This chapter lists the key topics discussed for each department and agency examined during the committee's hearings for additional estimates 2020–21. Page numbers of the Proof Hansard transcript for that day's hearing are indicated in brackets as a reference.
Parliamentary departments—Monday 22 March 2021
Department of the Senate
The President of the Senate, Senator the Hon Scott Ryan, made an opening statement regarding the Independent Review into Commonwealth Parliamentary Workplaces (Jenkins review) and the investigation being undertaken by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) into the alleged sexual assault that occurred in the Ministerial Wing of Parliament House in March 2019.
Topics discussed for the Department of the Senate included:
matters relating to the alleged sexual assault that occurred in the Ministerial Wing of Parliament House in March 2019 and subsequent AFP investigation (pp. 3–16).
Department of Parliamentary Services
Topics discussed for the Department of Parliamentary Services included:
matters relating to the alleged sexual assault that occurred in the Ministerial Wing of Parliament House in March 2019 and subsequent AFP investigation (pp. 16–21);
Parliament House security upgrades and associated contracts (pp. 21–22);
duty of care requirements of Parliament House security officers to building occupants (pp. 22–23); and the
online campaign of harassment and intimidation directed towards a researcher in the Parliamentary Library (p. 23).
Prime Minister and Cabinet portfolio—Monday 22 March 2021
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
Mr Phil Gaetjens, Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, gave evidence to the committee for a short time and made an opening statement regarding his administrative review verifying the Prime Minister's Office's knowledge of the alleged sexual assault that occurred in the Ministerial Wing of Parliament House in March 2019.
After the conclusion of Mr Gaetjens' evidence, Ms Stephanie Foster PSM, Deputy Secretary, Governance and APS Reform, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, made an opening statement regarding changes to the department's executive since budget estimates 2020–21.
Topics discussed for the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet included:
status of Mr Gaetjens' review of the Prime Minister's Office and related discussions with the AFP Commissioner, Mr Reece Kershaw (pp. 28-39);
status of the review being undertaken by Ms Foster and Ms Celia Hammond MP into the complaints process for parliamentary staff following a serious incident (pp. 32, 39–41);
matters relating to allegations made regarding the Hon Christian Porter MP, former Attorney-General (pp. 34-35, 53–60, 62–63);
support telephone line (1800 APH SPT) for Commonwealth parliamentary staff (p. 40);
matters relating to the alleged sexual assault that occurred in the Ministerial Wing of Parliament House in March 2019 and subsequent AFP investigation (pp. 41–50, 52–53);
compliance with the Statement of Ministerial Standards (p. 51);
staffing arrangements in the Ministerial Wing of Parliament House (p. 51);
correspondence to the Prime Minister regarding a women's budget impact statement (p. 51);
briefings to the Prime Minister regarding the Greensill and Gupta Family Group Alliance (pp. 60–62);
Women's March 4 Justice (pp. 63–64);
establishment of the Office of the Climate Coordinator (pp. 64–67);
telephone call between the Prime Minister's Office and Ms Dhanya Mani (p. 67);
Mr Mathias Cormann's appointment to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (pp. 68–69, 73–75);
Mr Craig Kelly MP's resignation from the Liberal Party and matters relating to allegations made regarding members of Mr Kelly's staff (pp. 69–71);
services provided by Burdeshaw Associates Ltd (pp. 71–73);
energy economy and discussions between the Prime Minister and the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Change, Mr John Kerry (pp. 75–78);
Climate Conference being hosted by the United States in April 2021
establishment of the Naval Shipbuilding Enterprise Governance Committee within Cabinet's National Security Committee and matters relating to Australia's naval shipbuilding program (pp. 79–84);
management of Cabinet documents (pp. 84–85);
Climate Ambition Summit hosted by the United Kingdom in December 2020 (pp. 85–86);
Prime Minister's visit to Japan in November 2020 and subsequent quarantine period (pp. 86–88); and the
workplace culture at Parliament House (pp. 88–89).
National Bushfire Recovery Agency
Mr Andrew Colvin APM OAM, Coordinator, National Bushfire Recovery Agency, made an opening statement updating the committee on the agency's work supporting the recovery efforts following the 2019–20 bushfire season.
Topics discussed for the National Bushfire Recovery Agency included:
status of programs funded by the National Bushfire Recovery Fund
(pp. 90–94, 97);
media reporting concerning the New South Wales Government's use of local economic recovery funding (pp. 94–95, 97–99);
National Resilience, Relief and Recovery Agency announcement (p. 96);
mental health (pp. 96–97); and
National Drought and North Queensland Flood Response and Recovery Agency
Topics discussed for the National Drought and North Queensland Flood Response and Recovery Agency included:
the announcement of the National Resilience, Relief and Recovery Agency, which is due to commence operations in July 2021 (pp. 100–103).
Office for Women (Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet)
Topics discussed for the Office for Women included:
government's response to the Respect@Work: Sexual Harassment National Inquiry Report 2020 undertaken by Ms Kate Jenkins, Sex Discrimination Commissioner (pp. 103–105);
media reports concerning the workplace operations and culture at the Office for Women (pp. 106–107);
letter to the Prime Minister regarding a women's impact statement in the 2021–22 budget (pp. 107, 111);
status of two outstanding items from the Women's Economic Security Statement 2018 awaiting implementation (pp. 107–108);
safety of women at Parliament House (p. 108);
respectful relationships education in schools (pp. 108–109);
Unmute Yourself government campaign (p. 109);
preparations for the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, due to commence in 2022 (p. 110);
engagement with the Jenkins review (p. 110);
tenders and funding awarded to National Women's Alliances (pp. 110, 112);
status of the Time Use Survey (pp. 110–111);
advice to the Prime Minister and the Minister for Women (p. 111);
Workplace Gender Equality Agency's role in promoting economic security by administering annual reporting requirements (pp. 112–113); and
advice to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (p. 113).
Office of the Official Secretary to the Governor-General
Topics discussed for the Office of the Official Secretary to the Governor-General included:
cancellations and terminations of Australian honours and awards
(pp. 113–116, 118); and
training provided to Government House staff (pp. 117–118).
National Australia Day Council
Topics discussed for the National Australia Day Council included:
Aboriginal participation and engagement (p. 119);
Reconciliation Action Plans (pp. 119–120);
Aboriginal consultation on the National Australia Day Council's slogan (p. 120); and
participation in Australia Day celebrations (p. 120).
Australian National Audit Office
Topics discussed for the Australian National Audit Office included:
findings of the Auditor-General Report No. 32 of 2020–21: Award of Funding under the Supporting Reliable Energy Infrastructure Program (pp. 121–125);
findings of the Auditor-General Report No. 2 of 2020–21: Procurement of Strategic Water Entitlements (pp. 125–127); and
findings of the Auditor-General Report No. 9 of 2020–21: Purchase of the 'Leppington Triangle' Land for the Future Development of Western Sydney Airport (pp. 127–129).
Finance portfolio—Tuesday 23 March 2021
ASC Pty Ltd
Topics discussed for ASC Pty Ltd included:
full-cycle docking decision (pp. 4–10);
establishment of the Naval Shipbuilding Enterprise Governance Committee within Cabinet's National Security Committee and matters relating to Australia's naval shipbuilding program (pp. 10–11);
system design contract (pp. 11–12);
life-of-type-extension capability upgrades feasibility proposal (p. 12);
full-cycle docking working group (pp. 12–13);
meetings of the Submarine Enterprise Board (pp. 13–14);
Australian Naval Infrastructure lease to ASC North (p. 14);
life-of-type-extension design work (pp. 14–17); and
future submarine sustainment (pp. 17–18).
Australian Naval Infrastructure Pty Ltd
Mr Andrew Seaton, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Australian Naval Infrastructure Pty Ltd, made an opening statement updating the committee on the development and management of shipbuilding infrastructure at the Osborne facilities in support of the continuous naval shipbuilding program.
Topics discussed for Australian Naval Infrastructure included:
status of Osborne North and Osborne South development works
(pp. 18–22, 24–25);
contract schedules (pp. 22–23);
lease to ASC North (p. 23); and
maintenance, care and upgrades for equipment (p. 23).
Future Fund Management Agency
Dr Raphael Arndt, Chief Executive Officer, Future Fund Management Agency, made an opening statement updating the committee on the status of the Commonwealth's investment funds.
Topics discussed for the Future Fund Management Agency included:
equity holdings in Adani Ports (pp. 26–30); and
fossil fuel investments and future for coal (pp. 28–29).
Department of Finance
Ms Rosemary Huxtable PSM, Secretary of the Department of Finance, made an opening statement to advise the committee of changes to the department's executive structure since budget estimates 2020–21.
Topics discussed for the Department of Finance included:
additional funds appropriated to the Department of Finance for expenditure monitoring (pp. 31–36);
workplace culture at Parliament House (pp. 31, 36–41, 101–102);
use of tier two companies in major infrastructure projects (pp. 41–43);
procurement (pp. 43, 50–51);
labour hire, consultants and related contracts (pp. 43–49, 51–54, 67–68);
cybersecurity issues (pp. 54–56);
aged-care costings (pp. 56–58);
aviation support package (pp. 59–62);
JobSeeker base rate announcement (pp. 63–65);
Government Enterprise Resourcing Planning and the modernisation fund (pp. 65–67);
arrangements for the management of the Ministerial Wing at Parliament House (pp. 69–70);
matters relating to the alleged sexual assault that occurred in the Ministerial Wing of Parliament House in March 2019 and subsequent AFP investigation (pp. 70–77, 81–90);
enterprise agreement negotiations for staff employed under the Members of Parliament (Staff) Act 1984 (MOPS Act) (pp. 77–78);
ministerial staffing appointments (p. 77)
breakdown of pay grades by gender for staff employed under the MOPS Act (p. 78)
voluntary gender reporting (p. 79);
support services (pp. 79, 103);
engagement with the Jenkins review (pp. 80, 102–103);
allegations concerning the office of the Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP, Minister for Indigenous Affairs, and related freedom of information requests (pp. 90–95);
staff allocations to parliamentarians (pp. 95–96);
allegations made regarding members of Mr Kelly's staff (pp. 97–100);
the Department of Finance's duty of care to the staff employed under the MOPS Act (p. 100);
material posted on Mr Kelly's Facebook page regarding COVID-19 (p. 101); and
government campaigns and advertising (pp. 109–114).
Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority
Ms Annwyn Godwin, Chief Executive Officer, Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority, made an opening statement updating the committee on the entity's operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the findings of the annual and independent client satisfaction survey and the APS census.
Topics discussed for the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority included:
cost of the Prime Minister's visit to Japan in November 2020 (pp. 105–106);
travel by parliamentarians to Melbourne during the 2019 Melbourne Cup (pp. 106–107);
use of the special purpose aircraft (pp. 107–108); and
resources provided to former Prime Minister, the Hon Mr Tony Abbott
Australian Electoral Commission
Topics discussed for the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) included:
'return to sender' mail (p. 114);
comments made by GetUp misrepresenting the AEC (pp. 114–115);
investigation undertaken by the Queensland Electoral Commission regarding fundraisers attended by banned donors (pp. 115–116);
polling place technology (pp. 117–118);
funding allocated to the Northern Territory electoral office (pp. 118–120);
enrolment and turnout in Indigenous communities (pp. 118–119);
pre-polling (pp. 120–122);
Central Senate Scrutiny and related cybersecurity matters (pp. 122–124);
Indigenous Electoral Participation Program (pp. 125–126); and
private fundraising entities and related compliance reviews (pp. 126–127).
Cross-portfolio on Indigenous Matters—Friday 26 March 2021
Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation
Mr Joe Morrison, Group Chief Executive Officer, Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC) made an opening statement regarding performance, financial security for its subsidiaries and commitment to Closing the Gap.
Topics discussed for the ILSC included:
ILSC Board composition (pp. 5–8);
implementation status of recommendations from the independent review of governance issues of the ILSC Board conducted by Dr Vivienne Thom AM (p. 8);
economic development strategy (p. 8);
commercial development (p. 9); and
Indigenous Business Australia
Mr Peter O'Neill, Acting Chief Executive Officer, Indigenous Business Australia, made an opening statement regarding measures introduced to assist customers during the COVID-19 pandemic, financial performance, Indigenous business sector and findings of the first impact report.
Topics discussed for Indigenous Business Australia included:
waiting period and eligibility for home loans (pp. 10–12); and
impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Indigenous businesses (pp. 12–13).
Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations
Mr Selwyn Button, Registrar of Indigenous Corporations, made an opening statement updating the committee on the number of Indigenous corporations, training and ongoing operational challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Topics discussed for the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations included:
complaints and referrals for investigation (pp. 14–16, 17–18);
compliance monitoring (p. 14);
yearbook publication (p. 14);
reforms and funding (pp. 16–17, 19);
inactive organisations (p. 19); and
reporting obligations for organisations engaged under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (p. 19).
National Indigenous Australians Agency
Mr Ray Griggs AO CSC, Chief Executive Officer, National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA), made an opening statement updating the committee on the NIAA's contribution to the government's broader response and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the status of the implementation plan for the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, the public consultation phase of the Indigenous Voice co-design process and professional development initiatives for NIAA staff.
Topics discussed for the NIAA included:
Aboriginal deaths in custody (pp. 21–23, 38);
implementation of recommendations from the Pathways for Justice report (pp. 23–24);
anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (p. 24);
Indigenous Advancement Strategy funding (pp. 24–27, 36–38, 43–44);
Employment Parity Initiative participation (pp. 27–30);
Community Development Program participation (pp. 30–34);
1000 Jobs Program expenditure (p. 34);
small businesses funded under the Indigenous Business Strategy through Community Development Program providers (pp. 34–35);
implementation of recommendations from the Auditor-General Report No. 47 of 2018–19: Evaluating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Programs
Indigenous voice to the Parliament consultations (pp. 38–45);
activism in remote communities (pp. 42–43);
Wiyi Yani U Thangani: Women's Voices report (p. 44);
Aboriginal flag (pp. 46–47); and
Productivity Commission report on the Indigenous Evaluation Strategy (pp. 48–49).
Department of Health
Topics discussed for the Department of Health included:
Closing the Gap agreement funding and the Indigenous Australians Health Program (pp. 50–51);
COVID-19 vaccine rollout (pp. 51–54);
funding and health implications of foetal alcohol spectrum disorder and E. canis ticks (pp. 51–52, 54);
cultural safety training for medical students (p. 52); and
recommendations of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs' inquiry into food pricing and food security in remote Indigenous communities (p. 54).