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Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee
22/05/2017
Estimates
PARLIAMENT
Department of Parliamentary Services

Department of Parliamentary Services

[20:28]

CHAIR: I welcome back officers from the Department of Parliamentary Services and I thank you for your flexibility in being with us tonight perhaps later than you anticipated.

Senator WONG: I do have more questions about the disclosure of phones but, given the time, I will put those on notice. Is the increase in your departmental resources from 174.5 to 178.6 simply a function of indexation?

Mr Creagh : The change from 2016-17 to 2017-18 is made up of a number of things. Primarily it is made up of a move of approximately $4.45 million of departmental capital budget to the departmental operating budget and then the usual mix of parameters.

Senator WONG: If we go to page 8 of the PBS, am I looking at the right part?

Mr Creagh : Yes.

Senator WONG: So have you moved this line item here? Am I in the right spot?

Mr Creagh : Yes.

Senator WONG: Do you want to take me through this table and tell me what you mean?

Mr Creagh : Yes, certainly. The increase in departmental appropriations is offset by the departmental capital budget. There was $4.45-odd million moved from the departmental capital budget to the departmental operating budget. That was a reflection of the changing nature of our IT purchases—so moving to more cloud based solutions. The driver of the section 74 revenue receipts is one of the primary drivers of the increase in resources. That is primarily driven by the catering function.

Senator WONG: And your staffing ASL—820 to 897. Is that right?

Mr Creagh : That is correct.

Senator WONG: So why the increase in staff?

Mr Creagh : The increase in staff that we put through this budget is related to the forward estimates of the 2017-18 financial year. The increase was approximately 38 staff related to catering—that is 36 directly related to the function, and two support staff, that being corporate staff. We have also budgeted a net increase in the PSS of 20, and that is in line with the changes that we have been making to the increasing number of the PSS.

Senator WONG: Sorry, increase of—

Mr Creagh : Increasing number of parliamentary security staff. There is also an increase in the changing mix of contractors to ongoing staff as well.

Senator WONG: Are you able to give me on notice what you have just told me with numbers attached? Is that all right?

Mr Creagh : Yes.

Senator WONG: So 'this is how this component is moving'—that would be useful.

Mr Creagh : Would you like that for the appropriation figures as well, or just for the ASL?

Senator WONG: Just the ASL. I understand the appropriation figures, I think, unless there is something I have not understood that you can tell me about.

Mr Creagh : No, no.

Senator WONG: Let's go to security personnel first. I know that you offered me a private briefing, which I may take up, and thank you for that. I asked on the last occasion, and put a question on notice as well, in relation to the $2.6 million that was received for the recruitment of 64 PSS staff with capability commensurate to parliamentary service level 3. I think you gave me that answer in question on notice 21.

Mr Creagh : That is correct, yes: questions on notice 20 and 21.

Senator WONG: Yes. So you have got $2.6 million for the recruitment of 64 PSS staff at parliamentary service level 3. That was additional to the existing departmental appropriation?

Mr Creagh : Just to clarify: as we answered in question on notice 20, which broke down the $2.6 million into its component parts, we received approximately $5 million to $5½ million dollars across the forwards for the employee costs; the $2.7 million escalated to around $5 million for supply costs; and then there was an amount that was removed from DPS's budget that went to the AFP.

Senator WONG: So what is the amount associated with the PSL3—what you tell me subsequently in question on notice 21 is 64 of them. How much of the breakdown in the operating funding in question on notice 20 relates to that component?

Mr Creagh : The employee costs.

Senator WONG: What is the total forward estimates cost there?

Mr Creagh : I will have to get a calculator out.

Senator WONG: Is that right?

Mr Creagh : Yes.

Senator WONG: I asked you how much is associated with the 64. You have told me the employee costs, which are 5.6, 5.6, 5.7, 5.7. That is a lot.

Mr Creagh : Those numbers are generated from the Finance costing template.

Senator WONG: So that component is all for the 64?

Mr Creagh : Yes.

Senator WONG: That is what you are telling me? It is not: 'This is the incremental cost'?

Mr Creagh : When you say 'incremental cost'—

Senator WONG: Over and above your existing ASL.

Mr Creagh : Yes.

Senator WONG: What was the total across the forwards for that, from the original—was it 2014-15 or 2015-16?

Mr Creagh : It was MYEFO 2014-15.

Senator WONG: From 2015-16 to 2018-19, what was that in total?

Mr Creagh : It would be approximately $22.4 million. Sorry; I have not got that total with me. I have just done it on a calculator.

Senator WONG: That is okay. I thought you might have the precise figure, but that is all right.

In question on notice 62, I asked some other questions about classifications. I was given an answer which talked about the classifications. There are PSL1 and 2 and then PSL3, which is described as PSS parliamentary security operations room operator, 24/7. Can someone explain to me the difference, if there is one, between the parliamentary service level 3 officer in question on notice 21 and the parliamentary security operations room operator in question on notice 62?

Mr Cooper : The PSL3 that you see at question 62 is people that operate our electronic security. The PSL3 that you referred to earlier was a decision that was since changed, after the funding was provided.

Senator WONG: What would those people have done—the PSL3 senior parliamentary security service officers? What were the qualifications for the original NPP?

Mr Cooper : The duty statements were never finalised, because the department changed its approach.

Senator WONG: No. I will give you the opportunity to explain the change, but, when you sought more funding of $22.4 million, which was the 64 officers, what were the requirements associated with those positions at that classification?

Mr Cooper : The proposal, I understand, was that it would be a level of officer similar to the PSL1/2s but with additional skills and abilities, additional fitness level and additional training in relation to defensive tactics and so forth.

Senator WONG: So people who are more hands-on, because this was in the context of the AFP not providing certain services?

Mr Cooper : I understand that is the case.

Senator WONG: When was the decision made to shift from that type of workforce to the security operations room operator?

Mr Cooper : The two were separate. The security operations rooms cohort was already in existence.

Senator WONG: You said it was since changed.

Mr Cooper : What I meant to say was that, with the PSL3 cohort that you were referring to, the department has since made a decision not to continue with that cohort, and that decision was made early last year.

Senator WONG: What happened to the money? What does the money go towards? Doesn't it go towards these operators?

Mr Creagh : It should have. However, noting that we had a significant underspend in the 2014-15 financial year, department wide, and came in pretty much on budget in the 2015-16 financial year, I guess it was put into the resources of the department, the internal budget was allocated and we were trying to manage towards that number.

Senator WONG: You got $22.4 million to employ 64 new staff. You made a decision not to employ 64 new staff, so what happened to the money?

Mr Creagh : It is still within our baseline funding.

Senator WONG: But there are no additional staff, no additional security staff, as per what you were budgeted for; is that right?

Mr Stefanic : To an extent it was absorbed by overtime to fill those substantive roles required.

Senator WONG: Did you employ any additional staff with that additional budget allocation, and if so how many and at what level?

Mr Stefanic : Staff have been progressively recruited. I guess, as we have outlined in previous estimates, there had been a period of time when a rolling recruitment process had been halted while the notion of this PSL3 was being developed. So it was only last year that the process was resumed for filling the staffing. As we have noted previously, we are still well short of where we need to be.

Senator WONG: Okay. So early 2016 the decision was made. Was that by you? Who was that by, Mr Stefanic?

Mr Stefanic : A previous acting first assistant secretary.

Senator WONG: They made a decision that you would not proceed down the path of having 64 parliamentary security officers at PSL3—correct? You were secretary then, Mr Stefanic?

Mr Stefanic : Yes, I was.

Senator WONG: And you agreed with that?

Mr Stefanic : Yes. I found, as far as my role was concerned, I had difficulty discerning the difference between the PSL1/2s and the PSL3s, with the only real distinction being, as Mr Cooper pointed out, additional training and testing requirements. There appeared to be no real, substantive difference in the work performed.

Senator WONG: So that decision was made. I just want to know: if you were going to get 64 new staff over four years for $22.4 million and you still have the $22.4 million, how many additional staff are there in the security area?

Mr Creagh : I will have to hand that on to Mr Cooper, sorry. Mr Cooper, do you know the number of additional new staff?

Mr Cooper : Sorry; what was that?

Senator WONG: You were funded $22 million for 64 new staff. You made a decision not to proceed with a particular classification but you still got the money. I just want to know how many additional security staff have been recruited as a result of the $22 million.

Mr Stefanic : The number of PSS from grades PSL1 to PSL4 has increased from 150 people as at 30 June 2015 to 176 people as at 30 April 2017.

Senator WONG: What was the beginning date?

Mr Stefanic : At 30 June 2015 we had 150, and 176 at—

Senator WONG: And has the cost of that 26 over two years been attributed to the $22 million?

Mr Stefanic : It would go towards the additional employee costs we received, yes.

Senator WONG: Okay—so 26 out of 64 additional. Do you have a target of how many you are going to have?

Mr Cooper : We require another 31 staff in the PSS.

Senator WONG: But these are at lower levels, aren't they? Your original costing was at a higher level. PSL3s were a more senior classification—correct?

Mr Cooper : It is a more senior classification. It would seem it would be higher.

Senator WONG: Of the 26, how many of them are at 1, 2 or 3?

Mr Cooper : They are all at 1/2.

Senator WONG: So you were funded for 64 at a higher level, you have employed 26 at a lower level and you have kept the money?

Mr Cooper : And we are still recruiting for, approximately, another 31.

Senator WONG: How many of them are PSL3 operators, which is question on notice 62? Were there any additional ones?

Mr Cooper : No, we have been recruiting PSL1/2s.

Senator WONG: There has been nobody recruited at PSL3 level?

Mr Cooper : I do not think there has.

Senator WONG: Is there anyone employed at PSL3 level?

Mr Cooper : Yes, in the security operations room. In our recruiting, we recruit people at PSL1/2 and then, from time to time, they are promoted internally to higher levels.

Senator WONG: I think you gave me an answer—do you have 151 staff? Is that right?

Mr Cooper : That is correct.

Senator WONG: I cannot find it in front of me, but thank you for agreeing. How many are in each classification level? How many at 1 and 2, and how many at 3 and 4?

Mr Cooper : We have 10 PSL3s.

Senator WONG: And the remainder?

Mr Cooper : I might have to take that on notice.

Senator WONG: Okay. We have had discussions about full-time and casual staff previously. I want to know if there is a set of guidelines or a policy decision about the mix. What proportion are casual and what proportion are full-time? This is in the security area.

Mr Cooper : We will always require a cohort of casuals because of the flexible nature of the rostering. I do not have broken down the number of full-time versus the number of part-time.

Senator WONG: No, but surely to optimise your staffing arrangements you would want to know: 'What do we think is the minimum number of full-time employees and/or the minimum number of casuals?' If you are optimising, you would need to understand the mix of types of engagement. I am asking you: what have you got? Have you come to an internal view about what is the optimal level?

Mr Cooper : I do not have those figures with me. I would imagine we have a general idea. I would add that our old rostering system makes it more difficult for us to calculate that than we would like.

Senator WONG: If you do not know what you want, how do you make a decision about whether to offer casual or permanent employment?

Mr Cooper : If I said we do not know, I meant I do not have that information with me. As we get closer to our limit, we evaluate—

Senator WONG: What is the limit?

Mr Cooper : A further 31.

Senator WONG: I am trying to understand what your target is. Do you have a target? We are going to need this many officers and we want a minimum of X per cent, or this many positions, to be permanent and this many positions to be casual.

Mr Cooper : Our total target is 208.

Senator WONG: How many of them will be casual? If you have to take that on notice that is okay, but do you have a target? In terms of the 208, do you have numbers for how many of them you want permanent and how many you want casual?

Mr Cooper : We will have a target.

Senator WONG: Do you currently?

Mr Cooper : I will just ask the acting assistant secretary, security branch.

Mr Anderson : At the current time we have no more plans to recruit any more casuals. At this stage our recruitment will be centred around permanent staff, which are full-time and part-time sessional.

Senator WONG: Of the 176, how many are casual?

Mr Anderson : At the moment we have 28 casuals.

Senator WONG: So 28 out of 176?

Mr Anderson : Correct.

Senator WONG: And, of the 26 you have recruited to make up the 176, how many of those were casual? I think the secretary told me that between June 2015 and April 2017 you recruited 26 staff in the security area. Is that right—150 to 176?

Mr Anderson : That is correct.

Senator WONG: How many of the 26 were casual?

Mr Anderson : By head count, we have 151 in terms of permanent—sorry; 148 permanent—

Senator WONG: Yes, well that is right, because I just did 176 take away 28, but that was not my question. My question was: 'of the 26 new employees over the last two years'. If you do not have it, you can take it on notice, but have you determined to employ more casuals over the last two years?

Mr Stefanic : I think the simple answer to that question would be no. Looking across the figures, they are fairly consistent in terms of the number of casuals. So say, for example, at 30 June 2015, the number of casuals was 25; in June 2016 it was 33; at 31 March this year it was 27; and now it is 28. So those numbers are relatively static. I guess it would depend on the nature of casual employment. Some people move on, and I guess it would be time taken to recruit those. But I think that, from looking across those years, the numbers are certainly not going up, and I know that, through the recruitment rounds, we have been appointing casual staff into ongoing roles as they are successful in that recruitment.

Senator WONG: I will try and put some of these on notice. But can I just ask about rosters. What I was trying to get with my question on notice 63 was a sense of the change over the last four years. I am happy to take a point in time in each of those years. Do you understand what I am saying? You said it was too hard—'intensive and prolonged manual retrieval process'—but I am trying to get a sense of: how have the requirements on the security branch grown over the last four years? Do you understand what I am asking for?

Mr Cooper : Yes.

Senator WONG: I am not asking you to do every week. I am trying to get a sense of: over those four years identified—'13-14 to '16-17 to date—how many more people do you typically need?

Mr Cooper : You also had a question in relation to the average number of staff on duty on a sitting day, and that gives an indication—

Senator WONG: That is a slightly different proposition—

Mr Cooper : Yes, it is.

Senator WONG: because I think part of the proper question is: 'How many do you require—what are your rostering demands now, compared to what they were?' You did not want to answer 63 because it was too much information, so I am trying to get a sense of what you can give me, for the purpose that I am trying to understand, which is: how much more work is being asked of you?

Mr Cooper : If I can take that on notice, we will go away and see what information we can provide that might better answer your question.

Senator WONG: Yes, that would be useful. As to the extended shifts at 64: you have given me the context here. Without going into a long discussion, because of the time, is it fair to say that these are shifts where you would send the security officer if you had one, but if there is not one available your judgement is: that shift can remain unfilled without operational security being compromised—is that fair?

Mr Cooper : That is correct.

Senator WONG: I have some questions about what I understand the shifts—the 10-hour break and 14-hour shift—to be, but I will put them on notice. Did the car park patrol go beyond the security perimeter of the APH?

Mr Cooper : Managing the car parks is the responsibility of Security Branch. In the past, the PSS officers have been tasked with that function. That function does not need to be provided by PSS officers; it can be provided by other members of the branch, so we now have a designated car park manager.

Senator WONG: These are the car parks for the building, not ones outside the APH?

Mr Cooper : That is correct.

Senator WONG: But you regard those as being beyond the security perimeter?

Mr Cooper : Yes, I do. The security of those car parks is also supported by the AFP patrols and CCTV coverage. The primary role has been to ensure that people are not parking illegally.

Senator WONG: In the enterprise bargaining agreement, the provisions about the rostering arrangements, the 10-hour break, the number of shifts and the minimum break between shifts—are they being complied with?

Mr Cooper : In relation to security personnel?

Senator WONG: Yes.

Mr Cooper : Yes.

Senator WONG: I want to understand why you say, in question on notice 65, that some of the shift arrangements there are consistent with the enterprise agreement. I might do that on notice because you are frowning at me, so it might take a little longer than we have tonight.

Mr Cooper : Okay.

Senator WONG: All right, I will do that.

Mr Cooper : Thank you.

Senator WONG: But it is the case that staff are required to have a meal break after five hours; is that right?

Mr Cooper : That is correct.

Senator WONG: What steps are taken to ensure that staff get that?

Mr Cooper : It is a primary responsibility of the team leader to ensure that everyone has their break in the allotted time.

Senator WONG: And do they?

Mr Cooper : Yes. If it has not occurred on certain occasions, it is our policy, and our supervisors are instructed to ensure that that occurs. I cannot say to you that it has happened every single time, but I am not aware of there being a systematic issue there.

Senator WONG: Just remind me. The functional review of security—this is separate to what you discussed earlier today; is that right, Mr President? Or is it the same thing?

Mr Cooper : No, it is something different.

Senator WONG: It is yours?

Mr Cooper : Mine.

Senator WONG: Who is conducting that review?

Mr Cooper : It is being conducted jointly by Security Branch and the AFP.

Senator WONG: That is you or someone else?

Mr Cooper : I will ask the Acting Assistant Secretary, Security, to speak to that. It is dear to his heart.

Mr Anderson : Yes, Senator. What would you like to know about the functional review?

Senator WONG: Who is doing it?

Mr Anderson : The functional review, as Mr Cooper indicated, is being conducted between us and the AFP.

Senator WONG: Yes, I got that. Who? Are you doing it? Who is doing it? Who is actually doing it?

Mr Anderson : No, we have employed someone on a non-ongoing contract for 12 months.

Senator WONG: One person?

Mr Anderson : Supported by another person from the PSS.

Senator WONG: Was that an open tender, or how did you go about it?

Mr Anderson : No, the non-ongoing contract was appointed—

Senator WONG: It was an employee. Sorry, you did say that. Is that a former employee?

Mr Anderson : Of the PSS? No.

Senator WONG: A former public servant?

Mr Anderson : No, it is an ex-police officer.

Senator WONG: At what level?

Mr Anderson : I will have to take that on notice, but I believe it is an APS6 level.

Senator WONG: Did you get a separate budget for this, or is this being met with the internal budget?

Mr Anderson : No, it is within existing resources.

Senator WONG: You have not got a budget for it?

Mr Anderson : No.

Senator WONG: Is there a committee or something overseeing it, or whom do they report to or engage with?

Mr Anderson : No, the end result of the functional review will be a report that will go through SMB.

Senator WONG: No. As they do their work, who do they engage with? You plus someone from the AFP or someone more senior? I am just trying to understand who they talk to internally.

Mr Anderson : That is right. They talk to me, as the acting assistant secretary, and the commander of the AFP here at Parliament House.

Senator WONG: Is there going to be any overseas travel associated with this review?

Mr Anderson : Yes. They have already conducted that travel.

Senator WONG: Where did they go?

Mr Anderson : They went to the UK, Canada and the United States.

Senator WONG: Was it just them?

Mr Anderson : Yes, it was just them. The AFP fund their travel separately.

Senator WONG: Thank you.

Senator McKENZIE: I just want to go to those Indigenous employment figures and the questions on notice 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18. Last time we were here there were 11 Indigenous employees out of the total workforce, which equated to about 1.2 per cent and it was going backwards from Indigenous employment target in 2015. Can you update the committee on how that is tracking now?

Mr Stefanic : Senator McKenzie, I might ask Ms Hinchcliffe to answer your questions.

Ms Hinchcliffe : We still have 11 employees who are identifying as Indigenous at DPS, and the number has not changed since our last estimates appearance.

Senator McKENZIE: Have the people changed? If the number has not changed, have the people changed?

Ms Hinchcliffe : No, I understand that they are the same people.

Senator McKENZIE: The same people in the same level of staffing? That is question No. 15.

Ms Hinchcliffe : That is right, yes.

Senator McKENZIE: Where are you meant to be, come June next year?

Ms Hinchcliffe : As we answered in our question on notice, we have been provided with a target 2.5 per cent Indigenous employment by 30 June 2018.

Senator McKENZIE: So we have been at 1.2 for how long? How long have we been static on 11 employees?

Ms Hinchcliffe : I will need to take that on notice.

Senator McKENZIE: You do not know the previous financial year was 11?

Ms Hinchcliffe : The previous financial year as identified in our annual report was 11. That is right.

Senator McKENZIE: And now we are at 11.

Ms Hinchcliffe : And now we are at 11.

Senator McKENZIE: So, for two years we have not changed anything, but we have a plan to employ more Indigenous Australians?

Ms Hinchcliffe : We do, and we have been—

Senator McKENZIE: And how is that going?

Ms Hinchcliffe : We have just advertised two bulk recruitment rounds with affirmative measures. That was in relation to our visitor services officers and parliamentary security officers. Those recruitment rounds are continuing, so they have not been completed yet. As I discussed with you at last senate estimates, we have taken part in the Indigenous Australian Government Development Program, which is a graduate program. We have a graduate this year, and we are also looking to engage in that program again for the coming financial year. We have put in our nominations to have graduates, and we are waiting to hear back to hear how many graduates we would receive. We are also looking at participating in the Indigenous Apprenticeships Program, which is a program that is being run by the Department of Human Services and is a 12-month program to offer ongoing employment in areas like policy program development, service delivery and administration. We also participated on 28 March 2017 with PM&C's Indigenous work experience program, where 55 year 11 and 12 students came to Parliament House and met with the parliamentary service RAP champions to see the work that occurs in Parliament House, but also to discuss employment opportunities in the parliamentary service.

Senator McKENZIE: Thank you, Ms Hinchcliffe but, across the rest of the Public Service, we have seen more than 2,000 Indigenous Australians employed in the last 12 months. Your department, despite all the meetings and the RAP champions and the apprenticeship programs and the sitting down with PM&C, has yet to be able to increase your workforce over two years by one single Indigenous Australian—across all of your workforce. I find it incredible, when in other departments it has gone up to 2.4 per cent and we are still stuck on 1.2. Given the goal is 2.5 in a little over a year—a year and a month—what you are going to have to do is actually going to be quite revolutionary, because what you have been doing for the last two years has not been working, has it?

Ms Hinchcliffe : We were aiming towards the 2.5.

Senator McKENZIE: I know you are aiming towards the 2.5. But the same plan for this coming year is the plan you have had for the last two years. How are you going to double the number of employees in a year?

Ms Hinchcliffe : I have just laid out the actions that we have in place. We are using affirmative measures, as I have said, which we have just applied to our bulk rounds.

Senator McKENZIE: For security guards and visitor services?

Ms Hinchcliffe : And we are also looking at using other—

Senator McKENZIE: How many security officer positions are available, and how many visitor services officer positions are available?

Ms Hinchcliffe : In relation to our affirmative measures?

Senator McKENZIE: Yes.

Ms Hinchcliffe : The affirmative measures have been applied to—

Senator McKENZIE: How many security officers are you planning to hire in this round? Or is there no number and it is just open?

Mr Stefanic : We have indicated we need an additional 31 officers, so potentially—

Senator McKENZIE: Essentially, a third of those are going to have to be Indigenous for this to work?

Mr Stefanic : Correct.

Senator McKENZIE: Correct. Ambitious. The plan that you have had in place is the plan that you are going forward with?

Ms Hinchcliffe : Yes, the plan that I have just described is the plan that we were going forward with.

Senator McKENZIE: Is that different from anything you have done in the past two years? What are you doing now that you did not do?

Ms Hinchcliffe : The affirmative measures that I have just spoken to. These are the first two affirmative measures rounds that we have run. This is a new initiative that we are working on.

Senator McKENZIE: What does an affirmative measure look like, when you say an 'affirmative measure'?

Ms Hinchcliffe : An affirmative measure means that positions are targeted.

Senator McKENZIE: Specifically?

Ms Hinchcliffe : That is exactly right.

Senator McKENZIE: You cannot apply unless you are?

Ms Hinchcliffe : That is right.

Senator McKENZIE: So you are going to get all 30? Sorry, I am looking at Mr Stefanic now. Of those 31 security positions, are they all affirmative?

Mr Stefanic : I am not sure.

Ms Hinchcliffe : No, they are not.

Senator McKENZIE: Clarify for me: how many of the security officer roles and visitor officer roles have you set aside as affirmative roles?

Ms Hinchcliffe : I will take that on notice.

Senator McKENZIE: What are the consequences if you do not reach the target?

Ms Hinchcliffe : As I understand it, we need to report on our Indigenous employment rates each year in our annual report, and that also gets reported by PM&C.

Senator McKENZIE: Is there any further action? Is it anybody's performance criteria, or is it attached to any accountability targets?

Mr Stefanic : I do not believe it features in our performance measures.

Senator McKENZIE: As long as we report the number, irrespective of what it is, in the annual report we can tick that box and move on. Is that right?

Mr Stefanic : I guess I would not see it as ticking a box. It is obviously an important employment strategy that we have put in place, so it is certainly not a box-ticking exercise. I would agree with you that we are behind the eight ball on it, but what I am confident of—and I have seen the body of work that has certainly been done in the past 12 months—is that we are working towards complying with that 2½ per cent. I cannot say that prior to that we were as proactive as we should have been.

Senator McKENZIE: Thank you. In terms of the classification levels of the current Indigenous staff, are they at the upper or the lower level of those bands?

Ms Hinchcliffe : I would need to take that on notice.

Senator McKENZIE: And, similarly, for the affirmative-measures visitors services officers and security officers, I would like to have some sort of understanding of their levels and where they sit within that—

Ms Hinchcliffe : Yes, I will take that on notice.

Senator McKENZIE: and what measures you are taking as a department to look at leadership roles and more executive positions for Indigenous Australians. How is the procurement policy tracking? I think last time you said there were 15 contracts.

Mr Creagh : The 15 contracts were related to the 2015-16 financial year. This financial year, our target is 25 contracts. As of the end of April, we have 30 contracts that are reportable, for a total value of $1.367 million. That is across a range of areas within the department.

Senator McKENZIE: Fantastic—well done. Thank you very much. I look forward to getting those answers on notice.

Senator WONG: Mr Cooper, you said to me that, yes, you think the enterprise agreement has been complied with. I would like to ask you this question: are there any occasions on which the pattern of overtime worked is leading to staff having less than a 10-hour break and/or working more than 16 hours in a day?

Mr Cooper : I do not think there is. I will make the point that we have a situation now where we have staff looking for the extra hours and looking to work longer hours, and there are more staff looking for those extra hours than we have available because we have increased our numbers.

Senator WONG: But you will take that on notice if you are incorrect?

Mr Cooper : Yes, I will.

Senator KITCHING: I would like to clarify a couple of matters arising from questions on notice 73 to 75 from the additional estimates period. It is in relation to the procedures for applying for parliamentary passes. In response to part 3 of question on notice 73, what percentage of the Pass Office's time, on average each day, is spent dealing with photographic pass issuing and renewal and other duties such as the processing of bulk pass issue requests? The table was very helpful; that is provided in paragraph 1 of the answer. What we were really after was not the execution of each category of the task and the amount of time that consumed, but rather the volume of each individual task as provided in the table. For example, would the pass office spend 50 per cent of staff time each day processing photographic passes?

Mr Cooper : We do not measure the workforce of the pass office in that way. We can certainly attempt to provide it to you in percentage figures, but I would add that it would be a rough estimate of time spent.

Senator KITCHING: If you could do that, it would be helpful. In response to part 1 of question on notice 74, that was, on what basis was the decision made to require sponsored passes—only one senator or member to nominate an individual rather than two? DPS answered in paragraph 1:

The presiding officers made the decision on 30 November 2016 to address the restrictive requirement for a sponsored pass holder to be known to the senator or member for greater than 12 months. A second sponsoring senator or member provides additional assurance regarding the suitability of a proposed sponsored pass holder.

Is it not the case that the two parts of this answer—that on one hand, the restrictive requirement was removed, but on the other hand, having two sponsors provides additional assurance—are contradictory?

Mr Stefanic : No. The issue came to our attention when certain stakeholder groups that require pass access have less than 12 months service with a particular organisation, which means that, for example, a sponsoring member or senator may not have known that person for a period of more than 12 months. By the strict reading of the policy, they could not then obtain a pass because they could not be sponsored by anybody. So by having two members or senators signing a form, it provides assurance, I guess, around vouching for that individual if nobody knew them for more than 12 months.

Senator KITCHING: Question on notice 75 part 1 asked:

How many authorised officers have been delegated responsibility to approve access pass applications under the new childcare and political party secretariats/official guests and visitors sponsorship arrangements?

and DPS answered:

Childcare One authorised officer

Political party secretariats Two authorised officers

Can the total number of people who hold authorisation in each category be advised?

Mr Cooper : Sorry, Senator. Could you please ask that question again?

Senator KITCHING: Can you provide the total number of people who hold authorisation in each of those categories contained in table 1 of the answer?

Mr Cooper : I will take that on notice, Senator.

Senator KITCHING: Is there a reason why cost recovery from for-profit organisations and companies for passes has not been investigated?

Mr Cooper : It has not been something on our radar to look at. I hasten to add that some cost-recovery arrangements sometimes defeat the purpose of recovering the costs in the first place.

Senator KITCHING: This answer was due to be returned on 13 April. Are you going to start looking at that?

Mr Cooper : Which QON are you looking at, Senator?

Senator KITCHING: I am looking at QON 75. I am referring particularly to the third question. The answer to that was just 'No'. I am asking you whether there is a reason it has not been investigated. You have just said it is sometimes expensive to do cost recovery.

Mr Cooper : The reason we have not looked at it is that we have been focusing on other elements of the pass policy, and that has not come up.

Senator KITCHING: Will it come up?

Mr Stefanic : That is something we can look at. On the face of it, there would be an administrative overhead in asking an organisation to prove that it is not a not-for-profit or a charity. But certainly we will look into it.

Senator KITCHING: Thank you.

Senator McALLISTER: I have a question for the Parliamentary Librarian. We are wondering about the Parliamentary Librarian's gin, which we understand is on sale at the gift shop. It is a London dry-style gin. It has been rated by Gourmet Travelleras one of Australia's best. Whose idea was this?

Dr Heriot : It was mine, I am afraid, Senator.

Senator McALLISTER: It was your idea.

Dr Heriot : I thought it would sell well for the shop.

Senator McALLISTER: It does.

Dr Heriot : It does. It has a cult following on Twitter.

CHAIR: Can I say that I personally am a fan. If Senator McAllister is not going to ask I will. Dr Heriot, were you personally involved in distilling the gin?

Dr Heriot : No.

CHAIR: Or selecting the recipe for the gin?

Dr Heriot : No.

Senator WONG: You just thought it was a good idea.

Dr Heriot : I thought it was a good idea because when I am on holidays, I often go to parliaments, because I am tragic in that regard. I had noticed that branded spirits seem to sell very well, and I thought since gin was a trending beverage we should try that one.

Senator WONG: What about your resourcing? Do you need more resources to do the job you have been asked to do by the parliament?

Dr Heriot : Always, but I am mindful that the money comes from DPS's general appropriation and that it has to provide other services like Hansard, security and that sort of thing.

Senator WONG: What is been the trajectory of your resourcing?

Dr Heriot : I could provide a more elegant answer on notice. It has been a bumpy trajectory, I think, you could say. It has trended downwards for a number of years due to, I think, the compounding nature of efficiency dividends over the past 30-odd years. It had a kick north over the last couple of years when DPS got additional funding.

Senator WONG: I could give you some of the $22 million for the PSS that—could you on notice, perhaps, give us a sense of the resourcing, the funding trajectory, including what is projected over the forwards? Are your ASLs separately identified in the PBS or are they just aggregated?

Dr Heriot : They are aggregated in the PBS, but they are identified in the resource agreement.

Senator WONG: Annual?

Dr Heriot : The annual resource agreement.

Senator WONG: Could you in the same answer give us that as well.

Dr Heriot : Sure.

Senator WONG: And whatever you could give us that gives us some sense of unmet need. I do not know what your metrics are: how many requests, whether you have X number of requests from parliamentarians to be returned within X time frame—I am sure you have performance metrics, because you are a very good organisation. Are you able to give us some sense of unmet need—where you are not hitting the target or where it has dropped off because you have not been able to, or what you have had to divert as a result of that? That would be useful. Thank you, Chair.

CHAIR: If there are no further questions for the Parliamentary Librarian, you are free, Dr Heriot.

Senator WONG: Gin is very good for colds, I am told.

Dr Heriot : That is good to know.

Senator WONG: I am just making that up; I have got no idea.

Dr Heriot : I would like to test it.

CHAIR: I have a series of quick questions. I want to return to an issue, which I believe has been raised in estimates before my time in this committee, which is the case of the chesterfield lounges that were used in John Howard's office when he was Prime Minister. Is that your area, Mr Stefanic?

Mr Stefanic : Yes. I am a little bit hazy on the detail, Chair. We did receive a request last year from one of the universities from Professor Tom Frame—no, it was ADFA, sorry—for the chesterfields, so we have loaned them to them.

CHAIR: ADFA, which I think is establishing a library for Mr Howard, has requested the chesterfields on loan.

Mr Stefanic : And it was on that basis that we have facilitated that loan.

CHAIR: Wasn't it the case that previously it was DPS's policy to sell the chesterfields?

Mr Stefanic : I am not aware of that. I know that the chesterfields resided with a member for some years and, following the request from Professor Frame, that member agreed to give up the chesterfields so that they could be housed in the library.

CHAIR: So there was no plan at any time to sell to them?

Mr Stefanic : No.

CHAIR: That is sufficient from me, thank you.

Senator WONG: Switchboard: can you tell me what other security issues have precluded the switchboard operators from being returned to their original working location?

It is question on notice 39 and it is about the relocation of switchboard operators. I asked about it before and before that I think Senator Faulkner did. Ms Mills provided evidence in 2014 that it was a temporary relocation. See paragraph 6: 'In September 2014, APH security arrangements were revised which made it inappropriate to relocate the switchboard operators back into the public space.' Can you explain that—can someone explain it?

Mr McKenzie : The switchboard sits in my area. That decision was taken before my time but my understanding of the issue is that the switchboard was in a public area. It was located not behind the security operations but out in a public area. Given the importance of the switchboard in terms of a communication centre, the decision was made that the switchboard should not sit in a publicly accessible area. That is my understanding.

Senator WONG: They are currently in your area?

Mr McKenzie : They sit under my management, but they are currently in the basement.

Senator WONG: They are still in the basement?

Mr McKenzie : They are.

Senator WONG: It is not the most optimal working environment.

Mr McKenzie : DPS do have a number of staff in the basement. I am not sure of the exact numbers but there are a number of DPS staff working in the basement.

Mr Stefanic : It may be timely to identify that we have just been doing an audit of the number of DPS staff who work in the basement. That number is about 250. So the switchboard operators are—

Senator WONG: Sure, but these people were not employed to work there. They were told it was going to be temporary, and in three years they are still there.

Mr Stefanic : Correct. The switchboard operators are contractors; they are not DPS staff. That arrangement was agreed with the contracting organisation.

Senator WONG: In February 2015?

Mr Stefanic : Correct.

Senator WONG: Have there have been changes to what was going to be a temporary location to recognise it is going to be permanent? Have you done something to wherever they have to sit in the basement?

Mr McKenzie : I am not sure of what changes have happened since that time. It is something that we can take on notice.

Senator WONG: Okay. On cleaners: from a question on notice I think I asked about cleaners, I was told that the cleaners had not had a wage increase since 2012—is that correct?

Mr Cooper : That is our understanding.

Senator WONG: So due to this ongoing dispute between the contractor that you pay and the cleaners, these not very highly paid people have not had a pay increase since 2012?

Mr Cooper : I understand that that is the case.

Senator WONG: Do you have a CPI indexation or some form of indexation of the contract?

Mr Stefanic : There is, yes.

Mr Cooper : Yes, we do.

Senator WONG: So Limro keep getting more money and they have not had to pay their employees any additional money, despite the fact that you pay them more?

Mr Cooper : That is not in the contract, that we have any control over what they pay them.

Senator WONG: Everyone keeps washing their hands of this and the people who clean our offices on very low pay have not had a pay increase in five years. Is there really nothing that anyone is prepared to do?

Mr Stefanic : We are bound by the contract until the end of June 2018. What I can tell you is we are moving quickly to run a tender process, I am hoping to progress before the end of June, with the intent of having a new agreement in place for when—

Senator WONG: Can I put to you that I think it is an embarrassment that people who are paid the rates that they are paid in the nation's Parliament House are not able to get a pay increase while their employer gets more taxpayers funding every year. If you are able to work out how we resolve that and we stop this washing of hands routine that has been in place for so long, I think that would be welcomed. It would also be the right thing to do.

Mr Stefanic : We are bound. The nature of the contract is such that we are bound—

Senator WONG: I have heard that excuse for a long time and whether or not I accept it, can we just leave that aside. You are in further contractual negotiations and I am putting to you to consider that perspective when you engage in that.

Mr Stefanic : We will certainly take that into account.

Senator WONG: Why are the switchboard operators contractors? Have they always been contractors or were they DPS employees previously?

Mr McKenzie : Since I have been here they have always been contractors. I believe some of them may have been employees prior to moving over to the contractor. But in my time they have always been contractors.

Senator WONG: I am done.

CHAIR: We will take a break now.

Proceedings suspended from 21 : 31 to 21 : 45

CHAIR: We will resume with the Department of Parliamentary Services.

Senator McALLISTER: I want to ask about enterprise bargaining. In question on notice No. 68 you provided an answer saying that you were unable to give the primary reasons that staff rejected the proposed agreement until a survey had been completed and, similarly, you were unable to provide a revised timetable for bargaining until that survey had been completed. Has that now taken place?

Mr Stefanic : Yes, Senator.

Senator McALLISTER: Can you now answer the question? What were the primary reasons that the staff rejected the agreement?

Mr Stefanic : One of the principal drivers of the draft proposed enterprise agreement was to introduce consistent employment arrangements across the department for staff. That was one of the key issues that was roundly rejected by staff, as there was a view that there should not be consistent employment arrangements.

Senator McALLISTER: Is that the way that they term the problem? It sounds like one person's consistent employment agreements is another person's winding back of pay and conditions. What is the actual objection to the proposition? Surely it is not an objection to consistency in and of itself.

Mr Stefanic : That process—I hesitate to use the word harmonisation—resulted in, I guess, allowances at higher levels, and lower levels were impacted to a degree. The process of tweaking those allowance percentages was one of the things where there were certainly issues. I think that goes to the heart of it. The idea of changing terms and conditions in return for a pay rise was also not supported by the majority of staff that participated in the survey. That feedback has been taken on board. I wrote to the staff of the department on 11 May attaching a link to the enterprise agreement survey results. Given that changing terms and conditions was an issue, I felt it was important to indicate that the terms and conditions accounted for approximately 2.9 per cent of the six per cent pay increase with the offer and that the department could only fund 3.1 per cent of that six per cent over the three years.

The issue of communication was another item that popped up. I was listening to the Department of the Senate hearing this morning and there was perhaps a consistent theme with them and with us. While there was communication, it did not appear to be communication that people were engaging with. Posting notices on the intranet and emails did not seem to garner enough. Out of that, certainly for me personally, I learned that there was a requirement for management to engage more when we resume this process and to ensure there is a lot more direct communication about the implications of any changes that it might have for particular work units.

Senator McALLISTER: What is the timetable for a resumption of negotiations?

Mr Stefanic : Following the conclusion of the actual vote itself, when I first wrote to the staff, I indicated midyear. I am conscious that we are there now. We are still working to that target to have something on the table, but I am mindful that, given the idea of changing terms and conditions was thoroughly rejected, we have obviously got a bit of homework to do to work out how we are going to fund that 2.9 per cent. At the same time, the department is currently trying to settle its internal budget for 2017-18. Once we have done that, which should occur within the next two weeks, it should give us a baseline for how we can fund any pay increase.

Senator McALLISTER: In terms of the next time you go to a ballot, I am interested in the opportunities for casual staff to vote in that ballot. How many casual staff are there employed by the Department of Parliamentary Services in terms of headcount?

Ms Croke : As at the end of April, we had 75 employees who were employed on a casual basis.

Senator McALLISTER: I understand that in the approach taken to the last ballot, the department took a particular view about section 181 of the Fair Work Act, which was that 'employees employed at the time who will be covered by the proposed agreement must approve the agreement by voting for it'. I understand that in the last ballot that was interpreted to mean those staff who were on rostered during that two-week period, and that resulted in 56 people voting—that information comes from an answer to question on notice 66. Is that the only interpretation of the Fair Work Act that is available to you in this instance?

Ms Croke : We do take advice on these things. I can take that on notice to see if there is any broader interpretation. We get legal advice on a lot of these matters and we operated within that advice at the time of the ballot as to which casual employees were eligible.

Senator McALLISTER: Ms Croke, you indicated that you take advice on these things generally. Did you take advice on this thing? Was advice sought on who would be eligible to vote?

Ms Croke : I would need to check that. I think it was but I would need to double check and take that on notice.

Senator McALLISTER: I would appreciate that. Is it true that the number of casuals would be about the same now as it was at the time of the last ballot, around 75 overall?

Ms Croke : It might fluctuate a little bit but I would have to check that. I will have to take that on notice.

Senator McALLISTER: I am assuming it is fairly stable and I am interested to know whether it has changed substantially since the time of the ballot. But assuming that at the time of the ballot it was as you say it is now, 75 people, if only 56 vote then obviously there is a third of your casual employees excluded from participating. It would seem to me that if there are alternative interpretations of the Fair Work Act available to you about eligibility for voting that it would be fair to pursue those alternatives. I would have thought excluding a third of the participants from the voting process was a problem.

Ms Croke : I am happy to take that on notice and have a look at that. I think in the particular case of our vote last December, those numbers would not have affected the outcome of the vote.

Senator McALLISTER: I am not asserting that they did. I am not asking that question. I am simply observing that in these processes if you are seeking buy-in, casual staff are often a more than usually vulnerable group of employees. In other organisations there are often assertions about casual staff's interests being overlooked. I would have thought enabling as many casual staff as possible to express a view about the agreement would have been a desirable outcome from a management perspective but also from an equity perspective. I would encourage you to have a look at that. I would appreciate advice on the approach you intend to take at the next ballot too; if you could take that on notice.

Ms Croke : I will take that on notice.

Senator KITCHING: I would like to ask a question about a particular person who was signed in to Parliament House. Firstly, do you keep a record of a person who is signed in and who signs them in?

Mr Stefanic : Are you referring to visitors who come in through, say, the main entrance or the Senate or the Reps entrance?

Senator KITCHING: The Senate or the Reps entrances, yes.

Mr Stefanic : The logs are kept—for what period of time I do not know.

Senator KITCHING: For how long?

Mr Cooper : I would have to take that on notice. I am sorry I do not know how long.

Senator KITCHING: It is a week or a month?

Mr Cooper : It would be longer than that.

Senator KITCHING: Is it FOI-able?

Mr Stefanic : No.

Senator KITCHING: But it would be longer; maybe a month, let's say.

Mr Cooper : I expect it is longer than that. But I do not know the length of time.

Senator KITCHING: If you could find that out that would be great. I particularly have questions about the 2017 budget night. So that is only a week or so ago. There was a party in the cabinet suite the night of the budget and one of the guests was a man who goes by the name of Justin Jedlica. Mr Jedlica appeared in several Instagram photographs that night, including with the foreign minister, the Senate President and the Prime Minister, and there are photographs of Mr Jedlica and his companions in the cabinet suite, the Senate courtyards and looking at artwork around the House. Who gave Mr Jedlica and his group access to Parliament House on budget night?

Mr Cooper : We will have to take that on notice?

Senator KITCHING: That would be good. Specifically, which member or senator's office signed him and his group in? What areas of the parliament did Mr Jedlica have access to on budget night? Are Parliamentary Services given advance notice of these events and an advance guest list? What kind of vetting, if any, is done on invitees to events like budget night parties? If you could take those on notice, that would be good.

Mr Stefanic : Perhaps just for clarity, was there an incident or some other—

Senator KITCHING: I would be interested—

Mr Stefanic : Where I am going to is that the data is—

Senator KITCHING: I am interested in the questions I ask. Who signed him in and what were the vetting processes, and were you given advance notice of those guests?

Mr Stefanic : My concern would be that if the person was vouched for by a member or a senator that data would be a private matter.

Senator KITCHING: But we have just ascertained that the log is kept for more than a month, and that is not a private matter. You must keep those.

Mr Stefanic : We do retain them but they are not disclosed publicly. For security reasons they are kept to establish visitors if there is an incident or who is in the building. My concern is whether there was an incident or a particular issue that is security related around that individual that would be—

Senator KITCHING: I am asking those questions and we will see when the answers come back.

Mr Stefanic : We will take that on notice.

The President: You have implicated me in your question. I cannot recall or place Mr Jedlica. What is the interest?

Senator KITCHING: I am asking about his attendance at that function and who signed him in.

The President: If we cannot provide that information to you, is there a further issue that you want us to follow-up?

Senator KITCHING: We will probably ask other departments that.

The President: This will be the only department that would have been able to provide the information about—

Senator McALLISTER: About who signed him in.

The President: Yes.

Senator McALLISTER: That is why I am asking DPS these questions.

The President: Okay.

CHAIR: I thank the officers of DPS for their flexibility today. It is much appreciated. We will now move to the Australian National Audit Office.