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Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee
03/03/2017
Estimates
CROSS-PORTFOLIO INDIGENOUS MATTERS

CROSS-PORTFOLIO INDIGENOUS MATTERS

In Attendance

Senator Scullion, Minister for Indigenous Affairs

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Outcome 2

Overview

Mr Andrew Tongue, Associate Secretary, Indigenous Affairs

Ms Elizabeth Hefren-Webb, Acting Deputy Secretary, Indigenous Affairs

Education, Community Safety and Health

Ms Belinda Campbell, Acting First Assistant Secretary, Education, Community Safety and Health Division

Ms Tarja Saastamoinen, Assistant Secretary, Community Safety Branch

Ms Fiona Sawyers, Assistant Secretary, Tertiary Education Policy and Coordination Branch

Mr Brendan Gibson, Assistant Secretary, Health Branch

Ms Vanessa Beck, Acting Assistant Secretary, Early Childhood and Youth Branch

Ms Sarah Murray, Acting Assistant Secretary, Schooling Policy and Delivery Branch

Ms Danielle Aeuckens, Acting Assistant Secretary, Health Branch

Policy, Analysis and Evaluation

Mr Troy Sloan, First Assistant Secretary, Policy Analysis and Evaluation Division

Mr Ryan Bulman, Assistant Secretary, Cross Government Branch

Ms Rachel O'Connor, Assistant Secretary, Strategic Policy Branch

Mr Stephen Powries, Acting Assistant Secretary, Information and Evaluation Branch

Mr Robert Ryan, Assistant Secretary, Empowered Communities Implementation Taskforce

Mr Sam Jeffries, Special Adviser, Regional Governance

Housing, Land and Culture

Ms Marie Taylor, First Assistant Secretary, Housing, Land and Culture Division

Ms Danielle Regeling, Acting Assistant Secretary, Remote Strategies Branch

Mr Leonard Hill, Assistant Secretary, Culture Branch

Mr Wayne Beswick, Assistant Secretary, Land Branch

Ms Danielle Donegan, Assistant Secretary, Housing Branch

Ms Elizabeth Reuben, Acting Assistant Secretary, Housing Branch

Mr Greg Roche, Special Adviser, Housing, Land and Culture Division

Programme and Integrity Engagement

Ms Susan Black, First Assistant Secretary, Programme and Integrity Division

Mr Dave Agnew, Assistant Secretary, Grants Policy and Management Branch

Mr Stuart Turnbull, Assistant Secretary, Performance, Compliance and Capability Branch

Mr Nick Morgan, Assistant Secretary, Grants Reform Branch

Community and Economic Development

Ms Nadine Williams, First Assistant Secretary, Community and Economic Development Division

Ms Kirsti McQueen, Assistant Secretary, Business and Economic Policy Branch

Ms Katie Welsh, Assistant Secretary, Business Development Implementation Branch

Ms Bronwyn Field, Assistant Secretary, Community Development Plan Strategy Branch

Mr Paul Denny, Assistant Secretary, Community Development Plan Operations Branch

Indigenous Employment and Recognition

Ms Gayle Anderson, First Assistant Secretary, Indigenous Employment and Recognition Division

Ms Justine Curnow, Assistant Secretary, Indigenous Employment Policy Branch

Ms Marian Moss, Assistant Secretary, Legal Services Branch

Mr Brant Smith, Assistant Secretary, Environment Branch

Mr Mark Roddam, Assistant Secretary, Indigenous Employment Programmes Branch

Ms Joy Savage, Acting First Assistant Secretary, Business Transformation Office

Ms Anne-Marie Roberts, First Assistant Secretary Prime Minister and Cabinet Regional Network Division

Ms Wendy McIntyre, Assistant Secretary, Network Delivery Branch

Mr Geoff Richardson, Assistant Secretary, Indigenous Engagement Branch

Ms Deborah Lewis, First Assistant Secretary, Corporate Services Division

Ms Charlotte Tressler, First Assistant Secretary, Financial Services Division

Ms Sarah Vandenbroek, Assistant Secretary, Budgets and Reporting Branch, Financial Services Division

Indigenous Portfolio Bodies

Indigenous Land Corporation

Mr John Maher, Chief Executive Officer

Ms Jodie Lindsay, Chief Operating Officer

Ms Tricia Button, Executive Director Program Delivery

Mr Craig North, Chief Executive Officer, National Indigenous Pastoral Enterprises

Indigenous Business Australia

Mr Rajiv Viswanathan, Acting Chief Executive Officer

Mr Leo Bator, Chief Operating Officer

Ms Shanti Rama, Acting General Counsel

Mr Wally Tallis, General Manager Enterprises

Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations

Mr Anthony Beven, Registrar

Department of Health

Dr Wendy Southern PSM, Deputy Secretary, National Program Delivery Group

Ms Bobbi Campbell, First Assistant Secretary, Indigenous Health Division

Ms Kate Thomann, Assistant Secretary, Strategy and Evidence Branch, Indigenous Health Division

Ms Kate Wallace, Assistant Secretary, Health Programs and Sector Development Branch, Indigenous Health Division

Ms Meredeth Taylor, Assistant Secretary, Program, Services and Access Support Branch, Indigenous Health Division

Ms Natasha Cole, First Assistant Secretary, Health Services Division

Mr Paul, McCormack, Assistant Secretary, Grants Office, Health State Network

Ms Sharon Appleyard, First Assistant Secretary, Office of Health Protection

Outcome 2: Indigenous - Improve results for Indigenous Australians including in relation to school attendance, employment and community safety, through delivering services and programs, and through measures that recognise the special place that Indigenous people hold in this Nation.

Australian National Audit Office

Mr Grant Hehir, Auditor-General

Ms Rona Mellor PSM, Deputy Auditor-General

Ms Deborah Jackson, Executive Director

Ms Sarah Pratt, Acting Executive Director

Committee met at 9:00

CHAIR ( Senator Paterson ): I declare open this meeting of the Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee. Today the committee will continue examination of the additional estimates for 2016-17 with the cross-portfolio hearing on Indigenous matters. 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. The committee will begin with examination of portfolio agencies as listed on the program and then proceed to outcome 2 of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

We will begin this session with officers from the Australian National Audit Office, joining officers from the department, specifically regarding the recent audit of the Indigenous Advancement Strategy. The committee will then move through the departmental programs listed. At the conclusion of outcome 2, the committee will examine Indigenous health issues, where the Department of Health will join officers from PM&C.

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 for questions 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 purposes of estimate 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 a superior officer or 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)

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

Officers are requested to keep opening statements brief or seek to incorporate longer statements into Hansard.