Tuesday, 1 December 2020
Privatisation, Corporatisation and Outsourcing Committee; Appointment
(1) That a select committee, to be known as the Select Committee into Privatisation, Corporatisation and Outsourcing, be established to inquire and report on the following matters:
(a) the privatisation and corporatisation of public services by Australian Governments over the last four decades, including:
(i) the rationale for decisions to privatise and corporatise, including models of structuring the public sector and public sector agencies,
(ii) the cost to the public of privatised and corporatised services,
(iii) the quality of privatised and corporatised services and the outcomes for the public, particularly with respect to disadvantaged members of the public,
(iv) the impact on employment rates, conditions and locations, especially rural and regional employment,
(v) the profits generated, taxation paid and corporate structures of providers of privatised services,
(vi) the remuneration and benefits paid to executives of providers of privatised and corporatised services,
(vii) the effect on government budget policy and macroeconomic conditions,
(viii) the effect on income and wealth inequality, and
(ix) the effect on public participation, social cohesion, and public perception of the role of government;
(b) the outsourcing of services, functions and positions from the Australian Public Service over the last four decades, including:
(i) the rationale for decisions to outsource services, functions and positions,
(ii) the cost of outsourcing, including the cost of engaging private service providers and sourcing staff through labour hire firms,
(iii) the impact of outsourcing on service provision, and
(iv) the profits generated from contracts between the Australian Government and private service providers and labour hire firms;
(c) the effect of privatisation, corporatisation and outsourcing by the Australian Government on the public sector, including:
(i) current and future public sector employment,
(ii) displacement of functions from the public sector to private service providers and labour hire firms,
(iii) the role of staffing caps (such as the average service level) in driving privatisation, corporatisation and outsourcing,
(iv) public sector employment rates and conditions,
(v) remuneration and benefits paid to public sector executives,
(vi) measurement of public sector performance,
(vii) the culture and ethos of the public sector, and
(viii) public perception of the public sector;
(d) experience in Australia and internationally of privatisation, corporatisation and outsourcing being reversed, including:
(i) the rationale for these decisions and the processes that preceded them,
(ii) the process of enacting these reversals, and
(iii) the effect of these reversals; and
(e) any other related matters.
(2) For the avoidance of doubt, 'public services' and 'services' include services provided by entities that are or were publicly owned corporations or entities.
(3) That the committee present its final report on or before 30 September 2021.
(4) That the committee consist of 5 senators as follows:
(a) 2 nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate;
(b) 2 nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate; and
(c) 1 nominated by the Leader of the Australian Greens in the Senate.
(a) participating members may be appointed to the committee on the nomination of the Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate or any minority party or independent senator; and
(b) participating members may participate in hearings of evidence and deliberations of the committee, and have all the rights of members of the committee, but may not vote on any questions before the committee.
(6) If a member of the committee is unable to attend a meeting of the committee, that member may in writing to the chair of the committee appoint a participating member to act as a substitute member of the committee at that meeting, and if the member is incapacitated or unavailable, a letter to the chair of a committee appointing a participating member to act as a substitute member of the committee may be signed on behalf of the member by the leader or whip of the party or group on whose nomination the member was appointed to the committee.
(7) That the committee may proceed to the dispatch of business notwithstanding that not all members have been duly nominated and appointed and notwithstanding any vacancy.
(8) That the chair of the committee is to be the member nominated by the Leader of the Australian Greens in the Senate and the committee is to elect as deputy chair a member nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.
(9) That the deputy chair shall act as chair when the chair is absent from a meeting of the committee or the position of chair is temporarily vacant.
(10) That the chair, or the deputy chair when acting as chair, may appoint another member of the committee to act as chair during the temporary absence of both the chair and deputy chair at a meeting of the committee.
(11) That 3 members of the committee constitute a quorum of the committee.
(12) That, in the event of an equally divided vote, the chair, or the deputy chair when acting as chair, have a casting vote.
(13) That the committee have power to appoint subcommittees consisting of 3 or more of its members, and to refer to any such subcommittee any of the matters which the committee is empowered to examine.
(14) That the committee and any subcommittee have power to send for and examine persons and documents, to move from place to place, to sit in public or in private, notwithstanding any prorogation of the Parliament or dissolution of the House of Representatives, and have leave to report from time to time its proceedings, the evidence taken and such interim recommendations as it may deem fit.
(15) That the committee be provided with all necessary staff, facilities and resources and be empowered to appoint persons with specialist knowledge for the purposes of the committee with the approval of the President.
(16) That the committee be empowered to print from day to day such documents and evidence as may be ordered by it, and a daily Hansard be published of such proceedings as take place in public.
The government doesn't see the need for another select committee to be established when there are other committees already capable of examining these matters. In relation to the proposed terms of reference, while 98 Commonwealth agencies are non-corporate, 71 are established as corporate entities and another 18 as Commonwealth companies. The scope of the proposed inquiry is excessively broad insofar as it looks at corporatised entities, potentially covering around half of all agencies, depending on how this is interpreted. The proposed inquiry could be better focused on particular services of government or better define the scope of corporatisation.