The Senate Economics Legislation Committee (the committee) is responsible for examining the expenditure and outcomes of the Treasury Portfolio and the Industry, Science, Energy and Resources Portfolio (Industry Portfolio) excluding matters relating to energy and small business.
On 18 February 2021 the Senate referred the following documents to the committee for examination and report in relation to the abovementioned portfolios:
Particulars of proposed additional expenditure in respect of the year ending on 30 June 2021 [Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2020-2021];
Particulars of certain proposed additional expenditure in respect of the year ending on 30 June 2021 [Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2020-2021];
Final budget outcome 2019-20—Report by the Treasurer (Mr Frydenberg) and the Minister for Finance (Senator Cormann); and
Advance to the Finance Minister—Report on advances provided under the annual Appropriation Acts for 2019-20.
The Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements (PAES) 2020-21 for the Treasury Portfolio and Industry Portfolio were tabled in the Senate on 6 October 2020.
Additional estimates hearings
To facilitate the examination, the Senate set 24–25 March 2021 as the dates for the committee to hold its 2020-21 Additional estimates hearings, with the first day set aside for the Treasury Portfolio and the second day for the Industry Portfolio.
The agencies that appeared before the committee are included in Chapter 2. The Inspector-General of Taxation, Productivity Commission and Commonwealth Grants Commission were scheduled to appear on 24 March 2021, but were released by the committee. The Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority was scheduled to appear on 25 March 2021, but was released by the committee.
Evidence was provided at the hearings by the following Ministers:
Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham, Minister for Finance;
Senator the Hon. Jane Hume, Minister for Superannuation, Financial Services and the Digital Economy; and
Senator the Hon. Zed Seselja, representing the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology and representing the Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia.
Evidence was also provided by senior officers of the Treasury Portfolio, led by Secretary Dr Steven Kennedy PSM, and of the Industry Portfolio, led by Secretary Mr David Fredericks PSM.
The committee thanks the Ministers and officers who provided evidence at, and support for, the committee's estimates hearings.
A verbatim record of the committee's hearings is made via the Committee Hansard and is accessible on the committee's estimates webpage. References in this report are to the proof Committee Hansard.
A list of the documents tabled during the committee's hearings is available at Appendix 1. Tabled documents are published on the committee's estimates webpage.
Public interest immunity claims
On 13 May 2009, the Senate passed an order relating to public interest immunity (PII) claims. The order sets out the processes to be followed if a witness declines to answer a question. The full text of this order has previously been provided to departments and agencies and was incorporated in the Chair's opening statement at the commencement of each hearing.
The committee notes that no PII claims were made by witnesses during its 2020‑21 Additional estimates hearings.
Questions on notice
In accordance with Standing Order 26(9)(a), the committee has drawn the attention of the departments and their agencies to the agreed deadline of 7 May 2021 for the receipt of answers to questions taken on notice (QoNs).
As the committee is required to report to the Senate before responses to questions are due, this report has been prepared without reference to any QoNs.
Responses to QoNs and additional information provided to the committee are tabled in the Senate and uploaded to the committee's estimates webpage as they become available.
Timeliness of answers from the 2020–21 Budget estimates
At its previous 2020–21 Budget estimates, the committee asked a total of 540 QoNs, with answers due six weeks after the last day of hearings on 10 December 2020. The departments and agencies returned the following number of answers by the due date:
Treasury Portfolio—of the 313 questions take on notice, 139 answers were provided by the committee’s set due date; and
Industry Portfolio—of the 227 questions take on notice, 185 answers were provided by the committee’s set due date.
The Industry Portfolio provided its last outstanding answers on 1 February 2021 and the committee notes that all answers except for two, were received by the end of 2020.
On 18 February 2021 Senator Kimberley Kitching made an order for production of documents for the remaining unanswered Budget estimates questions to be answered by no later than 9:30am on Wednesday 24 February 2021. At 5:51pm on Wednesday 24 February 2021 the Treasury Portfolio submitted its last outstanding answers. The committee notes that some of the Treasury Portfolio’s answers were submitted just shy of 11 weeks after the due date.
The Senate determined that the committee will report on its consideration of the 2020-21 proposed Additional expenditure on 20 April 2021.
This report is structured as follows:
Chapter 1―provides an overview of the committee's hearings;
Chapter 2―reports on the key issues considered by the committee during the hearings; and
Appendix 1―lists the documents tabled during the committee's hearing.
This report does not seek to comprehensively analyse the evidence provided to the committee, rather the report is intended to inform the Senate of the key issues considered by the committee during the course of the hearings.