The Community Affairs Legislation Committee (committee) is responsible
for examining the annual reports of departments and agencies of the Health
Portfolio and the Social Services Portfolio (including the Department of Human Services).
This report on annual reports (No. 1 of 2019) provides an overview of the
committee's examination of annual reports presented to the Parliament between 1
May 2018 and 31 October 2018.
Terms of reference
Under Senate Standing Order 25(20), the annual reports of certain
departments and agencies stand referred to committees for examination and
assessment. Each committee is required to:
- examine each annual report referred to it and report to the Senate
whether the report is apparently satisfactory;
- consider in more detail, and report to the Senate on, each annual report
which is not apparently satisfactory, and on the other reports which it selects
for more detailed consideration;
- 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; and
- 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 report requirements and purpose
Annual reports are key documents under the Australian Government's performance
framework for Commonwealth entities (corporate and non-corporate) and
Commonwealth companies. Commonwealth entities and companies are obligated to report on their operations
to the Parliament and, through the Parliament, to the Australian public.
Annual reporting requirements of Commonwealth entities and companies are
specified in the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014 (PGPA Rule). Requirements for annual reporting are also made in other documents and the
committee has previously reported on these requirements. In summary, annual reports of Commonwealth entities and companies should:
- meet the requirements of the Public Governance, Performance
and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) and the PGPA Rule;
- be in accordance with the reporting requirements of primary legislation;
be compliant with guidelines relevant to the production of annual
Guidelines for the production of annual reports are produced by the
Department of Finance (DoF) and provide detailed information on the reporting
obligations for the different types of Commonwealth entities: non-corporate Commonwealth
entities; corporate Commonwealth entities; and Commonwealth companies.
The Senate refers annual reports to the committee for examination and
report with respect to an 'apparently satisfactory' standard. The committee generally considers an annual report to be apparently
satisfactory when the report is presented in accordance with relevant
legislation and Australian Government guidelines, and presents information in a
logical way that allows for a clear read between the entity's portfolio budget
statement, corporate plan and its annual report.
Information on the performance of Commonwealth entities provided in
annual reports supports the accountability of Australia's executive government
and the transparency of the allocation of public resources. The publication of
annual reports is a principal opportunity for Commonwealth entities, companies,
and executive governments to present information to Parliament and the broader
Senate committees have systematically examined annual reports since
1989, following a report by the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and
Public Administration. The committee considers its examination of annual reports is important to
ensure that annual reports include the relevant information for public
Commonwealth entities and companies are required to present annual
reports to the relevant minister, in accordance with the timeframes provided in
applicable legislation. The minister is then required to table the annual
report in Parliament. The committee considers that it is best practice for ministers to table annual
reports in Parliament no later than 31 October each year, in accordance with DoF
annual reporting guidelines.
The 2017–18 annual report of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority
(ASADA) was first presented to Parliament (out of sitting) on 8 November 2018.
A document was tabled in the Senate on 12 November 2018, pursuant to subsection
34C(7) of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901, explaining that there had
been a delay in providing the report to the Minister. ASADA stated:
For the first time in eight years, ASADA reviewed processes
and sought efficiencies in relation to our survey service provider. We
consequently engaged a new firm to conduct the 2018 survey which necessitated
extended setup time and led to an unavoidable delay in disseminating the survey
for completion and subsequent analysis of the results. This delay impacted
timeframes around finalisation of content for the production of the report.
ASADA noted that while the change in survey provider had delayed the
report, the survey provided the agency with a significant increase in the
number of responses to inform its performance statement.
The committee recognises that the delay in presenting the report was
minimal, just over one week from the due date of 31 October 2018, and that the correct
process was followed for informing the Minister and, in turn, the Parliament of
Allocated portfolios and functions
The committee is allocated portfolio oversight of the Health Portfolio,
Social Services Portfolio and Human Services Portfolio. The lead departments within those portfolios are the Department of Health, Department
of Social Services (DSS) and the Department of Human Services. Information on the range of Commonwealth entities and companies within the
committee's portfolio allocation is available on the DoF website.
This report considers four annual reports of Commonwealth entities and
companies within the committee's portfolio oversight that were presented to
Parliament between 1 May 2018 to 31 October 2018.
A list of the annual reports of Commonwealth entities and companies referred
to the committee for examination can be found at Appendix 1.
The committee notes that 2017–18 is the last full annual reporting
period for the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner and the Australian Aged Care
Quality Agency. The functions of these entities were incorporated into the Aged
Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC), which was established on 1 January
Comments made in the Senate
Pursuant to Senate Standing Order 25(20)(d), the committee is obliged to
consider any relevant comments made about annual reports in the Senate. The
- comments made by Senator Rachel Siewert on the 2017–18 annual
report of the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner regarding the increase in
complaints made in relation to residential aged care, Home Care Packages and
the Commonwealth Home Support Program;
- comments made by Senator Jenny McAllister on the DSS annual
report regarding the operation of the National Rental Affordability Scheme; and
- a question asked by Senator Siewert regarding whether annual reports
of the ACQSC will include information regarding the number of calls relating to
My Aged Care, and assessments completed by the Regional Assessment Service and
the Aged Care Assessment Team.
This report is structured in three chapters, as follows:
- Chapter 1—introduction to the examination of annual reports;
- Chapter 2—examination of annual reports of lead portfolio
- Chapter 3—examination of annual reports of certain Commonwealth
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