The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: We do not have the specific and most up-to-date advice on that here, but I will bring back an answer as quickly as I can. No significant delays immediately come to mind, but I get a monthly update on infrastructure and, as the member would well know, sometimes there are various things that delay projects. Sometimes it is a matter of a builder having issues, sometimes it is a matter to do with the weather, sometimes it may even be complete but there is a delay with handover. The honourable member knows the sorts of things I am talking about. I am not immediately aware of, or I certainly do not recollect, any delay past December, but we will double-check and bring back an answer.
Dr CLOSE: The second dot point refers to the completion of the Adelaide Botanic High School being anticipated to be for term 1 in 2019. I understand that there is no reason to think that will not take place; however, I am interested in the status of the project in terms of both the completion of the building itself and the preparation for what will happen inside the building. At what stage is the department in terms of identifying staff for teaching and support work in the school? I think the principal and at least one deputy principal have been appointed.
The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: Again, we do not have the detailed advice here that the member asks for, but I will seek specific information in relation to staff and completion. The member correctly identifies that the principal has been in place for some time, and I can advise the member that the governing council of the Adelaide Botanic High School no longer consists of me alone. It is a responsibility I enjoyed tremendously.
In particular, the principal came to me to seek my endorsement, as the governing council of the Adelaide Botanic High School, for the new school uniform, which was launched with great fanfare last week. I must say that I share the chagrin of one of the students modelling the uniform regarding the potential proximity in colours to the Port Power football team.
Member for Port Adelaide, j'accuse. I think you may have had something to do with those colours being on their way to the Adelaide Botanic High School prior to my entering the office on Flinders Street. At any rate, a governing council is now in place, including families from the school and, I understand, staff as well. It is on the cusp of being a fully operational school.
Dr CLOSE: While I would not hesitate to own such a decision had I made it, I do not think I had anything to do with it. I was quite pleased when I saw the pictures, but we should not bring partisan football support into this chamber. My second question relates to enrolment policies, the multiple specialisations that have been identified, the expected proportion of students who will be allowed to enrol from out of zone and the basis on which they will be so allowed. Has that consideration been finalised yet?
The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: Matters relating to enrolment can change and continue to change from year to year. The Adelaide Botanic High School operates, as the member knows, on a single zone with Adelaide High School. There is a capacity management plan; I think that is the correct term in relation to it. It has been seeking to enforce the zone for new enrolments outside those special programs. The special program at Adelaide Botanic to do with health sciences is as last announced. There is a cohort of year 8 students whom I had the great pleasure of meeting alongside the Premier a little while ago as they were having a look at the facilities. They are very excited about that opportunity, and some of them were on the telly.
In relation to how that is conceived in the future, as the member would recall from estimates, some people have suggested changes to that zone from time to time. The Adelaide High School zone has changed from time to time and the capacity management plan and the nature of its enforcement have adapted as well, so I am not saying that cannot happen again. I think on the books there is the most recently gazetted plan, which has been there for several weeks, if not months, and I do not think I have anything on my desk expecting any immediate changes to that.
Dr CLOSE: It was more about the out-of-zone enrolment, but I will not pursue it. We can talk about this as it gets closer to 2019; that is fine. The next dot point refers to the two public-private partnership (PPP) schools in the north and the south that have been announced for some time. Have the locations for each of those yet been identified and made public?
The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: I am trying to remember when the last PPP projects were at the stage that these ones are now. There was obviously a budget allocation for land to be purchased this financial year, and there is a significant and heavy involvement of Treasury in the management of these projects. Rather than give you half an answer now, I will seek a fuller answer and see what I can bring back.
Dr CLOSE: The final dot point under 'Significant events and transactions' refers to the Building Better Schools program and notes that some of the projects will now include providing facilities for year 7s in the secondary schools. Can the minister make a comment, either positively or uncertainly, about whether there will be money provided to Unley High School in addition to their current allocation in order to allow year 7s to fit on to their campus?
The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: The advice I have is that Unley High School currently has a project of $20 million. That is on the list I have here. That is currently the allocation available. I think the list is correct, but it is as announced last year in terms of the quantum of funds currently dedicated to Unley High School as part of the capital works project, the Building Better Schools project, if you like. If there are any other enhancements to that project, then we will deal with that in due course.
Dr CLOSE: Are there any other schools currently identified as receiving Building Better Schools funding that have now been considered for additional funding in order to facilitate year 7?
The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: It might assist the member that this will be an answer that will be applicable for this question and potentially others that she has, but the year 7 to high school transition is a significant reform. The member knows we have several hundred—500 and change—public schools across South Australia. Well north of 100 of them have a high school component.
The change is mooted to happen in 2022. This was a deliberate decision, prior to the election, of the Liberal Party to announce a long lead-in time, as recommended by the Secondary Principals' Association following some preliminary advice from people in Queensland and Western Australia. That advice was certainly reinforced by advice the department has had since the election from conversations they have had with the departments in Queensland and Western Australia that you want to take your time and get this right.
Points of transition and transitions from primary school to high school are critically important. The member would have read some of John Hattie's work where he identifies particularly the dangers at transition points of engaging students, so we are making sure that we do get this right. We are not rushing it. That preamble is to give a little bit more weight to my statement that the work is ongoing on exactly what some of these projects may need to look like.
No doubt, over the next three years there will be plenty of opportunities for us to talk in great detail about specific schools and specific projects. However, at this stage, that is one body of work. What will the Department for Education and the government's approach to transitioning year 7 to high school look like in detail as one broad body of work? When you make one stage at one school, of course there are impacts on other schools as well, so we are not rushing this and we will take the time to get it right. If there are further announcements in relation to details of the transition, we will make them in good time.
Dr CLOSE: I am now moving on to the next page, page 81, which describes the funding split between government and non-government schools. I take advantage of the data that sits there to ask: with the recent signing of the agreement with the commonwealth government on funding, will there be a requirement for additional funding on top of what has currently been budgeted for the state government's contribution either to government or non-government schools?
The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: The $716 million announced on Monday of last week, I think it was, is new money for public schools over and above what was in the budget papers. I identify that I think the year 7 cost in the budget papers was also new money over and above what was in the budget previously, so there is a cohort of funds. That year 7 cost in the budget papers did include a small amount for non-government schools as well. I think the detail of that was probably identified in the Budget and Finance Committee, from memory. In broad terms, about seven-eighths of it is for public schools. Indeed, that $716 million, up until 2026-27, is new money to the budget as well from the state government to our public schools.
Dr CLOSE: On page 82, we have the education staffing breakdown. There is a reference to preschool workers, being 1,346 in 2018, which is an increase on both 2016 and 2017. Can the minister advise how many additional staff were put on as a result of the changes in the ratios that came into place a little while ago?
The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: I will take that on notice.
Dr CLOSE: On page 84, there is a comment at the bottom that states:
This year, Education advised us this continues to be a challenge—
this is the automatic approvals that the Auditor-General has some concerns about—
and it has implemented formal notification to the Education Directors for those sites that repeatedly appear in the top 10 monthly sites with high automatic approval levels.
Which are those 10 sites?
The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: I do not have the names here. I will take that on notice and bring back an answer for the member.
Dr CLOSE: Thank you. On page 85, underneath the graphic, the third sentence says:
In response Education advised it would review the existing processes to ensure debts were pursued and/or written off promptly.
When will that review take place, and will it be an external or internal review?
The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: Member, can you repeat the last part of the question?
Dr CLOSE: When will the review take place, and will it be an internal or external review?
The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: I am advised that we will be looking at this process during this financial year. There are things that come up on a case-by-case basis, but there will be some extra analysis of the processes in this financial year internally.
Dr CLOSE: Over on page 86—of course, some of these matters are a little groundhog day for me, except I am in a different role, but the old—
The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: You are copying my questions?
Dr CLOSE: No, I am just being reminded of the Valeo system. There is a sentence that says:
Education advised it would make changes to align the Valeo application passwords with the ISM settings and would request that NEC implement default profiles for the database and operating system by 31 July 2018.
Has that in fact happened?
The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: I believe this is what the member is asking about; if not, she can point it out to me and I will fix it. My advice is that the department has now applied the commonwealth's ISM password setting to the default Valeo application database and operating system. I believe that has taken place since the beginning of this financial year.
Dr CLOSE: Further down on that page, there is reference to an IT disaster recovery plan and the finding that the education department has none. Could the minister advise, for my information, what an IT disaster recovery would look like, what it would feature and also what the department is contemplating to remedy that fault?
The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: The member asks what the plan looks like or what the disaster would look like?
Dr CLOSE: The purported recovery plan, what would be its features?
The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: The department has advised me that proposed disaster recovery plan requirements have been discussed with NEC, which has provided disaster recovery design and pricing for key business systems, including Valeo. The department's ICT services directorate is reviewing the proposal and seeking approval to proceed with the formal disaster recovery design, which would no doubt identify some of the particular features the member is asking about. In the interim, the department is relying upon rebuilding its current systems from the available backup tapes. I think all members would agree that we are hoping that, in the years ahead, we can do a bit better than that.
Dr CLOSE: In the event a disaster occurred without that disaster recovery plan in place, I presume the department has some means for recovery. What would be the situation if it occurred now?
The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: As I said quite recently, on the occasion the member foresees the department relies upon rebuilding its current systems from the available backup tapes. As I suggested, I hope that we can do a bit better than that in the future.
Dr CLOSE: If I turn to page 89, there is a reference to an increase in student material and services charges and an increase in students. There is an $8 million increase in student and other fees and charges, primarily due to a $4 million increase in student material services charges and an increase in students. What percentage increase does this represent of the material and services charge? Has it gone up significantly across the schools, or is this more as a result of an increasing number of students who are paying the fees?
The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: Again, rather than giving you half or even two-thirds of an answer, it is a combination of indexation of student numbers and other things. We will come back and give you a little bit more detail. We anticipate, of course, that the changes to School Card, announced probably at the beginning of this year rather than late last year and continued by the new government, will also have some impact on this in the years ahead.
Dr CLOSE: True. If we can turn to page 90, there is a reference again to Adelaide Botanic High School and a statement that there was a $33 million increase in the total spent for the Adelaide Botanic High School. What comprised that $33 million? Was that a timing issue rather than an additional $33 million being spent?
The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: We will come back with a breakdown of the timing, but certainly my recollection—and I think the advice I am getting; it is Chris's recollection, too—is that this was an increase in expenditure on Adelaide Botanic High School that was announced during the 2017-18 year, so the member herself may have more immediate recollection of some of the detail of the reason for that increase. She may well have signed a document related to it.
An honourable member: For a big cheque, perhaps
Dr CLOSE: Yes, a big cheque, no doubt. We will get the answer back. It may relate to the additional student capacity that was decided on after the initial decision to have the school. If we can turn to the next page, under 'administered items' there is reference to the subsidies of $13 million to DPTI for student travel concessions on metropolitan and country transport services. That reminds me of the review of transport for students in the country that I believe the minister had committed to. Could the minister give me a summary of when that will be undertaken, who is undertaking it and whether, within the terms of reference, any reviewer will be able to contemplate spending additional money on the service?
The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: I will answer the question, but I note that it is a reasonably long bow the member draws from this item to the government's election commitment. However, it is an important election commitment and I am pleased to be able to talk about it. I had a look at the previous review that was undertaken in 2014, I think, possibly 2015, or maybe both. Some of the focus on that was potentially, I would suggest, not necessarily what the member for Frome expected when he demanded it of the former government in return for serving in their cabinet, and certainly no changes were forthcoming.
The government did believe that it was useful to have a review to establish how one might ensure that fair provision of transport services for students in South Australian schools to attend their schools might better be established. The work to commence that review has started, and the Department for Education is working with the Department for Transport and with Treasury, and officers in those departments will be doing that work.
There will be an opportunity for people to make submissions to that review in the not too distant future. When those details are finalised, we will absolutely be publicising them, because we would like people to have their say on how best they think we should be doing this work. Any outcomes of that review will be a matter for the reviewers to suggest what they will.
Dr CLOSE: I would like to turn to TAFE now, if I may.
The Hon. J.A.W. Gardner: You may.
Dr CLOSE: Thank you. Having asked many questions about education, I may have to put on notice some questions relating to TAFE. There is a reference on page 448, under the ASQA section, to developing a quality teaching and learning framework. When will that be completed?
The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: The first draft has been provided to the Academic Board and the executive, and I anticipate that being with the new board very soon.
Dr CLOSE: On page 448, the next sentence refers to what, at the time of writing the document, was a likely forthcoming additional assessment audit by ASQA, which of course we now know has occurred. What is the deadline for TAFE to respond to their questions about the six courses?
The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: It is 30 November.
Dr CLOSE: The document then turns to the Nous and Moran-Bannikoff reviews. When will the full response from the government be either tabled in parliament or provided publicly? Currently, many of the responses are that the government is considering what they will do.
The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: When you say the 'full response', a broad response has been provided, and it was provided on budget day; the member is no doubt familiar with it. There are further accents to some of it. As to some of that response, the information is provided there, but there are some matters that are details still to be considered and a body of further work is ongoing. We are not necessarily going to package things up—well, we might—in a beautiful video fly-through and present it to the public, or we might release information and government responses as they are being done.
Dr CLOSE: Nearly halfway down page 450, on the lack of segregation and no independent checks of new HPI contracts and processed claims, starting with the words 'TAFE SA' there is a response from TAFE SA:
…it would ensure there was clear segregation of duties, including a reconciliation between a report on HPI payments from the payroll system and HPI claims provided…
Has this now happened, subsequent to the preparation of this document? If not, when will that occur?
The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: I am advised that, in relation to the lack of segregation, no independent checks of new HPI contracts and processed claims, a new report has been developed to provide the HR manager, service delivery, a summary of claims provided to Frontier (the government's payroll system vendor) for loading. Claims are loaded by Frontier into the CHRIS 21 payroll system for processing. The post-pay run report from CHRIS 21 of all claims and documented evidence of any variances in claims processed versus claims loaded by Frontier—for example, manual pay recoups and amendments to incorrect claims made before the pay is run—is validated and signed off each pay period by the HR manager, service delivery.
Dr CLOSE: On page 452, and I suspect this is my last question, there is the question of no formal independent review undertaken of altered grades. This is something that I recall having to answer questions about. The response came from TAFE that it would:
…develop a policy or procedure outlining a grade change process. This would involve an automated grade change report to cross check grade changes…
Has this policy been finalised since the preparation of this document?
The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: I think I remember asking something not entirely dissimilar. I will provide as much of an answer as I can, despite the potential for the time to run out, with the indulgence of the house, but I think this probably highlights the benefit of the process, as the member referred to before.
I am advised, in relation to the lack of independent review of altered grades, that TAFE SA has developed a process to generate an automated report that crosschecks the grade changes in the student information system against the grade changes in the approved smart forms to identify any discrepancies. The process identifies who is responsible for reviewing the report and at what frequency.
Dr CLOSE: I would like to take this opportunity not to ask a question but to thank the minister and his advisers.
The CHAIR: Time has expired. I thank the Minister for Education and the deputy leader for the manner in which that examination was undertaken. We now proceed to the examination of the Auditor-General's 2017-18 report in relation to the Minister for Industry and Skills. I remind members that the committee is in normal session. Any questions have to be asked by members on their feet and all questions must be directly referenced to the Auditor-General's 2017-18 report. Welcome to the minister's advisers. I call for questions.
The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: The Auditor-General's Report into this agency is, of course, limited by virtue of its having reported on the department of state development, which was split on 1 July. As a broad reference, I refer to Part B of the report, page 399, citing the significant event of machinery of government changes to the previous department of state development. My first question is: during that period from when you were appointed as Minister for Industry and Skills, what advice did you receive regarding the impacts of that separation?
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: Can you refer to commentary of the Auditor-General that justifies that question?
The CHAIR: It would be preferable to reference a page number.
The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: I did, page 399.
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: There is no commentary from the Auditor-General about the minister's views on the—
The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: I beg to differ. It is very clear. On page 399, he talks about significant events and transactions, and a key part of that is obviously the change.
The CHAIR: So the question is, member for Ramsay?
The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: The question is: during the period when the minister was appointed, what advice did he receive on the impacts of that separation?
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: I still would like to see the reference of the Auditor-General to any concerns raised by the impacts. I cannot really respond to any concerns that were maybe raised by the Auditor-General about the impact of it.
The CHAIR: What I might ask the member for Ramsay to do is to be a little bit more specific. It is a very general question. Can you be a little bit more specific, please.
The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: There were significant machinery of government changes moving from DSD to the current stage of the Department for Industry and Skills. What do you believe were the impacts of that change?
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: It is spelt out in the Auditor-General's Report. On 1 July, following the state election, DSD's name changed to the Department for Industry and Skills. A new department, the Department for Trade, Tourism and Investment, was established. International Engagement and Health Industries South Australia transferred from DSD to DTTI (the Department for Trade, Tourism and Investment).
Investment Attraction SA was abolished and the functions transferred to DTTI, and Arts SA and Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation transferred from DSD to the Department of the Premier and Cabinet. That is the entire commentary of the Auditor-General, who spells it out quite accurately. Obviously, it is exactly what happened and he makes no commentary on it. Regarding the heading Significant Changes, I suggest it refers to the fact that it did change significantly, but it is certainly not suggesting that there was fire and brimstone, it was just a simple shift of functions from one department to several other departments in a reconfiguration of the machinery of government.
The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: Following on from that question, did you receive any advice about the potential impacts of the machinery of government changes?
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: Yes, the advice I received is that this would be a great idea for getting much better outcomes for South Australians by having one department, one minister and one CEO. Of course, under the previous government, we know that the CE of DSD in particular had to answer to six different ministers. In opposition, we made the decision—and I thank the Premier for his leadership in this—that we wanted to streamline the way government operated. We did not want CEs to be getting conflicting advice from different ministers on the way they run their departments.
We wanted the focus, particularly in my department, to be on marrying up the needs of industry with the government's responsibility of delivering skills in South Australia so that those industries can grow. We know that is important. Just this morning, I was out at Osborne representing the Premier. The first block was being made. The minister, the Hon. Christopher Pyne, did the first bit of welding.
An honourable member interjecting:
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: He did: he pushed the button. He had a white hard hat on, he had his safety glasses on and he had his high-vis jacket on.
The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: Following the same area of reference, what advice did you receive regarding the success of the agency in its previous form? I seek leave to make a quote.
The CHAIR: To put some context into the question?
The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: Yes.
The CHAIR: Go ahead.
The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: The then department for state development's CEO, Mark Duffy, told this parliament's Budget and Finance Committee last November, 'This agency has performed extremely well on a whole range of fronts.' He then went on to positively comment on the interventions made in Whyalla, Leigh Creek and the closure of Holden. What advice did you receive regarding the success of this agency in its previous form?
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: The advice is that we need to do better; we can always do better, and that is the difference between this side of the parliament and that side of the parliament. They were happy with the status quo for 16 years, yet we know there were massive opportunities to run this government in South Australia for South Australians. The advice I was given was that this would deliver much better outcomes for industry in lining up their skills in South Australia.
Do not forget that we are walking the walk on this. We are putting an extra $200 million into skills funding over the next four years. On average, that is $1 million extra a week to train South Australians. We are putting a stop to the decline we saw under the previous government—a 66 per cent drop-off since 2012 in the number of apprentices and trainees in South Australia—and we are building new training opportunities and new apprenticeship opportunities for South Australians with real investment of taxpayers' money.
The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: Did you have discussions with Mr Duffy regarding the wisdom or otherwise of splitting the agency?
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: The Premier took charge of the design of the government and, of course, I cannot go into cabinet deliberations, but it is a government decision. Obviously advice was taken and accepted about the benefits of the new style of government, the new structure of government that we have in South Australia. I know it is difficult for the member for Ramsay to come to grips with the fact that they are no longer in government, but governments actually make these decisions. The people of South Australia decide who governs them and then the government makes these decisions.
The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: What advice did you receive regarding the proposal to axe most of the employment assistance programs that Mr Duffy referred to when he was talking about the success of the interventions?
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: Can the member refer to where the employment programs are referred to in the Auditor-General's Report?
The CHAIR: Do you have a specific reference to that?
The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: I refer to note 2 in the DSD financial statements, which I understand is an attachment.
The CHAIR: Do you have a page number?
The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: There are no page numbers in regard to the financial statements.
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: From what I can see from what the member is referring to, there is no reference to savings targets or the continuation or otherwise of particular programs, so the member's question is not related to the Auditor-General's Report.
The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: I refer the minister to pages 408 and 409 of the Auditor General's Report, other grants, which talks about previous grants under the Our Jobs Plan. Going to one of those programs, the Jobs First Employment Projects fund, you have advised this house previously that Bedford industries received $491,000 in 2017-18. My question is: did you receive advice regarding the proposal to axe most of these employment financial programs?
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: The Auditor-General's Report does not speak about any particular program. Certainly I cannot see the reference to Bedford Industries in the Auditor-General's Report.
The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: You axed many programs that were covered under 'other grants' in this report—skills and employment grants and subsidies—
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: Point of order, sir: the Auditor-General's Report does not refer—
The CHAIR: I take your point of order, minister, thank you.
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: —to the continuation or otherwise of the programs.
The CHAIR: Thank you, minister, I take your point of order. You need to ask a question in relation to the report. We are talking about page 408, other grants. You began with commentary rather than a question, member for Ramsay.
The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: I will move on. In the absence of that fund, you advised that Bedford should apply for other forms of assistance. What applications have been made and have they been successful?
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: There is no reference to that question in the Auditor-General's Report, sir.
The CHAIR: Member for Ramsay, I am looking under 'other grants' and I have not seen Bedford mentioned there at all. I stand to be corrected, but I cannot see that.
The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: As I said previously, it was a core function of the department, which is what has changed, and obviously there has been a change to the department, so I am talking about what was a core function of the department, which is employment programs.
The CHAIR: But you have been specific about a particular program.
The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: Yes, I was talking about a specific program. If I recall, it was under the JFEP, which is referred to on page 409.
The CHAIR: It is the top line of page 409, JFEP and grants to the Tauondi College for workers' development. Is that what your question relates to?
The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: I related it because that is where Bedford industries received $491,000 in 2017-18 as part of that program. It has been axed. My question was with regard to what advice was received from Mr Duffy prior to axing that program.
The CHAIR: Does the minister want to answer?
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: Sir, there is no reference in the commentary whatsoever.
The CHAIR: I think we will move on. We have probably spent enough time on that particular line of questioning.
The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: I move on to questions about the automotive transformation program in Part B, page 409. The report states that $3 million under the Automotive Transformation Taskforce initiative in 2017-18. The program in this area included the Automotive Supplier Diversification Program and the Automotive Workers in Transition Program. What advice did you receive regarding the value of these initiatives?
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: There is no commentary about any decision around the continuation or otherwise of these programs.
The CHAIR: I think what the minister is saying is that it was a decision of government, Member for Ramsay—without putting words in his mouth.
The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: I disagree with the minister. It is detailed quite clearly that these programs are here. We now know that these programs have been axed. I am simply asking: what advice was received?
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: Chair, I just want to remind the member that this period is for the 2017-18 financial year and these programs were operating in 2017-18 financial year.
The CHAIR: So the questions are relevant.
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: No, the question is not relevant. The member is claiming that the programs were axed. The facts are that these programs were in operation in 2017-18.
The CHAIR: You are saying they were in operation for a time during the financial year?
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: Even if you pull the bow as far as you possibly can, you cannot pull it into the 2018-19 financial year because we are not addressing the 2018-19 financial year at this Auditor-General's examination.
The CHAIR: For the most part, during that 2017-18 period these programs were operating. Minister and member for Ramsay, we are halfway through the examination of the Auditor-General's Report and I do not feel we have come very far yet. That is up to you entirely, of course. Member for Ramsay, a question.
The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: Well, let me express my disappointment. We are obviously talking about the fact that you have made significant changes, which you decided to make as a government. I acknowledge that. The whole of the reference to the Auditor-General—
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: Point of order: can we have a reference to the Auditor-General's Report when the member preambles a question, please?
The CHAIR: I take your point of order, minister. Member for Ramsay, this is not the opportunity to make a speech. You have 13 minutes left in which to ask questions that the minister can really answer in whatever way he sees fit.
The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: I refer to Part B, page 409. When you make decisions you obviously reference previous outcomes, and that is why I am asking you today, in reference to that area—particularly about the automotive transformation, The Automotive Supplier Diversification and the Automotive Workers in Transition programs—what advice you received regarding the value of these initiatives.
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: There is no reference to the advice the minister received or even the actions of the minister in the Auditor-General's Report, sir.
The CHAIR: Member for Ramsay, you have asked that question in relation to advice on a number of occasions. The minister can answer in whatever way he pleases.
The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: It appears so.
The CHAIR: Yes.
The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: It appears so. Let me move on to Part B, page 403, which refers to the Unique Student Identifier System (often known as USI). Recently, you announced that the government has signed up to the national partnership on the Skilling Australians Fund. There was reference to the USI in the Auditor-General's Report. Will all new apprenticeships and traineeships under the Skilling Australians Fund have a USI?
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: The Auditor-General has noted that DSD 'noted that not all participant students will require a USI as they can undertake individual training units without it'. I am happy to check, but I am not sure that anything has changed since then. We can check that and get back to you.
The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: What else is the department tracking, apart from the USI?
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: We are tracking employment outcomes. We still have a lot of work to do, but I was very pleased today to see that, for another month, we are steady on the trend figures for unemployment at 5.5 per cent, another downward trend in the seasonally adjusted figures. We know that they are not as reliable, but it is still good to see that figure fall. An extra 12,400 people are in work in South Australia now compared with the same period last year.
We track employment outcomes in the department, and we track industry requirements. This is new to the department: we actually go out there and talk to industry about what they need to grow in South Australia, what they need to take on more apprentices and trainees and whether there are deficiencies in the training system in South Australia—'Tell us what you need.' Just recently, there have been two examples. There is a diploma of advanced technology focusing on the digital skills needed in Industry 4.0, particularly in the defence space, where a lot of our economy will be growing in the future. We track where those new skills are needed and we act on that. Cybersecurity is another new traineeship we have developed. That is two in a month.
We track the NCVER figures. We compare what South Australia is doing with other states, and we compare what South Australia is doing with our own targets. We are very focused on getting outcomes. We are much more interested in the outcomes we achieve than the process of getting there. I think that for too long South Australians have complained about a previous government that spent all its time on processes and processing rather than on outcomes. We are focused on the outcomes; that is what we are doing.
We know that you cannot manage what you do not measure, so we are measuring what we are doing, and we are very pleased with how we are tracking. We have got off to a flying start. We are nine months in, and we have significantly changed the confidence of the business sector. I am getting anecdotal reports at the moment that training figures are up. Obviously, we will wait for figures to come in, particularly in crucial areas.
I was at an engineering firm at Port Adelaide just the other week. He placed an ad looking for a boilermaker, and there were 63 other ads on Seek looking for boilermakers. We have a skills shortage in South Australia, and we are addressing it. That is another way of measuring where the demand is: through those very practical measures coming from industry.
The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: How many people under the national partnership on Skilling Australians Fund with a USI are currently in the system?
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: The issue of the USI that the Auditor-General raises, that there is a requirement for students to register for a USI and obtain a qualification, has been in place since 2015. That was implemented by the previous government. It is speaking about the process; it is not actually talking about the numbers. I do not think your question is relevant to the commentary that has been provided by the Auditor-General.
The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: I disagree. Very clearly at the top of page 403 it says: 'Compliance audits could be improved to ensure the existence of accredited training participants.' While there is some commentary about improvements that are made, my question very clearly is in relation to what you are doing now because this has been raised by the Auditor-General in relation to the nine months you have been in government. As I asked, what else are you doing apart from tracking the USI? How many people in the national partnership with a USI are currently in the system? I think he has made it very clear that the compliance audits could be improved.
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: I have been advised that the Auditor-General is referring to the manual management of that system. It has been recommended that that be upgraded. I am advised that is what the department is doing.
The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: How frequently does the commonwealth government provide their contribution to the Skilling Australians Fund?
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: Can you identify where the Skilling South Australia fund is referred to in the Auditor-General's Report?
The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: It is very clear to me that the Auditor-General has talked about the Unique Student Identifier. It is a very important part of the audit process. He said it could be improved to ensure that there is existence of accredited training participants. I am very clearly asking how this then links in, which you waxed very lyrical about two questions ago, with how many people have signed up. You opened it up. How many people have this Unique Student Identifier? Therefore, it is very clearly linked to what he is talking about.
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: I raised that in response to your question about what we are doing. Obviously what we are doing is now. This report refers to the 2017-18 financial period and there is no reference to Skilling South Australia in this report.
The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: If I can continue on this topic, recently we have had reports about safety concerns with the Ai Group in Victoria creating allegedly unsafe work practices for their workers and apprentices. Minister, given that you have very ambitious targets of 9,000 apprenticeships in 2018-19, what data are you using to track from a safety perspective?
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: Can you point me to where I can see a reference to that in the Auditor-General's Report?
The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: My concern comes back to the Unique Student Identifier. I asked you what other data that attracted. My concern is about what safety units are covered and whether that is determined in the USI.
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: Can you refer me to where I can see that reference in the report.
The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: Part B, page 403, the title very clearly says, 'Compliance audits could be improved to ensure the existence of accredited training participants.' My concern not only concerns the number of people who are participating, given your focus on increasing the targets, but I raise the issue of safety, which obviously would come from the USI as well.
The CHAIR: Before I call the minister, the question is around accredited training participants and the compliance audit. A number of questions ago, the minister responded by saying that was a manual upgrade. It was referring to a manual upgrade, I think, so to my mind that has already been answered.
The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON: Manual upgrade or not, there would obviously be safety units in accredited training. My concern here, and the Auditor-General has raised it, is about compliance of audited training. The minister has an ambitious target to increase the number of apprenticeships and traineeships, and I am trying to understand. If you have not improved the Unique Student Identifier, you cannot tell me what other data is collected here. How do we know that we will not be here next year with the minister again talking about the compliance audits that need to be improved?
The Hon. D.G. PISONI: I have to put on the record that I have answered the member's question about the Auditor-General's reference to the Unique Student Identifier and the need for there to be improvements. I have explained that is being actioned now despite the fact, I understand, that it was pointed out by the Auditor-General on several occasions under the previous government but not acted upon. That question has been answered. The member's expansion on that question is not relevant to the Auditor-General's examination.
The CHAIR: Unfortunately, time has expired. I thank the minister and the member for Ramsay for their participation. We now proceed to the examination of the Auditor-General's 2017-18 report in relation to the Minister for Energy and Mining. I remind members that the committee is in normal session. Questions have to be asked by members on their feet, and all questions must be directly referenced to the Auditor-General's 2017-18 report. I welcome the minister, the member for West Torrens and the minister's advisers.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: I understand that this audit report goes over a period for the last financial year where the agency undertook a restructure. Could the minister give a brief outline of the new structure of the agency?
The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: Which—
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: I was just trying to actually ask for information. It is the Auditor-General's Report 5, Part A: Executive summary, page 43, Grants paid by DPC. Obviously the agency is no longer in DPC but is a new stand-alone agency. Can the minister give a breakdown of what the agency structure is now?
The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: Yes, shadow, I am very happy to do that in general terms. I am advised that there is not any particular specific, detailed Auditor-General type of information that is available in these reports on the topic.
In terms of the broad overall structure, as I am sure the shadow would know, this broad body of work has changed its name a few times: mineral resources and energy, we have it as energy and mining, and there have been a few others. This broad body of work—and the people in the structure who have done this very important work—has previously been in state development and PIRSA, and it has previously and most recently been in Primary Industries.
The Liberal government took a decision when in opposition that, if we were elected, this area of work was important enough to be its own stand-alone department and that the people were very capable to be in their own stand-alone department. They did not need to be part of another department or subordinate to another department in any way. The then leader of the opposition and me as the shadow discussed and agreed and, after the election, it was implemented.
As I expect people would know, we started to operate that way as quickly as practicable after the election. We did the technical changeover with effect on 1 July this year, so that is likely to be part of the Auditor-General's Report that we will be discussing in about a year's time. With regard to the structure of that previous division in our department, there have been minimal changes. There has been some evolution, but no significant change as part of the process to make it a stand-alone division.
I have found that the people with whom I have engaged from the bottom to the top of the organisation, but primarily the senior leaders who were all in this area of responsibility under the previous government and now under the current government, have all transitioned exceptionally well. I do not doubt for a second that they did the very best they could for the previous government, and I know that they are doing the very best they can for the current government.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: I was asking more about the organisational chart, but that was a nice little speech anyway. I reference the annual report, Part A: Executive summary, page 122, consultants. Given that the agency was for a large part in the Department of the Premier and Cabinet, there are no consultancies listed for the new agency. My question is: have any probity officers been employed, contracted or seconded to the agency since the reorganisation?
The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: I will give some facts with regard to consultants and contractors, and then I will come to the key question at the end. The department engages consultants and contractors in the ordinary course of business to carry out tasks that require specialist skills and knowledge not available within the entity. Contract details are regularly reported on by the department and are disclosed in the audited financial statements and the agency's annual report. In 2017-18, what we call now the department expended $2.7 million on consultants, a reduction of $3.2 million expended in the previous financial year. The department's expenditure on contractors in 2017-18 was $10.7 million, compared with $9.0 million in 2016-17.
With regard to probity officers, the probity officers were not specifically changed before the end of the financial year to the very best of my knowledge. I am happy to take that on notice and check it and come back, if necessary. However, the overall machinery of government changes I have no doubt were undertaken with complete and proper probity considerations. With regard to the technical change, which occurred on 1 July this year, no doubt that will be the subject of the next Auditor-General's Report.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: On the same reference, I was not casting any aspersions on the machinery of government changes or the need for probity officers. What I was simply asking was: in terms of the consultants hired by the agency from 18 March to 1 July, were any probity officers contracted within the DPC budget of consultants by agency for direct use within your agency?
The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: Member for West Torrens, we do not have a breakdown for that period from the election through to 30 June. But from time to time, as I am sure was the case under the previous government, probity officers were contracted in. All those engagements, I am advised, have been and are available on the website, so it would be possible to have a look at the website to see what was there from that election through to the end of financial year time. But we do not have a particular breakdown on that. I am advised that all those types of engagements have already been made publicly available.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: Again on the same reference, under 6.7, consultants, on page 122 of Part A: Executive summary, what is the process a minister undertakes to procure a probity officer?
The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: I am advised, shadow—and I am more than happy to try to help you—that that is really not a question that is relevant to this report. That is a topic that the Auditor-General would consider and certainly would have reported on, if the Auditor-General had any concerns in that regard. I would be quite confident that in the period from the election through to 30 June this year the system that was used would have been very similar to the system that was used before the election on 18 March. That is the advice I have, and I would be more than happy to—and I will—look into that to see if there is any more information that I can or should share with you.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: I am not quite sure what that means because the Auditor-General does not just report on things that he has concerns about, he just reports on functions and how money is allocated and makes sure that procurement processes are followed. The reason I ask this is that I would like to know if the probity officers who were in place when the government procured the use of the stand-by generators are still in place.
The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: Procured the use of them?
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: Procured them for the state.
The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: You mean fulfilled the contract that you entered into?
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: Yes. There was a procurement process that was undertaken to procure, I think, 276 megawatts of generation. There were probity officers contracted throughout that process. Are those same probity officers in place now, or has that contract concluded?
The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: I am not quite sure, but I will talk openly about this. As I understand it, your question was whether probity officers were engaged for the procurement process of the generators. The procurement process is something that was undertaken by the previous government. The previous government had lease, and lease options, and purchase options. The previous government took up the purchase offer, as we know. We said that we would honour that commitment. The previous government committed to buy them. We said, 'Okay, if that's what has happened, the current government will do that.' That purchase technically takes effect on 30 November.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: My question is: are the probity officers still engaged in that process?
The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: I am advised that the probity officers who were involved with this project through to procurement have not changed.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: Thank you.
The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: Hang on. Just in case it is part of your question—and maybe to save a bit of time—with regard to the current government's process of seeking expressions of interest from people who might like to lease the generators, we will have appropriate probity officers in place to oversee that process as well.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: Given that the minister has opened up about the sale process or the lease process of the generators, inviting further questions on it, what I will ask him now is this: he talked about the procurement of probity officers as a future event to occur rather than something that has occurred. Given the announcement was made, I think a few weeks ago, of the government's intention to lease the generators, have probity officers been put in place yet for that process, or is that yet to come?
The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: I am quite confident that will be the subject of the next Auditor-General's Report.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: Again, given that the minister, not the opposition, voluntarily brought up the procurement process and invited debate on it, I take it by his language that there are no probity officers in place for that, so the next obvious question to ask is: have any probity officers been involved in any discussions the minister has had with potential bidders, and has he declared with the Cabinet Office all those meetings and the probity officers who were present when he had discussions with AGL, Origin and any other retailer that may be looking at purchasing these generators?
The CHAIR: Before I call the minister, bearing in mind, member for West Torrens—
The Hon. A. Koutsantonis interjecting:
The CHAIR: Yes, I understand the minister invited questions, but the reality is your question refers now to 2018-19, as I would understand it, rather than the report—
The Hon. A. Koutsantonis interjecting:
The CHAIR: Hear me out—we are examining today.
The Hon. A. Koutsantonis interjecting:
The CHAIR: I am just pointing out, member for West Torrens, that what we are examining today is the 2017-18 report. Minister, your call.
The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: I am comfortable for the shadow to ask his questions.
The Hon. A. Koutsantonis: Thank you.
The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: The reality is that that will be the subject of next year's Auditor-General's Report, and it is also a question that I have been asked in question time in this place and that I have answered in question time in this place.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: Given the minister is happy to answer these questions—
The Hon. D.C. van Holst Pellekaan: I said happy for you to ask.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: Okay, given that you are happy for me to ask these questions, which energy retailers did the minister speak with before he made his public announcement of the government's intention to lease the generators?
The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: My answer is exactly the same as I have given in question time previously.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: I do not know why there is reticence. If the minister has done nothing wrong, I am sure there will be no problem in letting us know who he spoke with. I think it would be important if, for example, AGL were given advanced notice of generators to be leased, their competitors, especially given that all of their competitors are publicly listed companies—
The CHAIR: Can I bring the member for West Torrens back to the 2017-18 report, please.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: Sir, I am only following the example of the minister in talking about future years.
The CHAIR: Yes, he invited questions, but it could be that at some point the Chair might rule the question out of order if it is not specifically referring to this report—2017-18, please.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: That is a very interesting analysis you just gave me. When the minister was talking about the 2018-19 financial year, I did not hear you interrupt him to say we should be talking about the previous year, but thank you very much for your guidance.
The CHAIR: I am reminding—
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: Both of us?
The CHAIR: —everybody here.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: The wisdom of Solomon. Thank you very much, sir.
The CHAIR: My pleasure. Member for West Torrens, you have the call.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: If we can get back to the core issue here, the minister will not tell us whether or not he has spoken to energy retailers in advance regarding that procurement. How has he notified the market that the government intends to lease the generators? Is that through a public call? Has the government engaged a contractor to handle the sale, or is that being done internally by the agency or another arm of government?
The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: Two things, Chair: (1) I would caution the shadow minister on his assumptions, and (2) the answer to that question is one that we can canvass in 12 months' time.
The CHAIR: Member for West Torrens, you have the call.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: Thank you very much, Mr Chair. If I can again turn to PACE Gas, which I think is on page 43.
The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: Sorry, which report?
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: Part A: Executive summary, page 43. Grants and subsidies paid by Department of the Premier and Cabinet increased by $46.3 million. There was quite a commitment to gas exploration—a very impressive commitment—and there was a series of programs. Can the minister explain why those programs are not continuing?
The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: The unfortunate reality is that the previous government had no PACE Gas money in the budget for the current financial year. The shadow minister's question relates to an increase from the last financial year over the financial year before that. The answer to that is about the timing of the payments.
The other part of his question is why, from the last financial year to this financial year, given that there is no harm in touching on that subject in this financial year. It is because the previous government had no money in their budget. The previous government actually stopped PACE Gas grants in the current financial year. That explains the change between the current financial year and the last one, and the change between the last one and the one before that.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: Again, I thank the minister for allowing debate on these matters. That is an interesting analysis: because the new Treasurer did not announce any new funding for PACE Gas, that is somehow the fault of the previous government. I think that is an interesting analogy and one that I will be repeating to the industry—that somehow it is my fault there is no new money for PACE, not the fault of the current minister. Has the minister received any analysis, other than from the Auditor-General, about the success or otherwise of the program, from his agency?
The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: I can talk about the program, but the reality is that the question in the Auditor-General's Report examination was: has the minister sought any advice or got any information other than what is in the Auditor-General's Report? It means it is a bit of a silly question.
The Hon. A. Koutsantonis: That's not actually what I said. I will ask you again.
The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: The shadow can repeat the question then.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: Has the minister received any advice from his agency about the success or otherwise of the PACE Gas program; that is, did it actually increase gas flows to South Australia? Did it actually encourage investment? Did it actually create more contracting jobs? Did it actually assist South Australian producers in getting more gas out of the ground and into the state? Has the state entered into any contracts with that PACE Gas?
The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: And just one clarification: the minister, the second time he asked the question, did not—
The Hon. A. Koutsantonis: I'm not the minister; I'm the shadow minister.
The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: The shadow minister did—
The Hon. A. Koutsantonis: I know you're confused by this, but you actually won.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for West Torrens, order!
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Member for West Torrens and member for Hammond, order!
An honourable member interjecting:
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Yes, we only have eight minutes left. Minister, you have the call and you are able to answer that question however you see fit.
The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: The second time the shadow minister asked the question he left out the words 'other than from the Auditor-General', which were words that were in his first question. Having clarified that for the chamber, I can certainly share some information with regard to the PACE Gas program.
The Plan to Accelerate Exploration, or PACE Gas, was introduced to bring forward investment in projects that could deliver gas to local users. Two grant rounds, worth $47.78 million, have been awarded to a range of Cooper and Otway basin projects to build a strong portfolio. Grant recipients are targeting 217 petajoules of new supply, with an upside potential to unlock 1,950 petajoules. Round 1 grants aim to deliver additional gas to market by the end of 2019, while round 2 grants are due to deliver by the end of 2020.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: Can the government inform the house how much of that gas was contracted within South Australia?
The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: No, that is not advice or detail I can get for you at the moment, but I am happy to take that on notice.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: It was my understanding that, as part of the PACE Gas grant program, gas that was extracted under this program would have to be contracted or offered for sale in South Australia first, and that would be monitored by the agency. I am just wondering: did the minister give an assurance to go and have a look and come back, or was that something where records were not kept?
The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: I try to remain as friendly as possible. The answer was that that is not advice or detail that I have here with me, but I am happy to take the question on notice.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: On page 284 in Part B of Report 5 of 2018, the Auditor gives us two paragraphs. He makes an adverse finding about Treasurer's Instruction 15, Grant Funding, and he claims that it 'increases the risk the grant agreement will not establish an appropriate level of accountability on the entities that receive grant funding'. Has the minister written to the Auditor-General to clarify the inadequacies within the deeds that were signed by those recipients of the grant funding?
The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: Shadow, the process really has not changed. The department has engaged, in writing, with the Auditor-General to look into those matters. What I can share with you is that administration of the electricity plan gas incentives for 2017, or PACE Gas, is the responsibility of the resources and energy group, which transferred to the new Department for Energy and Mining on 1 July 2018. As part of the recent machinery of government changes, Treasurer's Instruction 15, Grant Funding, provides the requirement to establish appropriate accountability on the part of non-South Australian government entities that receive a grant from an administrative unit.
The audit review of the PACE Gas grant program found areas where the grant funding agreements did not address the requirements of Treasurer's Instruction 15 (TI 15), particularly around the requirements on financial reporting and advice of changes to the nature and/or scope of the activities conducted by entities in receipt of grant funds. In response, the Department for Energy and Mining outlined a detailed listing of all monitoring and accountability controls contained in the PACE Gas agreements that aligned to all the areas of Treasurer's Instruction 15 the Auditor-General's office highlighted as not being addressed in the PACE Gas agreements.
The PACE Gas agreements were prepared by the Crown Solicitor's Office and the CSO has been alerted to the Auditor-General's office's concerns regarding compliance with TI 15. Whilst the agreement does not contain restatements of some of the requirements of TI 15 there are, however, clear provisions within the agreement that enable the minister to require the grantee to provide information at the minister's request, including the provision of financial information in accordance with TI 15. In addition, the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act 2000 and the associated regulations apply to all the PACE Gas grant funding recipients and include specific requirements of notifications of operations and activities and changes to these activities.
There is also the statutory requirement for annual reports, both compliance-focused reports and financial reports, to be provided by all operators. Further, the Department for Energy and Mining has advised that each of the PACE Gas grant recipients are ASX listed entities and obliged by law and ASX listing rules to prepare and publicise financial statements on a half-yearly and annual basis.
The Department for Energy and Mining has formed the view that the finding raised by the Office of the Auditor-General is of low risk and that there are sufficient compensating controls and accountability mechanisms in place to minimise any exposure intended to be managed, as outlined by TI 15. While I am very happy to share that information and put it on the record, I am sure that the former minister and the former treasurer would have known every little bit of that.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: I refer the minister to page 285 of Part B: Agency audits, annual report of the Auditor-General on the Renewable Technology Fund. There are a number of details there about managing conflicts of interest. First, can the minister give the parliament a response to the Auditor's claims about there being sufficient processes put in place to manage conflicts and, secondly, were there any surplus funds that were returned to Treasury from the Renewable Technology Fund and do any surplus funds remain with the agency?
The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: I will answer the first part while I get some advice on the second part. While there was ongoing verbal disclosure to the probity adviser and affected parties excluded themselves from relevant parts of meetings to manage potential conflicts diligently, in future the Department for Energy and Mining will ensure that appropriate documentation of such actions is made for future projects and programs through meeting minutes. The gist of that is that everything was done properly and that it seems that perhaps the documentation needs to be done slightly differently.
With regard to the retention or handing back of money from the RTF, the advice I have is exactly what I thought, but I wanted to be sure: all the RTF money is fully committed, so none of it was retained and none of it was handed back.
The CHAIR: Time has expired. I thank the minister, the member for West Torrens and also the minister's advisers.
Progress reported; committee to sit again.