The Standing Committee on Education, Employment and Workplace Relations
presents its report to the Senate.
On 12 May 2009
the Senate referred the following documents to the committee for examination
and report in relation to the Education, Employment and Workplace Relations portfolio:
- Particulars of proposed expenditure in respect of the year ending
on 30 June 2010;
- Particulars of certain proposed expenditure in respect of the
year ending on 30 June 2010; and
- Particulars of proposed expenditure in relation to the
parliamentary departments in respect of the year ending on 30 June 2010.
Standing committees are required to report to the Senate on 23 June
The committee has responsibility for examining the expenditure and outcomes
of the Education, Employment and Workplace Relations portfolio. Appendix 1
lists the department and agencies under this portfolio.
The committee conducted four days of hearings, examining Employment and
Workplace Relations outcomes and related agencies on 1 and 2 June 2009 and
Education outcomes on 3 and 4 June 2009. In total the committee met for 27
hours and 37 minutes, excluding breaks.
Appendix 2 of this report lists the table of contents of the Hansard transcripts.
These transcripts are available on the committee's homepage under estimates and
on the Hansard website: http://www.aph.gov.au/hansard/senate/commttee/comsen.asp
Restructure of the Portfolio Budget Statements
The committee notes the changes to the 2009–10 Portfolio Budget
Statements (PBS), as developed by the Department of Finance and Deregulation in
order to increase the transparency and accountability of government
expenditure. In line with Operation Sunlight, a number of changes have
been made to the 2009-10 Budget documents. Operation Sunlight is the
Government's reform agenda to improve the openness and transparency of public
sector budgetary and financial management.
At the request of the Minister for Finance and Deregulation, the former Senator
Andrew Murray reviewed budget transparency issues as part of Operation
Sunlight. A key change is the reporting of expenditure at program level as
suggested in the Murray review, with the aim of presenting a higher level of
detail in the appropriation bills.
A transition table has been included in the 2009–10 PBS illustrating the
changes from the 2008–09 PBS.
The implementation of the Federal Financial Relations Act 2009 (FFR
Act) directly affects Appropriation Bill No. 2 and payments to the states and territories.
The FFR Act implements the centralised payments arrangement agreed by COAG in
the Intergovernmental Agreement on Federal Financial Relations. Due to these
changes, Appropriation Bill No. 2 is no longer used for the purpose of most
annual appropriations for payments to the states and territories. This is done
instead through the FFR Act. The reason for the change is outlined in Budget
Paper No. 4:
The detail of the Commonwealth's payments to the States and
Territories is now contained in one piece of Commonwealth legislation. This
streamlining will also greatly improve public transparency of these payments
and the ability of the Parliament to scrutinise the payment arrangements.
Exceptions to the agreement include payments direction to local
government, which will continue to be paid from Appropriation Bill No. 2 and
some payments for non-government schools that are not paid from the Schools
Assistance Act 2008 or the COAG reform fund. Payment arrangements for
schools, VET and child care programs have been divided with government portions
now managed by Treasury, while DEEWR is responsible for policy and
administration of the payments and estimates for the non-government portions of
Former DEEWR programs for which Treasury now appropriates funds are listed on
page 46 of the PBS.
Revised outcome structure
The 2009–10 Budget reflected changes made to the number of outcomes
within the Department. Where once the portfolio consisted of 9 outcomes, this
has now been reduced to 5. Transition charts are provided on pages 38–44 of the
PBS which map the restructuring of the outcomes. A new feature of the 2009–10
PBS is the use of key performance indicators and targets in order to assess and
monitor performance of the Department in achieving outcomes.
New workplace relations system
Due to the introduction of the new workplace relations system, the seven
current workplace relations agencies will be amalgamated to form a new
framework consisting of Fair Work Australia and Fair Work Ombudsman. These new
agencies will come into being 1 July 2009 and replace:
- Australian Industrial Relations Commission / Australian
- Australian Fair Pay Commission / Australian Fair Pay Commission
- Workplace Authority
- Workplace Ombudsman
The Australian Building and Construction commission will continue to
operate until it is transferred to the Fair Work Ombudsman. Legislation to provide
for this will be introduced at the end of the winter sittings. A further two
new portfolio agencies will commence operation during the financial year– the
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority and Safe Work
Australia. Agency resources and planned performance information for these new
agencies will be included in the 2009–10 Portfolio Additional Estimates
Questions on notice
The committee has drawn the attention of the department and its agencies
to the agreed deadline of Friday 31 July 2009 for the receipt of answers to
questions taken on notice from this round, in accordance with Standing Order
For this round, written questions on notice were received from Senators Abetz,
Boyce, Brown, Cash, Fisher, Hanson-Young, Mason, Payne, Siewert and Xenophon.
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