On 6 October 2020, 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 30 June 2021;
particulars of certain proposed expenditure in response of the year ending on 30 June 2021; and the
particulars of proposed expenditure in relation to the parliamentary departments in respect of the year ending on 30 June 2021.
The committee has responsibility for examining the expenditure and outcomes of the following departments and agencies:
Prime Minister and Cabinet (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 Budget Statements 2020–21
The Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS) 2020–21 for the PM&C portfolio, the Finance portfolio and the Parliamentary departments were tabled in the Senate on 6 October 2020.
The committee held public hearings on the following dates:
Monday 19 October 2020—Parliamentary departments and PM&C portfolio;
Tuesday 20 October 2020—PM&C portfolio;
Wednesday 21 October 2020—Finance portfolio;
Thursday 22 October 2020—Finance portfolio; and
Friday 23 October 2020—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 Mathias Cormann, Minister for Finance and Minister representing the Prime Minister;
Senator the Hon Zed Seselja, Assistant Minister for Finance, Charities and Electoral Matters;
Senator the Hon Marise Payne, Minister for Women; and
Senator the Hon Anne Ruston, Minister representing the Minister for Indigenous Affairs.
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;
Parliamentary Budget Office; and the
Department of Parliamentary Services.
National Bushfire Recovery Agency;
Workplace Gender Equality Agency;
National Drought and North Queensland Flood Response and Recovery Agency;
Australian Public Service Commission;
Office of the Official Secretary to the Governor-General;
Office of National Intelligence;
Australian National Audit Office;
National COVID-19 Commission Advisory Board; and the
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Australian Naval Infrastructure Pty Ltd;
Future Fund Management Agency;
Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation;
Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority; and the
Australian Electoral Commission.
Cross-portfolio on Indigenous Matters
Aboriginal Hostels Limited;
Indigenous Business Australia;
Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations;
National Indigenous Australians Agency; and the
Department of Health (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health).
Questions on notice and Hansard transcripts
The committee fixed Friday 4 December 2020 as the date for the return of answers to questions on notice arising from the Budget 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 from Additional Budget estimates 2019–20
The committee's examination of the Additional Budget estimates 2019–20 took place on the following dates:
Monday 2 March 2020—Parliamentary departments and PM&C portfolio;
Tuesday 3 March 2020—Finance portfolio; and
Friday 6 March 2020—cross-portfolio on Indigenous Matters.
The committee set Friday 8 May 2020 as the date for the return of questions on notice.
Timeliness of answers to questions on notice
The committee placed a total of 1290 questions taken on notice, with a total of 512 answered by the due date.
The Parliamentary departments took a total of 140 questions on notice during the hearing on Monday 2 March 2020. All answers were provided by the due date.
The Finance portfolio took 169 questions on notice during the hearing on Tuesday 3 March 2020. 168 answers were provided by the due date, with the one remaining response provided on Monday 11 May 2020.
The PM&C portfolio (including the cross-portfolio on Indigenous Matters) took 980 questions on notice during the hearings on Monday 2 March 2020 and Friday 6 March 2020. 320 of the 980 questions taken on notice were provided by the due date. As at the time of this report, six answers remain outstanding.
The Department of Health took one question on notice during the hearing on Friday 6 March, which was provided after the due date on
Tuesday 12 May 2020.
The committee also notes that the PM&C portfolio has 20 answers to questions on notice outstanding from Supplementary Budget estimates 2019–20, which were due by Friday 6 December 2019.
The committee highlights its preference for outstanding responses to be provided before the next estimates round.