The Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport 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
Under Senate Standing Order 25(20), annual reports of departments and
agencies shall stand referred to the legislation committees in accordance with
an allocation of departments and agencies in a resolution of the Senate. Each
- Examine each annual report
referred to it and report to the Senate whether the report is apparently
- Consider in more detail, and
report to the Senate on, each annual report which is not apparently
satisfactory, and on other annual reports which it selects for more detailed
- 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 of estimates.
- 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 annual reports.
- 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.
Purpose of annual reports
The tabling and scrutiny of annual reports by Senate committees, under
Standing Order 25(20), is an important element in the process of the
government's accountability to Parliament. The information provided in annual
reports is placed on the public record and assists Parliament in its
examination of the performance of departments and agencies and the
administration of government programs.
Reports referred to the committee
In accordance with 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:
Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Portfolio
Australian Fisheries Management Authority—Report for 2011–12;
Australian Livestock Export Corporation Limited (LiveCorp) —Report
Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Management Authority—Report
Cotton Research and Development Corporation—Report for 2011–12;
Dairy Australia Limited—Report for 2011–12;
Fisheries Research and Development Corporation—Report for
Grain Research and Development Corporation—Report for 2011–12;
Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation—Report for
Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation—Report for
Sugar Research and Development Corporation—Report for 2011–12;
Wheat Exports Australia—Report for 2011–12.
A complete list of reports referred to the committee during the period
1 November 2012 to 30 April 2013 (including those not
examined) appears 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 seven documents were
referred to the committee but have not been examined:
- Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997—Live-stock
mortalities during exports by sea—Report for the reporting period 1 July to
31 December 2012;
- Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997—Report to
Parliament in relation to the Funding Agreement 2010–14 with the Australian
Livestock Export Corporation (LiveCorp);
- Dairy Produce Act 1986—Report to Parliament in relation to
the Deed of Agreement 2007–13 with Dairy Australia Limited;
- Local Government (Financial Assistance) Act 1995—Report
for 2009–10 Local Government National Report;
- Sydney Airport Demand Management Act 1997—Quarterly report
on the maximum movement limit for Sydney Airport for the period 1 July to
30 September 2012;
- Sydney Airport Demand Management Act 1997—Quarterly report
on the maximum movement limit for Sydney Airport for the period 1 October to
31 December 2012; and
- Torres Strait Fisheries Act 1984—Torres Strait Protected
Zone Joint Authority—Report for 2011–12.
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 forming its assessment, the committee considers whether the
reports comply with the relevant legislation and guidelines for the preparation
of annual reports:
for departments of state and executive agencies these are: the Public
Service Act 1999, subsections 63(2) and 70(2), and the Requirements for
Annual Reports for Departments, Executive Agencies and FMA Act Bodies (Requirements
for Annual Reports), Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
(PM&C), approved by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit and
updated by PM&C on 28 June 2012;
for Commonwealth authorities and companies: the Commonwealth Authorities
and Companies Act 1997 (the CAC Act), sections 9, 36 and 48, the Commonwealth
Authorities (Annual Reporting) Orders 2011, the Commonwealth Companies (Annual
Reporting) Orders 2011 (CAC Orders) and the requirements of the Corporations
Act 2001; and
for non-statutory bodies: the requirements are contained in the
Government response to the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance
and Government Operations 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 CAC Act 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
Where an agency's own legislation provides a timeframe for its annual
report, an alternative timeframe applies. However, the committee reminds such
bodies that it is the Government's policy that all annual reports should be
tabled in Parliament by 31 October. 
The committee notes that all Commonwealth authorities' annual reports
examined in this report were not sent to the Minister by the 15 October.
Although not subject to the timeframes in the CAC Act or Financial
Management and Accountability Act 1997 (FMA Act), the committee notes a
significant delay in the tabling of the Torres Strait Protected Zone Joint
Authority (TSPZJA) Annual Report 2009–10, which was tabled in the
Senate on 5 February 2013. The committee encourages the TSPZJA to
produce its annual report in a more timely manner.
Comments on reports
The committee considers that the Cotton Research and Development
Corporation's Annual Report 2011–12 and the Rural Industries Research
and Development Corporation Annual Report 2011–12 have fulfilled the
reporting requirements to a high standard.
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