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Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee
Department of Parliamentary Services

Department of Parliamentary Services

CHAIR: I welcome Mr Robert Stefanic, Secretary of the Department of Parliamentary Services; Dr Dianne Heriot, Parliamentary Librarian; and officers of the department. I thank DPS for providing the information pursuant to the committee's recommendations in the DPS inquiry, which has been circulated to the committee. Mr President or Mr Stefanic, do you wish to make an opening statement?

The PRESIDENT: We both do, at this point. I would like to take this opportunity to apprise the committee on the status of both the physical security and other capital works currently under way at Parliament House. I appreciate that these have been disruptive, but the complexity and scale of this construction is critical to improving the security of the building and maintaining its integrity. This is the most comprehensive series of capital works since the building opened some 30 years ago. The Department of Parliamentary Services has been assigned responsibility for implementing the security hardening of Parliament House, including the entry points, building fabric and security infrastructure. Physical security works, including the fencing and glazing components, are well advanced with completion scheduled in December this year.

The security works are an upgrade to the physical and electronic security systems that cross the precinct, including enhancements to the entrances of the building and the construction of a secure barrier with appropriate security technology inclusions. Fencing works continue at various points of the building, with new landscape planting and electronic security overlays to be financed this year. Construction to strengthen the Senate and House of Representatives entrances commenced in early March 2018 and building occupants are now entering the building via temporary entrances. The new entrances will be ready in time for the spring sittings of parliament.

As can be expected of large-scale building works, DPS also had to manage a number of unexpected incidents to which it has responded promptly. As a result of strong wind gusts, there was damage to one of the large umbrellas at the Senate entrance in March which was subsequently replaced at no cost to DPS. Also, due to strong winds on 13 April, a section of the internal hoarding joined with the temporary internal wall broke away, fell inwards and came to rest diagonally over the corridor against the permanent internal wall near the Senate entrance. This blocked the corridor for a short time. It was immediately addressed through greater reinforcement of the structure at both Senate and House entrances.

The committee will also be aware that there have been a number of recent accidents involving damage to vehicles from security bollards. An independent investigation was undertaken and concluded that these incidents were indicative of procedural concerns in the Parliamentary Security Operations Room. The review made eight recommendations to address these issues, all of which will be actioned by DPS once the security management board has considered the report.

Glazing of the skylight fixtures is nearing completion in the Members Hall and the Main Committee Room, with works commencing on the Great Hall skylight today. As the committee has previously been advised, upgrade works on two lifts have been concluded with more scheduled for completion by the end of June. The main goods lift will be offline from late May 2018 through to early September 2018, and the upgrade of all 42 goods and passenger lifts is programmed for completion by mid-2020.

I might also add that there were a number of concerns that colleagues, including myself and others, have had with respect to budget week and the demands upon the House. The reports are that budget week went particularly smoothly, with the number of people coming into and out of Parliament House being much higher than in a normal sitting week. I'd like to commend DPS for their flexibility and taking on a few ideas which made it a bit easier to manage that workflow. It actually went better than I had feared.

I appreciate that this work has affected many senators and their staff, with disruption having been experienced to the conduct of regular business and movement around the building. Accordingly, I would like to express my thanks to senators for their patience and goodwill during this time and my appreciation to the staff of DPS for doing everything they can to make it as easy as possible to continue their work.

CHAIR: Thank you, Mr President. Mr Stefanic, do you wish to make an opening statement?

Mr Stefanic : Yes, if I may. Senators will be aware that DPS has been in a process of establishing a new cleaning contract for internal and external cleaning services at Parliament House. This contract was executed on Thursday, 10 May 2018. In full cognisance of the ongoing interest in our cleaning contracts, I wish to place on record that my department has managed this process lawfully and in compliance with both the intent and spirit of the Commonwealth Procurement Rules to achieve the best value-for money outcome for the Commonwealth and ensure the delivery of high cleaning standards and a seamless transition of services.

In preparing the tender specifications, we formulated key performance indicators which will ensure a high standard of cleaning and form the basis for effective ongoing contract management. This was a shortfall in the previous arrangement. The tender went the open market. Shortlisted tenderers were assessed for their technical responses against listed criteria and value for money. Neither of the incumbent contractors were successful in being selected as the preferred tenderer. While they are understandably disappointed in the outcome, I would like to publicly acknowledge that they are professionally working with us to facilitate an orderly transition and I'd like to thank them for their goodwill.

We progressed negotiations with the preferred tenderer, mindful of the situation faced by 50 or so existing cleaning staff. The preferred tenderer expressed a desire to offer employment to existing cleaning staff that met their employment conditions, so we're optimistic of a good outcome with respect to retention. In addition, through our contract, we have increased the number of internal cleaners by 13 and external cleaners by two during at least the first 12 months. So, we have increased job opportunities and there should be no increase in the intensity of work conditions for cleaners.

Present pay rates will be maintained for all cleaning staff under the new arrangements, and provision has been made for wage rises for all cleaning staff, including those currently paid above award following Fair Work Commission annual wage review determinations. For equity, new workers will be matched to the existing wage rates. Non-monetary conditions are set by the cleaning services award or are matters to be determined between employer and employee relationship.

Finally, the contractor has a mature Indigenous employment strategy, with a four per cent Indigenous employment target, so we'll be looking forward to improving Indigenous representation among the people working within Parliament House, alongside our other initiatives.

Importantly, all this has been achieved within our budget, taking into account future efficiency dividends, and I'm satisfied the outcome has been both fiscally and socially responsible.

Senator KITCHING: Could we get a copy of the statement?

CHAIR: I think a copy has been circulated. It will be somewhere among your papers.

Senator KITCHING: Could I get a copy of it now.

CHAIR: You certainly can. I've got one. Mr President, can we have a copy of your statement?

The PRESIDENT: My problem is that some of it was pre-written and some of it was spoken. Sorry!

CHAIR: That's okay. Dr Heriot, do you wish to make a statement?

Dr Heriot : No, thank you.

CHAIR: Okay. Senator Lines.

Senator LINES: Thanks very much to the President and Mr Stefanic. I want to focus on the contract cleaning issue. Are you able to table the contract?

Mr Cooper : I understand the contract is commercial-in-confidence. I'll have to take that question on notice.

Senator LINES: Surely not all of it's commercial-in-confidence?

Mr Cooper : I'll have to take it on notice.

Senator LINES: Thank you. Can you give me the name of the contractor—the preferred tenderer?

Mr Stefanic : I understand it's Dimeo Cleaning Services (ACT).

Senator LINES: Can you provide us with the name that you expect to go onto the contract, and the ABN.

The PRESIDENT: Sorry—the name?

Senator LINES: The name of the preferred contractor and the ABN they're using. I shouldn't imagine that's hard.

Mr Stefanic : We can provide that to you, yes.

Senator LINES: And you can provide that today?

Mr Stefanic : Yes, we should be able to provide that today.

Senator LINES: Is the department aware that—is it okay for me to name the contractor? Is that public?

Mr Stefanic : Yes.

Senator LINES: Are you aware that Dimeo also have a number of trustee companies?

Mr Stefanic : Yes, I believe so.

Senator LINES: So how, in the contract, will you ensure that Dimeo—I think you said it's Dimeo Pty Ltd (ACT) that is employing the cleaners—remains that company?

The PRESIDENT: It's been a long time since I did a few units on corporate law, but I detect a subtle difference there, and I don't know the answer to this. That question was about employment; the other question was about the contract being signed with DPS. I do not know whether there's a difference but they were subtly different questions.

Senator LINES: I'm not trying to be clever—

The PRESIDENT: I agree. I was just clarifying.

Senator LINES: I guess what I'm looking for is: what in the contract prohibits any contractor from using another company to employ cleaners? Is there a specific reference to that in the contract?

Mr Stefanic : The contract does provide for a clause that the contractor cannot use subcontractors without DPS's prior approval.

Senator LINES: Can you read the clause into the Hansard.

Mr Stefanic : I don't have it with me currently.

Senator LINES: But you could get it, presumably, to do that.

Mr Stefanic : I will be able to get it to you.

Senator LINES: Is the department aware that the ACT education department had a problem with Dimeo using one of its trustee companies to employ cleaners?

Mr Stefanic : I'm not aware of that, no.

Senator LINES: So we'd want to see that the clause is watertight. Under what conditions would the department allow Dimeo to use another company to provide cleaning staff?

The PRESIDENT: Again, that's hypothetical. If there have been previous examples where it's happened, they could be explained. I just think it's a bit difficult to ask hypothetical questions. It may have happened in the past.

Senator LINES: Sure. Let me read to you what happened in the ACT with Dimeo—so the same company. Dimeo Cleaning Services was the company that was engaged by the ACT education department to do its cleaning, but, within a week of it taking over, the company required all cleaners to sign an employment contract with the company that you named, Mr Stefanic: Dimeo Cleaning Services (ACT) Pty Ltd, which was registered with ASIC on 29 July 2017. The next week the cleaners were issued with a letter of employment which identified that company as their employer, which enabled Dimeo to use inferior conditions of employment.

CHAIR: Senator Lines, was that a newspaper article or—

Senator LINES: It's a letter from the union.

CHAIR: Is it possible you could table that for the benefit of the committee?

Senator LINES: I will seek the union's permission, but I have read the relevant piece into the Hansard. So that is the example. I am asking you to give us the name and ABN of the company that's contracting and to provide to the committee the contract. You've taken that on notice. Further to that, I've asked you to provide to the committee the part of the contract which prohibits Dimeo from using another company without permission.

The PRESIDENT: What you've read in is very helpful for context, because it does explain your previous questions, but I think it's unfair to ask the officials to comment on it without them being able to see the document. I think they will make best endeavours.

Mr Stefanic : Just to answer your earlier questions, the company is Dimeo Cleaning Services Pty Ltd—

Senator LINES: So not ACT, as you said?

Mr Stefanic : acting for the DCS Trust. The ABN is 42470275516. The ACN is 086357879.

Senator LINES: So that's the same company that contracted for the ACT education department. If they then use one of their trustee companies, Dimeo Cleaning Services (ACT) Pty Ltd, is that a breach of the contract?

The PRESIDENT: Just to clarify, the company that was just read out then, was that the company that signed the contract?

Mr Stefanic : Yes.

The PRESIDENT: Okay, so that was correcting—

Senator LINES: On behalf of the trustees, you said.

Mr Stefanic : Yes. All entities involved are named in the contract.

Senator LINES: So what would prohibit Dimeo, after taking over the contract, within a week or so re-employing cleaners through Dimeo Cleaning Services (ACT) Pty Ltd?

Ms Knight : That is Dimeo Cleaning Services Pty Ltd, ACT Trust.

Senator LINES: Yes. And Mr Stefanic has said that all of the trustee companies are listed in the contract. I think that's what you said.

Mr Stefanic : That's my understanding. If it's different, I will clarify.

Ms Knight : I'll get the clarification of that for you.

Senator LINES: You're not sure?

Ms Knight : I'll get clarification.

Senator LINES: So what prevents Dimeo, a week or so after taking over the contract, from employing cleaners under Dimeo Cleaning Services (ACT) Pty Ltd? What stops that happening?

Mr Stefanic : When we embarked on the negotiation process, one of the very clear stipulations was that we wanted to transition as many of the existing cleaning staff to the new arrangement.

Senator LINES: Mr Stefanic, this is not a reflection on you; it's a reflection on the contract cleaning industry. What stops Dimeo from coming in two weeks after the contract and putting in a new company?

Mr Stefanic : We'll get that further detail for you, Senator.

Senator LINES: It doesn't give me a lot of confidence. I'm not a contract lawyer, but this is an issue. I'm saying that it would enable Dimeo to employee cleaners on an inferior rate of pay. It has happened before.

Mr Stefanic : The contract stipulates that all cleaning staff need to be employed at least the award rate.

Senator LINES: By the named contractor.

Mr Stefanic : Or Clean Start, whichever is the higher.

Senator LINES: I appreciate that. But you said by the named contractor, so if then Dimeo used subcontractors, what stops that?

Senator McALLISTER: If anything. Does anything stop it?

Mr Stefanic : Perhaps if we could move on, we will endeavour to get that information for you and then come back.

CHAIR: Senator Wong, I did promise to go to Senator Patrick. Do you have questions on the same area?

Senator WONG: Yes. Can I just have two minutes? Is that all right?

CHAIR: Sure.

Senator WONG: Thank you. Sorry, I was detained elsewhere. Do we have a copy of that particular clause of the contract?

The PRESIDENT: They've taken that on notice.

Senator WONG: Are you able to come back with that for the purposes of answering Senator Lines's question?

Mr Stefanic : Yes, we've undertaken that.

Senator WONG: Sorry. I know you've taken on notice the provision of the clause. I am saying: when you come back to answer Senator Lines's question about the extent of protection for subcontracting and the protections in that clause, are you also able to provide us with a copy of the clause at that point?

Mr Stefanic : We should be able to provide you with a copy of the clause, yes.

Senator WONG: Thank you.

CHAIR: Senator Patrick.

Senator PATRICK: My question segues from a question that Senator Wong asked back in March last year. There's been a bit of a paper shuffle going on in relation to who's got responsibility for purchasing of paper for senators. I think I'll just summarise the situation, as I want to get some clarity on this. The Department of Senate has been procuring paper for the Senate; I presume the House of Reps does the same; and DPS has a contract, which feeds off a panel, for paper for DPS. In an answer that you provided me at last estimates, you indicated that moves were afoot to try and merge the procurement, at least between the Senate and DPS, to leverage on its buying power. What is the status of that arrangement?

Mr Stefanic : I might ask the chief finance officer to answer that question for you.

Mr Creagh : The benefit is not to use DPS's buying power, because our buying power is that of the whole of government, as we purchase off the whole-of-government panel. The primary driver of the merging of those arrangements was to increase efficiency across parliament and ensure that we don't have duplicate processes across parliament. At this stage, we are still working with our colleagues in both of the chamber departments and the PBO to ensure that we pull that together.

Senator PATRICK: I'll just read back to you what Mr Stefanic said at the last estimates:

The paper that's currently supplied to senators is through the Department of the Senate, but we are currently finalising arrangements for DPS to organise paper-supply arrangements for all parliamentarians, mainly because of our buying power.

Mr Stefanic : That was shorthand, I guess, for reference to the whole of Australian government panel. I was unaware at that time whether the Senate was using that same panel or not for their acquisition of paper.

Senator PATRICK: Well, it appears that the panel that is being used in both instances—for the Senate and for DPS—is in fact the same panel. So I'm wondering how we get to a situation where in one instance we are using Australian paper and for the Senate we are using Austrian paper. I still have Austrian paper turning up in my office.

The PRESIDENT: You need to speak to the Department of the Senate about that. These officials can answer for DPS but they can't answer for the Department of the Senate. I can take that on notice and come back to you on behalf of the Department of the Senate, but I can't answer that off the top of my head.

Senator PATRICK: There are two problems. I can ask the Department of the Senate why they've managed to pick an Austrian supplier and why DPS has managed to pick an Australian supplier, and I'm going to get the same answer if I talk to the Senate, and that is—

The PRESIDENT: No, I can take on notice for you the question as to why the Department of the Senate has chosen the Austrian paper. I am happy to take that on notice and have that referred to them, and DPS can answer for themselves. But they can only answer for themselves, not for the other.

Senator PATRICK: Herein lies the problem. Senator Wong actually asked that question. An answer was provided with a table that went to the criteria that were being used, and ultimately the Senate came out with a selection of Austrian paper, and DPS has clearly found some other reason to use a different supplier. Bottom line—I'm trying to get to a point where, understanding when we're going to get to this arrangement where DPS procure paper for the Senate and DPS itself—and, presumably, the House of Representatives. Do you have a time frame for that?

Mr Stefanic : I don't have a time frame, but I certainly know those discussions are occurring—and I certainly know, from conversations that I've had with the Usher of the Black Rod, that there is an intent to move paper procurement across to DPS.

Senator PATRICK: Are there any concurrent extant contract arrangements that would put a time limit or a constraint on how early that could happen? One of the departments is in contract until 2019 or something.

The PRESIDENT: I can take that on notice for the Department of the Senate. We can't take anything on notice for the Department of the House of Reps, I'm afraid.

Senator PATRICK: Sure, and I appreciate that.

The PRESIDENT: I'll take that on notice for the Senate; the officials can answer for DPS.

Senator PATRICK: All right.

CHAIR: Senator Lines, are you seeking the call?

Senator LINES: Yes, thanks, Chair. Mr Stefanic, I'm really pleased to see that you have asked the contractor to maintain the current rates of pay for all cleaners, and that cleaners into the future will pick up Fair Work increases. How will you ensure that that arrangement has legal standing?

Mr Stefanic : Those arrangements are provided for in the contract. In terms of the legality, are you asking how we will ensure that they—

Senator LINES: Yes. It's in the contract, but, if the contract is commercial-in-confidence, it's a bit tricky to keep track of what's happening. If you're not able to give us the whole contract, are you able to give us those clauses about the rates of pay—provide those to the committee?

Mr Stefanic : We should be able to provide those to you.

Senator LINES: Would you be able to provide them when you give us clarity around the other clause in relation to the contractor?

Mr Stefanic : Yes.

Senator LINES: Thank you. In your opening statement, you said there were 50 or so cleaners. Can you tell us the exact number, and what the breakdown is between full-time, part-time and casual, and which shifts cleaners are on.

Mr Stefanic : We'd have to take that on notice. I don't believe we have that level of detail.

Senator LINES: Okay. You also said in your opening statement that you expect all cleaners to be offered jobs with the incoming contractor. How have you been given those assurances?

Mr Stefanic : It's written into the contract.

Senator LINES: What is written into the contract?

Mr Stefanic : Sorry, let me just check.

Senator LINES: Sure.

Mr Stefanic : Sorry, I'll just have to check whether there is a statement in there about taking on existing staff within the contract.

Mr Cooper : Senator, if I could add—

Senator LINES: Sure.

Mr Cooper : The new contractor has advised us that its intention is to employ as many current cleaners as possible, and it has commenced those discussions.

Senator LINES: And how did the incoming contractor advise you of that—email or a phone conversation?

Mr Cooper : It's certainly been in face-to-face discussions and phone conversations, and we may have had it in writing as well.

Senator LINES: Can you check if you have that in writing, and, if so, are you able to table that?

Mr Cooper : I'll take it on notice and see if we can.

Senator LINES: Do you recall the dates on which Dimeo gave you those assurances about wanting to employ as many existing cleaners as possible?

Ms Knight : Through the negotiation stages of the discussion with Dimeo, they gave that undertaking, and those negotiations commenced on 17 April.

Senator LINES: 17 April?

Ms Knight : On 17 April.

Senator LINES: That they gave undertakings?

Ms Knight : That was the initial time that we started contract negotiations.

Senator LINES: So why wouldn't you get that in writing from the incoming contractor—that they're going to offer employment to all existing staff? Why would you just take them at their word?

Mr Stefanic : I'm very mindful, as we all are—and it's the same reason we're answering questions today—that I will be very quickly held to account if that were not to be the case.

Senator LINES: That's not very helpful to people who lose their job.

Mr Stefanic : It's only to an extent that we can direct a company to organise its affairs. What we have done is manage the process, legally managing all procurement guidelines.

Senator LINES: Mr Stefanic, let me put on the record that there's no suggestion by Labor that you have not met your legal requirements. I've put that in writing, and I say it here today. What this is about is ensuring that cleaners who've worked here for more than 20 years continue their employment if they wish to do so, and I do think you have an obligation to do that.

The PRESIDENT: The department have taken on notice the provisions of contracts that you've asked for, but, as you know, Senator Lines, I am dealing with a number of senators who have an interest in this. It has been an iterative process. When I have taken the concerns of some senators to DPS, particularly around some of the issues you have raised, I have found DPS to be proactive, and, on multiple occasions, they have raised these issues. I take your point: you've asked why it would not be in writing. I also take the point that the secretary has made, which is that there is a limited capacity to direct. There are some policy issues that have been different between the different sides of parliament, and we've had discussions in the chamber around that. I will say in DPS's defence that they have taken on board a number, if not all, of the concerns raised by senators, particularly around, for example, maintenance of pay rates. I appreciate there will be some differences, but, every time I've gone back to DPS with an issue that has been raised, I have found them to be very sensitive to the concerns that have been raised by senators in past within the constraints of the procurement guidelines and other constraints.

Senator WONG: Mr President, you allude to policy differences, and we recognise DPS is working within the policy framework that the coalition government has imposed. But it was the government's decision to essentially move away from the guidelines that the Labor government put in place, which set in place a slightly higher rate and a process for increasing it. People in this building haven't had a wage increase for five years. The people who clean our offices haven't had a wage increase for five years. So I do actually want to understand why it's such a priority for the coalition to deny the people who clean this building and our offices a wage increase.

The PRESIDENT: Through this process a number of senators have come to me, and at all times I consider the engagement to have been constructive. It has led to some changed outcomes, including the points I just mentioned.

Senator WONG: Sure. That wasn't my question.

The PRESIDENT: I don't know if that was a question or a statement. I'm not going to accept the contention—

Senator WONG: You abolished the guidelines. Senator Lines is reasonably asking questions of DPS. They're operating within a framework where your government, under Senator Abetz, made it a priority to make sure these people were denied a pay increase. I am asking you why.

CHAIR: There are probably more appropriate places in the program for questions about government bargaining policy to be asked than to the President of the Senate.

Senator WONG: No, you misunderstand. It is not about bargaining policy. It was a deliberate decision that he is implementing, so it is reasonable to ask him. If he doesn't want to answer, that's up to him.

The PRESIDENT: After queries—and this was a decision by DPS; I give them credit for this—from senators around the application of a new contract to existing pay rates, that was incorporated into discussions—

Senator WONG: That's not the question.

The PRESIDENT: I know. I'm putting it into context. That's not a priority in any way, as you've described.

Senator WONG: It was.

The PRESIDENT: I have said, as I've said to officials, when I was asked whether or not presiding officers would give directions that I was not inclined to. The matter was resolved to my satisfaction because I think that it is appropriate that public departments comply with the law. I have never been convinced of the idea that taxpayers should provide a particular set of conditions as some sort of labour-market-leading approach. Compliance with the law, to me, needs to be absolute, and I think that is the prime driver of all the decisions. On top of that, DPS has ensured that, as I understand it, all the existing pay rates will be maintained and fair work increases will be applied to that.

Senator WONG: Essentially what you're saying is that you don't believe it's a priority to pay people above the award. That is the government's position. That position has resulted in essentially a five-year pay freeze.

The PRESIDENT: I can't speak on behalf of the government, as you know, Senator Wong. I'm trying to explain that my personal position has always been that it is not the role of taxpayers to provide a condition that is automatically above what the law requires. There are bargaining provisions for that, and there has been flexibility shown in this case to address some of the concerns by senators to ensure existing pay rates are maintained. You asked me my position. I can only speak on behalf of my position; I can't speak on behalf of the government.

Senator LINES: Mr Cooper, I think you said that Dimeo was in the process of making offers to current cleaners.

Mr Cooper : That is correct.

Senator LINES: I've got correspondence from the union. I am not sure if you know, but they had a meeting with Dimeo last week.

Mr Cooper : That's correct.

Senator LINES: At that meeting they specifically asked Dimeo about the employment of cleaners, and Dimeo said that they were not able to give the union any assurance. In fact, what they said is that they were not able to give any assurance about the ongoing employment of cleaners because they were waiting on permission from DPS to communicate with the union.

The PRESIDENT: Is that in a letter?

Senator LINES: It is in an email. I am happy to table it, but I have read it verbatim.

Mr Cooper : I haven't seen that email and I wasn't at the meeting. What I do know is that the contractor has commenced discussion with cleaners about their availability and willingness to be employed. I understand they are in Canberra today meeting with them. That engagement is based on the shiftwork and so forth of the cleaners.

Senator LINES: Have you directed Dimeo not to communicate with the union or the department?

Mr Cooper : No.

Senator LINES: Can you shed any light on why Dimeo thinks it needs permission from DPS to communicate with the union?

Mr Stefanic : That's a claim in a letter. We don't know if Dimeo actually said that.

Senator LINES: When the union met with them they asked them about a commitment to employment, the current hours of work, amendment to wage rates, job security and choice of super fund. Dimeo said they were unable to answer any of those questions because they were waiting on permission from DPS to communicate with the union.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Lines, to be fair, you are asking them to comment on a claim about something that was said in a meeting they weren't in. They have said they haven't provided those instructions. I think, to be fair, that delivers on what you've asked.

Senator LINES: So there is nothing from DPS's perspective which would stop Dimeo from having those communications directly with the union?

Mr Stefanic : Sorry, I don't understand the question.

Senator LINES: So nothing DPS has said or done in any conversations or communications you've had with Dimeo would indicate that Dimeo can't communicate with the union?

Mr Stefanic : No. In fact, as soon as the contract was signed, we ensured all parties commenced communication immediately.

Senator LINES: Did you do that in writing or verbally?

Mr Stefanic : According to the time line of events I've got, there were communications. It doesn't indicate here whether they were via e-mail or whether they were by conversation.

Senator LINES: So, it looks like a document's been handed up to Ms Saunders.

Ms Saunders : No, this is an answer to a different question.

Senator LINES: Okay. So, can you then take on notice and provide us with any written communications to Dimeo or to the union about the need to have ongoing conversations?

Mr Stefanic : I will attempt—

Senator LINES: Well, my original question was whether DPS has advised Dimeo in any way, whether verbally or in writing, that they can't communicate with the union and others—

Ms Knight : No.

Senator LINES: to which Mr Stefanic said no. And then Mr Stefanic also indicated that there'd been an indication to parties that they should get on with negotiations. So, it's that point about which I've asked whether that was in writing and, if so, whether we could have a copy.

Mr Stefanic : If we have any communication in writing in that regard, I'll undertake to provide it.

Senator LINES: Thank you. And assuming that all cleaners take up an offer of employment from Dimeo, how does Dimeo get to a four per cent Indigenous employment target?

Mr Stefanic : The target is within our contract.

Senator LINES: Yes, I appreciate that, and I'm very pleased to see that. But if all cleaners take up employment, how does Dimeo get to the four per cent?

Ms Knight : Dimeo will be increasing staff numbers, as the secretary outlined in his opening statement. We'll have I believe an additional 13 internal cleaners and an additional two external cleaners.

Senator LINES: Thanks, Ms Knight, but actually what Mr Stefanic said in his opening statement is that staff numbers have already increased by 13.

Ms Knight : They will be. We're going through a transition period at the moment.

Senator LINES: Well, that's not clear. Let me read you what it says: 'In addition, through our contract, we have increased the number of internal cleaners by 13.'

Ms Knight : We will in the new contract.

Senator LINES: So, that is—

Ms Knight : That's for the new contract. The new contract starts on 1 July. Currently we're going through a transition period. We have Dimeo working with Limro and Canberra Queanbeyan through a transitional period until 1 July.

Senator LINES: All right. So, when you clarify the numbers of cleaners for us, can you clarify the new positions, please?

Mr Stefanic : Clarify the new positions?

Senator LINES: Well, what are they?

Ms Knight : Increased number of cleaners?

Senator LINES: Yes. So, is that part-time? Is it casual? Is it full-time?

Ms Knight : Well, I don't know yet—until they actually start. But at the moment there's going to be an increase.

Senator LINES: I'm sorry, but how can you not know? At the bottom of Mr Stefanic's statement it says: 'Importantly, all this has been achieved within our budget'. So, presumably there's an item of money to which there's some FTE attached or some component of guessing what the labour costs might be. Yet you've just said to me that you can't tell me what the 13 look like. There's a big difference to cost if they're 13 cleaners at two hours a day as opposed to 13 cleaners at 38 hours a week.

The PRESIDENT: The secretary also did say, Senator Lines, that they had limited capacity to direct a contractor at a granular level, and some rostering element would surely be a part of that.

Senator LINES: I accept that. But giving us the number 13 in an opening statement is granular level. We have increased the number of cleaners by 13.

The PRESIDENT: The secretary and officials have been, in my discussions, conscious of one of the issues raised by a number of senators, which was the issue of intensity, and, with respect to them, I think they were trying to reflect that concern that senators had raised and which a number of internal discussions have been had about.

Senator LINES: So, how did you arrive at the number 13?

Mr Cooper : Senator, I'll have to take it on notice. But it is my understanding that the contractor arrived at that number, and that was to provide an assurance that the cleaning standards would be maintained while they assessed the existing shifts and rostering arrangements and get a better feel for what is required. We need to remember they haven't commenced work, they don't have any experience or exposure to Parliament House as yet and, as far as I'm aware, they haven't been provided with the rostering arrangements of the outgoing contractor.

Senator LINES: So, that 13 could be just over the period of the contract change? Is that what you are saying?

Ms Knight : No—the first 12 months.

Senator LINES: Is that written somewhere?

Ms Knight : I'll have to take that on notice, but—

Senator LINES: So, it could be the first 12 months and then not continued?

Ms Knight : It will be reassessed.

Senator LINES: So, it could be continued but it also could be not continued?

Ms Knight : It could continue; it could be increased; it could be decreased. It'll depend on the assessment after 12 months.

Senator LINES: All right. But you can't tell me—or have you taken it on notice?—how many hours that is?

Mr Cooper : That's correct, Senator. We don't have that information. But, again, that is to provide an assurance to the department and to Parliament House that appropriate cleaning services—

Senator LINES: Sure. Mr Cooper, surely you're not asking senators to believe that Dimeo just came along and said, 'We want 13 extra staff,' and the department did not inquire as to how many hours that related to? Surely you're not expecting us to believe that someone just said, 'Let's just have 13 extra staff,' and you just said, 'Sure,' without knowing if that's full-time, part-time, casual, contract. That's extraordinary.

Mr Cooper : Senator, again, we have to be mindful of the incoming contractor's lack of visibility at this stage of what's required. Our expectation—

Senator LINES: I appreciate that, and I certainly appreciate the employment of additional staff—don't get me wrong. But this is public money here, and Dimeo must have done some costings or given you an hours schedule, surely. And how was that done? Was that done in e-mail form? I don't believe the department sat with the contractor, and the contractor said, 'We want 13 extra people,' and DPS just said, 'Sure,' and ticked it off.

Ms Knight : No, no, no. It was a discussion between DPS and Dimeo, and—

Senator LINES: Okay. So, how many hours is that?

Ms Knight : I'll have to take that on notice, and I'll get that information—

Senator LINES: Of the people at the table, who was in the discussions about the additional 13?

Ms Knight : Myself and my staff.

Senator LINES: Okay. Ms Knight, did you discuss hours with Dimeo?

Ms Knight : I didn't discuss hours, no, so I'll have to get back to you on the number of hours.

Senator LINES: So, what did you discuss—just numbers?

Ms Knight : An increased number of FTE for the first 12 months while we had a look to see how—

Senator LINES: So, what was that increase of FTE? Did it equal 13?

Ms Knight : Thirteen internal and two external.

Senator LINES: Okay. So, was that 13 FTE?

Ms Knight : So, that's what I'm going to get back—yes, it is 13 additional staff. But I can't tell you what hours that they'll be working—

Senator LINES: But you don't recall that conversation you had with Dimeo?

Ms Knight : We got the costings for additional—

Senator LINES: Okay. But, Ms Knight, that's what I have been asking for. I don't know why this is so hard. You got costings from Dimeo for an additional 13 staff?

Ms Knight : Yes.

Senator LINES: You can table that?

Ms Knight : It was part of the tender process and the negotiations.

Senator LINES: Sure. But you can table that?

Mr Cooper : Senator, we can table it if it isn't commercial in confidence, because pay rates may be commercial in confidence.

Senator LINES: We all know the pay rates, so we can multiply 13 FTE by—

Mr Cooper : We'll take it on notice, Senator.

Ms Knight : We wanted an additional 13—that's the number that we came up with in discussions with Dimeo, and with which they agreed—for the first 12 months of the cleaning contract, and then we would revise that after that to improve the current cleaning—

Senator LINES: That's good, but Mr Cooper said Dimeo came up with the 13.

Ms Knight : It was between—DPS asked Dimeo for the additional 13 employees, and we had that discussion.

Senator LINES: You asked Dimeo for an additional 13?

Ms Knight : Yes.

Senator LINES: Mr Cooper said Dimeo put 13 on the table.

Mr Cooper : I will have to correct my statement. I wasn't in the discussion. Ms Knight was in the discussion, so I defer to her evidence.

Senator LINES: We're talking about people's livelihoods here. I would hope that someone would have correct numbers.

Ms Knight : I've given you the correct numbers—13 FTE.

Senator LINES: I have asked if it's full-time, part-time or casual, and you can't tell me.

Ms Knight : I don't know what shifts they'll be on, but we've asked for an additional 13—

Senator LINES: I didn't ask about the shifts.

CHAIR: If I could just clarify, Ms Knight, you said FTE, which is full-time equivalent—13 full-time equivalent positions.

Ms Knight : Yes.

Senator LINES: Which could be anything.

Ms Knight : Full-time—FTE.

Mr Cooper : Full-time equivalent is a full shift.

Senator LINES: You could have a circumstance where an existing cleaner wants to increase their hours. Is that available under the cover of 13 or not?

Mr Cooper : That's something for the employee to discuss with the new contractor.

Senator LINES: My last question goes to this issue of probation. As you're aware, a number of the cleaners, particularly those cleaning the Prime Minister's office, have been here for a significant period of time. Are those cleaners going to be put on probation?

Mr Cooper : The cleaning award makes no provision for probationary or qualifying periods. This is because the Fair Work Commission considers that probationary or qualifying periods are generally a matter more appropriately dealt with at an enterprise level.

Senator LINES: I ask the question: are these cleaners going to be put on probation?

Mr Cooper : We expect so, but that is up to the incoming contractor.

Senator LINES: Including the cleaners who've been here for 20 years cleaning the Prime Minister's office?

Ms Knight : That's our understanding, yes.

Senator LINES: So you're quite comfortable for these cleaners to be put on probation?

Mr Stefanic : Again, like we've said, we cannot direct the work of a contractor. I think, for their own due diligence, they will need to ensure both that the staff that they put on have an appropriate security clearance and that there are no issues that may have occurred of criminality since that person was employed and to assess whether their work performance meets the required standards.

CHAIR: I have questions on another matter and then we'll come back to opposition senators. Thank you, Mr Stefanic, for your answer on notice to my questions at the last round of estimates about upgrading mobile phone reception in the building. Has there been any progress on that since the last round of estimates?

The PRESIDENT: I'll provide a quick overview and then I'll let the detail come from the officials. This is an issue that a number of senators and members, as well as others in the building, have expressed concern about.

CHAIR: You'll see, on Twitter, journalists are particularly frequent in their complaints.

The PRESIDENT: The challenge is that, in broad terms, the infrastructure of the building is very old, and it is at the limit of its capacity to be upgraded. There would be a substantial cost involved in upgrading it to what would effectively be 4G. That cost would be shared potentially between carriers. There would still be a reasonably significant cost to DPS. It would effectively require a new policy to do so: it's at that level of magnitude. One of the concerns I have had, in looking at the work that has been done thus far, is that we can't get advice at the moment, and it is literally developing week by week, that the infrastructure upgrade to take it up to 4G and improve it would be to the standard that would be compatible with 5G, which, as we know, is coming downstream. So I haven't discussed this with the Speaker. We haven't got to the point of developing a proposal that would seek funding. We're very cognisant of it. One of my concerns is to ensure that we don't build a legacy problem with 5G coming down the pipeline, but we are very conscious. What I will say is there is not a great deal that can be done any longer without what I would call significant expenditure, which would be multiple millions of dollars, with a reasonable portion of that being borne by DPS.

CHAIR: Did you have anything to add, Mr Stefanic?

Mr Stefanic : Mr President provided a comprehensive answer. The only thing that I could add to it is that there is an additional carrier that is still in negotiations as part of a consortium, and that will have a bearing on what that final cost impact would be.

The PRESIDENT: It would probably only be 20 per cent of the cost impact on DPS. Getting an additional carrier would only reduce our cost by about 20 per cent—give or take—and, without divulging numbers, we're still looking at enough that it would require, effectively, a new policy and not something that can be done out of recurrent expenditure.

Senator WONG: In terms of programming, the question, Secretary, that you took on notice from Senator Lines—what is the timeframe around that in the provision of the contract clause?

Mr Stefanic : One of the questions you asked in relation to the organisations involved in the contract I have here. Dimeo Cleaning Services Trust is the service provider under the contract, and Dimeo Cleaning Services (ACT) is listed as a subcontractor with the responsibility of providing the cleaning personnel staff. So Dimeo Trust remains responsible for ensuring compliance with the requirements of the contract.

Senator WONG: The clause? I'm not having a go; I'm just, for agenda purposes, trying to understand time frames, that's all.

Mr Stefanic : We are endeavouring to get information for today, if we can.

Senator WONG: If you just tell us not before 'blah', then we'll just move to another topic, that's all—I'm actually just trying to be helpful.

CHAIR: My sense is that moving to another topic is a good idea.

Senator WONG: Not before a particular time, I meant.

Mr Stefanic : Because there are a number of questions that we have—

Senator WONG: No, I'm not critical; I'm just trying to ascertain it so we can work out how we divvy up the questions.

Senator LINES: Mr Stefanic, I'm not a lawyer and I'm certainly not an expert on contracts. You said the trustee company signs the contract—is that correct?

Mr Stefanic : Correct. I originally said Dimeo Cleaning Services (ACT) was the contractor; they are not, and so I'm correcting that statement.

Senator LINES: So it's the trustee company that signs, and then Dimeo (ACT) is then the employer. Is that what you said?

Mr Stefanic : Yes, the subcontractor is in the contract for the purposes of providing cleaning personnel.

Senator LINES: What do you understand that to mean?

Mr Stefanic : That they will employ the staff directly.

Senator LINES: And are they bound by the contract?

Mr Stefanic : Because they're identified in the contract, they would be.

Senator LINES: And you've got legal advice to that effect?

Mr Stefanic : The contracts have been negotiated through our solicitors on both sides, so I would presume that the answer is yes.

Senator LINES: Could you check that please.

Mr Stefanic : Yes, I can do that.

Senator LINES: If what you're saying is correct—that Dimeo (ACT) are the employer—they are then bound by the negotiations around maintaining the current hourly rate and providing Fair Work increases as they arise for cleaners.

Mr Stefanic : That would be my understanding, Senator.

Senator LINES: We're waiting to get that information that I've asked for. Can you check that back with the lawyers as well, please?

Mr Stefanic : Yes, Senator.

Senator KITCHING: Can I ask—and I did ask a little earlier in the Department of the Senate—around the establishment of a cybersecurity operations centre. Firstly, who's going to lead the centre?

The PRESIDENT: Do you mean the effective construction of it?

Senator KITCHING: I notice there's $300,000 in their forward estimates for the establishment of what I presume is an office, and $9 million for the centre itself. Is it decided who is going to lead the centre? Is it part of an existing division of the department, or is there going to be a new division?

Mr Stefanic : It will be part of the Information Services Division of DPS. There is already capability in the cybersecurity area. The purpose of the measure is to enhance the work we do in this space.

Senator KITCHING: Hang on, Mr Stefanic, just let me go to my trusty organisational chart. So it will form part of the Information Services Division, which is led by Antony Stinziani, is that correct?

Mr Stefanic : That's correct.

Senator KITCHING: Just on this, Mr Stefanic, is there is an updated org chart that we should have?

Mr Stefanic : Before every estimates, the department sends the most updated org chart, so you should have what is current.

Mr Stinziani : I am happy to have the discussion around the security operations centre.

Senator KITCHING: Great. So where is the centre going to be physically located?

Mr Stinziani : Here in Parliament House. We haven't allocated the floor space absolutely yet, but we are anticipating it will be down where the existing cyber capability sits, which is down on the ground floor.

Senator KITCHING: And how many positions will it create?

Mr Stinziani : Nine.

Senator KITCHING: Nine FTEs?

Mr Stinziani : Yes.

Senator KITCHING: When's the centre due to begin operating? So maybe you could answer that this way: if you have to build an office and that, are you waiting for that or have you started, in fact?

Mr Stinziani : We've started the planning, absolutely. So the first order of business is the recruitment of those nine staff and to develop that capability. As part of developing the new policy proposal, we did go into a fair bit of detail about what was required in terms of the capability. The capability is really around detect and respond, so we are looking at hiring people with those capabilities to help us detect incidents and then respond in a really timely manner.

Senator KITCHING: So its aim is to enhance cybersecurity protection for the parliamentary computing network; that is from Budget Paper No. 2 on page 162. So it will report then through Mr Stefanic to the presiding officers, is that correct?

Mr Stinziani : Correct.

Senator KITCHING: Is Home Affairs having any input into any of this? Is any of the reporting or any of the metadata that is collected, for example, going to Home Affairs?

Mr Stinziani : No. We have a strong partnership with the ASD and we have a strong partnership with the Five Eyes, internationally, but we don't have reporting lines, per se, to Home Affairs at all.

Senator KITCHING: Mr Stefanic, we have just got the org chart from 1 May, now, just for your information. So that's good, thank you. So you don't see that there will be any conflict in reporting lines? What if Home Affairs comes to you and asks you for some information? Is that going to through to the presiding officers, and they will determine—

Mr Stinziani : We will treat it on its merits, yes.

Senator KITCHING: So when you say that there's going to be no confusion or that Home Affairs isn't going to be collecting any of this data, if there is an incident where Home Affairs might be interested, they will make a request and you will treat each request on its merits.

Senator WONG: What does that mean?

Mr Stinziani : Each situation may be different—I couldn't even begin to theorise on what the request might be, but we would look at the request and what sort of information they are seeking, and we would make a decision based on whatever policies—

Senator WONG: Who's 'we'?

Mr Stinziani : DPS.

Senator WONG: Who's 'we' in DPS? Sorry, it's just there have obviously been a fair few decisions made on a range of other issues at different—

Mr Stefanic : If there is any requirement to release data—for example, if it is for something that may be of a criminal nature—that information could be released, but it would always occur through the presiding officers.

The PRESIDENT: I might say, as I have discussed with a senate committee, with respect to upgrading policies like the CCTV policy, I have taken a very strict eye towards these issues, reflecting some of the concerns that have been raised previously. There are occasionally, as I understand it, access to information with respect to MPs that is required by law and that don't have discretion. I haven't come across any of those yet. But even, for example, when it comes to the issue of releasing footage for an insurance claim, as occasionally happens in this building, and doesn't relate to privilege at all, I'm taking a particularly sceptical approach, and I apply a very strict prism to anything that could relate to a member of parliament.

Senator WONG: You've identified the flag I am raising. I recognise that this has been a greater priority for you than it possibly may have been in the past. But I would raise two points. One is—and I appreciate that some of this preceded you, Mr Stefanic—that parliamentary privilege in the context of CCTV was not appropriately observed by the department. Second, when you say that it will be made on its merits, we would want to ensure, for the Parliament's sake, that in that decision process there is an appropriate procedure for recognising and observing parliamentary privilege. That's the first point. Secondly, you raise the point of non-discretion. That's not the end of the matter. Just because there is maybe a requirement, for example, in terms of insurance, I think you said—

The PRESIDENT: No, I was saying—

Senator WONG: A civil claim. Parliamentary privilege is not obviated by such a claim.

The PRESIDENT: No, I was trying to make the point that I understand that it is possible—although I have not come across an example—for the law to require the release of some information that doesn't come through us.

Senator WONG: I see. Sorry.

The PRESIDENT: I wasn't referring to a civil claim. I was making that point. I have received claims. Again, this is all joint power by both presiding officers; it is not something that I have myself. But because of a couple of other issues that have arisen—which I've discussed with the Senate privileges committee—I've taken a very sceptical view of releasing any footage where it doesn't need to leave the building, where people can come and view it, and where there is no impact on parliamentary privilege.

Senator WONG: There might be.

The PRESIDENT: I can guarantee you—even where there is a guaranteed lack of no impact.

Senator WONG: No, but the fact that something is being viewed in the building does not—


Senator WONG: The whole point of the CCTV was that a parliamentarian's activities were being impinged.

The PRESIDENT: No, the point I'm trying to make, Senator Wong—

Senator WONG: Sorry.

The PRESIDENT: There are two issues, one of which is parliamentary privilege. I apply a very strict test and have not come anywhere close. I was here when that happened with respect to Senator Faulkner. I was in fact sitting on the other side of the table here. So I respect that. There is also an issue that the presiding officers release material from the building. Sometimes it is better to allow access to that material within the precinct rather than have it depart the precinct. That is where there is no parliamentary privilege issue involved.

Senator WONG: Sure. But when Mr Stinziani says, 'We will make a decision on the merits,' who is the 'we'?

The PRESIDENT: The new CCTV policy, which is at the point of almost being authorised, covers off all the issues. I can say, Senator Wong, that I have worked in great detail with the Senate privileges committee.

Senator WONG: Yes, you have.

The PRESIDENT: The Senator privileges committee, as I understand from my conversation with the chair last week, is very happy with where it's at, including a last-minute addition that will go into an operational matter. At the back of that, there will be a chart about the authorisation of release of material. This only applies to CCTV, of course. There is a whole range of other data.

Senator WONG: Correct.

The PRESIDENT: But we are dealing with it. There is a whole pass access policy, which I have committed to taking back to the Senator privileges committee, which has not been authorised. There are no issues around that yet; the policy has not been authorised; I'm still doing work on it. But with respect to CCTV, there is a chart at the back of that—which I don't have on me, but it will be released when the Senate privileges committee has looked at it—that actually talks about who can authorise particular forms of footage and where, and they are happy with what has happened in the past and the policy addressing those. I have taken advice from the Senate Clerk as well as the Senate privileges committee, and I spent quite a bit of time with them rewriting parts.

Senator McALLISTER: I have a relevant question. What piece of work is anticipated to deal with the new set of decisions, not related to CCTV but to the parliamentary computer network, that might be analogous to this?

The PRESIDENT: I'm happy to take that on notice and look at that. We are currently doing a great deal of work on the pass policy, because that has these exact implications—about where people are around the building and who accesses various parts. I'm not particularly aware of whether any new data would be collected that we are not already dealing with, concerning those issues about cybersecurity. This is a new facility, but we obviously already have a lot of that information through the APH network. So I can chase up—and I'm happy to—what provisions are in place at the moment and whether they need to be updated. Because, as I understand it, it would be covered by the standard policies.

Senator KITCHING: But it says that it will enhance cybersecurity protection. So it must be something new.

Mr Stefanic : There already is a cybersecurity protection that the parliament has. What this does is add to what we already have. The data would be treated no differently to how it is now.

Senator WONG: I haven't had a briefing on this, so I don't know, but I assume that more data is collected; more data which might relate to, if not content, at least other aspects of parliamentarians' use of their computers. Given the concerns that have been raised previously and the answer that was given, we just want to make sure that there is actually a process for ensuring that privilege is observed.

The PRESIDENT: I take both the point and the priority. I'll take on notice whether or not further work needs to be done in this space. I'm not aware of extra data being collected, but extra data tends to get collected as these things move on.

Mr Stefanic : With many of these things—and Mr Stinziani is more technically adept in this area than I am—much of the detection of anything that is of a malicious nature is automated in that it looks at the metadata sitting behind it. It doesn't look at the substantive content.

Senator WONG: But that's actually part of the point, isn't it?

Mr Stefanic : Yes, I understand.

Senator WONG: Let's not get into a George Brandis discussion of metadata, because that would be painful!

Mr Stefanic : I assure you that that data is managed internally and we don't send it offshore.

Senator KITCHING: Or to any other department?

Senator WONG: Let's use the CCTV example: a member of DPS communicates with and get a response from a parliamentarian in relation to an issue that they have raised concerns about—it's precisely, in the cyber context, what occurred in the previous case. The content of the communication is not discerned but the fact of it on the relevant day is. There's a potential issue there. Nobody is quibbling; of course malicious external attacks have to be guarded against. We just want to make sure that we don't see a repeat in this domain of some of the concerns which were raised previously with the CCTV incidents.

Mr Stefanic : I understand the concern.

Senator WONG: So the fact that it's metadata that you reference doesn't actually make us feel more confident. I didn't talk about envelopes at all, or addresses. You should watch the interview!

Senator KITCHING: Are the nine FTEs being created software engineers and programmers? What are they?

Mr Stinziani : They're a variety of people with the skills that we need in that detect-and-respond capability.

Senator KITCHING: Can I get an update on APH catering? I asked some questions in relation to moneys owed to APH catering. As of last Friday—I won't ask you for today!—what was the amount owed to APH catering?

Mr Creagh : I've got as of 30 April. It might take a little bit of time to get additional data.

Senator KITCHING: No, 30 April is good.

Mr Creagh : As of 30 April, the total amount owed in catering debtors was $234,324. Of that, $183,339 was less than 30 days—so not overdue.

Senator KITCHING: So who's owing the remaining $60-odd thousand?

Mr Creagh : Approximately $20,000 is owed by parliamentarians, and approximately $40,000-ish is owed by external parties and other departments—so non-parliamentarians.

Senator KITCHING: I think one of the amounts owing was from the Liberal Party. That's been paid though, I understand?

Mr Creagh : That is correct, yes.

Senator KITCHING: So the $44,000 approximately—that is departments having catering done, is it?

Mr Creagh : That's any non-parliamentarian having catering done at Parliament House. That includes external bodies who might use Parliament House.

Senator KITCHING: Are you able to give us a list of those external entities?

Mr Creagh : Of people who are overdue?

Senator KITCHING: Not of the 44,000.

Mr Creagh : I'll take that on notice, because it might take some time to collate.

Senator KITCHING: I want to move onto leave entitlements. We discussed this last time. In relation to recommendation 2—this is from the KPMG audit recommendations. Is that you, Ms Saunders?

Ms Saunders : It is.

Senator KITCHING: Hello. The outstanding action was for the department to determine if any leave without pay records have impacted on superannuation contributions. How's that tracking?

Ms Saunders : That work is now complete, and I can state that there was no impact on superannuation contributions.

Senator KITCHING: And, the finalisation of recommendation 3—that's to be completed by 30 June 2018. Is that on track?

Ms Saunders : That's complete now.

Senator KITCHING: It's complete; so it's early?

Ms Saunders : Yes.

Senator KITCHING: Good. In relation to recommendation 4, are you able to provide a status update?

Ms Saunders : I'm just going to that recommendation. That recommendation will be complete when the next version of Kronos is released, because that's requiring that the schedule file, when it is reloaded—when it's relied upon again—is actually working properly. That will happen when the next version of Kronos 8's released.

Senator KITCHING: When is the next version of Kronos released?

Ms Saunders : It's expected to be early in the new financial year.

Senator KITCHING: Have all of the affected staff been provided with an updated account of their leave balances? Have they all been corrected where they needed to be corrected? Has that all happened?

Ms Saunders : They've all been corrected.

Senator KITCHING: There are none outstanding?

Ms Saunders : There are none outstanding; they've all been corrected—yes.

Senator KITCHING: How many inquiries have been received on the—I'll just read out the email address— inbox to date? This was an email set up to work through the issues that employees had with their leave balances. How many inquiries did you receive?

Ms Saunders : I don't have that information with me. I will be able to get that on notice for you though.

Senator KITCHING: If you could let the committee know later today, that's if it's—

Ms Saunders : Yes.

Senator KITCHING: What I really want to know from that is: how many have been actioned, and if there's anything outstanding from those inquiries.

Ms Saunders : Sure.

Senator KITCHING: That would be great, thank you. Could I ask: has the missing security manual been located?

Mr Cooper : No, the manual hasn't been located. The risks have been mitigated to the department's satisfaction some time ago.

Senator KITCHING: So you're not looking for it anymore?

Mr Cooper : That's correct: we're not looking for it.

Senator KITCHING: So you're not doing anything more about it? It's just going to be out there somewhere, wherever it might be?

Mr Cooper : We address these things with a risk management process, and it's not in our interests to spend any more time trying to address something that is generally a low risk to us.

Senator KITCHING: Is it true, Mr Cooper, that after the estimates hearings where the contractor was mentioned that you were so happy with that that you went and bought champagne? Is that true?

Mr Cooper : No, I don't think that's true.

Senator KITCHING: You don't think it's true?

Mr Cooper : I don't recall that. I drink champagne with my wife, but I don't recall drinking champagne here.

Senator KITCHING: Can I move onto various white powder incidents.

Mr Stefanic : Senator, before you get there, in light of recent media reporting on this, in recent days I've been approached by a number of security staff who are expressing their dismay and disappointment about the behaviour of a small number of anonymous colleagues who continue to misrepresent information about our security operations in a deliberate attempt to mislead and misinform journalists and senators.

Our joint approach with the AFP in managing events of potential concern reflects contemporary risk based practice—that is, it's no longer the case that the first response is to close down all operations in every instance. If there were genuine concerns about our security procedures, which have been in place for some years, there have been various mechanisms or forums in which these concerns could have been constructively raised. These include the recent functional review of the security of Parliament House, where the loading dock security staff were consulted; a recent survey of security training needs that was conducted late last year; a workplace consultative committee; grievance procedures; senior officers of DPS or other parliamentary departments; unions; and external accountability agencies. Staff can also write to Mr Cooper or me regarding any concerns they may have, and some do from time to time. To my knowledge, no issues of shortfalls in training with regard to the use of the HazMatID Elite device or attending to suspicious substances have been identified.

These leaks are calculated to generate publicity and create a false impression of the security operation that may undermine public confidence in the security of Parliament House. This adverse publicity also has a significant impact on the morale of the many professional and committed staff of the security branch. These leaks by certain PSS officers into the public domain certainly represent spills of security classified information, and I'm currently consulting with the Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police to investigate in this regard. When this hearing has concluded, I'll be writing to all DPS staff in similar terms, and I'm happy to table the text of the email that will be sent, for the committee's information.

Senator BERNARDI: May I just clarify something? Senator Kitching, are you referring to—and, Mr Stefanic, are you responding to—the story that I read on BuzzFeed where there were some allegations about a white powder and Bunnings suits and masks being used? Is that the one?

Mr Stefanic : Amongst others.

Senator KITCHING: Yes. In fact there have been a number in the past year, one which occurred on 22 November. Through you, Chair—just so the committee members are aware—I've asked for a particular officer to attend, and the department has refused. He has what I believe is unique knowledge of the incident, which is that he was the first person on the scene. He was in the process of phoning the AFP, which is part of the security protocol, and he was told not to complete that call. I've asked for that person to come, but the department has said no.

Senator BERNARDI: I appreciate the clarification. I just wanted to make sure we were talking about the same thing.

Senator KITCHING: There's been a recent one in the Prime Minister's office as well.

CHAIR: I think Mr Stefanic might also be referring to an article that went up on BuzzFeed a few hours ago that quotes Senator Kitching and alleges that there's been some kind of witch-hunt against whistleblowers. I think Mr Stefanic's responding to that characterisation.

Senator KITCHING: Which of course would be unlawful under the whistleblowers act, or the more updated name that it now has.

Mr Stefanic : Well, Senator, we've received no protected interest disclosures.

Senator WONG: Senator Kitching is much more across the detail of this. I am interested in the statement you made from the table, though, Mr Stefanic. Perhaps 'threat' is too strong a word, but you made clear that you were engaged with the AFP in respect of these disclosures. Did you inform staff of that prior to coming into the hearing or have you used the hearing to make that assertion?

The PRESIDENT: Can I own up to that, Senator Wong? In discussions I had with the secretary, I indicated that I thought, as a suggestion, it was more appropriate to inform the committee rather than send an email out and then come to the committee, which I know in the past has been an issue of some concern to committee members. It was actually my suggestion that the statement be made to the committee prior to an email being sent to staff.

Senator WONG: But it is not just to the committee, is it? It's a public statement to all—

The PRESIDENT: With respect—

Senator KITCHING: And to staff as well.

Senator WONG: I hadn't actually seen the article to which Senator Bernardi was referring, about people being—

The PRESIDENT: I'm just defending the—

Senator WONG: I was asking a question. I hadn't actually seen it. I don't think I can read that quickly, Senator Kitching.

CHAIR: You ought to follow Senator Kitching more closely on Twitter, Senator Wong!

Senator WONG: She's a good friend and colleague, but I am not glued to her Twitter feed, I'm afraid.

Senator KITCHING: That's probably a very good indication of sanity!

Senator WONG: But it's a reasonably, I suppose, dramatic way to announce that you've got a leak inquiry.

Senator KITCHING: I think part of the problem, of course, is that late last week you indicated to staff, Mr Stefanic, that the journalist in question at BuzzFeed had been interviewed by the AFP, and the journalist writes in the article this morning that in fact she has not been approached at all. What do you say to that?

Mr Stefanic : I have made no reference—

Senator KITCHING: Late last week there were discussions in the Department of Parliamentary Services that in order to tell staff that there was this inquiry going on. You said the journalist had been interviewed by the AFP. The journalist writes this morning that she has not been interviewed and no-one has approached her.

Mr Stefanic : I have made no such statement.

Senator WONG: Is there any statement that might have been made which might have caused people to misunderstand?

Mr Stefanic : There is no inquiry on foot. There is no current investigation. That's why I'm consulting about the nature of the incidents.

Senator WONG: I thought you said you had already spoken to the AFP.

Mr Stefanic : I spoke with the commissioner on Friday, yes.

Senator WONG: Okay. Is there an inquiry or not?

Mr Stefanic : No.

Senator WONG: So you spoke with the commissioner. But in relation to Senator Kitching's question, you said there was no such assertion made. Is there anything that was said that might have led officers or staff to come to the view that she has described?

Mr Stefanic : Certainly nothing that has been sanctioned.

Senator WONG: What does that mean?

Mr Stefanic : If somebody has made that comment, it has not been authorised, and it has not come from this table.

Senator WONG: Is that right?

Mr Cooper : That's correct.

Senator WONG: Do any of you have any knowledge of what might have been said?

Mr Cooper : No. I would only speculate that rumours run rife in a department at any time.

Senator WONG: Mr Stefanic, do you have any knowledge of what might have been said?

Mr Stefanic : It's probably the same information that continues this rolling series of allegations. I've readBuzzFeedtoday. I saw the BuzzFeed article the other day. They have no basis.

Senator WONG: I'm not actually asking about what's in BuzzFeed.

CHAIR: To be fair to Mr Stefanic, Senator Kitching was directly reporting. I think he's responding to that.

Senator WONG: He has responded to Senator Kitching. BuzzFeed has reported that an or some officers were told something about the status of investigation in relation to this journalist. The people at the table have said that that's not authorised or sanctioned. I am simply asking, was anything said that might have led staff, correctly or incorrectly, to that view?

The PRESIDENT: With respect, Senator Wong, I think they've tried to answer. It's a very open-ended question, and I think it would be hard for them to be any more specific in answering a question like, 'Could anything have been said that could have been interpreted in that way?'

Senator WONG: What was said in relation to the journalist?

Mr Stefanic : I don't know.

Senator WONG: Who was at the meetings? The gentleman at the end of the table?

Mr Cooper : We've certainly discussed the leak. As far as I'm aware, we haven't discussed any suggestion that a journalist might be at fault.

Senator WONG: Okay. What was said about the journalist?

Mr Cooper : I don't recall anything being said about the journalist.

Senator WONG: Mr Anderson?

Mr Anderson : I have never mentioned a journalist. I have no recollection of anyone mentioning a journalist.

Senator KITCHING: Just on the comments that were said, Mr Anderson, have you ever said, 'I will burn the security division to the ground and start again with other people,' to a number of staff, including in a lift? You have said it on a number of occasions, apparently. I am just giving you an opportunity to respond.

Mr Anderson : Apparently, Senator. I don't recall saying that, but I might have said that.

Senator WONG: You might have, but you can't recall?

Senator KITCHING: Get rid of people you don't like—

Mr Anderson : No, Senator. Let me put this in context. There were a number of issues I encountered when I took over the branch. There were a number of things that needed correcting within the security branch. I wasn't referring to people at all, if I made that statement. I can't recall making that statement.

Senator KITCHING: But you might have.

Mr Anderson : I might have. It sounds like something I might have said.

Senator KITCHING: Okay. Can I go to the security protocols.

Senator WONG: Mr Anderson, do you think existing staff might have taken that as a bit of threat? What was it: 'I am going to burn the security division to the ground and start again.'

Mr Anderson : Given that I can't actually recall saying that, I'm not sure who I would have said it to.

Senator WONG: Hang on. You said, 'I might have said it; I can't recall.'

Senator KITCHING: You said, 'It sounds like something I said.'

Mr Anderson : It sounds like something I might have said.

Senator WONG: I'm assuming you've told us the truth. So, if it's something you might have said, do you think people might have taken that as a threat? I don't know what that hand movement means.

Mr Anderson : I'm not sure.

Senator WONG: Was it intended as a threat?

Mr Anderson : No, it certainly wasn't intended as a threat, if I said it at all.

Mr Cooper : If I could just add to this discussion, there have been a number of phrases used in relation to the reform that is underway in the branch. We've used phrases such as 'rebuilding and flying the plane at the same time'. We've used phrases along the line of 'stripping the branch back and rebuilding and having a best-practice security branch'. That is exactly what we are doing.

Senator WONG: Sorry, if you are responding to me smiling—

Mr Cooper : I was.

Senator WONG: those are different things to what is alleged here.

The PRESIDENT: The security branch is undergoing change. It is one of the first things I was briefed on. It is fair to say that the security environment and requirements of the security branch have changed quite dramatically, particularly in the last few years. It is also fair to say that quite frankly and appropriately the staff have a great sense of ownership over it, so that change can be quite confronting. It does require a change in practices. With respect to the previous interaction, last week—budget week—we had a few people complain that the staff at the front end of the building were grumpy. That is the only complaint we really got about the budget. All I said is that occasionally I say things I reflect upon later that maybe I said in the heat of the moment. I don't think any of us are perfect. This is an area of some challenge within DPS because of the changing nature of the security requirements, including the need for change amongst operations. I know I say things I wish I might not have said occasionally or might not recall instantly having said, off the top of my head, as well.

Senator KITCHING: I think we can all agree that saying something like, 'I will burn the security division to the ground and start again,' is probably not optimal. Yes, I think we can all agree on that. I want to move to security protocols. Mr Stefanic, I don't have the benefit of having a copy of that statement you made. If there is one available I'd be very pleased to have it. Perhaps you can table that. Thank you. I think you said something along the lines of, 'The security protocol has been updated and it's no longer part of the protocol to have the AFP or first responders come to us for every security incident.' Is that what you said? Was it something like that?

Mr Stefanic : It's not the protocol. Sorry, I've just handed up my one copy of the statement. I said the first response is not to always shut down an operation in making an assessment.

Senator KITCHING: When did that change? I've got OPP 10.25, which is a document around screening, for example. When did that change? When did you make that change?

Mr Stefanic : I will ask Mr Anderson to answer that for you.

Mr Anderson : I'm happy to elaborate on this. 10.25 relates to dealing with suspicious substances. With that particular protocol, what needs to be understood—and it's not evident within the protocol itself, but obviously it exists—is that to deal with an incident an assessment needs to be made of the circumstances of that incident. So beforehand—and this will give me a chance to correct some of the misinformation that's been reported in the last few days—someone needs to make an assessment about whether something is a type 1, type 2, type 3 or type 4 incident. That assessment needs to be made prior. It is made by people with the knowledge, skills, experience and training to make those sorts of assessments.

Senator KITCHING: How does that relate? It says, for example—and I'm reading from paragraph 5, and it says: 'current security screening equipment and procedures at the entrance to Parliament House and the chamber galleries may not detect the presence of a white powder substance. While recent incidents involving white powder in Australia have usually been a prank or a hoax, it is prudent to treat all such incidents as potentially hazardous and to respond accordingly.' And then it goes into the different types—in fact in accordance with the ACT fire brigade's definitions around white powder security incidents.

Can I just read you another protocol, which is on the Senate intranet, I think—it's also a response to incidents. It talks about: 'suspected mail or courier deliveries remain in the immediate area and prevent entry and further handling of items; call for assistance; keep hands away from nose, mouth and eyes; wash hands, if possible—which does kind of bring us back to the tasting of an unidentified white powder. Because, obviously, that would be against the protocol of dipping your finger in and licking it and saying its sugar or salt or whatever you did. It goes on to say: 'Wait for help to arrive' and 'if you have opened a suspect mail item, do not disturb it, remain nearby and prevent others from entering the area. Be available to describe the substance to police and fire services.'

So how does that change in our joint approach in managing events of potential concern that reflect contemporary risk based practice? It is no longer the case that the first response is to close down operations for every instance. Are all of these protocols changing to reflect this new approach?

Mr Anderson : To answer your question, Senator, I'd also refer you back to the previous protocol, the paragraph in OPP 10.25 that you mentioned in the last sentence: 'Notwithstanding the requirement for an appropriate response, all efforts should be directed towards maintaining normal operations to the greatest possible extent.' Understanding that the OPPs, as they are written, are for people that lack subject matter expertise, these are programmable decisions for our security staff to ensure a consistent response. It relies on someone with the subject matter expertise to start with to make the assessment as to what actually they are dealing with.

Senator KITCHING: I want to come to that because, I think, in the last lot of estimates, in February—my memory is it was 21 February; sorry, 26 February. You said:

The AFP had been informed of all incidents.

and I'll come back to that.

… on 22 November, attempts were made to contact the AFP.

And that's precisely, Chair, why I wanted Mr O'Mahony to come, because I understand he was on the phone to the AFP and was directed to terminate the call. Then you said, Mr Anderson:

Because I was in the vicinity … understanding my background and experience in dealing with white powder… contacted me because I was nearby, and I came up and dealt with the incident.

I've just got your LinkedIn profile. Currently, it says Director, Department of Parliamentary Services. You were a team leader at the AFP—and I'm happy to table this, Mr Anderson, if that helps with responses. Which bit of your experience in the AFP gives you the 'background and experience in dealing with white powder'?

Mr Anderson : Senator, while I was in the AFP, I started my career in general duties policing, which is—

Senator KITCHING: That's Belconnen, isn't it?

Mr Anderson : That's right. I've responded to a number of white-powder incidents.

Senator KITCHING: How many?

Mr Anderson : A dozen or so.

Senator KITCHING: So you were there two years?

Mr Anderson : Yes, that's right.

Senator KITCHING: That was 2003 to 2005?

Mr Anderson : That's right. From there I moved to specialist response and security in the major event planning area, where I was responsible for planning and managing major security operations. At my time at major event planning, I helped draft the ACT Policing protocol for white powder incidents. From there, I moved to protection and intelligence, dealing with threats to high office holders, and managing those investigations. From there, I went to the AFP College, teaching command and control, and I wrote the AFP command and control doctrine for them.

Senator KITCHING: So you've written documents, but really the last time you had white-powder experience was in fact 13 years ago?

CHAIR: Senator Kitching, I don't think it's fair to characterise Mr Anderson's experienced as having 'written documents'. I think his evidence is that he trains people in how to manage these incidents. I think that's an unfair characterisation.

Mr Anderson : Further, as part of my role in training AFP officers in managing critical incidents and assisting the AFP in the management of critical incidents like MH17 and the Lindt Cafe siege, part of that training involved teaching AFP officers how to manage white powder incidents. You would have noticed from my LinkedIn profile that I have a master's degree in national security policy from the National Security College at ANU. I have extensive academic and background knowledge in terms of managing white powder incidents and what they are, what anthrax is and what it is not. And I can absolutely assure you this was not a biological or chemical threat.

Senator KITCHING: Given the protocol says to contact—as it did at the time; now it's changed—the AFP, did you stop Mr O'Mahony from contacting the AFP?

Mr Anderson : Absolutely not. Let's be clear. Mr O'Mahony approached me. He told me he had twice attempted to ring the AFP and had not been successful. He asked me to come and assess the situation. He was not the first officer on site. Another PSS officer discovered the white powder and called Mr O'Mahony.

Senator KITCHING: So who was the first one on site?

Mr Anderson : I'd have to take that on notice.

Senator KITCHING: Can you come back to me today, do you think?

Senator WONG: You don't know? I just find that— I'm not— It just seems— This has been publicised.

CHAIR: I don't think the evidence was that he didn't know. He just said he wants to take it on notice. There are a number of reasons why he might wish to do that.

The PRESIDENT: I am always—as I have been in other roles—very careful about throwing out the names of individual officers who, quite frankly, are not remunerated or given the capacity to deal with Senate estimates and what might suddenly descend upon them if their name was put into Hansardor put on the public record.

Senator WONG: No-one is descending. Come on.

The PRESIDENT: I'm not referring to you. I'm referring to others. I don't want to put someone's name out, and they suddenly get 30 phone calls from the media, and they haven't been told. An individual might be a part-time PSS officer. I don't think that's fair or reasonable.

Senator WONG: Don't raise propositions about why someone might not attend if you're not able to tell us why they are not attending, okay?

The PRESIDENT: Do you want me to say why that person is not attending?

Senator WONG: I beg your pardon?

The PRESIDENT: We were being asked then for the name of an officer who was the first person Mr Anderson referred to on the scene. All I'm saying is, I don't think it's appropriate to throw the name of an officer into the public domain at least without having consulted them.

Senator WONG: With respect, it was pretty clear from the media that this was an issue. It was also clear at the beginning of the hearing. Are we dealing with it? What do you want to do now? You just offered to explain why.

The PRESIDENT: The officer that Senator Kitching referred to—

Senator WONG: Can we use 'the first attender'—is that correct?

Senator KITCHING: I was under the impression that the first attender—and I'm happy not to mention the names—was the assistant director. He was not the first attender, is that correct?

Mr Anderson : No.

Senator WONG: Sorry, that was a double negative.

Mr Cooper : Yes, he wasn't.

Senator WONG: No, he wasn't.

The PRESIDENT: That is the person who I was protecting. Not the one who had already been mentioned, but someone who had never been mentioned.

Senator WONG: Can you tell us, at least, the classification of the officer. You don't have to give me a name, but the first attender was a DPS officer.

Mr Anderson : Yes, it was a Parliamentary Security Service officer, PSS officer 1/2.

Senator WONG: Is that a junior classification? Which way around is it? I forget.

Mr Anderson : Yes, it is. It's a broadbanded position, so, yes.

Senator WONG: It goes one, two, three, four, and four is higher?

Mr Anderson : Correct.

Senator KITCHING: In the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee estimates on 26 February last, the AFP gave evidence that they:

… did not become aware of this incident until it was reported in the media in January 2018.

In response to the question:

What procedures are in place when a suspicious substance is detected at Parliament House?

the AFP also says:

The AFP adheres to the Department of Parliamentary Services Operating Policies and Procedures when responding to reports of a suspicious substance.

The next question is:

Were these procedures followed in this instance?

The answer is:

As the AFP was not present at the time the incident occurred we are unable to comment on the procedures followed by the Department of Parliamentary Services.

Then the question is asked:

Can a copy of the procedures be provided?

That was another question. The AFP also says in response to Senator Pratt's question on notice No. 208:

The Australian Federal Police has been involved in a number of discussions with the Department of Parliamentary Services at the management and operational levels based on the lessons learnt from the incident.

What lessons were learnt?

Mr Anderson : The lessons are in terms of our process of communication. And, obviously, with these types of incidents, it's the AFP's role to turn up and make the assessment. On this particular day, the assistant director of security operations had attempted to phone the AFP twice, and he couldn't get through. I understand that the AFP's evidence is that they are not aware of those attempts but that is what the assistant director of security operations has told me.

Senator KITCHING: Maybe because the phone call never went through. Sorry, continue, Mr Anderson.

Mr Anderson : So it is the AFP's role to turn up and assess those. Given that the AFP weren't available, the assistant director of security operations asked me to turn up and make that assessment. As I said, given my knowledge and training in the area, I was happy to do that.

Senator KITCHING: They were asked:

What were the outcomes of any discussion?

Their response is:

The AFP has reaffirmed with the Department of Parliamentary Services the appropriate contact points in the event of an incident and that the AFP would be the lead agency and manage the situation in line with existing procedures.

If they're not contacted, it's going to be a little bit hard for them to be the lead agency, isn't it?

Mr Anderson : Yes, and that's precisely the reason that we're looking at some reforms that we're looking at particularly in relation to the Parliamentary Security Operations Room, which is where the AFP should be located because it's the first point of contact for most of these incidents.

Senator KITCHING: The question was asked:

Does the Australian Federal Police endorse the actions of Mr Anderson of the Department of Parliamentary Services in tasting the substance, in particular given his statement in evidence at the 2017-18 Additional Estimates hearing that in relation to my response to that incident, I handled that incident in exactly the same way I would have handled that incident if I had still been in the AFP?

That was your testimony. The AFP says:

The AFP was not present at the time the incident occurred, therefore it would be inappropriate to comment on the procedures followed by Mr Anderson. The AFP adheres to the Department of Parliamentary Services Operating Policies and Procedures when responding to reports of this nature.

It is the view of the AFP that incidents of suspicious substances be managed by the AFP in line with existing procedures.

Has the AFP approved the change to the security protocol which Mr Stefanic has outlined earlier to the committee?

Mr Anderson : Which protocol? Are you talking about 10.25?

Senator KITCHING: I don't know. Is it a protocol to say it's no longer the case that the first response is to close down operations for every incident? Firstly, does that form part of a protocol?

Mr Anderson : Firstly, as I attempted to explain before, that's a decision that needs to be made when you go forward and make an assessment in terms of what you're dealing with.

Senator KITCHING: But if the AFP is the lead agency as they say in response to the QON—

Mr Anderson : They are, indeed.

Senator KITCHING: then aren't they going to have to be contacted?

Mr Anderson : Correct.

Senator KITCHING: And they say that they've actually reiterated those contact points. I understand they have a 24/7 phone line, and they're in the building. They're not that difficult to get hold of, I wouldn't have thought.

Mr Anderson : All I can tell you is what I was told on the day.

Senator KITCHING: In relation to the assistant director of security: whether he was the first person on the site or not, he was the one who phoned the AFP?

Mr Anderson : That's correct.

Senator KITCHING: So you're giving evidence saying he was not told to terminate that phone call?

Mr Anderson : Absolutely not. I don't know where that's come from, but that is categorically false.

Senator KITCHING: And the AFP didn't become aware of it—they say, in their responses—until media reports?

Mr Anderson : That's correct. Let's be clear, Senator: we weren't dealing with an incident. After I turned up and made—

Senator KITCHING: We never—

CHAIR: Senator Kitching, please allow Mr Anderson to finish his answer.

Senator KITCHING: Sure.

Mr Anderson : After I turned up and made my assessment, it was clear that this was not—

Senator KITCHING: By tasting the substance.

CHAIR: Senator Kitching!

Mr Anderson : No, no. Let me finish please. When I turned up I made an assessment. It was clear that this was not a biological or chemical threat.

Senator KITCHING: Can I ask you—

Mr Anderson : I only tasted the substance after it was clear that this was not an incident. It was not a suspicious substance. There was nothing suspicious about it. The only decision in my mind was whether it was salt or sugar.

Senator KITCHING: What was it—just so that I can get that right?

Mr Anderson : It was sugar.

Senator KITCHING: This incident happened on 22 November?

Mr Anderson : Correct.

Senator KITCHING: Why was an incident report prepared on 21 February, only after there had been media reports? I think that might be contrary to some evidence you've given in previous estimates hearings, where you said that because there was no incident—blah, blah, blah—there was no need for a report. This is in response to question on notice 48, where you say—or the writer of the answer to the QON says:

There was no requirement to prepare incident reports on 22 November 2017 as the matter was not a breach of security or a significant event. Reports were only prepared as file notes following media coverage of the incident.

But I've actually got an incident report here. So did you in fact file a report? Therefore, is it not an insignificant event?

Mr Anderson : No. As a result of the media reporting, I asked for evidence to be presented in terms of the other officers' responses. They were notes for file. Even though they were on incident reports, they weren't incident reports. You may look at that incident report and say, 'What's the difference?' The difference is that this was information for management to collect in response to the media reporting.

Senator KITCHING: It's not a file note, though. In the response to the QON—I'll read it to you again—it says:

… reports were only prepared as file notes following media coverage of the incident.

This is actually a Parliamentary Security Service incident report.

Mr Stefanic : I think what Mr Anderson is alluding to is the format in which the information has been prepared. It would appear to be an incident response, when it was not intended to be—

Senator KITCHING: This has a definitions section. It looks pretty official. But it does, usefully, provide us with the location: the first floor handrail, western side of the Great Hall front doors. So that's not really near the cafe. It's about 40 metres from the cafe, isn't it? I think that was your evidence last time.

Mr Stefanic : We said—

Senator KITCHING: You said it was near the cafe. We had a bit of a discussion about what 'near' meant, and in fact we now have a location, because that's in the incident report.

Mr Stefanic : It's 'proximity', Senator. The word we used was 'proximity'.

Senator KITCHING: No. I think, in fact, Mr Stefanic—if I can find the Hansard—you'll find there was a discussion around the word 'near'.

The PRESIDENT: I'd be happy with both, actually, having looked at it.

Senator KITCHING: I am looking at a Hansard extract from 26 February:

Senator KITCHING: Yes, but not near the Queen's Terrace Cafe at all.

Mr Anderson: It depends on your definition of 'near'. It was near a cafe. In fact, now we know that the incident report says 'first floor handrail, western side of the Great Hall front doors'.

The PRESIDENT: I'd be happy with 'near' and 'proximity' for both of those, having looked at it. If something happened there that caused damage, I think everyone would be happy with saying 'it happened near'.

Senator KITCHING: I'm happy to table the map, Chair. I usefully have three copies.

CHAIR: That's very kind.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Kitching, could I ask: have we not previously put maps in the public domain, at least for this answer? I can't remember.

Senator KITCHING: I just offer it to facilitate a discussion of what is 'near'.

The PRESIDENT: We can have a discussion around what's 'near' or 'in proximity' but, given the description, I can honestly say—and I'm happy to walk committee members around there—I genuinely think 'near' or—

Senator KITCHING: Actually, I did that and measured it.

The PRESIDENT: 'in proximity' is quite fine. If something bad happened—if something negative happened over there—I think people would quite comfortably use the term 'it happened near'. It is literally across the foyer.

Senator KITCHING: I did give Mr Anderson an option to discuss the location, because he said it was near a cafe, thereby implying that someone had just dropped a substance. In fact, it is not 'near' the cafe at all. He was trying to do that to explain the actions he then took, which were contrary to the existing security protocol, which is certainly not to dip your finger into an unidentified substance, whether you think it's type 1 or type 2, and then to actually decide to taste it—and it's sugar. That is not the security protocol.

The PRESIDENT: You are entirely within your rights to assign a motive to why Mr Anderson said what he did. I think he disagrees. Having inspected the site, I think the word 'near' is actually—in the scale of this building and given it's in the public area and given it's across the foyer—fine. And this is a place where those issues can be debated.

Senator KITCHING: We now know where it is, because within the incident report itself the exact location is given.

The PRESIDENT: As I said, I can argue over 'near' or 'in proximity'. I'm happy with the terminology, I appreciate that you're not, and I don't think arguing the terminology will lead to an agreement on it.

Senator KITCHING: Could I move to the incident in the Prime Minister's office on 11 May. There have been reports that the security officers who are deployed with the mobile testing device are suited up in $6 disposable painting overalls from Bunnings. Is that correct?

Mr Anderson : I'm not sure where we source our PPE from, but they are trained and equipped as appropriate to the threat.

Senator KITCHING: Are they suits from Bunnings? Maybe you could take that on notice.

Mr Anderson : I'll take that on notice.

Senator KITCHING: And you'll come back to us maybe even today? I'm not asking about the training; I'm asking about where the suits come from.

Mr Anderson : That's right.

Senator KITCHING: How are employees trained with respect to the operation of the mobile testing device?

Mr Anderson : The employees are trained on an in-house program. Initially, once the device was provided, we got some information and some advice from the supplier. We developed our own training protocols, and they were all trained to use that device.

Senator KITCHING: Do you do any training with or have anything to do with the ACT hazmat fire brigade unit?

Mr Anderson : Yes, because the ACT fire brigade and ACT Ambulance Service have both attended Parliament House and viewed the HazMatID Elite, and our training and our protocols, and they've signed off on it.

Senator KITCHING: I don't know what the training involves, and the reason I ask about the ACT fire brigade is to get some level of comparison to another entity that deals with it. I understand they're properly suited up in hazmat suits, as well. But, leaving that aside, how many employees here are qualified to operate the device?

Mr Anderson : I believe it's 10, but I'll take that on notice and clarify that notification.

Senator KITCHING: Is there refresher training?

Mr Anderson : Yes. People in the loading dock undergo training every Friday.

Senator KITCHING: Every week?

Mr Anderson : Every week.

Senator KITCHING: I'm going to use the date 1 January 2016, because in one of the QONs you give the number of incidents for white powder incidents within Parliament House. Since 1 January, have there been any gaps, or is it really every single week?

Mr Anderson : There may be gaps, but I think it's as business requirements dictate. If it's particularly busy—for example, in budget week—they might not have done the training that week. But I will clarify that and provide it on notice.

Senator KITCHING: That would be good. In relation to the incident within the Prime Minister's office on 11 May, was the department the first on the scene, or was the AFP the first on the scene?

Mr Anderson : I can't discuss that incident with you. This was an AFP managed and controlled incident. Any questions in relation to the management of that incident should be referred to the AFP. I'd also point out that it's still under investigation by the AFP, so it would be inappropriate for me to make any comments in relation to that incident.

Senator KITCHING: We can ask the AFP in legal and con estimates. In relation to the security officers who were deployed to deal with the incident, was the mobile testing device used?

Mr Anderson : I can confirm that DPS was asked to deploy the mobile testing device, yes.

Senator KITCHING: So it was used?

Mr Anderson : Yes.

Senator KITCHING: And used successfully? You tested it and—

Mr Anderson : I can't discuss that.

CHAIR: I know you're on a roll, Senator Kitching, and I hate to interrupt, but we are due for our lunch break. We will returning with DPS after the break.

Proceedings suspended from 12:30 to 13:33

CHAIR: The committee will now resume.

Senator KITCHING: I was up to asking about the mobile testing device being deployed to the Prime Minister's office in an incident earlier this month. Your evidence, Mr Anderson, was that it was deployed. The department stated, in its response to QoN 47, that 10 officers are capable of operating the mobile testing device. That was the wording in the QoN. Does that mean that 10 officers are properly trained?

Mr Anderson : That's correct. The 10 officers are all assigned to the loading dock. They are the people who work in the loading dock and they would be the people who would use that device.

Senator KITCHING: Thank you. That doesn't really answer my question about whether they are properly trained though.

Mr Anderson : They are properly trained, yes.

Senator KITCHING: I think you've stated in response to a QoN that there is basic in-house familiarisation training that's conducted, is that the training?

Mr Anderson : No. There is an in-house training program for that device. I should point out that that device is very simple and intuitive to use. This is not a complex piece of machinery.

Senator KITCHING: But the training that's provided, is that the basic in-house familiarisation training?

Mr Anderson : Yes.

Senator KITCHING: And what other training is given?

Mr Anderson : They do refresher training, as I said, on Fridays.

Senator KITCHING: Just because a device is easy to use—they are potentially risking their health and safety—

Mr Anderson : No, I'd refute—

Senator KITCHING: Some people might say a Nespresso machine is difficult to use. I will go to a comparison: let's go back to the ACT fire brigade. What kind of training do they get to operate a similar device?

Mr Anderson : I'm not sure what training the ACT fire brigade would have, and I'm not sure whether the ACT fire brigade would have that device. But what I can say is that, certainly, our operators are not placed into hazardous situations, and this device is designed to be used against a commensurate threat profile, in terms of what they're dealing with. So if it was a hazardous situation, Senator, that's when the ACT fire brigade would turn up and use the appropriate equipment.

Senator KITCHING: You must have an idea then, in a comparative sense, between the ACT fire brigade and the 10 officers who would be deployed to an incident within Parliament House.

Mr Anderson : Yes. Can you repeat what the question was, Senator?

Senator KITCHING: My question is, there is a training program: is that commensurate with training programs that other officers in other agencies or facilities might receive who are dealing with the same circumstances?

Mr Anderson : I'm not sure, Senator, but, as I tendered in evidence before, ACT Ambulance Service and the ACT fire brigade have looked at our program and they've signed off on it.

Senator KITCHING: So they have signed off on the training, is that correct?

Mr Anderson : Whether it's signed off on the training—but they certainly have looked at our use of that device.

Senator KITCHING: No; I'm not asking about the use. I'm asking about the training.

Mr Anderson : I will take that on notice, then.

Senator KITCHING: Okay, thank you. So there is no actual approved training program.

Mr Anderson : It's in-house training, Senator.

Senator KITCHING: Okay, so that answers that question. Have you had any feedback over the lunch break about where their equipment, their overalls, come from?

Mr Anderson : Yes, we're still looking for that answer, Senator.

Senator KITCHING: You've had more than an hour. Has no-one looked it up, has no-one seen the receipt—is there a receipt from somewhere?

Mr Anderson : We are attempting to find that answer.

Senator KITCHING: When do you think you'll come back with that?

Mr Anderson : As soon as I get the answer.

Senator KITCHING: Just so I am clear—because I don't want you to come back with a response saying, 'the suits aren't from Bunnings.' What I'm asking you is: where are the suits from? Are they of the appropriate level—that, for example, the ACT fire brigade would also use in similar instances? Because you have indicated that they may also attend Parliament House. So I want to know whether those suits—which are colloquially said to be $6 painting overalls from Bunnings; I don't want you to narrow my question down and tell me, 'No, they're not from Bunnings.' I would like a response back as to whether they are appropriate suiting for people to wear when dealing with hazardous materials. If you could take that on notice, that would be good.

Mr Anderson : I don't need to take that on notice, Senator, I can answer that question, as I believe I've answered it before. The ACT fire brigade have turned up and looked at our PPE and looked at our uses of the device, and have signed off on it.

Senator KITCHING: I'm not talking about the device now, I'm talking about the clothing that is worn.

Mr Cooper : That's the PPE, Senator, that he is referring to.

Senator KITCHING: Yes, I understand what PPE is. But what I'm asking you is: is it an appropriate level of covering for the security officers who are dealing with hazardous materials? Will you take that on notice?

Mr Anderson : I'll take that on notice.

Senator KITCHING: Will you answer it fully?

Mr Anderson : And I will answer it fully.

Senator KITCHING: Fully?

Mr Anderson : Fully.

Senator KITCHING: Thank you. When you do that, could you please take this on notice as well: whom do you have to make aware in these situations, if people are dealing with hazardous materials?

Are they appropriately suited up? Do you have to make, for example, Comcare aware? For your insurance policies, is there an insurance level around outfitting people to deal with hazardous materials?

Mr Anderson : I'll take that on notice. But, as I said before, we would not send our people to assess hazardous situations with that device and with that level of PPE.

Senator KITCHING: I put some questions to you in relation to deletion of security footage that occurred after the 22 November incident. Mr Cooper, or Mr Anderson, did you give a direction to any employee of the department—verbally, in writing or by any other means possibly that you communicate—to delete the footage of the out-of-place white powder incident on 22 November last year?

Mr Cooper : Of course not.

Senator KITCHING: Why was the footage deleted?

Mr Cooper : The footage hasn't been deleted.

Senator KITCHING: Can we have the footage?

Mr Cooper : Release of the footage is a matter for the presiding officers.

Senator KITCHING: I'm happy to have an in camera meeting.

The PRESIDENT: Estimates can't go in camera.

Senator KITCHING: No, after estimates.

The PRESIDENT: I'm will take that on notice. As I said earlier to Senator Wong, I take a very strict thing about the release of footage. I've had it described to me. I'll take that on notice.

CHAIR: Just to clarify, Mr Cooper, I think you are saying that the footage hasn't been deleted, is that right?

Mr Cooper : That's correct.

CHAIR: There were media reports stating that, as a matter of fact, it had been deleted.

The PRESIDENT: I've been assured the footage is still—

CHAIR: That's interesting. Thank you.

Mr Cooper : The media reporting is incorrect.

Senator KITCHING: The footage remains?

Mr Cooper : That's correct.

Senator KITCHING: Even though there's an eight-week period, the footage is still existent?

Mr Cooper : That's correct.

Senator KITCHING: That would be interesting, because I want to see where the actual incident occurred. If we could consider having a—

The PRESIDENT: I'll take it on notice. As I said, estimates can't go in camera.

Senator KITCHING: I'm not asking for it to go in camera. I want to ask about car parking. Is there a policy for car parking at Parliament House, Mr Stefanic?

Mr Stefanic : Yes, there is.

Senator KITCHING: Is it on the Parliament House website?

Mr Stefanic : I'm not sure. I'll take some advice on that.

Senator KITCHING: You don't know whether it's on the website or not. Does anyone know?

Mr Cooper : We are not sure.

Mr Stefanic : We'll find out and get back to you.

Senator KITCHING: Really? You're not sure. You don't know what's on your own website?

The PRESIDENT: There are websites for staff. There's the APH website. I think they are just trying to be specific in their answer.

Senator KITCHING: I will direct you to a particular part of the website, which is Parliament House operating policies and procedures. Would it be there?

Mr Cooper : Yes, it might be there.

Senator KITCHING: I can tell you it's actually not there, so you can save yourself some trouble and not look there. It's not in the publication section of the website either. How will pass holders know what the parking policy is if they cannot find the policy?

Mr Anderson : The policies that pertain to security are being reviewed.

Senator KITCHING: I'm not asking about security; I'm asking about where the policy is.

Mr Anderson : The private car parking policy for Parliament House falls under the security banner.

Senator KITCHING: So is it in the security section? Given you, Mr Cooper—or you, Mr Anderson—are in that division of the department maybe you might actually know where it is?

Mr Anderson : I know it's on the DPS internal hub.

Senator KITCHING: That's very useful for DPS staff; I'm going to come to your car parking arrangements shortly. But we all agree that there are quite a lot of people other than DPS staff using the car parks at Parliament House. Do you agree with that?

Mr Anderson : I do agree with that.

Senator KITCHING: So it would be very difficult for people who aren't DPS employees to find the policy.

The PRESIDENT: Are you are talking about passholders or the public users?

Senator KITCHING: Passholders.

The PRESIDENT: Sorry, just asking for my own purposes.

Senator KITCHING: So are you setting people up to fail?

Mr Stefanic : No. Even the DPS intranet is accessible to all people who are on the Parliament House network. There are other services that are accessible through the DPS intranet portal. It's not only accessible to DPS staff.

Senator KITCHING: Given you know that level of detail, where is it on the intranet?

Mr Stefanic : I said we'll take advice on that, and I'll get back to you.

Senator KITCHING: So you can't provide me with a copy today?

Mr Stefanic : No.

Senator KITCHING: When do you think you might have that?

Mr Stefanic : I'm sure there's somebody seeking that right now.

Senator KITCHING: Would Mr Stinziani know?

Mr Stefanic : No.

Mr Stinziani : It's not my responsibility.

Senator KITCHING: Some staff of parliamentarians who are not Canberra based have received correspondence from DPS notifying them that DPS is revoking car park access due to infringements issued during non-sitting weeks, including in the week between Christmas and New Year's Day, when the staff's cars are parked at Parliament House and the staff are at their home base. Is this correct?

Mr Cooper : From time to time, parking infringements are issued. It's a mechanism to enforce the parking rules.

Senator KITCHING: So you get an infringement if you're parked for one day, and if you receive two infringement notices you are not able to park in Parliament House for six months?

Mr Cooper : I'll just provide some detail there. Infringement penalties include:

Any person who incurs two (2) parking infringements in any three (3) month period will lose their access to the parking facility for six (6) months.

Senator KITCHING: Where are you reading from?

Mr Cooper : A briefing note.

Senator KITCHING: Not the actual policy? I thought, by a miracle, you'd located the policy.

Mr Cooper : I'm not into miracles but I am familiar with my briefing notes. Continuing on:

… parking access will be removed immediately for a certain period—

as determined by the assistant secretary of the Security Branch—

if a person is found to be parking in a mobility disability parking space without authorisation.

There are no monetary fines associated with DPS-issued infringement notices. I will add to your comment about being banned from parking for six months. That is something that is under active consideration. It is true that the policy currently has six months. We are considering whether or not that's appropriate. In the next version of the policy, that's likely to be amended. May I say that people have the ability to seek an appeal should they be banned.

Senator KITCHING: To whom?

Mr Cooper : To the assistant secretary of the Security Branch.

Senator KITCHING: To Mr Anderson?

Mr Cooper : I think that's correct.

Senator KITCHING: Do you hear all of the appeals?

Mr Anderson : No. The policy says that the appeals should go to the secretary, who has delegated the first assistant secretary to hear those.

Mr Cooper : Pardon me—that's me.

Senator KITCHING: You all seem to be very well briefed, but you don't have the policy on you.

Mr Stefanic : We deal with the policy from time to time, so we do have—

Senator KITCHING: You've got it in your briefing notes, but no-one can locate it on a website.

Senator WONG: Senator Kitching might have clarified this: does the policy apply to members and senators?

Mr Stefanic : No.

Senator WONG: I'll be clear: a number of us do, for security reasons, leave our cars in the Senate car park in non-sitting periods rather than elsewhere—that would be senators and members from all parties, I would suspect, or those who have cars.

Mr Cooper : I don't believe it applies to senators and members. The infringements that I've just mentioned are about parking in Commonwealth car parks without a Commonwealth car park sticker or parking in a disability—

Senator WONG: No, I think the issue Senator Kitching was raising was in relation to alleged infringements where people park for non-sitting periods—so precisely the same circumstance that I have outlined, which is that a number of us who have allocated cars would prefer to park in the Senate car park over a break between sittings rather than back at wherever one lives because it is more secure, and staff may do the same thing. But I understand you're saying that the policy says staff can't do that; correct?

Mr Cooper : I believe that's the case.

Senator WONG: Senator Kitching, I am sure has a few questions, but can I just express this to you: I have been here a while now, and I don't think the policy you just enunciated is well known to staff. Telling staff members that they can't access a car park for six months because they made a mistake—I accept that under the current arrangements it is a mistake of parking between sitting periods—is a fairly substantial response. I hope you might consider—when you revisit the policy, as I think you flagged—that maybe there might be a warning process. People work very long hours here, and there are obviously reasons why you would want staff not to have to walk further externally to the building late at night.

The PRESIDENT: Off the top of my head, the only issue I can recall that has come to my attention in the last few months has been ongoing—occasional claims, I will say—use of members' and senators' car parks. Occasionally, we do get—

Senator WONG: Staff doing that?

The PRESIDENT: Occasionally, yes, that has come up from senators and members. That is something that, at least to my knowledge, has been dealt with in the way you might suggest. That does occasionally cause issues, especially on the Senate side, because the Senate car park is smaller.

Senator KITCHING: But there have been incidents where staff who have not parked in those car parks are then banned from parking for six months.

The PRESIDENT: I have to say, to the best of my knowledge, this is the first time I have heard of it. I'm happy to do as Senator Wong suggests.

Senator WONG: Well, at least let them know. I haven't heard of the policy before, and I have been here a fair while. I have never heard staff talking about the policy before.

Senator KITCHING: No-one at the table can find the policy.

Senator WONG: I am sure we all should have seen it, but you're saying, 'Because you didn't comply with a policy that isn't on our website and isn't particularly well known, we are going to ban you for six months in a job where people are often asked to work very late.'

Mr Cooper : Senator Wong, I agree. The flexibility that you are suggesting will be taken on board and considered in the next policy.

Senator WONG: If people are being pinged now and are currently banned for six months, are you saying that people who work here can appeal to you? Are you the delegate?

Mr Cooper : Yes, I am.

Senator WONG: Okay, we will tell them to give you a call.

Mr Cooper : I think they would have been told that when an infringement was issued. It is two infringements issued in a three-month period before a suspension is in play.

Senator WONG: What is the logic of saying you can't leave your car there between sitting weeks? Is it just because there are a lot of cars parking?

Mr Cooper : It is because we don't have enough car parks.

Senator WONG: If staff are travelling with me and I am leaving partway through a sitting day or early—so if we don't manage to get home. It is different if it is a morning flight. For example, on Friday I had hearings here so I left in the middle of the day. If they are travelling with me, what you are saying is they have to drive home. Do you see what I mean? They have to leave work earlier and repark their car. Is that what you are asking people to do when the senator or member is having to depart from Parliament House?

Mr Stefanic : I do know of instances where staff have asked for approval if there has been a particular reason to leave their vehicle for a period of time and that has actually been approved.

Senator KITCHING: It is 24 hours in advance, isn't it? It doesn't always work out that people have the luxury of ordering their life in a way like that.

Senator WONG: It's not the reality of the sort of work they are asked to do. They're asked things like: 'You've got to come with me to Melbourne. I've now got to be in Melbourne all of a sudden at four o'clock, so make sure you can get there.' Do you know what I mean?

Mr Cooper : I agree, but I will also say another reality is that in the past we have had people who have left their cars for a long time and for weeks on end.

Senator WONG: Yes, but it is a sort of a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

Mr Cooper : We have agreed. We are looking at more flexibility, absolutely.

Senator WONG: I think that is one thing: if you dump your car there for months, fair enough. But if you are talking about between sitting periods, I can imagine many circumstances where that might arise and where it is actually inconvenient to whoever the employer is for the staff member to have to do those logistics before you get to the airport, particularly if you have to rush from a sitting day to the airport, which happens.

Senator KITCHING: How many car parks does DPS have?

The PRESIDENT: Do you mean reserved—

Senator KITCHING: Yes, reserved.

The PRESIDENT: or how many staff—

Senator KITCHING: No, I mean reserved car spots. Because you've got reserved car spaces, haven't you—DPS? I think they're in the Senate car park.

The PRESIDENT: Can we take it on notice? I know there are a couple in the Senate car park.

Senator KITCHING: What's the rationale for reserving car spaces for DPS employees?

Mr Stefanic : It's been a long-standing arrangement with the approval of presiding officers.

Senator KITCHING: Have you got a reserved car spot, Mr Stefanic?

Mr Stefanic : That's correct.

Senator KITCHING: You must know how many people have them, approximately.

Mr Stefanic : No, I don't.

Senator KITCHING: You don't know—okay. Is that being reviewed as well? Maybe you don't need as many car spots?

The PRESIDENT: I think we're only talking about—is it fair to say roughly a handful of DPS reserved spots? It's on the basis of the secretary of DPS—I think there's one for the Clerk of the Senate and there's one for me. I don't know off the top of my head on the House side, but—

Mr Anderson : There are 10 DPS car parks reserved, and they are all on the Senate side.

Mr Cooper : Senator, just to clarify, that's approximate. It might be up to 12. We'll just need to check.

Senator KITCHING: You're going to come back to me though with the exact number—is that correct?

Mr Cooper : Sorry?

Senator KITCHING: You're going to come back to me with the exact number.

Mr Cooper : Yes, Senator.

Senator KITCHING: Thank you. At the last Senate estimates, Senator Paterson inquired about poor mobile reception in Parliament House, and I did ask earlier in the day about when that was being fixed.

The PRESIDENT: We did have a discussion about it.

Senator KITCHING: Yes.

CHAIR: You might have missed it when I asked about it, Senator Kitching. They've given some answers already on that.

The PRESIDENT: Do you want me to go through it again briefly?

Senator KITCHING: No, it's fine. But bring it on—better mobile phone reception.

The PRESIDENT: There are some delays related to cost and technology, so I wouldn't expect it imminently.

Senator KITCHING: No, that's fine. I'll put everything else on notice, Chair.

CHAIR: Thank you very much, Senator Kitching. As there are no further questions for the Department of Parliamentary Services, I thank you very much for your evidence this morning. The committee will now move to the Parliamentary Service Commissioner.