The Senate Economics Legislation Committee (the committee) is
responsible for examining the annual reports of the departments and agencies of
the Industry Innovation and Science and Treasury portfolios.
This is the committee's first report on annual reports for 2017 and
provides an overview of selected annual reports presented to the Parliament
between 1 May and 31 October 2016 for the 2015–16 reporting period.
Terms of reference
Under Senate Standing Order 25(20) the annual reports of certain
departments and agencies are referred to committees for examination. 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 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.
The Senate allocated departments and agencies to committees on
13 November 2013.
In accordance with that resolution, the committee has responsibility for the
oversight of the following:
Industry, Innovation and Science Portfolio; and
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 the Parliament, as
the information provided in annual reports assists in the effective examination
of the performance of departments and agencies, and the administration of
Together with Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS), Portfolio Additional
Estimates Statements (PAES) and the Estimates process, annual reports are the
primary mechanisms for scrutiny of the operations of government. Indeed, as
highlighted in the Requirements for Annual Reports for Departments,
Executive Agencies and Other Non-corporate Commonwealth Entities (Requirements
for Annual Reports or PM&C guidelines) released by the Department of the
Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C), and approved by the Joint Committee of Public
Accounts and Audit (JCPAA) under subsections 63(2) and 70(2) of the Public
Service Act 1999 (PS Act):
Annual reports serve to inform the Parliament (through the
responsible Minister), other stakeholders, educational and research
institutions, the media and the general public about the performance of departments
in relation to services provided. Annual reports are a key reference document
and a document for internal management. They form part of the historical
Annual reports and PB Statements are the principal formal
accountability mechanisms between government and departments and from
departments through (or on behalf of) government to the Parliament.
Annual reporting requirements
The Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013
(PGPA Act), which commenced on 1 July 2014, establishes a performance
reporting framework for all Commonwealth entities and companies.
Section 46 of the PGPA Act sets out the annual reporting requirements in
relation to non-corporate Commonwealth entities, including that annual reports
must comply with any requirements prescribed by the PGPA Rule 2014. Section 97
sets out the annual reporting requirements for corporate Commonwealth entities.
The enabling legislation of some agencies may require that agency to
report on matters other than those included in the PM&C guidelines, or
impose different reporting requirements. The committee's view is that such
agencies, while bound by their enabling legislation, should also comply with
the PM&C guidelines, to the extent that the requirements do not conflict.
Reports referred to the committee
Under Standing Order 25(20)(f), the committee is required to report on
the annual reports of departments and agencies tabled by 31 October each year
by the tenth sitting day of the following year.
This year that date is 22 March 2017.
During the period of 1 May to 31 October 2016, 28 annual reports of
bodies or statutory office holders were presented to the Parliament and
referred to the committee. The reports examined are categorised as follows:
Industry, Innovation and Science Portfolio
Departments of State
Department of Industry, Innovation and Science [incorporating the
reports of non-statutory, non-corporate Commonwealth entities Geoscience
Australia and IP Australia]; and
Corporate Commonwealth entities
Australian Institute of Marine Science;
Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation;
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation;
National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management
Authority (statutory agency);
Departments of State
Department of the Treasury.
Office of the Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (statutory
Office of the Australian Accounting Standards Board (statutory
Australian Bureau of Statistics (statutory agency);
Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (statutory
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission [incorporating the
report of the Australian Energy Regulator] (statutory agency);
Australian Office of Financial Management (non-statutory agency);
Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (statutory agency);
Australian Securities and Investments Commission (statutory
Commissioner of Taxation (Australian Taxation Office) (statutory
Commonwealth Grants Commission (statutory agency);
Inspector-General of Taxation (statutory agency);
National Competition Council (statutory agency);
Productivity Commission (statutory agency); and
Royal Australian Mint (non-statutory agency);
Australian Statistics Advisory Council (statutory office holder);
Companies Auditors and Liquidators Disciplinary Board (statutory
Financial Reporting Council (statutory body);
Superannuation Complaints Tribunal (statutory body);
Tax Practitioners Board (statutory body); and
Takeovers Panel (non-statutory body).
Corporate Commonwealth entities
Australian Reinsurance Pool Corporation; and
Reserve Bank of Australia.
Some of the aforementioned reports which are within the Treasury
portfolio are also subject to scrutiny by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on
Corporations and Financial Services (PJC), established by Part 14 of the Australian
Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001. Section 243 specifies the
PJC's duties, which include:
(b) to examine each annual report that is prepared by a body
established by this Act and of which a copy has been laid before a House, and
to report to both Houses on matters that appear in, or arise out of, that
annual report and to which, in the Parliamentary Committee's opinion, the
Parliament's attention should be directed...
In fulfilment of the PJC committee's duties under subsection 243(b),
the PJC reports on the following bodies:
Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (AUASB);
Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB);
Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC);
Companies Auditors and Liquidators Disciplinary Board;
Corporations and Markets Advisory Committee (abolished in May
2014 Budget and report 2013–14 was the final report);
Financial Reporting Council;
Office of the Australian Accounting Standards Board;
Office of the Auditing and Assurance Standards Board;
Additional reports referred to the committee
As the committee is not obliged to report on Acts, statements of
corporate intent, surveys, policy papers, budget documents, corporate plans or
errata, the following documents were referred to the committee for information
Australian Taxation Office–Register of Foreign Ownership of
Agricultural Land–Report of registrations as at 30 June 2016–Section 34 of the
Register of Foreign Ownership of Agricultural Land Act 2015, presented 31
Final budget outcome 2015–16, dated September 2016.
Reserve Bank of Australia–Payments System Board–Annual Report 2016
(tabled HoR 13 October 2016–Senate 7 November 2016)
Reserve Bank of Australia–Equity and Diversity Annual Report 2016
(tabled HoR 13 October 2016–Senate 7 November 2016)
Australian Taxation Office:
Income Superannuation Contributions–Quarterly Report–for the period 1 April
2016 to 30 June 2016–Section 12G of the Superannuation (Government
Co-contribution for Low Income Earners) Act 2003;
Income Superannuation Contributions–Annual Report–1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016–Section
12G of the Superannuation (Government Co-contribution for Low Income
Earners) Act 2003;
Co-contributions Quarterly Report–for the period 1 April 2016 to 30 June 2016–Section
54 of the Superannuation (Government Co-contribution for Low Income Earners)
Co-contributions Annual Statutory Report–1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016–Section 54
of the Superannuation (Government Co-contribution for Low Income Earners)
Productivity Commission—Report no. 78—Intellectual Property
Arrangements, dated 23 September 2016.
Tax expenditures statement 2016, dated January 2017, received 30
Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman—Inquiry
into small business loans Report, dated 12 December 2016.
Standing Order 25(20)(c) requires the committee to report to the Senate
on the late presentation of annual reports. The committee commends the
departments and agencies discussed in this report for their timeliness.
Departments and PGPA Act entities
Section 46 of the PGPA Act, which applies to annual reports of
Commonwealth entities, states that annual reports of departments and agencies must
be provided to the responsible Minister by the 15th day of the
fourth month after the end of the reporting period (generally, 15 October of
the relevant year). The responsible Minister must, in turn, present the report
to each House of the Parliament on or before 31 October in the year
in which the report is given. Furthermore, if Senate Supplementary Budget
Estimates hearings are scheduled to occur prior to
31 October, it is best practice for annual reports to be tabled prior to those
Section 97 of the PGPA Act sets out the requirements for the provision
of the annual reports of Commonwealth companies to the responsible Minister.
Subsection 2 states that the company must give the reports and information by:
(a) if the company is required by the Corporations Act
2001 to hold anannual general meeting—the earlier of the following:
(i) 21 days before the next annual general meeting after the
end of the reporting period for the company;
(ii) 4 months after the end of the reporting period for the
(b) in any other case—4 months after the end of the reporting
period for thecompany;
or the end of such further period granted under subsection
34C(5) of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901.
Section 97(5) of the PGPA Act states that:
(5) If the Commonwealth company is a wholly-owned
Commonwealth company, or is not required to hold an annual general
meeting, the responsible Minister must table the documents in each House
of the Parliament as soon as practicable after receiving them. In
all other cases, the responsible Minister must table the documents in each
House of the Parliament as soon as practicable after the annual general
meeting of the company.
The provisions of subsections 34C(4)–(7)
of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 apply in relation to an application
for extension of the period. An extension under the Acts Interpretation Act
1901 would need to be sought only should a specified timeframe not be met.
However, it remains the government's policy that all annual reports should be
tabled by 31 October.
Entities 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 the end of the particular period to which the reports
relates. The committee draws attention to subsections 34C(2) and 34C(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 days after receipt by the Minister.
Timeliness of 2015–16 reports
The committee considers the timely presentation of annual reports to be
an important element of accountability to the Parliament and continues to
encourage bodies and statutory offices to endeavour to meet relevant
Appendix 1 lists the annual reports tabled (or presented) in Parliament
between 1 May and 31 October 2016 and referred to the committee with relevant
The committee notes that three non-corporate Commonwealth entities
submitted their annual reports to the Minister after 15 October 2016.
The committee also notes, however that all annual reports for 2015–16
were presented in Parliament in a timely manner, by 31 October 2016.
The committee commends those entities whose annual reports were
presented in the Parliament prior to the Supplementary Budget Estimates
hearings which were held in the week beginning 17 October 2016.
Annual reports and other documents tabled in the Senate after 31 October
and before the tabling of this report will be discussed in the committee's Annual
reports (No. 2 of 2017).
In accordance with Standing Order 25(20)(d) the committee is required to
take into account any relevant remarks about the reports made during debate in
the Senate. The committee notes that none of the annual reports examined in
this report have been the subject of comment or debate in the Senate.
Standing order 25(20)(h) requires that the committee inquire into, and
report on any bodies which do not present annual reports to the Senate but
should present such reports.
The committee makes no recommendations for any bodies not presenting an
annual report to do so.
Standing Order 25(20)(a) requires that the committee report to the
Senate on whether the annual reports of departments and agencies in its
portfolios are 'apparently satisfactory'. In making this assessment, the
committee considers such aspects as timeliness of presentation and compliance
with relevant reporting requirements.
The committee has examined all annual reports referred under the
Industry, Innovation and Science and Treasury portfolios during the reporting
period and considers that they are apparently satisfactory.
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