Terms of reference
On 29 September 2010, a resolution of the Senate allocated
the following portfolios to the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and
Attorney-General's portfolio; and
Immigration and Citizenship portfolio.
This report was prepared pursuant to Standing Order 25(20)
relating to the consideration of annual reports by committees. The Standing
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:
each annual report referred to it and report to the Senate whether the report
is apparently satisfactory;
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;
and report to the Senate on any lateness in the presentation of annual reports;
considering an annual report, take into account any relevant remarks about the
report made in debate in the Senate;
the committee so determines, consider annual reports of departments and
budget-related agencies in conjunction with examination of estimates;
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;
to the attention of the Senate any significant matters relating to the
operations and performance of the bodies furnishing the annual reports; and
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.
Role of annual reports
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, as the information provided in annual reports assists in the
effective examination of the performance of departments and agencies, and the
administration of government programs.
Annual reporting requirements
Standing Order 25(20)(f) requires that committees 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.
Pursuant to subsections 63(2) and 70(2) of the Public
Service Act 1999, departments of state and executive agencies must prepare
annual reports in accordance with the Requirements for Annual Reports for
Departments, Executive Agencies and FMA Act Bodies (Requirements for
Annual Reports). As a matter of policy, the Requirements for Annual
Reports also apply to prescribed agencies under section 5 of the Financial
Management and Accountability Act 1997 (FMA Act).
The 2010-11 annual reports are prepared in accordance with
the Requirements for Annual Reports issued on 28 June 2012. Amendments
to the latest issue of the Requirements for Annual Reports are:
- Consultancy reporting – recognising the functionality provided by
the AusTender database, the requirement to provide details of consultancy contracts
let in the reporting year has been omitted.
- Carer recognition – a new requirement has been added for public
service care agencies to report on compliance with the Carer Recognition Act
- Freedom of Information – simplification of reporting following
accommodation of major reforms to freedom of information reporting in the
Orders made by the Minister under section 48 of the Commonwealth
Authorities and Companies Act 1997 (CAC Act) set out guidelines for
the annual reports of Commonwealth authorities. 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.
Statutory authorities must also report in accordance with
their establishing legislation.
Guidelines for the annual reports of non-statutory bodies
are set out in the Government Response to recommendations of the then Senate
Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations, in its report entitled
Reporting Requirements for the Annual Reports of Non-Statutory Bodies. The
Government Response was incorporated into the Senate Hansard of 8 December
Under the terms of Standing Order 25(20)(a), the committee
is required to report to the Senate whether reports are 'apparently
satisfactory'. In making this assessment, the committee considers such aspects
as compliance with relevant reporting guidelines.
The reports examined by the committee in this report were
found to be of a satisfactory standard, adequately describing the functions,
activities, performance and financial positions of the departments and
agencies. However, the committee notes some reports could be improved with a
closer adherence to the Requirements for the Annual Reports.
The committee finds all submitted annual reports to be
Under Standing Order 25(20)(c), the committee must also report
to the Senate on any lateness in the presentation of annual reports.
In accordance with the Requirements for Annual Reports,
agencies are required to present:
A copy of the annual report...to each House of the Parliament
on or before 31 October in the year in which the report is given. If Senate
Estimates is scheduled to occur prior to 31 October, it is best practice for
annual reports to be tabled prior to those hearings.
Where an agency's own legislation provides a timeframe for
its annual report, for example "within six months" or "as soon
as practicable after 30 June in each year", that timeframe applies.
If a department or agency is unable to meet this deadline,
the secretary or agency head is to advise the responsible Minister of the
reasons for the delay and the expected tabling date. The responsible Minister
is to table this explanation in the Parliament.
Subsection 9(1) of the CAC Act requires
the director of a Commonwealth authority to:
(a) prepare an annual
report in accordance with Schedule 1 for each financial year; and
(b) give it to the responsible Minister by the deadline for the financial year
for presentation to the Parliament.
(2) The deadline is:
(a) the 15th day of the 4th month after the end of the financial year; or
(b) the end of such further period granted under subsection 34C(5) of the Acts
Interpretation Act 1901.
Under section 36 of the CAC Act:
(1) A Commonwealth company
must give the responsible Minister:
(a) a copy of the company's financial report, directors' report and auditor's
report that the company is required by the Corporations Act 2001 to have
for the financial year (or would be required by that Act to have if the company
were a public company); and
(b) any additional report under subsection (2); and
(c) in the case of a wholly-owned Commonwealth company— any additional
information or report required by the Finance Minister's Orders.
(1A) The Commonwealth company must give the reports and
(a) if the company is required by the Corporations Act 2001 to hold an
annual general meeting—the earlier of the following:
(i) 21 days before the
next annual general meeting after the end of the financial year;
(ii) 4 months after the end of the financial year; and
(b) in any other case—4 months after the end of the financial year; or the end
of such further period granted under subsection 34C(5) of the Acts
Interpretation Act 1901.
In the absence of any specific provision, the Acts
Interpretation Act 1901 requires bodies to present annual reports to
ministers within 6 months after the end of the period reported upon (subsection
34C(2)), and ministers must table reports within 15 sitting days after
A table listing the annual reports of departments and agencies
tabled in the Senate (or presented out of session to the President of the
Senate) between 1 May 2012 and 31 October 2012, and which have been
referred to the committee for examination, can be found at Appendix 1.
Also included in this table, is the date each report was tabled in the House of
The annual reports of bodies examined in this report met the
reporting deadline of 31 October 2012. The committee commends the
Department of Immigration and Citizenship, the Australian Federal Police, the
Australian Law Reform Commission, the Australian Security Intelligence
Organisation, the Australian
Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, the CrimTrac Agency, the Office of the
Australian Information Commissioner, the Migration Agents Registration
Authority, and the Migration Review Tribunal and the Refugee Review Tribunal
for making their annual reports available for examination prior to the supplementary
estimates hearings on
15 and 16 October 2012.
A number of agencies just missed the deadline in the Senate, tabling
their reports in the Senate in November 2012. Accordingly, the reports of the
following agencies will be examined in the committee's second report for 2013:
- Administrative Review Council;
- High Court of Australia; and
- National Native Title Tribunal.
In accordance with best practice, as outlined in the Requirements
for Annual Reports, the committee encourages bodies to table annual reports
before the supplementary budget estimates hearings in October each year.
The committee is disappointed to note there were fewer annual reports available
prior to the committee's supplementary budget estimates hearings on 15 and 16
October 2012 compared to those previously examined. The committee commends the
Australian Security Intelligence Organisation for making its annual report
accessible for examination prior to the Supplementary Estimates hearings on 16
Requirement for non-reporting bodies to report
In accordance with Standing Order 25(20)(h), the committee
is required to report on bodies which do not present an annual report to the
Senate and which should present such a report.
On this occasion, the committee makes no recommendation for
any organisation not presenting an annual report to do so.
Navigation: Previous Page | Contents | Next Page
Back to top