1.1On 9 May 2023, the Senate referred the following to the Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee (the committee) for examination and report:
particulars of proposed expenditure in respect of the year ending on 30June2024;
particulars of certain proposed expenditure in respect of the year ending on 30 June 2024;
particulars of proposed expenditure in relation to the parliamentary departments in respect of the year ending on 30 June 2024;
particulars of proposed additional expenditure in relation to the parliamentary departments in respect of the year ending on 30 June 2023;
particulars of proposed additional expenditure in respect of the year ending on 30 June 2023 [Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2022-2023]; and
particulars of certain proposed additional expenditure in respect of the year ending on 30 June 2023 [Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2022-2023].
1.2A reporting date of 27 June 2023 was set for the committee to report to the Senate on its consideration of budget estimates 2023–24.
1.3In accordance with a resolution of the Senate on 27 July 2022, the committee has responsibility for examining the expenditure and outcomes of the following departments and agencies:
Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) portfolio;
Finance portfolio; and
cross-portfolio on Indigenous matters.
1.4Departments and agencies under the committee's oversight are listed in Appendix 1 of this report.
Portfolio Budget Statements 2023-24
1.5The Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS) 2023–24 for the PM&C portfolio, the Finance portfolio and the Parliamentary departments were tabled in the Senate on 9 May 2023.
1.6In accordance with a resolution of the Senate, the committee held public hearings for Budget Estimates 2023–24 on the following dates:
Monday 22 May 2023 – Parliamentary Departments, PM&C portfolio;
Tuesday 23 May 2023 – Finance Portfolio and PM&C portfolio;
Wednesday 24 May 2023 – Cross-portfolio Indigenous Matters;
Thursday 25 May 2023 – PM&C portfolio and Finance portfolio; and
Friday 26 May 2023 – Finance portfolio.
1.7The committee heard evidence from Senator the Hon Sue Lines, President of the Senate and the following Ministers:
Senator the Hon Penny Wong, Minister for Foreign Affairs
Senator the Hon Katy Gallagher, Minister for Women, Minister for Finance, Minister for the Public Service
Senator the Hon Tim Ayres, Assistant Minister for Trade, Assistant Minister for Manufacturing
Senator the Hon Malarndirri McCarthy, Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians, Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health
1.8The committee called the following departments and agencies to appear:
Parliamentary Budget Office
Department of the Senate
Department of Parliamentary Services
Prime Minister & Cabinet portfolio
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
Office of the Official Secretary to the Governor-General
Australian National Audit Office
National Australia Day Council
Office for Women
Jenkins Report Leadership Taskforce
Workplace Gender Equality Agency
APS Reform Office
Australian Public Service Commission
Department of Finance
Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority
Australian Electoral Commission
ASC Pty Ltd
Australian Naval Infrastructure Pty Ltd
Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation
Future Fund Management Agency
Digital Transformation Agency
Cross-portfolio on Indigenous matters
Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations
National Indigenous Australians Agency
Central Land Council
Northern Land Council
Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation
Department of Health
Department of Social Services
Department of Education
Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet
Aboriginal Hostels Limited
Office of Township Leasing
Northern Territory Aboriginal Investment Corporation
Indigenous Business Australia
1.9The committee released the Office of National Intelligence from the hearing on Monday, 22 May 2023.
1.10The committee also released the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation without asking questions on Friday, 26 May 2023.
1.11Documents tabled during the hearings are listed at Appendix 2.
1.12Documents received as additional information are listed at Appendix 3.
Questions on notice and Hansard transcripts
1.13The committee set Friday, 14 July 2023 as the return date for answers to questions on notice arising from the Budget Estimates 2023–24 hearings.
1.14Answers to questions on notice are published on the committee's estimates webpage as they are received, along with the Hansard transcripts of the proceedings of the hearings.
Timeliness of Answers to Questions on Notice
1.15For Supplementary Budget Estimates 2022-23, the committee set the following dates for the return of answers to questions on notice:
31 March 2023 for questions arising from the hearings on 13, 14, and 17February2023; and
2 May 2023 for questions arising from the spillover hearing on 21March2023.
1.16Some answers from the Finance portfolio and the PM&C portfolio were provided after the due date. However, the committee is particularly concerned with the late provision of answers to questions on notice from the PM&C portfolio during the 2023–24 Budget Estimates hearings on 22 and 24 May 2023.
1.17The committee considers that the supply of late answers is not conducive to the transparency and accountability of government expenditure and departmental administration.
1.18The committee encourages portfolio departments and agencies to provide answers to questions on notice by the due date for future estimates rounds.
Note on References
1.19References to the Hansard transcript are to the proof Hansard; page numbers may vary between the proof and official Hansard transcripts.
Record of proceedings
1.20This report does not attempt to analyse the evidence presented during the hearings. However, it does provide a brief summary of some of the key issues that were examined by the committee for each portfolio.