Chapter 1

Chapter 1


1.1        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).[1]

1.2        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

1.3        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:

    1. examine each annual report referred to it and report to the Senate whether the  report is apparently satisfactory;
    2. 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;
    3. investigate and report to the Senate on any lateness in the presentation of annual reports;
    4. in considering an annual report, take into account any relevant remarks about the report made in debate in the Senate;
    5. if the committee so determines, consider annual reports of departments and budget-related agencies in conjunction with examination of estimates;
    6. 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;
    7. draw to the attention of the Senate any significant matters relating to the operations and performance of the bodies furnishing the annual reports; and
    8. 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.[2]

Annual report requirements and purpose

1.4        Annual reports are key documents under the Australian Government's performance framework for Commonwealth entities (corporate and non-corporate) and Commonwealth companies.[3] Commonwealth entities and companies are obligated to report on their operations to the Parliament and, through the Parliament, to the Australian public.[4]


1.5        Annual reporting requirements of Commonwealth entities and companies are specified in the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014 (PGPA Rule).[5] Requirements for annual reporting are also made in other documents and the committee has previously reported on these requirements.[6] In summary, annual reports of Commonwealth entities and companies should:

1.6        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;[7] corporate Commonwealth entities;[8] and Commonwealth companies.[9]

1.7        The Senate refers annual reports to the committee for examination and report with respect to an 'apparently satisfactory' standard.[10] 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.


1.8        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 public.

1.9        Senate committees have systematically examined annual reports since 1989, following a report by the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration.[11] The committee considers its examination of annual reports is important to ensure that annual reports include the relevant information for public accountability.


1.10      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.[12] 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.[13]

1.11      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.[14]

1.12      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.[15] 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.[16]

1.13      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.[17]

1.14      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 the delay.

Allocated portfolios and functions

1.15      The committee is allocated portfolio oversight of the Health Portfolio, Social Services Portfolio and Human Services Portfolio.[18] The lead departments within those portfolios are the Department of Health, Department of Social Services (DSS) and the Department of Human Services.[19] Information on the range of Commonwealth entities and companies within the committee's portfolio allocation is available on the DoF website.[20]

Reports examined

1.16      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.

1.17      A list of the annual reports of Commonwealth entities and companies referred to the committee for examination can be found at Appendix 1.

1.18      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 2019.[21]

Comments made in the Senate

1.19      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 committee notes:

Report structure

1.20      This report is structured in three chapters, as follows:

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