Review of annual reports
Annual reports of departments and agencies are referred to Legislation
Committees under Senate Standing Order 25(21) in accordance with an allocation
of departments and agencies in a resolution of the Senate.
In accordance with that resolution, the Economics Legislation Committee has
responsibility for the oversight of the following portfolios:
- Industry, Tourism and Resources; and
- the Treasury.
Standing order 25(21) requires the Committee 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 annual 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.
Purpose and requirements of annual reports
Annual reports provide information on the success (or otherwise) of
departments and agencies in meeting targets outlined in the portfolio budget
statements, their primary function being to assist in ensuring the public
accountability of government departments and their agencies. This is undertaken
through the tabling of annual reports in the Parliament; and their scrutiny by
Senate Committees in accordance with Senate Standing Order 25(21). This process
thus allows Parliament to make informed judgments on the executive's
performance in administering government programs.
Departments of State and Executive Agencies present their annual reports
pursuant to sections 63(2) and 70(2) of the Public Service Act,
respectively. These are required to comply with the Department of Prime
Minister and Cabinet's Requirements for Annual Reports (updated June 2005),
approved by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit on 29 June 2005.
Section 3(1) of the Requirements for Annual Reports states that 'As
a matter of policy, they [the annual reporting requirements] also apply to
prescribed agencies under section 5 of the Financial Management and
Accountability Act 1997' (FMA Act).
Statutory authorities and government companies also present their annual
reports pursuant to their own enabling legislation and/or sections 9 and 36 of
the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 (CAC Act),
respectively. These reports must be produced in accordance with the
Commonwealth Authorities and Companies (Report of Operations) Orders 2002, the
Finance Minister's Orders made under section 48 of the CAC Act, stipulating the
requirements for annual reports presented pursuant to the Act. Annual reports
of government companies limited by shares are required to comply with
Corporations Law requirements.
The Department of Finance (DoFA) publishes a useful chart which shows which
agencies are subject to the FMA Act and the CAC Act. This information is also
available on the DoFA website at http://www.finance.gov.au/finframework/fma_agencies.html;
The enabling legislation of prescribed agencies, including some FMA Act
agencies, may require each agency to report on matters other than those
included in the guidelines, or impose different reporting requirements, for
example in relation to the date by which the report should be presented. The
Committee's view is that such agencies, while bound by their enabling
legislation, should also comply with the requirements imposed under the
government's policy, to the extent that the requirements do not conflict.
Standing Order 25(21)(c) requires the Committee to report to the Senate
on the late presentation of annual reports.
The Committee notes that government agencies reporting in accordance
with their own legislation are often required to prepare for the relevant
Minister their annual report 'as soon as is practicable' after a particular
date. The Committee draws attention to sections 34C(2) and (3) of the Acts
Interpretation Act 1901, which stipulate that where no date for providing a
report to a Minister is specified, the report should be presented no more than
six months after the reporting period, and the Minister must provide the report
to the Parliament within 15 sitting days after he receives it.
The Committee notes that all of the reports referred to it between 1 November 2005 and 30 April 2006 were tabled within their required timeframe.
Reports referred to the Committee
This report must examine those annual reports tabled between 1 November 2005 and 30 April 2006. The following reports have been referred to the
Committee for examination and report:
Departments and executive and
- Australian Securities and Investments Commission – Report for
2004–05 – Corrigendum
Statutory authorities (not subject
to the FMA or CAC Acts)
- Industry Research and Development Board – Annual
- Pooled Development Funds Registration Board – Annual Report
- Superannuation Complaints Tribunal – Annual Report 2004–05
- Companies Auditors and Liquidators Disciplinary Board – Annual
Other companies (where the
Commonwealth does not have a controlling interest)
- Snowy Hydro Limited – Consolidated Financial Report for 27 June 2004 –2 July 2005
- Foreign Investment Review Board – Annual Report 2004–05
- Australia and the International Financial Institutions –2004–05
(International Monetary Fund; the World Bank and Asian Development Bank)
Comments on reports
In accordance with Standing Order 25(21)(a) the Committee is required to
examine reports and inform the Senate as to whether they are 'apparently
satisfactory'. The Committee considers compliance with the reporting guidelines
stipulated by the legislation under which various departments and agencies
present their annual reports.
The Committee considers that the reports it has examined are generally
Australian Securities and
The Committee notes that the Australian Securities and Investments
Commission tabled a corrigendum to its Annual Report of 2004-05 on 8 November 2005. The purpose of the corrigendum is to replace page 7 of their Annual
National Standards Commission
The Committee notes that the National Standards Commission, which it
reported on in the Report on Annual Reports No. 1 of 2005, has merged with the
National Measurement Institute from 1 July 2004. Under the National
Measurement Act 1960, the Institute is not required to prepare an annual
report. However, as a unit within the Department of Industry, Tourism and
Resources, it reports as part of the Department's annual report.
Development Allowance Authority
The Committee notes that the report of the Development Allowance Authority
Commission was tabled within the Commissioner of Taxation's Annual Report which
was presented to the Senate on 25 November 2005.
The Committee notes that while the following agencies are not required
to comply with the FMA Act or the CAC Act, they have met the reporting
obligations under their governing legislation as shown in Appendices 1 and 2:
- Industry Research & Development Board
- Pooled Development Funds Registration Board
- Snowy Hydro Limited
- Superannuation Complaints Tribunal
- Australia and the International Financial Institutions
(International Monetary Fund; the World Bank and Asian Development Bank)
- Companies and Auditors Liquidators Disciplinary Board
Remarks made in the Senate
Senate Standing Order 25 (21)(d) directs the Committee to take into
account remarks made in the Senate when considering annual reports.
None of the annual reports considered in this report have been the
subject of discussion in the Senate.
Senator George Brandis
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