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Community Affairs Legislation Committee
19/10/2011
Estimates
FAMILIES, HOUSING, COMMUNITY SERVICES AND INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO

FAMILIES, HOUSING, COMMUNITY SERVICES AND INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO

In Attendance

Senator Arbib, Minister for Sport, Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development, and Minister for Social Housing and Homelessness

Senator McLucas, Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers

Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

Mr Finn Pratt, Secretary

Ms Liza Carroll, Deputy Secretary

Mr Michael Dillon, Deputy Secretary

Mr Bruce Hunter, Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer

Ms Serena Wilson, Deputy Secretary

Cross Outcomes

Ms Julia Burns, Group Manager, Corporate Support

Mr Anthony Field, Group Manager, Legal and Compliance

Mr Steve Jennaway, Group Manager, Business and Financial Services Group

Ms Donna Moody, Group Manager, Information Management and Technology

Ms Peta Winzar, Group Manager, Social Policy

Mr Dave Agnew, Branch Manager, Property, Environment, Procurement and Security

Ms Roslyn Baxter, Branch Manager, Indigenous Communications Project

Ms Tracey Bell, Branch Manager, Communications

Ms Katherine Costello, Section Manager, Climate Change Household Assistance

Mr Simon Crowther, Branch Manager, Compliance

Mr Scott Dilley, Branch Manager, Business Planning and Financial Governance

Mr Ty Emerson, Branch Manager, Social Security Policy

Mr James Fletcher, Acting Branch Manager, Public Law

Mr Scott Glare, Branch Manager, Infrastructure Services

Mr Allan Groth, Branch Manager, Strategic Policy

Ms Yvonne Korn, Branch Manager, Program Frameworks

Mr Andrew Lander, Branch Manager, Audit, Assurance and Risk

Ms Lynette MacLean, Branch Manager, People

Mr Gavin Matthews, Branch Manager, Indigenous Housing Programs and Services Branch

Mr Gary Michajlow, Acting Branch Manager, Property, Environment, Procurement and Security

Ms Marian Moss, Branch Manager, Commercial and Indigenous Law

Mr Kurt Munro, Branch Manager, Ministerial, Parliamentary and Executive Support

Ms Fiona Sawyers, Acting Branch Manager, Seniors and Means Test

Dr Judy Schneider, Acting Branch Manager, Research and Analysis

Mr Kamlesh Sharma, Branch Manager, Financial Accounting

Mr Bruce Smith, Branch Manager, Performance Management and Modelling

Ms Michalina Stawyskyj, Branch Manager, International

Ms Kim Vella, Branch Manager, Budget Development

Outcome 1—Families and Children

Mr Michael Lye, Group Manager, Families

Ms Cate McKenzie, Group Manager, Women and Children Policy

Ms Helen Bedford, Branch Manger, Children’s Policy

Ms Jane Dickenson, Acting Branch Manager, Paid Parental Leave

Ms Elizabeth Hefren-Webb, Acting Branch Manager, Welfare Payments Reform

Ms Diana Lindenmayer, Deputy Branch Manager, Family Payments

Ms Meagan Petteit, Section Manager, Paid Parental Leave Branch

Ms Elizabeth Stehr, Branch Manager, Family Support Programs

Ms Janet Stodulka, Branch Manager, Family and Child Support Policy

Mr Andrew Whitecross, Branch Manager, Family Payments

Outcome 2—Housing

Mr Sean Innis, Group Manager, Housing, Homelessness and Money Management

Ms Leesa Croke, Branch Manager, Social Housing

Mr Leon Donovan, Branch Manager, Homelessness

Ms Kathryn Mandla, Branch Manager, Evidence and Planning

Outcome 3—Community Capability and the Vulnerable

Ms Amanda Cattermole, Group Manager, Problem Gambling Taskforce

Mr Sean Innis, Group Manager, Housing, Homelessness and Money Management

Ms Susan Black, Branch Manager, Problem Gambling Taskforce

Ms Robyn Calder, Branch Manager, Community Investment

Ms Robyn Oswald, Branch Manager, Money Management

Outcome 4—Seniors

Ms Peta Winzar, Group Manager, Social Policy

Ms Robyn Calder, Branch Manager, Community Investment

Ms Fiona Sawyers, Acting Branch Manager, Senior and Means Test

Outcome 5—Disability and Carers

Dr Nick Hartland, Group Manager, Disability and Long Term Care and Support Taskforce

Mr Evan Lewis, Group Manager, Disability and Carers

Ms Laura Angus, Branch Manager, Disability and Carers Programs

Ms Jill Farrelly, Branch Manager, Mental Health

Ms Jillian Moses, Acting Branch Manager, Disability and Long Term Care and Support Taskforce

Mr John Riley, Branch Manager, Autism and Early Intervention

Ms Sharon Rose, Branch Manager, Disability and Carers Payments Policy

Ms Michalina Stawyskyj, Branch Manager, International

Ms Karen Wilson, Branch Manager, Disability and Carers Policy

Outcome 6—Women

Ms Cate McKenzie, Group Manager, Women and Children Policy

Ms Fiona Smart, Branch Manager, Safety Taskforce

Ms Mairi Steele, Branch Manager, Women’s Branch

Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace

Ms Helen Conway, Director, Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency

Committee met at 8:31

CHAIR ( Senator Moore ): I declare open this supplementary hearing of the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee considering the budget estimates for the portfolios of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs; and Health and Ageing. The committee has before it a list of the outcomes relating to matters which senators have indicated that they wish to raise at the hearing. In accordance with the standing orders relating to supplementary hearings, today's proceedings will be confined only to those matters—that is a very brave statement!

Senators are reminded that written questions on notice in respect of the supplementary hearings must be lodged with the secretariat no later than 5 pm on Friday, 28 April 2011 and the committee has set close of business on Friday, 9 December as the date for the return of answers to questions on notice. Officers and senators are familiar with the rules of the Senate governing estimates hearings. If you need assistance, we have the secretariat officers with us. Are you wanting to say something in the middle of the opening statement, Minister? Please, go ahead.

Senator McLucas: I just want to clarify the time when questions have to be to the secretariat.

CHAIR: It is 28 October at 5 pm.

Senator McLucas: I thought you said October, sorry.

CHAIR: I will check that, because I am reading this. If I am seeing April for October I have need of the next lot of portfolio estimates.

I particularly draw attention to the Senate order of 13 May 2009 specifying the process by which a claim of public interest immunity should be raised and which I now incorporate in Hansard.

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 (I) 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).

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

Please switch off mobile phones. I welcome Senator the Hon. Jan McLucas, the departmental secretary and portfolio officers. I want to put on record my appreciation to the officers both of FaHCSIA and of Health and Ageing for being so cooperative in enabling this session to work this morning. As you know, we have some questions for FaHCSIA at the start of the day usually reserved for Health and Ageing. Senator, do you wish to make an opening statement?

Senator McLucas: I would like to thank the committee for its cooperation in accommodating the need for us to be away tomorrow. I really do appreciate the committee's cooperation on that. Thank you.

CHAIR: Particularly the secretariat, for making that work.

Senator McLucas: Thank you.