This is the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee's (the
committee) second report on annual reports for 2013. It provides an overview of
the committee's examination of annual reports for the 2011–12 financial year.
Terms of reference
This report was prepared pursuant to Standing Order 25(20) relating to
the consideration of annual reports by committees. The Standing Order states:
Annual reports of departments and agencies shall stand
referred to the committees in accordance with an allocation of departments and
agencies in a resolution of the Senate. Each committee shall:
- Examine each annual report referred to it and report
to the Senate whether the report is apparently satisfactory.
- Consider in more detail, and report to the Senate on,
each annual report which is not apparently satisfactory, and on the other
annual reports which it selects for more detailed consideration.
- Investigate and report to the Senate on any lateness
in the presentation of annual reports.
- In considering an annual report, take into account
any relevant remarks about the report made in debate in the Senate.
- If the committee so determines, consider annual
reports of departments and budget-related agencies in conjunction with examination
- Report on annual reports tabled by 31 October each
year by the tenth sitting day of the following year, and on annual reports
tabled by 30 April each year by the tenth sitting day after 30 June
of that year.
- Draw to the attention of the Senate any significant
matters relating to the operations and performance of the bodies furnishing the
- Report to the Senate each year whether there are any
bodies which do not present annual reports to the Senate and which should
present such reports.
Role of annual reports
Annual reports place a great deal of information about government
departments and agencies on the public record. Accordingly, the tabling of
annual reports is an important element of accountability to Parliament,
assisting in the effective examination of the performance of departments and
agencies, and the administration of government programs.
Annual reports referred
In accordance with Senate Standing Order 25(20)(f) this report examines
those annual reports tabled between 1 November 2012 and 30 April 2013. The
committee examined the following reports:
Safe Work Australia – Report for 2011–12
Fair Work Building and Construction – Report for 2011–12
Commonwealth companies under the CAC Act
Coal Mining Industry (Long Service Leave Funding) Corporation –
Report for 2011–12
The tabling dates of these reports are listed at Appendix 2. Details of
all annual reports referred to the committee are set out at Appendix 1.
Reports not examined
The committee is not obliged to report on Acts, statements of corporate
intent, surveys, corporate plans or errata. The following documents were
referred to the committee but not examined:
- Schools Assistance Act 2008—Report on financial assistance
granted to each state in respect of 2010
- Fair Work Act 2009—Fair Work Australia—General Manager's
reports for the period 2009–12:
Enterprise agreement-making in Australia under the Fair Work Act 2009
(Cth), dated November 2012;
- Extent to which individual flexibility arrangements are agreed to and
the content of those arrangements, dated November 2012;
- Operation of the first three years of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)
unfair dismissal system, dated December 2012; and
- Operation of the provisions of the National Employment Standards
relating to requests for flexible working arrangements and extensions of unpaid
parental leave, dated November 2012.
Method of assessment
Senate Standing Orders require the committee to examine the annual
reports referred to it to determine whether they are timely and ‘apparently
satisfactory’. In making this assessment, the committee considers whether the
reports comply with the relevant requirements for the preparation of annual
reports of departments and authorities.
The requirements are set down in the following instruments:
for portfolio departments: the Public Service Act 1999, sub
sections 63(2) and 70(2), and the Requirements for Departmental Annual
Report, for Departments, Executive Agencies and FMA Act Bodies, Department
of Prime Minister and Cabinet, revised June 2013;
for Commonwealth authorities and companies: the Commonwealth
Authorities and Companies Act 1997, in particular sections 9, 36
and 48, the Commonwealth Companies (Annual Reporting) Orders 2011, and
the Corporations Act 2001; and
for non-statutory bodies: the guidelines are contained in the
Government response to the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Public
Administration Report on Non-Statutory bodies, Senate Hansard,
8 December 1987, pp 2643–45.
Timeliness in tabling annual reports
Standing Order 25(20)(c) requires the committee to report to the Senate
on the late presentation of annual reports.
Annual reports must be tabled in Parliament by 31 October each year,
except where an agency's own legislation specifies a timeframe for its annual
Those agencies reporting under the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies
Act 1997 are required to provide their annual reports to the minister by
the 15th day of the fourth month after the end of the financial year. Where the
financial year ends on 30 June, this deadline translates to 15 October.
The committee recognises that some agencies are required to comply with
other timeframes stipulated in their enabling legislation, such as 'as soon as
practicable after 30 June'. Nonetheless, the committee reminds all agencies
that the government considers it best practice for annual reports to be tabled
by 31 October each year.
comments on reports
The committee has found, under the terms of standing order 25(20), that
the reports described here are apparently satisfactory except for timeliness in
some cases. The committee notes that the Safe Work Australia and Coal Mining
Industry (Long Service Leave Funding) Corporation reports were not submitted in
a timely manner.
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