Senate debates

Monday, 30 November 2020


Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2020-2021, Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2020-2021, Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 1) 2020-2021; In Committee

7:22 pm

Photo of Rex PatrickRex Patrick (SA, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

by leave—In respect of Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2020-21, I move:

That the House of Representatives be requested to make the following amendments:

(1) Clause 6, page 5 (line 4), omit "$36,809,121,000", substitute "$36,813,567,000".

(2) Schedule 1, page 9 (table item dealing with Prime Minister and Cabinet portfolio), omit "998,426", substitute "1,002,872".

(3) Schedule 1, page 9 (table item dealing with the total), omit "36,809,121", substitute "36,813,567".

(4) Schedule 1, page 11 (table item dealing with Prime Minister and Cabinet portfolio), omit the table item, substitute:

(5) Schedule 1, page 11 (table item dealing with the total), omit the table item, substitute:

(6) Schedule 1, page 124 (table item dealing with Australian National Audit Office), omit "29,219" (twice occurring), substitute "33,665".

(7) Schedule 1, page 124 (table item dealing with total), omit the table item, substitute:

(8) Schedule 1, page 132 (table item dealing with Australian National Audit Office outcome 1), omit "29,219" (twice occurring), substitute "33,665".

(9) Schedule 1, page 132 (table item dealing with total), omit "29,219" (twice occurring), substitute "33,665".

Statement pursuant to the order of the Senate of 26 June 2000

These amendments are framed as requests because they are to a bill which appropriates moneys for the ordinary annual services of the government.

Statement by the Clerk of the Senate pursuant to the order of the Senate of 26 June 2000

As this is a bill appropriating moneys for the ordinary annual services of the government within the meaning of section 53 of the Constitution, any Senate amendments to the bill must be moved as requests. This is in accordance with the precedents of the Senate.

On budget night, my worst fears were confirmed when the government denied the Auditor-General his requested budget. The starvation of funds means the number of performance audits conducted per year will drop from 48 to 38—that is, 42 this year, 40 next year and then down to 38. That's a 20 per cent reduction in the number of performance audits that the Auditor-General will carry out. No other agency has copped a 20 per cent cut in outcomes as a result of this budget, but that's what this government has done to one of the most important federal integrity agencies. This chamber has got to save the Auditor-General from being financially throttled. You can't blow the whistle when the government has its hands around your throat. We have to fix this, or else government accountability and scrutiny will be busted.

It's worth recalling that the office of the federal Auditor-General is one of the oldest and most important of the government agencies. It was first established by the Audit Act in 1901 and the first Auditor-General, John Israel, took office in December of that year, 119 years ago. Critically, the Auditor-General is an officer of the parliament. That is by design. He's an officer who is there to assist the parliament in respect of oversight. We give him tenure for 10 years and we give him a budget—or that's what we're supposed to do. It's absolutely vital to the parliament's ability to examine and scrutinise the performance of government. Without the information often uncovered by a fully resourced Audit Office, the parliament's scrutiny processes—that is, Senate estimates, committee processes and question time—would be greatly diminished.

The government's cuts to the Auditor's budget are a direct assault on the oversight of government. It is entirely reasonable to conclude that the cuts were retribution for the Auditor-General's continued exposure of government maladministration, cost blowouts and the highly questionable conduct of ministers and officials. The Auditor has been responsible for uncovering the sports rorts scandal, the overpayment of 10 times the amount for Western Sydney airport land, the total mismanagement of water within the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, and the repeated cost and performance failures in Defence projects. These budget cuts mean that the Auditor-General will be watching less. He will not be able to probe as deeply. He won't be able to turn over as many rocks to find out what corruption and maladministration lie beneath. While I have no doubt about the independence and the integrity of the Auditor-General, there is no doubt that, in the longer term, the government's strangulation of the ANAO's budget will have a chilling effect on the conduct of inquiries. Independence of the office must be supported by full funding and a guarantee that funding will not be cut according to the political whims of the government of the day.

I'll digress slightly to talk about one of the areas in which the Auditor-General conducts examinations—that is, the Future Submarine project. When I bring this up the government cringes, because it's a project on which they've managed to get a blowout of $39 billion and they simply don't know what to do about it. I asked my office to have a look at how much that blowout is costing us per day, and the number comes in at $2 million per day when I amortise it across the 38 years of the project. This request seeks to give the Auditor-General $4.4 million. That's two measly days of Future Submarine cost blowouts. Those on the other side of the chamber simply don't want that brought up in this place. Minister for Finance Birmingham ought to be really concerned about this $39 billion blowout, but those opposite focus on trying to shave $4 million off the Auditor-General. It's just crazy. That's why, as a first step, I will move an amendment to the budget's appropriation bill to restore the funding to the Auditor. This is a vital measure to avoid an immediate contraction of the Auditor-General's vital work.

The Prime Minister says that the JCPAA is carrying out a review of the Audit Act and tries to use that as a facade for saying, 'This decrease is okay. We'll look at it in the review.' We don't need a review to understand that the Auditor-General's performance audits are going from 48 down to 38 over the next couple of years and down to 42 this year. I know that because that's what the Auditor-General said at estimates, and he's pretty good with numbers; he knows what he's talking about.

In the longer term there will need to be a legislative financial framework in place to ensure that the Auditor doesn't have to look over his or her shoulder to see whether a new budget cut is coming. Let's not forget that these cuts to the Auditor come at a time when there is no federal independent commission against corruption and there's a freedom of information regime fuelled by cavalier FOI claims by officials. I can attest to that through all of the different FOI exemptions that, in my own case, have been overturned over the years. It's an FOI regime that is starved because the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner also has no increase in funding, despite the increases in FOIs and despite the backlog.

Many of the basic integrity mechanisms of the federal government are either broken, sidelined, starved of resources or simply not there. We must save the Auditor-General from being financially throttled. We have to fix this or else there will be no one to keep the bastards honest. Thank you.

Photo of Claire ChandlerClaire Chandler (Tasmania, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Thank you, Senator Patrick. I believe I should have said this when you first made the request for an amendment, but with the concurrence of the Senate, the statement of reasons accompanying the requests circulated for this bill will be incorporated into Hansard immediately after the request to which they relate. There being no objection it is so ordered. Senator Wong, you look to be seeking the call.

7:30 pm

Photo of Penny WongPenny Wong (SA, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) Share this | | Hansard source

Yes, thank you. I have just a few points. The first is on the government's approach to the Auditor-General. As someone who has questioned the Auditor-General both at this estimates and at length across various estimates over many years, it is a critical office for accountability and it is a critical office for the functioning of the Australian democracy. And it has uncovered a great deal of corruption and waste on the part of the Morrison government, the most recent of which was of course the Leppington Triangle but there have been many others—I think the sports rorts were uncovered by the Auditor-General.

The Auditor-General ought to be funded properly, despite the 'nothing to see here' that Senator Birmingham engaged in at estimates and in this chamber when the opposition has asked questions. I was interested today to see Julian Hill, the Deputy Chair of the Joint Standing Committee of Public Accounts and Audit, release analysis from the Parliamentary Library confirming that over the next four years the Auditor-General's budget will be cut by 22.1 per cent in real terms since the Liberals and Nationals came to power in 2013. Since we were in government, that's almost 22 per cent in real terms.

I'm not surprised, because they're pretty embarrassed. Particularly in the other chamber, in the other place, they've been able to undermine many of the mechanisms associated with the Westminster system. For example, under general standards of Westminster accountability and the accountability to the parliament of ministers, I don't reckon that Mr Taylor would still be a minister. I don't think he'd still be a minister after rocking up and relying on a forged document. And we could go on. So I understand—and I think it's deeply, ethically undemocratic and abhorrent—why the government wants this hidden. It's because it was the Auditor-General and that office which uncovered the Prime Minister's involvement in the sports rorts scandal. That's the first point. And it's also why we moved a second reading amendment which called for this.

The second point I would make—and Senator Patrick knows this—is that the Labor Party has a very clear, consistent and principled position that we allow the government of the day to pass its appropriation bills. Senator Patrick comes in here and says, 'We must save the Auditor-General!' I have a suggestion for Senator Patrick. He's already flagged with us that he's going to have a go at Labor for not supporting his request. Well, we've had this position for many decades: the government passes its appropriation bills and we expect the same. But I say to him: I'll tell you what, if you want to come in here and beat your chest about saving the Auditor-General here's an idea for you. You're going to trade your vote away, if you haven't already, on a range of bills this fortnight. Why don't you make this one of your demands? Instead of grandstanding, why don't you actually say, 'If you want my vote on the cashless debit card,' which I understand you might support anyway, 'and you want my vote on all these issues, why don't you actually deliver some funding?' in the way that you kind of dealt with Senator Cormann for votes? Why don't you do that? That will actually deliver funding, much more than a request that you know we will not support.

Senator Patrick interjecting

We will not support it for the principled reasons that we have had for decades, and you know about the political and constitutional background to that. You know that—

Photo of Rex PatrickRex Patrick (SA, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

Only on the third—

Photo of Penny WongPenny Wong (SA, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) Share this | | Hansard source

You know that!

Senator Patrick interjecting

Well, I've made our position clear. We do support greater funding for the Auditor-General. In government, we gave them more, and I as finance minister accepted the importance of funding that entity—unlike this gentleman and unlike his predecessor. So the government should do the right thing. They've managed to undermine so many of the democratic principles and conventions that go to accountability. They ought not undermine the Auditor-General by depriving him of funding to do work that is important. I'm happy to keep making that ask of the government. I'm happy to continue to campaign for it. Most importantly, we will continue to campaign for a Labor government that recognises the importance of this sort of accountability.

7:35 pm

Photo of Larissa WatersLarissa Waters (Queensland, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to speak in strong support of Senator Patrick's amendment to the appropriation bill, which would restore some of the necessary funding to the Australian National Audit Office, and I want to just put a few facts on record. The ANAO sought additional funding from this government as part of the budget process. They wrote to this government—and I know this, because I asked them in estimates—and specifically spelled out that their target audit number of 48 was not going to be able to occur if they didn't have additional funding. The reason is that the costs of the other audits that they're legislatively mandated to undertake have increased and therefore there's less money to go around. So, they made a very modest request for a small modicum of funds to be able to continue at their target audit level. They got no response at all to that letter. They wrote to this government saying, 'We stand on our record; we'd like to be able to do it', and this government didn't even see fit to respond, let alone give them the money they had sought. So, that's the first offence.

But it's very interesting when you look at the distinguished and outstanding track record of the Auditor-General and the office he leads in holding this government to account, and all governments to account. That perhaps explains why this government is so desperate to muzzle them and to reduce their audit capacity by 20 per cent over three years. It's sports rorts 1; it's sports rorts 2; it's the 'watergate' scandal; it's the Leppington Triangle scandal. There are a few others here. It is the consistent failure to implement recommendations to make the lobbying code of conduct mean anything and have any implications—another thing that this government has completely ignored.

They've also done some really revealing work on our environmental protection laws and a critique of the approvals process, all inconvenient matters for this government. This government has a glass jaw such that, rather than behave like a responsible, democratic and modern government, cop this on the chin and fund this body to do that important transparency and accountability work, they'd rather muzzle it and have it do less scrutiny work. It suits the government beautifully.

The other interesting thing is: I wonder what the ANAO have got planned that they might not be able to do 20 per cent of now, thanks to this government not giving them the extra funding? They had been planning to do audits—and now don't know whether they can do them—into a whole range of COVID programs: JobKeeper; the JobMaker hiring subsidies, which had a huge number of loopholes that we tried to fix in this place but, sadly, didn't get the support we needed in order to protect older workers; and the COVIDSafe app. They were going to look at all of that but, gee, they might not be able to now, because they're 20 per cent down on their capacity, thanks to this government not giving them the right amount of funding.

They were going to look into the Great Barrier Reef Foundation partnership, another scandalous overallocation of money to a very small and perhaps meritorious organisation that didn't seek the money and, frankly, didn't have the capacity to properly administer the money, when we have actual statutory authorities that are charged with protecting the Reef and are used to doling out that sort of money. That would have been a very interesting audit. We know, with this Senate already having inquired into it, that there are an awful lot of questions that still need answering, but no: this government isn't going to give ANAO the money to do that work. That's now got a question mark over it as well.

There was a proposal to look into the whole-of-government Legal Services Panel and how Mr Sukkar's old firm ended up investigating whether or not he had acted with impropriety and the mismanagement of conflicts of interest there. That, too, would have made for a very revealing expose by the ANAO—another inconvenience for the government that they wanted to avoid, no doubt. And there are a range of others, such as Defence's implementation of cultural reform. That's topical this week, isn't it, folks? That's another audit that the Auditor-General may not now be able to do because this government didn't give them the extra money that they need to maintain their output. They're not even asking to increase their output—which frankly they could, because they're doing such great work. They just want to be able to maintain their output. This government won't even give them the funding to do that.

There were a few other things they were planning on looking at but now they don't know if they can. There's the administration of the COVID commission. There's been an awful lot of debate over the selection of the folk that sit on that commission and the management of their own conflicts of interest, because many of them are steeped in the gas sector and the other fossil fuel sectors and the conflicts-of-interest rules are very weak and don't apply to all echelons of that commission. The ANAO could have looked into that and made some recommendations about strengthening those processes. But we'll never know now, because that's perhaps one of the audits they can no longer do because they've now got a 20 per cent capacity reduction over the next three years thanks to this government deliberately not giving them the tiny amount of money that they sought.

It's not just that the government are not funding the ANAO. This is the same government that, for years, described a federal corruption watchdog as a 'fringe issue'. Then, finally, the Prime Minister saw the light. It was almost two years ago that the government thought, yes, they would do something about it. They've done virtually nothing since. There's been a waffly discussion paper that's got so many loopholes in it it's basically a colander and experts have rightly criticised it. That was then put on the shelf and gathered some dust and they've just trotted it out again with no changes to the last version that they already consulted on. They're now doing new consultations and trying to claim that they're somehow champions of consultation when it's got the same old problems that the last experts said it had when they did the first round of consultation. It's sham consultation to avoid actually establishing a corruption watchdog at the same time as muzzling the most effective transparency body that we have at the minute, thanks to this government's intransigence, which is of course the ANAO and the Auditor-General. This is exactly why we will be strongly supporting these amendments by Senator Patrick and the request for this Senate to allocate a very small amount of funds that the ANAO will do excellent work with.

We think there should be a federal corruption watchdog. Actually, this chamber thinks there should be a federal corruption watchdog. In September last year, and thank you all for your support—not you guys, but you guys—we passed a bill for a federal corruption watchdog with teeth. That's actually what needs to happen. Yes, we need to fund the ANAO, but that's not a panacea. We need a whole range of improvements to whistleblower protections and to protections for public interest journalism. We need to get big money out of politics. We need caps on election spending and on donations. There is a whole raft of transparency measures we need.

There was a survey, the results of which were published today, that found that two-thirds of Australians think that corruption is indeed a big problem in politics, and a good 20 per cent of people thought that this government was doing very badly at handling corruption. That was a Transparency International Australia report done in conjunction with Griffith University. It makes for some very sobering reading. People can see that the public interest is being sold out to the political interests of those in charge. They can see the influence that donors have on the decision-making process. They can see this government consistently failing to uphold the very basic standards of ministerial accountability that used to mean something in this place. Scandal after scandal gets either pushed under the rug or glossed over. Now the government have the hide to not give the ANAO a tiny increase in funding to continue to do the job that the government won't let anybody else do because, sadly, there are clearly more skeletons in the closet that they want kept secret.

This is a very modest request, and I hope that the Senate will consider supporting it. Unfortunately, I am informed that the opposition won't be supporting this amendment either, which is very perplexing because the second reading amendment that we just passed in their name had a reference to the need for a strong and well-funded ANAO. We agree that is, in fact, why we're here and why we're supporting Senator Patrick's precise amendment to deliver that. So I'm a bit baffled as to why the opposition is taking that position. I would urge them to reconsider because, frankly, we've got an opportunity here. This amendment would otherwise pass, is my understanding. We could, in fact, charge the ANAO to continue doing the excellent work they're doing and empower them to do all of the things on their work plan for 2020-21 that they now might not be able to do because this government, and it seems perhaps with the opposition's full support, is happy to starve them of funds. We'll see how the vote goes. But, once again, democracy's for sale and transparency's at stake. But we've got a chance to fix it, so let's do that.

7:45 pm

Photo of Simon BirminghamSimon Birmingham (SA, Liberal Party, Minister for Trade) Share this | | Hansard source

The government does consider the Australian National Audit Office to be a very important national institution and recognises its work as being vital to help ensure accountability and transparency. Its recommendations do assist many agencies in identifying ways to improve public governance and administration. However, the amendments or requests that have been put before the chamber are based on a mistaken premise of there being cuts to the ANAO budget. The Auditor-General himself was asked during budget estimates whether his annual funding had been cut and was clear that there was no change in our budget and forward estimates in the budget process. Asked yet again, he emphasised there was no change from what we were expecting in our budget to what was in it. The government simply moved through, as we'd indicated previously, in terms of the budget allowance for the ANAO.

It's notable that on 2 September, over a month before the budget, the Joint Committee on Public Accounts and Audit commenced their 10-yearly review of the Auditor-General Act 1997. The terms of reference include consideration of funding for the ANAO. I know that Senator Patrick referenced this review in his remarks. This is a once-in-a-decade inquiry. It will look at the totality of the ANAO's operations, including its resourcing. Therefore, the government concluded it would be appropriate, in terms of changes to the funding model, for the organisation to look at that following receipt of that review, rather than in advance of it. Indeed, the Prime Minister emphasised this himself when he said:

There is a 10-year review currently underway, and, when the government receives the outcomes of that 10-year review, we will consider the resourcing for the ANAO.

When we receive that report, the government will make its response in terms of their ongoing resourcing.

But I do emphasise that the budget papers show growing appropriation over the forward years for the ANAO across its operating in capital costs, from $68.832 million in 2020-21 to $68.842 million the next year; $68.092 million the year after that; and $69.168 million the year after that. On top of this, the Auditor-General's salary is funded through a special appropriation that also matches salary cost increases over time.

The government will not be supporting these requests for amendments. We instead will respond, as I've outlined, to the JCPAA review. We reject the requests that are provided. We would emphasise that if they were received in the House they would be rejected there as well, pending that more informed approach.

7:48 pm

Photo of Rex PatrickRex Patrick (SA, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

I want to respond to some of the statements that have been made around the chamber. I will indicate that I'm very disappointed that Labor is not going to support this amendment. I want to read from the second reading of Mr Julian Hill in the other place. He's a man who I have a lot of respect for, not just as a person but also as the deputy chair of the JCPAA. He's fully informed as to the funding requests of the Auditor-General because they are tendered to the JCPAA at the same time as going to the Prime Minister, as that is a legislative requirement. He says—talking about the government:

They've used COVID-19 and this budget to cut the Auditor-General's budget, to silence the independent watchdog. Make no mistake: this is revenge for sports rorts. It's revenge for exposing the corruption, as it now looks, in paying $30 million to a Liberal Party donor for land worth $3 million. The Defence contracting blowouts, the casualisation of the public service—what's the government's response to this? Cut the budget of the independent watchdog that is exposing their rorts, waste and corruption. Who knows what else they're hiding? It's vengeful and it's pathetic.

The Auditor-General has been in structural deficit for the last few years because of the accumulation of cuts. They call them efficiency dividends. Let's be clear: for a small agency, that is a cut. The efficiency dividend piles up, year after year, and it's cut after cut after cut. Last year he lost $3.3 million and the year before $4.4 million. We're at the point now where the Auditor-General said to the Prime Minister, who's supposed to look after him—he's an independent officer of the parliament, and the Prime Minister is supposed to look after him—'I can't do it anymore. I can't meet KPIs of 48 performance audits a year without fear or favour.'

That's what Mr Julian Hill said in the other place—fully informed as the deputy chair of the JCPAA. He had it absolutely right. I sit here absolutely astounded—

Senator Gallagher interjecting

You're probably right. I take that interjection, Senator Gallagher; I'm not astounded, because you do it all the time. You sit in the seats of the opposition party but you don't actually oppose; you just wave things through. Senator Wong stood up and talked about longstanding conventions. I understand about longstanding conventions, I understand about blocking supply, but there's nothing wrong with saying to the government: 'We're going to support Senator Patrick's request. We believe he's right. You know what, you can take it back to the other place and we can get the Prime Minister again to reconsider.' That's not blocking supply, it's just asserting what is right.

Senator Gallagher interjecting

No, it is not blocking supply.

Senator Gallagher interjecting

I did. I suggested privately that you could simply assert and support me. The government didn't need to know. You could have sent it back to the other place and actually had a bit of a fight. But I know that's a tough ask for you! I am disappointed. I want a strong opposition. I don't want to see a situation where, after the next election, we have even more of the Liberal Party on the other side. I'm actually trying to work with you, but you've got to be a strong opposition before you have any chance of being in government.

Senator Gallagher interjecting

We will move to the cashless debit card if you like. There were accusations. I acknowledge what Senator Wong said—that it is often the crossbench that hold everyone to account and it is often the crossbench that use their leverage to get much better things for the public. It would be good if the opposition were able to do that, but it can't. You seem unable to do that. When it comes to the cashless debit card, I haven't given a position on that; I'm simply considering where I'm going to land. You might be very surprised at where I sit in the chamber next week. I haven't made up my mind—and to suggest that I have is simply ill-informed.

I urge the Labor Party to be a strong opposition. Australia deserves a strong opposition. Stand with me and stand with the Greens as we stand up for the Auditor-General—one of the few people left who is able to exercise power. Go and have a look at section 32 of the Auditor-General Act. He has extraordinary powers that allow him to gather the sort of information you've been refused at the COVID committee—which, in my view, you have been refused inappropriately. Nonetheless, the Auditor-General has extensive powers. You can't even deny cabinet documents to him. So let's fund him properly. Let's stand up for him. It's one of the few government agencies that seems to be able to actually get to the bottom of things. I'm not asking you to block supply; I'm asking you to send this bill back to the other place and let them reconsider. Maybe Mr Albanese will stand up and mount a convincing argument that will cause the Prime Minister to change his view. You won't know unless you give it a shot.

Moving to what the minister said, he talked about the need for a review. Waiting for the review is just a huge furphy. We know what the effect of this budget cut will be. It will be less oversight. That may well suit you, Senator Birmingham, but we do not have to wait for the review to find that out. You could have essentially given the Auditor-General what he wanted and the review could have continued, but instead we will get less oversight. I accept that the budget remains the same, that there wasn't a cut, but I say to you, as the finance minister: don't be spending focused, be outcome focused. The Auditor-General explains that the standard audits he does—the financial audits of the sort that revealed anomalies in respect of the chairman of ASIC's payments—are taking up more time and costing more money, which means the Auditor-General simply can't do as many performance audits. You ought to be outcome focused, Minister. With that, I will now ask the question: what's the basis for the decision of government to only fund the Auditor-General this year for 42 performance audits, instead of the normal 48? What's the reasoning behind that?

7:56 pm

Photo of Simon BirminghamSimon Birmingham (SA, Liberal Party, Minister for Trade) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank Senator Patrick. I'm not sure that I accept the 'normal' statement that Senator Patrick has made. Indeed, the JCPAA's assessment and budget day statement of 6 October noted that the ANAO sought to work towards an annual target of 48 audits per annum by 2023-24. So, in that sense, they have identified a target that they wish to reach. The ANAO proposed that its budget be scaled up over a period of time to reach that point. Of course, it is entirely feasible, depending upon the recommendations of the JCPAA and the response of the government, that that target could still be met. In terms of this year's funding allocation, it is, as I've stressed before, what had previously been outlined in budget decisions and forward projections.

7:58 pm

Photo of Rex PatrickRex Patrick (SA, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the minister for his answer, but I'll just refer to the Hansard from Senate estimates, where Senator Waters asked:

Given that, on the status of less funding, you weren't quite able to reach the target of audit reports, what are you anticipating in terms of your ability to reach those targets for workflow in the future?

The Auditor-General answered:

In our portfolio performance statement we are forecasting that in 2020-21 we will produce 42 audits, falling to 40 in the following year, and then, by 2022-23, down to 38.

That is quoting the Auditor-General from the Hansard in response to Senator Waters. Again, I ask the minister: are you of the view that the current budget left unamended, as my request seeks to do, will enable the Auditor-General to do more than 42 audits, and on what basis would you make that claim?

7:59 pm

Photo of Simon BirminghamSimon Birmingham (SA, Liberal Party, Minister for Trade) Share this | | Hansard source

I wasn't making that claim. Indeed, I agree that I understand the ANAO has projected a delivery of 42 performance audits in 2020-21. I was emphasising that the ANAO has also advised the JCPAA that it seeks to work towards a target of 48 by 2023-24. That is several years away. The 10-yearly review of funding will be received well within that time frame and well within the opportunity for government to respond to it.

Photo of Glenn SterleGlenn Sterle (WA, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Road Safety) Share this | | Hansard source

The question is that requests (1) to (9) on sheet 1068 moved by Senator Patrick by leave together be agreed to.