On 18 February 2021, the Senate referred the following to the Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee (the committee) for examination and report:
particulars of proposed additional expenditure in respect of the year ending on 30 June 2021 [Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2020–21]; and
particulars of certain proposed additional expenditure in respect of the year ending on 30 June 2021 [Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2020–21].
The committee has responsibility for examining the expenditure and outcomes of the following:
Prime Minister and Cabinet portfolio (PM&C portfolio);
cross-portfolio on Indigenous Matters.
Departments and agencies under the committee's oversight are listed in Appendix 1 of this report.
Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements 2020–21
The Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements (PAES) facilitate an understanding of the proposed appropriations in Appropriation Bills (No. 3 and No. 4). The PAES explain changes in resourcing since the budget and provide information on new measures and their impact on the financial and non-financial planned performance of agencies. The PAES 2020–21 for the PM&C and Finance portfolios were tabled in the Senate on 18 February 2021.
The PAES 2020–21 for the PM&C portfolio note the entities receiving additional appropriation in Appropriation Bills (No. 3 and No. 4), which include the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Australian National Audit Office, National Indigenous Australians Agency and Old Parliament House.
The PAES 2020–21 for the Finance portfolio note the additional estimates and variations sought by the Department of Finance and the Australian Electoral Commission. There were no changes to other entities in the portfolio.
The committee held public hearings on the following dates:
22 March 2021—parliamentary departments and the PM&C portfolio;
23 March 2021—Finance portfolio; and
26 March 2021—cross-portfolio on Indigenous Matters.
The committee took evidence from the President of the Senate, Senator the Hon Scott Ryan, and the following ministers accompanied by officers of relevant departments and agencies:
Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, Minister for Finance;
Senator the Hon Marise Payne, Minister for Women;
Senator the Hon Jonathan Duniam, Assistant Minister for Industry Development;
Senator the Hon Zed Seselja, Minister for International Development and the Pacific; and
Senator the Hon Amanda Stoker, Assistant Minister to the Attorney-General.
The committee expresses its appreciation for the assistance of the President, ministers and officers who appeared.
Over the course of the hearings, the committee took evidence from the following departments, agencies and statutory officers:
Department of the Senate; and the
Department of Parliamentary Services.
Prime Minister and Cabinet portfolio
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet;
National Bushfire Recovery Agency;
National Drought and North Queensland Flood Response and Recovery Agency;
Office of the Official Secretary to the Governor-General;
National Australia Day Council; and the
Australian National Audit Office.
Australian Naval Infrastructure Pty Ltd;
Future Fund Management Agency;
Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority; and the
Australian Electoral Commission.
Cross-portfolio Indigenous Matters
Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation;
Indigenous Business Australia;
Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations;
National Indigenous Australians Agency; and
Department of Health (in relation to Indigenous health issues).
Documents tabled during the hearings of additional estimates 2020–21 are listed in Appendix 2.
Questions on notice and Hansard transcripts
The committee set 7 May 2021 as the date for the return of answers to questions on notice arising from the additional estimates 2020–21 hearings.
Answers to questions on notice are published on the committee's estimates webpage as they are received, along with the Hansard transcripts of proceedings of the hearings.
Answers to questions on notice—Budget Estimates 2020–21
The committee's examination of the budget estimates 2020–21 took place on the following dates:
19 October 2020—parliamentary departments and the PM&C portfolio;
20 October 2020—PM&C portfolio;
21 October 2020—Finance portfolio;
22 October 2020—Finance portfolio; and
23 October 2020—cross-portfolio on Indigenous Matters.
The committee set 4 December 2020 as the date for the return of answers to questions on notice.
Timeliness of answers to questions on notice
The committee placed a total of 1526 questions on notice, with 941 answered by the due date.
The parliamentary departments took 152 questions on notice. 114 answers were provided by the due date, with the remaining 38 responses provided by 17 December 2020.
The PM&C portfolio (including cross-portfolio on Indigenous Matters) took 1118 questions on notice. 781 answers were provided by the due date. As at the time of this report, 82 answers remain outstanding.
The committee also notes that the PM&C portfolio has six answers to questions on notice outstanding from additional estimates 2019–20, which were due by 8 May 2020; and 20 answers to questions on notice outstanding from supplementary budget estimates 2019–20, which were due by 6 December 2019.
The Finance portfolio took 248 questions on notice. 39 answers were provided by the due date, and the remaining 209 responses were provided by 29 January 2021.
The Department of Health took eight questions on notice. Seven were provided by the due date and the remaining response was provided on 17 December 2020.
The committee highlights its preference for outstanding responses to be provided before the next estimates round.