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 6 October 2020, the Senate referred the following documents to the committee for examination and report in relation to the abovementioned portfolios:
Particulars of proposed expenditure in respect of the year ending on 30 June 2021 [Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2020-2021];
Particulars of certain proposed expenditure in respect of the year ending on 30 June 2021 [Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2020-2021]; and
Particulars of proposed expenditure in relation to the parliamentary departments in respect of the year ending on 30 June 2021 [Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 1) 2020-2021].
The Portfolio Budget Statements for the Treasury Portfolio and Industry Portfolio were tabled in the Senate on 6 October 2020.
Budget estimates hearings
To facilitate the examination, the Senate set 26–29 October 2020 as the dates for the committee to hold its 2020-21 Budget estimates hearings, with the first two days set aside for the Treasury Portfolio and the last two days for the Industry Portfolio.
The agencies that appeared before the committee are included in Chapter 2. The Australian Bureau of Statistics and the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation were scheduled to appear on 27 October 2020, but were released by the committee.
Evidence was provided at the hearings by the following Ministers:
Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann, Minister for Finance;
Senator the Hon Jane Hume, Assistant Minister for Superannuation, Financial Services and Financial Technology and representing the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology;
Senator the Hon Zed Seselja, Assistant Minister for Finance, Charities and Electoral Matters and representing the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology;
Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, representing the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology; and
Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, 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, 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 Budget 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 10 December 2020 for the receipt of answers to questions taken on notice (QoN).
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.
The Senate determined that the committee will report on its consideration of the 2020-21 proposed Budget expenditure on 17 November 2020.
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.