ANNUAL REPORTS OF STATUTORY AUTHORITIES
The reports of the following statutory authorities for the financial
year 2009-10 were referred to the committee for examination and report.
- Audio-Visual Copyright Society Limited (Screenrights)
- Australian Crime Commission
- Australian Customs and Border Protection Service
- Australian Human Rights Commission
- Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions
- Commonwealth Ombudsman
- Copyright Agency Limited
- Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia
Immigration and Citizenship Portfolio
- Migration Review Tribunal and Refugee Review Tribunal
As in previous reports of the committee, it has decided to select a
small number of annual reports for closer examination. On this occasion, the
reports of the following agencies will be examined:
- Australian Customs and Border Protection Service;
- Australian Human Rights Commission;
- Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia; and
- Migration Review Tribunal and Refugee Review Tribunal.
The committee has determined to consider, but not report on, the annual
report of the Australian Crime Commission, as the Parliamentary Joint Committee
on Law Enforcement has specific responsibility for overseeing this agency.
The annual report of the Commonwealth Ombudsman also stands referred to
the Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee and, as this
body sits within the Prime Minister and Cabinet Portfolio, the committee has
also determined to consider, but not to report on, this annual report.
Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (Customs)
The annual report of Customs was tabled in the Senate on 16 November
2010 and in the House of Representatives on 28 October 2010. The Minister
received the report on 7 October 2010 and satisfied the legislative requirement
of presenting the report in each House of Parliament within 15 sitting days of
The report includes a list of requirements,
now mandatory under the Requirements for Annual Reports, which assisted the
committee in its examination of the report. The report closely adheres to the
Customs has again presented an impressive report which provides the
Parliament with a useful and detailed description of performance and achievements
for the year under review. Performance information was presented for the five programs
which contribute to the agency outcome, and also against each of the six border
risks which the agency manages: terrorism; irregular movement of people;
biosecurity; prohibited, restricted or regulated goods; unlawful activity in Australia's
maritime zone; and revenue.
In his review, the Chief Executive Officer highlighted a number of
achievements for 2009-10, including the delivery of an effective maritime
security program that successfully deterred illegal foreign fishing in
Australia's northern waters and maintained an effective on-water interception
response to maritime people smuggling. Other achievements included the
prevention of an extensive range of prohibited, restricted or regulated goods
entering Australia; the facilitation of travel by processing of over 26 million
international passengers with an average of 97.9% of inwards passengers
processed within 30 minutes of joining the queue; and the facilitation of trade
by processing air and sea cargo in internationally competitive release times.
Following the examination of last year's annual report, which
highlighted the development of the risk-based approach to cargo intervention,
the committee was interested in the results of its implementation.
This year's report outlined the implementation of the Cargo Intervention
Strategy which resulted in a move from mass screening to an intelligence-led,
risk-based approach to intervention. It was explained that under the refined
system all air and sea cargo will continue to be risk-assessed electronically.
Cargo identified as high-risk will be subject to physical examination.
The report noted:
Despite considerably reduced intervention across all streams,
we maintained a comparable detection rate against 2008-09 detections, although
there was a decline in the overall weight of drugs detected in sea cargo during
The committee notes the financial performance of Customs this year
included an operating surplus of $4.5 million. This compares to an operating
deficit of $11.8 million for 2008-09.
The committee commends Customs for the high standard of design and
presentation of this year's report. Particular features which the committee
notes, include clear layout and overall design, and the use of tables and
graphs to assist in presenting information. The committee considers the annual
report of Customs for 2009-10 to be 'apparently satisfactory'.
Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
The annual report of the AHRC for 2009-10 was tabled in the House of
Representatives on 28 October 2010 and in the Senate on 16 November 2010. The
report was tabled promptly after receipt by the Minister on 26 October 2010.
Early in the report, ten key achievements for the year are listed and
summarised. These include the launch of the 2009 Social Justice Report,
the Human rights consultation and framework, assisting in the creation of the
National Congress of Australia's First Peoples, and the launch of the Gender
Equality Blueprint 2010.
The committee was once again disappointed to note that, although
performance information was provided, it was not always evaluated against key
performance indicators as presented in the Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS) 2009-10
for the agency. For example, performance information in relation to website
usage and distribution of publications indicated that targets were exceeded in
both areas. However, the report does not note the results as compared to the
The report incorrectly refers the reader to Appendix 1 for further information.
The correct appendix is Appendix 2, and provides a breakdown of the website
usage, but no reference to performance targets.
Another key performance indicator in the PBS for 2009-10 relates to the
customer/stakeholder survey to rate the effectiveness of major educational and
promotional activity, with an 80% target rate as effective. The results of this
survey could not be located in the report.
Conversely, performance information in relation to complaints handling
was well set out, with results presented against performance standards. The
report notes that assisting in the resolution of complaints about discrimination
and breaches of human rights is a core function of the agency. All performance
targets in relation to complaints handling were exceeded for 2009-10.
The report also includes detailed breakdown of statistics on the different
categories of complaints received, which provides useful background.
The Commission's financial statements indicated that the agency again
ran at an operating deficit of $614,000.
The committee could not locate any discussion on financial performance for the
year under review within the body of the report.
The report generally follows the Requirements for Annual Reports.
However, the committee was disappointed to note again this year that a list of requirements
with an index of page references was not included. The committee has suggested
previously, when it was not a mandatory item, the inclusion of a compliance
index as an accountability device and to assist in examination of the report.
It is now a mandatory item under the Requirements for Annual Reports issued in
June 2010, which were applicable to this annual report of the AHRC. The Requirements
The List of Requirements must be included as an appendix to
the annual report. If an item specified in the checklist is not applicable to
an agency, it should be reported as not applicable rather than omitted from the
list. Agencies should include a column indicating the location of the
information in the annual report.
The committee considers the AHRC annual report 2009-10 to be 'apparently
satisfactory', but does express concern about its overall quality and accuracy.
The committee hopes to see relevant omissions corrected in the AHRC's next
Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia (ITSA)
While the annual report of ITSA for 2009-10 was not tabled in the Senate
until 16 November 2010, the committee notes that it was tabled in the
House of Representatives on 28 October 2010. The report was submitted to, and
received by, the Minister on 12 October 2010.
The committee was pleased to note that, in examining the annual report
against the list of requirements under the Requirements for Annual Reports, all
mandatory items were included in the report and a number of suggested items
were also included.
The report includes an index to the 'list of requirements'
which referenced page numbers in the report. However, the index contains incorrect
page number references for nearly all the items listed and appears to be a copy
of the index from last year's annual report. The committee considers this to be
an unfortunate error, in addition to some other minor editing oversights,
which detract from the overall quality of the report.
The Chief Executive's review outlines areas of change and renewal within
the agency during the year under review, as well as the provision of key
statistics. Some areas of note include the smooth implementation of a new
business structure on 1 July 2009, and the publication of a vision
statement embodying the core values and aspirations of the organisation.
Also noted in the Chief Executive's review was ITSA's close working
relationship with the Attorney-General's Department to progress the
implementation of the new Personal Properties Securities regime, where ITSA will
assume operational responsibility for the Personal Properties Securities
Register and the associated Contact Centre to be established in Adelaide.
The Chief Executive reported an overall marginal increase of 0.07% in
total activity under the Bankruptcy Act 1966 for 2009-10 from the
previous year. These responsibilities comprise bankruptcies, debt agreements
and personal insolvency agreements. It was further noted that this is the
fourth consecutive year of growth.
Performance information is thorough and well presented. In some instances,
data from the previous year (or years) is included to provide trend
information. The discussion of the performance results is informative and
concise, without focussing excessively on the detail of activities performed in
For some programs, the performance discussion includes a brief case
study or case studies. The committee found these useful to illuminate some of
the processes in which the agency is involved.
In the section on Client Service, the committee notes that general
complaints have increased from 409 in 2008-09 to 456 in 2009-10. It was further
noted that, of these, 338 were considered either justified or partially
justified. The report explains that 'general complaints' concerned service
delivery standards, as distinct from complaints about the way in which debtors
became bankrupt, which is outside ITSA's control.
While the committee acknowledges that the large increase in recent years is
attributed to a new complaints and compliments management system which was
rolled out during 2007-08,
it nonetheless notes the continued rise in general complaints during the most
recent financial year.
Last year's annual report identified the time taken to deal with
complaints as an area for improvement in 2009-10. In that report, it was noted that
55% of complaints were resolved in 14 days and over 18% of complaints took in excess
of 150 days to finalise.
It was disappointing that the 2009-10 report did not appear to follow up on
this particular issue. The committee will continue to monitor this issue in
On a more positive note, the committee notes that compliments about the
quality of service provided by ITSA employees increased slightly to 228 in
2009-10, from 215 for the previous year.
The committee considers the annual report of ITSA to be 'apparently
Migration Review Tribunal (MRT) and Refugee Review Tribunal (RRT)
The report of the MRT-RRT was tabled in both the Senate and the
House of Representatives on 16 November 2010. The Principal Member was questioned
on this matter by the committee during the supplementary budget estimates
2010-11 hearings on 19 October 2010:
Senator BARNETT—Firstly, based on your statement here,
your annual report is to be lodged next month. What is the reason for the delay?
Mr O'Brien—As you know, Senator, last year we managed
to table our report before the hearing of this committee. The process
associated with the election was the main delay factor in getting our financial
statements approved by the minister and so forth. That was the main
Senator BARNETT—We try and have these reports in
advance of estimates so that we can then talk and ask questions about the
reports. That is our objective; you are aware of that?
Mr O'Brien—Yes, I understand that.
As noted in the Preface to this report, the committee hopes to see a
more timely tabling of the annual report in the future.
There was an increase in lodgements and in the number of cases decided
by the combined tribunals in 2009-10. Case decisions increased from 8,229 in
2008-09 to 9,737 in 2009-10 (the largest number of cases since 2005-06).
Eighteen per cent more cases were decided by the tribunals in comparison to the
The committee was pleased to note that the percentage of tribunal
decisions taken to judicial review declined in 2009-10. The report notes that
judicial review applications were lodged in relation to 7.7 per cent of
tribunal decisions in 2009-10, compared to 13.2 per cent of decision made in
The Principal Member's report on the tribunals' operations for 2009-10
provides a good account of what is described as a 'challenging year'. In
addition to the increase in overall workload, it was also reported that there
were significant changes to the composition of the MRT lodgements and the
representation of source countries for the RRT caseload. The Principal Member
addressed these challenges:
To respond to the increasing volume and shifting composition
of the tribunals' caseload we have developed strategies, underpinned by extensive
analysis of the caseload, to allocate cases to members in a way that makes the
most efficient and effective use of member resources. In 2009–10 the target was
to allocate 10,000 cases for the year and, in the end, 9,428 cases were
allocated to members. This result was affected by the need to reallocate cases
from 21 members who were not reappointed for a further term.
The performance section is clearly laid out with results presented against
targets set for key performance indicators and deliverables.
This section of the report articulates the strategies which have been
implemented in response to the growth in the MRT caseload, which includes:
[I]mproved case management training for members; increasing
the opportunities for members to specialise, recognising that appropriate
specialisation can improve the timeliness, quality and consistency of
decision-making; increased use of batching cases with like issues to enhance
efficiency; and more regular feedback on performance for members, including
closer monitoring of and reporting on older cases.
The tribunals' financial performance for 2009-10 is also discussed in this
section of the report. A net loss of $4.6 million was recorded for the
The report also includes a detailed breakdown of caseload statistics
which provides useful background.
The report is attractively presented with good design and a clear and
concise style. It closely follows the Requirements for Annual Reports and
presents a good account of the year under review. The committee considers the
report to be 'apparently satisfactory'.
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