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Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee
28/02/2017
Estimates
FINANCE PORTFOLIO

FINANCE PORTFOLIO

In Attendance

Senator Cormann, Minister for Finance

Senator Ryan, Special Minister of State, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Cabinet

Department of Finance

Executive

Ms Rosemary Huxtable PSM, Secretary, Department of Finance

Outcome 1 - Support sustainable Australian Government finances through providing high quality policy advice and operational support to government and Commonwealth entities to maintain effective and efficient use of public resources.

Mr David Fredericks, Deputy Secretary, Budget and Financial Reporting

Ms Amanda Lee, First Assistant Secretary, Budget and Financial Reporting

Dr Arthur Camilleri, Assistant Secretary, Budget and Financial Reporting

Mr Damien Adler, Acting Assistant Secretary, Budget and Financial Reporting

Ms Vivianne Johnson, Assistant Secretary, Budget and Financial Reporting

Ms Anne Martin, Acting Assistant Secretary, Budget and Financial Reporting

Mr Gareth Sebar, Assistant Secretary, Budget and Financial Reporting

Mr Paul Hupalo, Assistant Secretary, Budget and Financial Reporting

Ms Rachael Spalding, First Assistant Secretary, Budget and Financial Reporting

Mr Nicholas Hunt, First Assistant Secretary, Budget and Financial Reporting

Mr Martin Graham, Assistant Secretary, Budget and Financial Reporting

Mr Robert Antich, Assistant Secretary, Budget and Financial Reporting

Mr Nick McClintock, Acting Assistant Secretary, Budget and Financial Reporting

Mr Richard Bartlett, First Assistant Secretary, Budget and Financial reporting

Mr Libor Pelecky, Assistant Secretary, Budget and Financial Reporting

Ms Chris Schweizer, Assistant Secretary, Budget and Financial Reporting

Mr Dave Hughes, Acting Assistant Secretary, Budget and Financial Reporting

Mr Scott Austin, Assistant Secretary, Budget and Financial Reporting

Dr Stein Helgeby, Deputy Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

Mr Alan Greenslade, First Assistant Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

Mr Peter Gibson, Assistant Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

Ms Linda Powell, First Assistant Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

Mr Neil Robertson, Assistant Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

Ms Kerry Markoulli, Assistant Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

Ms Teena Blewitt, First Assistant Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

Mr John Edge, Deputy Secretary, Commercial and Government Services

Mr John Sheridan, First Assistant Secretary, Commercial and Government Services

Ms Stacie Hall, First Assistant Secretary, Commercial and Government Services

Ms Elizabeth Hickey, Assistant Secretary, Commercial and Government Services

Mr Andrew Jaggers, First Assistant Secretary, Commercial and Government Services

Mr Andrew Staines, Assistant Secretary, Commercial and Government Services

Mr Stephen Oxford, Assistant Secretary, Commercial and Government Services

Ms Lorraine Holcroft, Assistant Secretary, Commercial and Government Services

Mr Phillip Smith, Assistant Secretary, Commercial and Government Services

Mr Fabian Harding, Assistant Secretary, Commercial and Government Services

Mr Stephen Sorbello, Acting Assistant Secretary, Commercial and Government Services

Outcome 2 - Support an efficient and high-performing public sector through providing leadership to Commonwealth entities in ongoing improvements to public sector governance, including through systems, frameworks, polic y, advice, and service delivery

Dr Stein Helgeby, Deputy Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

Ms Linda Powell, First Assistant Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

Ms Laurie Van Veen, Assistant Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

Mr Lembit Suur, First Assistant Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

Ms Thea Daniel, Assistant Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

Ms Teena Blewitt, First Assistant Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

Ms Rina Bruinsma, First Assistant Secretary, Business Enabling Services

Ms Lucelle Veneros, Assistant Secretary, Business Enabling Services

Outcome 3 - Support for Parliamentarians and others as required by the Australian Government through the delivery of, and advice on, entitlements and targeted assistance

Mr David Fredericks, Deputy Secretary, Budget and Financial Reporting

Ms Kerri Hartland, Deputy Secretary, Business Enabling Services

Ms Leonie McGregor, First Assistant Secretary, Business Enabling Services

Ms Tiffany Karlsson, Assistant Secretary, Business Enabling Services

Mr Keven Whitton, Director, Business Enabling Services

General

Mr Robin Renwick, First Assistant Secretary, Business Enabling Services

Mr Michael Hirschfeld, First Assistant Secretary, Business Enabling Services

Mr Steve Momcilovic, Chief Financial Officer, Business Enabling Services

Australian Electoral Commission

Mr Tom Rogers, Electoral Commissioner

Mr Jeff Pope, Deputy Electoral Commissioner

Mr Tim Courtney, Acting First Assistant Commissioner

Mr Andrew Gately, Acting First Assistant Commissioner

Mr Paul Pirani, Chief Legal Officer

Mr Stephen Blackburn, Chief Finance Officer

Mr Jonathan Nichol, Assistant Commissioner

Ms Lynn White, Assistant Commissioner

Ms Gina Dario, Assistant Commissioner

Ms Gabrielle Paten, Assistant Commissioner

Ms Anna Stewart, Assistant Commissioner

Ms Emma Mason, Assistant Commissioner

Future Fund Management Agency

Mr David Neal, Managing Director

Dr Stein Helgeby, Deputy Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

Ms Linda Powell, First Assistant Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation

ASC Pty Ltd

Mr Stuart Whiley, Interim Chief Executive Officer

Mr Mark Lamarre, Chief Executive Officer, ASC Shipbuilding

Mr Ashley Menadue, Chief Financial Officer

Ms Wendy Hoad, General Counsel and Company Secretary

Committee met at 09:00

CHAIR ( Senator Paterson ): I declare open this meeting of the Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee. Today the committee will examine additional estimates for 2016-17 for the department and agencies of the finance portfolio. The committee may also examine the annual reports of the departments and agencies appearing before it. The committee has fixed 13 April 2017 as the date for the return of answers to questions taken on notice. Under standing order 26 the committee must take all evidence in public session. This includes answers to questions on notice. I remind all witnesses that in giving evidence to the committee they are protected by parliamentary privilege. It is unlawful for anyone to threaten or disadvantage a witness on account of evidence given to a committee, and such action may be treated by the Senate as a contempt. It is also a contempt to give false or misleading evidence to a committee. The Senate by resolution in 1999 endorsed the following test of relevance at estimates hearings:

Any questions going to the operations or financial positions of the departments and agencies which are seeking funds in the estimates are relevant questions for the purpose of estimates hearings.

I remind officers that the Senate has resolved that there are no areas in connection with the expenditure of public funds where any person has discretion to withhold details or explanations from the parliament or its committees unless the parliament has expressly provided otherwise. The Senate has resolved also that an officer of a department of the Commonwealth shall not be asked to give opinions on matters of policy and shall be given reasonable opportunity to refer questions asked of the officer to superior officers or to a minister. This resolution prohibits only questions asking for opinions on matters of policy and does not preclude questions asking for explanations of policies or factual questions about when and how policies were adopted. I particularly draw the attention of witnesses to an order of the Senate of 13 May 2009 specifying the process by which a claim of public interest immunity should be raised.

The extract read as follows—

Public interest immunity claims

That the Senate—

(a) notes that ministers and officers have continued to refuse to provide information to Senate committees without properly raising claims of public interest immunity as required by past resolutions of the Senate;

(b) reaffirms the principles of past resolutions of the Senate by this order, to provide ministers and officers with guidance as to the proper process for raising public interest immunity claims and to consolidate those past resolutions of the Senate;

(c) orders that the following operate as an order of continuing effect:

(1) If:

   (a) a Senate committee, or a senator in the course of proceedings of a committee, requests information or a document from a Commonwealth department or agency; and

   (b) an officer of the department or agency to whom the request is directed believes that it may not be in the public interest to disclose the information or document to the committee, the officer shall state to the committee the ground on which the officer believes that it may not be in the public interest to disclose the information or document to the committee, and specify the harm to the public interest that could result from the disclosure of the information or document.

(2) If, after receiving the officer’s statement under paragraph (1), the committee or the senator requests the officer to refer the question of the disclosure of the information or document to a responsible minister, the officer shall refer that question to the minister.

(3) If a minister, on a reference by an officer under paragraph (2), concludes that it would not be in the public interest to disclose the information or document to the committee, the minister shall provide to the committee a statement of the ground for that conclusion, specifying the harm to the public interest that could result from the disclosure of the information or document.

(4) A minister, in a statement under paragraph (3), shall indicate whether the harm to the public interest that could result from the disclosure of the information or document to the committee could result only from the publication of the information or document by the committee, or could result, equally or in part, from the disclosure of the information or document to the committee as in camera evidence.

(5) If, after considering a statement by a minister provided under paragraph (3), the committee concludes that the statement does not sufficiently justify the withholding of the information or document from the committee, the committee shall report the matter to the Senate.

(6) A decision by a committee not to report a matter to the Senate under paragraph (5) does not prevent a senator from raising the matter in the Senate in accordance with other procedures of the Senate.

(7) A statement that information or a document is not published, or is confidential, or consists of advice to, or internal deliberations of, government, in the absence of specification of the harm to the public interest that could result from the disclosure of the information or document, is not a statement that meets the requirements of paragraph (1) or (4).

(8) If a minister concludes that a statement under paragraph (3) should more appropriately be made by the head of an agency, by reason of the independence of that agency from ministerial direction or control, the minister shall inform the committee of that conclusion and the reason for that conclusion, and shall refer the matter to the head of the agency, who shall then be required to provide a statement in accordance with paragraph (3).

(d) requires the Procedure Committee to review the operation of this order and report to the Senate by 20 August 2009.

(13 May 2009 J.1941)

(Extract, Senate Standing Orders, pp 124-125)

Witnesses are specifically reminded that a statement that information or a document is confidential or consists of advice to government is not a statement that meets the requirements of the 2009 order; witnesses are instead required to provide some specific indication of the harm to the public interest that could result from the disclosure of the information or the document.