ANNUAL REPORTS OF STATUTORY AUTHORITIES
The annual reports for the financial year 2011–12 of the following
statutory authorities in the Attorney-General's portfolio were referred to the
committee for examination and report:
Copyright Society Limited (Screenrights);
Court of Australia; and
Native Title Tribunal.
The committee did not receive any annual reports from statutory
authorities in the Immigration portfolio during the period covered by this
As in previous reports of the committee, it has decided to select a
number of annual reports for closer examination. On this occasion, the reports
of the following agencies are examined:
Copyright Society Limited (Screenrights); and
Court of Australia.
Audio-Visual Copyright Society Limited
Audio-Visual Copyright Society Limited, which trades as Screenrights, is
an Australian domiciled company. The company is a non-profit entity and its
principal activities include: the exercise of its right as a collecting society
under Part VA, Part VC and Part VB (in relation to audio-visual items) of
the Copyright Act 1968 (Copyright Act); and to collect money from educational institutions for
distribution to relevant copyright owners.
Screenrights' annual report was tabled in both the Senate and the House of
Representatives on 5 February 2013.
The company is limited by guarantee and, pursuant to section 34(2) of
the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 (CAC Act), is a wholly-owned
Commonwealth company. The guarantee 'in the event of the winding up of the company
is $10 for each member'.
As at 30 June 2012, the company's total liability was $34 640 from 3464
This is an increase compared with its liability of $33 210 from 3321 members in
The annual report of Screenrights needs to comply with ministerial
orders made under section 48 of the CAC Act, which are set out in the Commonwealth
Companies (Annual Reporting) Orders 2011. The content of annual reports of
Commonwealth companies is based on the reporting requirements under the Corporations
Act 2001, in accordance with section 36 of the CAC Act. The reporting
provisions for Screenrights are contained in sections 135R, 135ZZD, 135ZZV and
183D of the Copyright Act.
Certain issues identified by this committee in 2012
persist in the Screenrights Annual Report 2011–12. These include the need for a
letter of transmittal, a contents page, a compliance index and a glossary index.
The inclusion of such information would increase the accessibility of
information, as well as assist the committee in its examination of the report. Similarly
overlooked in the 2011–12 annual report are a clear organisational
structure, information on the enabling legislation under which Screenrights operates,
and the reporting requirements with which the annual report complies. The
inclusion of accompanying headings relating to information presented in
colourful graphs would also enhance the readability of the annual report.
Nonetheless, the committee is pleased to see that the size of the 2011–12
annual report conforms to the usual annual report size dimension of B5; this is
a welcome departure from the previous "brochure-like" format of the
2010–11 annual report.
The above issues notwithstanding, the report contains useful background
information about the role and functions of Screenrights, its objectives, board
members and company membership. The layout and format of its financial
statements and 'Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements' continue to be clearly
set out and easy to follow.
During 2011–12, Screenrights reported a record $40.7 million in license
revenue and other income for the film and television industries.
Expenditure in relation to total collections was 15.3% during 2011–12 and
Screenrights stated that its objective for the upcoming financial year was to
maintain this ratio below 16.0%.
The company distributed more than $32.2 million to rights holders in film and
Highlights for Screenrights during 2011–12 included the launch of a new
online registration system (MyScreenrights) allowing members to register
programs and track their payment history, a trial of the EnhanceTV Direct
streaming service for educators, and contributions to current reviews and
debates in relation to copyright laws.
MyScreenrights provides members with greater access to information about their
business and reduces Screenrights' administrative costs.
The EnhanceTV Direct pilot streaming service provides access to a wide range of
content for both educators and students and benefits members by increasing the
longevity of their content and the returns for them.
Screenrights' participation in the Copyright Tribunal's determination on a rate
for the retransmission of the nine multi-channels by pay television operators
reflects the company's active role in engaging with important copyright cases
and ensuring its services meet the needs of rights holders and users.
The financial information presented in the annual report relates to
Screenrights and not the consolidated entity that includes the wholly-owned
subsidiary EnhanceTV Direct Pty Ltd.
The consolidated entity reported a net operating loss after income tax of $360
632, an increase from $229 690 in the preceding year.
The loss equals the amount expended by the company on legal costs associated
with the legal fees which were funded from the reserve fund and retained
During the 2011–12 period, the directors reported no significant changes in the
state of affairs of the company or consolidated entity.
The committee considers the annual report of Screenrights to be
'apparently satisfactory', but expresses some concern about the accessibility
of certain information and the omission of some required information.
High Court of Australia
The High Court of Australia's (the High Court) annual report for 2011–12
is presented in accordance with section 47 of the High
Court of Australia Act 1979. The High Court is not a prescribed
agency under the Financial Management and
Accountability Act 1997, due to its status under its enabling
legislation. Therefore, the Requirements
for Annual Reports do not apply to the High Court's annual report.
Nonetheless, section 3(4) of the Requirements for Annual Reports provides:
In the case of an agency (including an executive agency
established under section 65 of the Public Service Act 1999) that is
neither prescribed under the FMA Act nor comes within the CAC Act, these
Requirements may be used to the extent that they are consistent with any
reporting requirements contained in the agency's own legislation (if any).
The annual report of the High Court of Australia was tabled in the House
of Representatives on 26 November 2012 and in the Senate on 27 November 2012,
and complies with the High Court's own reporting requirements.
For the reporting period 2011–12, the High Court reported a larger deficit
($7.099 million) than the previous financial year ($4.822 million).
In 2011–12, the court received $17.058 million in income, including revenue
from appropriations. The High Court reported $24.158 million in operating
expenses and it received an additional $1.5 million to its base funding to meet
its operational costs and to maintain services. It also received an equity
injection totalling $4.14 million for the purchase of
A major reason for the increased deficit can be attributed to two factors: the
inclusion in the court's operating expenses of depreciation of non-financial
assets (to the value of $4.413 million), for which the court does not receive
appropriation funding; and a 'revaluation decrement' of its library holdings
(totalling $3.357 million).
However, the court reported an underlying surplus of $0.143 million following
exclusions of non-cash and unfunded items, and the above depreciation and
In relation to maintenance and restoration works on the building and its
precinct, restoration work on the cascade waterfall was completed in 2011–12 and
work is underway to rectify the court building forecourt's interface with the
National Portrait Gallery.
Approval for work on the western part of the court building forecourt to meet
safety and structural concerns was obtained from the House of Representatives
and the Senate.
During 2011–12, 45 000 people visited the High Court and the court
hosted guided tours for and gave presentations to 30 000 students.
The significant enhancement of the court's website also increased the public's
accessibility to a wide range of information concerning the court's activities;
this improved facility has been well‑received by a variety of
The court reported a slight increase in the number of cases filed for
the 2011–12 reporting period (728 cases) from 2010–11 (715 cases).
The proportion of special leave applications filed by self-represented
litigants also increased to 41% in 2011–12 from 34% in 2010–11. The majority of
cases (51%) were filed in the Sydney registry office, followed by the offices
in Melbourne (31%) and Canberra (18%). The Melbourne and Canberra offices
processed cases filed in other interstate cities as well as those filed in
these respective cities.
The committee again notes that an issue commented on previously has resurfaced
in the High Court's 2011–12 report. In the court's last annual report, the
committee made the observation that the court's outcome—to interpret and uphold
the Australian Constitution and perform the functions of the ultimate appellate
court in Australia—was not actually made clear from the outset but was
identified near the end of the report in the 'Notes to and forming part of the
Financial Statements for the High Court of Australia'.
This was also the case in the 2011–12 annual report.
Although the Requirements for Annual Reports do not apply to the High
Court, the committee wishes to reiterate the importance of performance
reporting in annual reports. This provides the relevant agency with an
accountability framework as well as a monitoring mechanism of activities and
practices. As stated in the Requirements for Annual Reports:
The "clear read" between PB Statements and annual
reports is an essential part of the accountability system that compares
budgeted targets and figures to those actually achieved, and places a strong
emphasis on compatibility between the two documents regarding budget and
Aside from the concern raised above, the court's annual report provides
a clear and concise overview of the court's activities over the reporting
period. The layout, in terms of the annual report's headings, chapters,
statistical information relating to the court's workload, funding arrangements,
visitor programs and building maintenance, are clearly set out and easy to
follow. Statistical information in the annual report is also presented in both
graphical and tabulated formats where appropriate to enhance the accessibility
of the information.
The committee considers the annual report of the High Court to be
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