Review of selected reports
The committee provides the following comments on the annual reports of
the two former departments from the portfolios referred to it, as well as
reports from two agencies within each portfolio as follows:
- Department of Communications and the Arts;
- Australian Communications and Media Authority;
- National Portrait Gallery of Australia;
- Department of the Environment and Energy;
- Snowy Hydro Limited; and
- Sydney Harbour Federation Trust.
Communications and the Arts portfolio
Department of Communications and
The 2018-19 Annual Report of the former Department of Communications and
the Arts was presented to the President of the Senate on 18 October 2019 and
tabled in the Senate on 11 November 2019. The Secretary's review provided an
overview of some of the department's activities in 2018-19, including:
- increased efforts to improve cyber-safety through the Keeping our
Children Safe Online package and the department's co-chairing of the Taskforce
to Combat Terrorist and Extreme Violent Material Online;
- the release of the Regional Telecommunications Independent
Review Committee report and the summary report on the development of the
Universal Service Guarantee;
- the commencement of the process to renew the National Arts and
Disability Strategy; and
- the department's support for the Inquiry into the Competitive
Neutrality of the National Broadcasters.
During the reporting period, the department published a revised corporate
plan which updated the department's activity-based performance criteria to
better align with the Commonwealth performance framework.
The changes to the corporate plan were reflected in the performance statements
which discussed the results achieved against the new measures and targets.
The relationships between the revised performance measures and the
criteria and targets contained in the Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS) have
also been mapped to information presented in the annual performance statements.
The annual report measured the department's performance against its purposes—connectivity,
creativity and culture—identified in the revised corporate plan. The department
reported meeting the majority of the 26 performance measures which it used to
assess its performance in achieving these purposes. The annual report noted
that one new target for the achievement of minimum fixed broadband download
speeds was not applicable for 2018-19, while the results for the creative and
cultural sectors contribution to GDP was not available at the time of
reporting. One target in relation to the efficient delivery of administered items under
program 1.1 was reported as not being met with only 14 of 17 items on time and
The performance statements were supported by appropriate analysis of the
results achieved, including relevant comparative data and case studies. The committee
notes that the annual report also included a summary of the methodologies used
for the calculation of the results against corporate plan measures. This was a useful addition to the performance statements and the committee
looks forward to this information being included in future annual reports.
The committee considers that the department has met its reporting
obligations and its 2018-19 annual report is 'apparently satisfactory'.
The department reported an operating deficit of $5.2 million for the financial
year 2018-19. This compared to an operating surplus of $5.6 million for the
previous reporting period. The department noted:
The department's net cost of services for 2018-19 was $113.0
million, with revenue from government of $107.8 million, resulting in an
operating deficit of $5.2 million. The operating result excluding depreciation
was a small surplus of $16,000.
Australian Communications and Media
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) Annual Report
2018-19 was tabled in the Senate on 15 October 2019.
In the Chair's foreword, Ms Nerida O'Loughlin highlighted some of the
key activities that were undertaken by the ACMA during the reporting period.
- the introduction of new rules to address consumer concerns in
relation to the migration of phone and internet services under the National
- the announcement of the Scam Technology Project to explore solutions
to disrupt scam activities across telecommunications networks;
- the release of the draft Five-year spectrum outlook 2019–23 in April 2019;
- an investigation into coverage by Australian television
broadcasters of the terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand; and
- ACMA's contribution to the Australian Competition and Consumer
Commission's Digital Platforms Inquiry.
The 2018-19 annual report provided a comprehensive assessment of the ACMA's
non-financial results against the performance measures and targets set out in
the PBS and corporate plan. These results were discussed under three broad strategic
priorities aligned to the ACMA's outcome and programs. This included:
- public confidence in communications and media services through
the provision of safeguards, information and advice;
- spectrum arrangements that benefit all Australians through
efficient and effective spectrum management; and
- a regulatory framework that anticipates change through monitoring
the environment and influencing regulatory responses.
Consistent with previous annual reports, the ACMA's individual performance
measures have been recorded as either 'met', 'mostly met' or 'not met' during
the reporting period. The annual report noted that the ACMA met or mostly met all
of its performance measures for the two programs associated with the delivery
of its outcome.
As an independent statutory authority within the ACMA, the Office of the
eSafety Commissioner (OeSC) reported its performance against key criteria under
the same outcome as ACMA, as well as performance measures related solely to the
work of the OeSC. The annual report noted that the OeSC met all of the
performance targets as outlined in the 2018-19 PBS. The OeSC also provided
informative statistics on the operation of its cyberbullying complaints scheme
and image-based abuse portal.
The committee considers that both the ACMA and the OeSC have met their
respective reporting obligations and their annual reports are 'apparently
The ACMA reported a technical operating deficit of $12.331 million for
the year ended 30 June 2019. The ACMA clarified this figure stating:
After adjusting for unfunded depreciation and amortisation
expenses and charges to the asset revaluation surplus, the ACMA recorded an
operating deficit of $0.407 million. This was driven by the pre-sale
revaluation of the ACMA's property at Capalaba in Queensland.
National Portrait Gallery of
The National Portrait Gallery of Australia (the Portrait Gallery) Annual
Report 2018-19 was tabled in the House of Representatives on 22 October 2019
and subsequently tabled in the Senate on 11 November 2019.
The Portrait Gallery is a corporate Commonwealth entity established by
the National Portrait Gallery of Australia Act 2012 as an independent
statutory authority. The purpose of the Portrait Gallery is to present the
faces of Australia and to use portraiture to tell their stories and to increase
the understanding and appreciation of the Australian people—their identity,
history, culture, creativity and diversity.
The committee notes that this is the first annual report to be presented
by the new Director, Ms Karen Quinlan, following the retirement of Mr Angus
Trumble in December 2018. In the Chairman's report, Dr Helen Nugent provided an
overview of some of the important activities undertaken by the Portrait Gallery
during the reporting period. This included:
- celebrations to mark the 20th anniversary of the establishment of
the Portrait Gallery;
- the launch of the exhibition 20/20: celebrating twenty years
with twenty new portrait commissions;
- the reopening of the Portrait Gallery on 14 September 2019
following the temporary closure of the building in April 2019; and
- a focus on travelling exhibitions and outreach programs,
including the Virtual (school) Excursion program Visual Thinking Strategies.
The Portrait Gallery was temporarily closed to the public from 23 April
to 14 September 2019 to undertake rectification works to maintain the
integrity of the building and its collection of artworks. The annual report
The need to undertake repairs reflects issues that emerged
with the building over a long period of time, some stemming from the original
construction and others that were progressively identified since the Gallery
has been operational.
The Portrait Gallery has reported its performance against four strategic
priorities as defined in its 2018-19 corporate plan and PBS. They are to
enliven the collection; to engage audiences; to enlarge support; and to enhance
resources. The achievement of these priorities was measured against 23 key
performance criteria outlined in its corporate plan. The Portrait Gallery
reported achieving or exceeding the majority of these targets in 2018-19. The
annual report noted, however, that some targets were impacted by the temporary
closure of the building to the public in 2019. For example, the Portrait
Gallery reported reaching 946 488 people through onsite exhibitions,
educational programs and online programming, compared to its target of 1 million
people. Similarly, the annual report stated that the building closure resulted in
reduced own-sourced revenue during the closure period.
The annual report also included general analysis of the results achieved
against the key performance criteria for each of the four objectives. However,
the committee suggests that the inclusion of additional supporting statements
against each criterion to explain any significant trends and developments that
may have affected the results, would provide greater context to the results
reported and would enhance the Portrait Gallery's reporting of its performance.
The committee considers that the Portrait Gallery has met its reporting
obligations and its annual report is 'apparently satisfactory'.
The Portrait Gallery reported core operations income of $13.9 million
compared to total expenses of $15.7 million for the financial year 2018-19.
This resulted in a $1.8 million deficit. The annual report noted:
After adjusting for the $1.7 million impact of non-appropriated
depreciation and amortisation expense, core operations achieved a deficit of
$0.1 million. This deficit includes an adverse non-cash adjustment of
$0.1 million due to the decrease in the government bond rate used to value
employee provisions to present value.
Environment and Energy portfolio
Department of the Environment and
The 2018-19 Annual Report of the former Department of the Environment
and Energy was presented to the President of the Senate on 18 October 2019 and
tabled in the Senate on 11 November 2019.
The former Secretary, Mr Finn Pratt, presented an overview of the
department's non-financial performance for the 2018-19 reporting period. Some
of the achievements highlighted included:
- the delivery of the second phase of the National Land Care
Program—Regional Land Partnerships—using a reformed regional delivery model;
- the protection and restoration of water-dependant ecosystems in
the Murray‑Darling Basin by securing 400 gigalitres (GL) of water for the
environment from the Murray River valley;
- an agreed National Waste Policy to help guide action on waste
management, recycling and resource recovery until 2030;
- helping to establish the Hydrogen Strategy Taskforce; and
- developing the Electricity Retail Code which sets a cap on standing
offer electricity prices and specifies how prices and discounts must be advertised,
published or offered.
The annual performance statements in the 2018-19 Annual Report were complete
and reflected the relationship between the purposes and activities contained in
the department's corporate plan with the programs and outcomes outlined in the
PBS. Each of the performance measures were presented with the summary of the
results achieved against the criteria and targets. The department reported
achieving 62 per cent and partly achieving 35 per cent of its performance
measures. The department reported not achieving two measures in relation
to meeting statutory timeframes for Environment Protection and Biodiversity
Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) project decisions and decisions on
international wildlife trade permits. The department noted that this was due to
'the need to seek additional information from proponents; and significant
The annual report noted that the department will implement a revised
governance structure in 2019-20 following findings and recommendations from a
report undertaken by the Australian Institute of Company Directors. The department
noted that the new structure 'will involve a move to a streamlined, adaptive
governance model to more effectively manage the department's evolving needs and
The department reported two corrections to material errors included in
its 2017-18 Annual Report as required by paragraph 17AH(1)(e) of the PGPA Rule.
The corrections related to the incorrect reporting of salary rates for job
classifications and the conflation of the reported number of ongoing employees
based in the Australian Capital Territory and those based overseas.
The committee notes that the compliance index included in the
department's annual report does not include page references. The committee draws
the department's attention to the Department of Finance's guidance in relation
to paragraph 17AJ(d) of the PGPA Rule that non-corporate Commonwealth entities 'must
also provide details of the location of the information in the annual report
that addresses each of the mandatory requirements specified by the PGPA Rule'.
The committee expects this information to be included in the compliance
indexes of future annual reports.
Overall, the committee considers the 2018-19 annual report of the
department is 'apparently satisfactory'.
The department reported that it operated within its approved budget for
the 2018-19 financial year. The annual report stated:
Departmental revenue was $459.61 million in 2018-19. Revenue
from Government reduced by $50.46 million, mainly due to the appropriation
provided to the Director of National Parks changing to an administered
Departmental expenses were $598.55 million in 2018-19. This
was $28.26 million lower than in 2017-18, also mainly due to the cessation
of payments to the Director of National Parks and lower supplier costs, which
was offset by higher salaries expenditure and non-cash adjustments relating to
Antarctic restoration provisions.
Snowy Hydro Limited
The Snowy Hydro Limited (Snowy Hydro) Annual Report 2018-19 was presented
to the President of the Senate on 18 October 2019 and tabled in the Senate on
11 November 2019.
The committee notes that this is the first time it has had the
opportunity to review Snowy Hydro's annual report since it became a wholly-owned
Commonwealth company on 29 June 2018. This followed the Commonwealth's purchase
of 100 per cent of the shares in the company held by the governments of New
South Wales and Victoria.
Under a stringent water licence, Snowy Hydro captures, stores, diverts
water and releases it for the use of irrigators, town water supplies and the
environment. Snowy Hydro's business includes energy generation activities to
supply the National Electricity Market, and it operates as a retail energy provider
through the Red Energy and Lumo Energy brands.
The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer's message provided an overview
of some the entity's activities during the reporting period, including:
- commencement on the Snowy 2.0 project following planning approval
for exploratory works;
- the signing of 888MW of long-term contracts with eight wind and
solar projects under its Renewable Energy Procurement Program;
- achieving 1.09 million retail customers, supported by strong
consumer growth in New South Wales; and
- celebrating 70 years since the start of construction of the Snowy
Mountains Hydro-electric scheme.
Snowy Hydro's annual report contains useful information on its general performance
over the reporting period, including detailed discussion of its corporate
governance and remuneration frameworks. The annual report also contains relevant information on Snowy Hydro's water and
energy operations and future developments. Some further details would have assisted
the committee to more fully assess Snowy Hydro's non-financial performance. For
example, it would have been helpful if some activities highlighted in the
Chairman and CEO's message, such as the Renewable Energy Procurement Program
(rated an outstanding success), and the strategic partnership with Qantas
(rated as exceeded all expectations), were further described in the body of the
report. Similarly, it wasn't clear whether all of the key non‑financial measures and
goals outlined in Snowy Hydro's Statement of Corporate Intent, were reported
against in the annual report.
While Snowy Hydro as a Commonwealth company is not required to prepare
annual performance statements, it is required to report on the actual
performance results achieved against the performance information outlined in
its corporate plan under section 27A of the PGPA Rule. The committee suggests that future annual reports should more clearly indicate
whether performance measures and goals were achieved or not achieved during the
relevant reporting period.
The committee also suggests that Snowy Hydro provide a more detailed breakdown
of the number of ongoing and non-ongoing employees as required by paragraph
28E(ga) of the PGPA Rule. This includes the number of employees at the end of
the previous reporting period and should be calculated and reported on a head count
basis (number of employees).
Overall, the committee considers that Snowy Hydro's 2018-19 annual
report is 'apparently satisfactory'.
Snowy Hydro's annual report provided a detailed summary of the key
financial results for 2018-19. This included discussion on movements
contributing to the company's overall performance. The annual report noted:
The consolidated Statutory Profit after tax attributable to
the owners of Snowy Hydro was $332.2 million (FY2018: $267.5 million restated).
The underlying profit after tax was $321.2 million (FY2018: $428.4 million
There were no significant or moderate audit findings identified by the Australian
National Audit Office (ANAO) as a result of its audit of the 2018-19 financial
Sydney Harbour Federation Trust
The Sydney Harbour Federation Trust (the Harbour Trust) Annual Report
2018-19 was tabled in the House of Representatives on 17 October 2019 and
tabled in the Senate on 11 November 2019.
The Harbour Trust is a corporate Commonwealth entity established by the Sydney
Harbour Federation Trust Act 2001 (SHFT Act). Under the SHFT Act, the Harbour
Trust is responsible for the management and rehabilitation of prominent former
Defence sites on Sydney Harbour. This includes Cockatoo Island in Sydney
Harbour, Woolwich Dock and Parklands in Woolwich, HMAS Platypus in Neutral Bay,
Georges Heights, Middle Head and Chowder Bay in Mosman, North Head Sanctuary in
Manly, the Marine Biological Station in Watsons Bay and the Macquarie
Lightstation in Vaucluse.
The Executive Director's Summary outlined the Harbour Trust's
achievements and activities for 2018-19, which included:
- commencing work on the Sub Base Platypus Renewal Project;
- implementation of the Harbour Trust's Reconciliation Action Plan;
- the sound exhibition held at Headland Park's Camouflage Fuel
Tanks to coincide with the 2019 Sydney Festival; and
- achieving nearly 1.9 million visitors across the Harbour Trust's
The annual performance statements were informative and clearly aligned
with the Harbour Trust's 2018-19 corporate plan and PBS. The Harbour Trust has
identified five performance areas and reported the results against key priority
measures and actions under each of these criterions. The annual report also
provided appropriate explanations as to whether these priority actions or
performance measures were met or exceeded during the reporting period. The
Harbour Trust achieved or partly achieved the majority of its priority actions
and met or exceeded nine of the 14 key performance measures identified in the
corporate plan and PBS.
The annual report noted that the performance measure targets were
reassessed and revised between the compilation of the PBS and corporate plan.
As 2018-2019 was the first period for reporting on a number
of the key performance measures put forth, the original targets set in the PBS
reflected an immature data set. The latter publication of the Corporate Plan
enabled it to draw upon a more complete data set, resulting in revisions to the
original targets set. No changes were made to the performance criterion or the
The Harbour Trust was the subject of an ANAO audit to assess the
effectiveness of the governance board in the Harbour Trust. The ANAO made three
recommendations, including that the board review its audit committee
arrangements to ensure it obtains the external advice and assurance it requires
from its audit committee and to ensure its annual report and corporate plan
meet the requirements of the PGPA Rule. The Harbour Trust agreed to implement all three recommendations.
The committee notes that the Commonwealth is currently conducting an
independent review of the Harbour Trust, including its legislative, financial
and governance arrangements. A final report is due to be delivered to the Federal Minister for the
Environment by the end of March 2020.
The committee considers that the Harbour Trust has met its reporting
obligations and its annual report is 'apparently satisfactory'.
The Harbour Trust is solely reliant on its own income generation and does
not receive operational funding from the Commonwealth. However, the Harbour
Trust received a commitment of $21.4 million in capital funding from the
Commonwealth for further works at Sub Base Platypus and Headland Park in the
The annual report provides a summary of the Harbour Trust's financial
performance in 2018-19. The committee notes that the Harbour Trust recorded a
deficit on continuing operations of $1.208 million for the year ended 30 June
2019. The annual report explains that the Harbour Trust sought approval for the
The Original Budget figures were reported in the 2018-19
Portfolio Budget Statements published in May 2018. This was subsequently
updated during the financial year with the Minister of Finance's approval. This
allowed for an approved operating loss.
Senator the Hon
Navigation: Previous Page | Contents | Next Page