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Wednesday, 30 May 2018
Page: 5075

Mr PORTER (PearceAttorney-General) (17:48): I thank the member for Isaacs for his contribution. It is true that few people have greater empathy for the hard work of DPPs around the country and the CDPP in particular. I recall very distinctly moving from a corporate national law firm to the state DPP and all of the glamour of boardroom drinks on a Friday afternoon disappeared. At the DPP, there was a small green tin that you would put loose change in to buy yourself a light beer on a Friday afternoon. So I completely appreciate that the leanness with which these organisations operate is highly admirable.

There were two issues, in effect, raised by the member for Isaacs and they are separate. One of them falls within the portfolio of the Assistant Treasurer, but, for the sake of completeness, I'll attempt to address both of them. One was with respect to the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce and the other was with respect to the efficiency dividend that has been allocated to the CDPP, as it has been, at 0.5 per cent of the budget of a range of other agencies in the Attorney-General's portfolio. The four-year saving for the efficiency dividend is $1.8 million.

With respect to the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce, it is the case that in July 2015 the government announced $127.6 million to establish the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce. That was money allocated through the assistant Treasurer's portfolio. The work of that taskforce has been very important and very successful. There was always an end time to that particular funding. As was noted by Minister O'Dwyer in parliament in question time, of course the consideration of what might replace that when it ends and how that might occur is going to be a matter for the usual course of budgetary consideration in the usual cycles. But it is self-evident that close consideration will be given to the necessity to look at how that funding is dealt with when it ceases, as it was always meant to do, and what will come next, because there is a very important matter before us, insofar as the royal commission recommendations will be in the not-too-distant future.

I might note that that task force—which was an allocation by this government of $127.6 million—didn't exist under the previous government. Money wasn't allocated under the previous government. That task force, which is a joint task force including the CDPP, has successfully recovered $200 million for the community to date, which is a very successful and important operation. Of course, that will be taken into account in the budget cycle when the funding ends and the next tranches of funding are considered.

The Commonwealth DPP in this particular budget was also allocated an additional $5.3 million over two years to prosecute cases arising from the new and enhanced Australian Taxation Office enforcement of the black economy and $0.8 million over three years to prosecute cases relating to illicit tobacco. Just like the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce, specific boosts in funding for specific task forces designed to track, trace and prosecute specific types of offending are always time bound, as are the $5.3 million and the $0.8 million that I've just mentioned.

That then takes me to the 0.5 per cent efficiency dividend, which at the CDPP will mean that in 2017-18 a saving needs to be found of $200,000 and then $400,000, $400,000, $400,000 and $400,000, a $1.8 million saving cumulatively out to 2021-22. Many agencies have that type of efficiency dividend put on them, even lean agencies like the CDPP. It is a fair discipline to have these agencies look internally for savings. Most of my agencies—and I consulted with them all about their ability to meet that efficiency dividend without disrupting frontline services—assured me that that was eminently possible and achievable. Indeed, most of them identified supplier practices, supplier expenses and procurement practices as where savings would be garnered from.

I might just note for the benefit of the member for Isaacs that that is, as I've noted, $1.8 million in savings through an efficiency dividend. When you look at the last Labor budget, which the member for Isaacs might recall because he was the Attorney-General, I think, shortly after that budget was delivered, there was a measure titled 'targeted savings, public servants efficiencies' that saved—would you believe it?—$1.8 million from the CDPP's budget over the relevant period. So it's a usual budgetary discipline of government and one that both of us have engaged in I think quite appropriately.