1.1        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

1.2        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:

  1. Examine each annual report referred to it and report to the Senate whether the report is apparently satisfactory.
  2. 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.
  3. Investigate and report to the Senate on any lateness in the presentation of annual reports.
  4. In considering an annual report, take into account any relevant remarks about the report made in debate in the Senate.
  5. If the committee so determines, consider annual reports of departments and budget-related agencies in conjunction with examination of estimates.
  6. 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.
  7. Draw to the attention of the Senate any significant matters relating to the operations and performance of the bodies furnishing the annual reports.
  8. 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.[1]

Role of annual reports

1.3        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

1.4        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:

Statutory authorities/bodies
Commonwealth companies under the CAC Act

1.5        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

1.6        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:

Method of assessment

1.7        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.

1.8        The requirements are set down in the following instruments:

Timeliness in tabling annual reports

1.9        Standing Order 25(20)(c) requires the committee to report to the Senate on the late presentation of annual reports.

1.10      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 report.[2] 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.[3]

1.11      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.

General comments on reports

1.12      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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