Chapter 1

Chapter 1

Introduction

1.1        The Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee (the committee) is responsible for examining the annual reports of the parliamentary departments[1] and the departments and agencies of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Portfolio and the Finance and Deregulation Portfolio.[2]

1.2        This is the second report on annual reports for 2013 and provides an overview of the annual reports for the 2011–12 financial year presented to the Parliament between 1 November 2012 and 30 April 2013. Copies of this and other committee reports can be obtained from the Senate Table Office, the committee secretariat or online at the committee's web page.

Terms of reference

1.3        Under Senate Standing Order 25(20) the annual reports of certain departments and agencies stand referred to committees for examination and assessment. The standing order states that each committee is required to:

  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; and
  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.

Annual reports presented

1.4        The following annual reports of the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation (CSC) were not examined by the committee:

1.5        Although CSC is an agency within the Finance and Deregulation Portfolio, these reports cover the military superannuation schemes[5] and, in accordance with the legislation administered by the Minister for Defence under the Administrative Arrangements Order, were referred to the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee for examination and report.[6]

1.6        The committee is not obliged to examine reports on the operation of Acts, statements of corporate intent, surveys, policy papers, budget documents, corporate plans or errata. Five documents in these categories were referred to the committee but not examined in this report (see Appendix 1).

Non–reporting bodies

1.7        Standing Order 25(20)(h) requires that the committee inquire into, and report on, any bodies which do not present annual reports to the Senate but should present such reports. On this occasion, the committee makes no recommendation for any organisations not presenting an annual report to do so.

Other issues

Government response

1.8        The Government provided a response to the committee's Report on Annual Reports (No. 1 of 2012) on 16 May 2013. The Government agreed with the committee's recommendation that a list of all departments and agencies required to report on social inclusion outcomes should be published on the Australian Government social inclusion website. The committee further notes, however, that following the most recent changes to the Administration Arrangements Order, the Social Inclusion Unit was disbanded and the website was closed from 14 October 2013.[7] The committee will monitor this development in relation to the reporting requirement.

Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013

1.9         The committee notes that the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) received Royal Assent on 29 June 2013. The PGPA Act is expected to replace the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 (FMA Act) and the CAC Act from 1 July 2014.[8] Section 46 of the PGPA Act deals with the annual reporting requirements for Commonwealth entities.

1.10      The committee considers there is a need for clarity with regard to section 46 of the PGPA Act concerning the annual report tabling deadline. This section provides for a date that the annual report must be given to the responsible minister but fails to specify a date for the presentation of annual reports of Commonwealth entities to the Parliament.

1.11      The committee notes that this may be addressed in the forthcoming regulations and/or guidelines which will be provided to the Joint Committee on Public Accounts and Audit (JCPAA) for review. The committee will write to the JCPAA and draw this matter to its attention to form part of its review and will continue to monitor the development of annual reporting requirements.

Senator Cory Bernardi
Chair

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