major impacts. But, at the moment, what we are looking towards is the 2020-25 gender participation strategy.

Senator McALLISTER: Minister, why don't you produce analysis about the impact of measures on women?

Senator Cash: The budget is a holistic document, as you would be aware—again, I am happy to take you through the positive impacts that the budget has on women. There are a number of measures that have already been gone to in relation to how we are delivering for Australian women. It is a key focus.

Senator McALLISTER: Are you willing to take me through, with equal attention, the measures which do not have a positive impact on women? You are surely not asserting that every single measure in the budget has a positive impact on women?

Senator Cash: In relation to the budget measures, there are significant measures that have a positive impact on women. I am very proud—

Senator McALLISTER: Doubtless that is true, but are there any that have a negative impact on women?

Senator Cash: I am sure you are about to tell me, if there are.

Senator McALLISTER: No, I am asking you the question.

Senator Cash: There are always, unfortunately, in budgets—if I were to say that there were no negative impacts on women, you would jump in and say that you will find a particular person. But, in the main, we have worked very hard to ensure that we do deliver for Australian women, and I believe the budget does.

Senator McALLISTER: It is my view that, over a long period of time, if governments had been delivering for both men and women, we would not see the inequality of outcomes that we see now—

Senator Cash: I am assuming you are talking about governments generally, regardless of—

Senator McALLISTER: over a long period of time—

Senator Cash: Over a long period of time.

Senator McALLISTER: across the world. I am not seeking to make, at this point in time, a political point about your government's success or failure, but I am asking: why you don't consider that an even-handed analysis of what is good and what is not so good in the budget for women would not be useful. Why are we not shown this—

Senator Cash: I disagree with what you are saying—we focus on implementing policies that benefit all Australians whether they are boys or girls, men or women. Certainly, as I have stated to you, in terms of our investment, this budget builds on previous investments that we have made. As a general example, domestic violence: there has been a substantial focus on reducing domestic violence since we came into government, including the additional $100 million for the Women's Safety Package; the $30 million for the national awareness campaign—we are looking at stopping the violence before it starts; ensuring that the CLCs receive the appropriate funding; ensuring what we are now doing with homelessness; ensuring that we are looking at the measures that the Attorney-General is putting in place, for example, in relation to the cross-examination of victims of domestic violence; ensuring that we are delivering for young parents—the majority who are often women, who need to get back into the workforce—with the national rollout of ParentsNext. Budgets build on successive measures. We introduced, as you know, the low-income superannuation contribution—

Senator McALLISTER: You maintained it, yes. I am sorry to interrupt, but I want to come back to the issue of the way that the tax and transfer system impacts on women. I think your evidence is that neither the Office for Women nor you sought information from Treasury about the impact of the tax and transfer payment system budget measures on women. Is that correct?

Senator Cash: No, that was not the evidence. Again, I would need to defer to the Office for Women about the conversations they have had with Treasury on those items.

Senator McALLISTER: Have you been briefed about the impact of the budget measures in relation to tax and transfer on women?

Senator Cash: Yes, I have.

Senator McALLISTER: What can you tell me about this?

Senator Cash: I cannot because, unfortunately, it was to do with cabinet-in-confidence briefings. Perhaps it might serve the committee to have a broader explanation of how the tax and transfer system impacts on, in particular, women wanting to return to work.

Senator McALLISTER: Minister, there is information in the public domain—which you do not seem in a position to refute—that suggests that, combined, these changes could lead to effective marginal tax rates of possibly 100 per cent or higher for some women, particularly as family tax benefit part A begins to decrease at $51,903. Is that acceptable?

Senator Cash: As you have said, Senator, that is information—I am not in a position, here and now, to actually look at that information and give you a response, but again—

Senator McALLISTER: Do you think there is analysis somewhere in the government system that could respond to that?

Ms Hatfield-Dodds : Senator, the particular measures you are referring to sit within Minister Porter's portfolio of the Department of Social Services. So they will be able to answer questions about the specific nature of EMTRs, and how they play out in terms of particular budget measures. But certainly, for the Office for Women, Treasury sits on a working group that is looking at these measures in the main. So, while the Office of Women has not requested modelling from the Treasury nor seen modelling from Treasury around EMTRs, it is in an ongoing policy discussion, with the Department of Treasury and other departments, about how EMTRs and other structural issues impact women's ability to move from welfare and into work, and to move between different income points on the income scale.

Senator Cash: This is what we are now looking at as part of the broader participation strategy to meet the G20 target.

Senator McALLISTER: Minister, are there any measures in this budget that address the issue of effective marginal tax rates? It is you that I am asking, Minister—do you not know?

Senator Cash: There are a number of measures in the budget that obviously cut across a number of portfolios; in particular, in relation to measures that had previously been announced—in relation to child care, paid parental leave and incentives—to actually get women back into the workforce, that build on previous measures that we have announced. You will be aware of the LISTO, the low income superannuation tax offset, which we had argued for—homelessness; there are a number of issues, and you need to actually look at each person holistically as opposed to looking at one particular measure.

Senator McALLISTER: I think we might need to leave it there, Chair.

CHAIR: There being no further questions for the Office of Women, I will thank them very much and we will move to the Australian Public Service Commission.