This chapter examines selected annual reports in greater detail in accordance with standing orders. The committee has selected the annual reports of the following non-corporate Commonwealth entities, corporate Commonwealth entities and non-statutory bodies for examination:
Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment;
Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications;
Special Broadcasting Service;
Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources;
Climate Change Authority; and
Office of the National Wind Farm Commissioner.
In accordance with standing orders the following summaries of reports examined draw attention to significant matters relating to the operations and performance of bodies during the year under review.
Agriculture, Water and the Environment portfolio
Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment
The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment
2019-20 annual report was presented to the President of the Senate on
15 October 2020 and tabled in the House of Representatives on 19 October, before being tabled in the Senate on 9 November.
The Secretary of the newly established department, Mr Andrew Metcalfe, provided an overview of some of the challenges faced and achievements made by the department in 2019-20, including:
the establishment of the new department on 1 February 2020 which brought together agriculture, water resources and the environment in a single portfolio;
in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, staff continued to deliver services whilst managing the transition to work-from-home arrangements, 300 staff volunteered for redeployment to other agencies facing increased workloads such as Services Australia, and the department assisted with COVID-19 management plans to support the reopening of national parks and gardens;
improvement in timeliness of decision-making in relation to environmental approvals under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 from 19 per cent of decisions being made on time in the December 2019 quarter to 98 per cent by June 2020;
commencing the implementation of the Reef Restoration and Adaption Program supported by the allocation of $100 million from the Reef Trust and Great Barrier Reef Foundation Partnership;
the design and rollout of the Communities Environment Program and the Environment Restoration Fund which provides community project grants; and
development of the National Waste Policy Action Plan to improve waste management and recycling.
The annual performance statements in the 2019-20 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 portfolio budget statement. Each of the performance measures were presented with the summary of the results achieved against the criteria and targets. Out of the 36 listed performance measures, the department reported 29 as achieved, one substantially achieved, and six partially achieved.
For some of the partially achieved performance measures, the COVID-19 pandemic was noted as impacting on the delivery of these measures, including:
Effective management of climate risk and effective adaptation action by Commonwealth agencies and state and territory governments. The department noted: ‘the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic reduced the number of [climate risk] masterclasses held in 2019-20. We are exploring options for online training modules to future-proof against similar circumstances.’
Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are protected, valued and understood. The department explained that management voyages to Heard Island and McDonald Islands were further delayed because of the impact of COVID-19 and also stated that: ‘The pandemic has had a significant effect on the
2020-21 Antarctic season and may have further implications for delivery time frames under the Antarctic Strategy and Action Plan.’
In November 2019, the department was provided with $25 million to reduce delays in environmental approvals under the EPBC Act. As noted above, the department reported improvements which were reflected in the percentage of key decisions made on time from 19 per cent in the December quarter of 2019 to 87 per cent in the March 2020 quarter, and 98 per cent in the June 2020 quarter. The department also noted that it was on track to clear the backlog of decisions by the end of 2020.
Following from advice provided in the committee’s Report on Annual Reports (No. 1 of 2020) regarding the absence of page references in the compliance index, the committee was pleased to see these included in the annual report despite some incorrect page references listed.
Overall, the committee considers the 2019-20 annual report of the department to be 'apparently satisfactory'.
The department reported an approved deficit for the 2019-20 financial year, stating:
Revenue from the provision of cost-recovered services funds a significant portion of departmental expenditure. In 2019-20 the impact of the
COVID-19 pandemic had a negative effect on the amount of revenue collected. We continued our focus in this area to ensure services are efficient and appropriately funded.
Our 2019-20 internal budget aligned to the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements 2019-20 (PAES), with an approved deficit position. The 2019-20 full-year result was a deficit of $50.2 million after allowable losses.
The Australian National Audit Office’s (ANAO) independent report found that the department’s financial statements for the year ended 30 June 2020 were compliant and presented fairly the financial position, financial performance, and cash flows of the department.
Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications portfolio
Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications
The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications 2019-20 annual report was tabled in the House of Representatives on 29 October, before being tabled in the Senate on
9 November 2020.
The newly appointed Secretary of the department, Mr Simon Atkinson, presented an overview of the department’s key achievements and response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including:
the merger of the former departments of Communications and the Arts and Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development;
establishment of the Strengthening Telecommunications Against Natural Disasters program to improve the resilience of Australia’s communications networks;
reaching the milestone of 11.7 million homes and businesses connected to the NBN;
implementation of the recommendations of the Review of the .au domain administrator auDA to strengthen internet governance in Australia;
launching the arts and disability resource hub, including the development of the resource guide ‘My art goals: NDIS and the arts’ in partnership with the National Disability Insurance Agency;
delivery of $24.3 million in support of Indigenous arts and artists through the Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Support program; and
in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, 125 employees undertook secondments to assist with the processing of JobSeeker payments, the department supported the telecommunications industry to deliver essential services and worked with providers to disseminate health information via text message, as well as the provision of a $250 million support package to artists and arts organisations.
The department’s performance is assessed against the purposes and measures published in the portfolio budget statements and corporate plans of the former Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development and the Department of Communications and the Arts. In merging, the newly formed department aims to achieve seven purposes, two of which are relevant for the communications and arts portfolio, and each purpose is underpinned by an outcome and program. These include:
Enabling all Australians to connect to effective communications services and technologies, for inclusiveness and sustainable economic growth
Outcome 5: Promote an innovative and competitive communications sector, through policy development, advice and program delivery, so all Australians can realise the full potential of digital technologies and communications services
Program 5.1: Digital Technologies and Communications Services
Supporting inclusiveness and growth in Australia’s creative sector, and protecting and promoting Australian content and culture
Outcome 6: Participation in, and access to, Australia's arts and culture through developing and supporting cultural expression
Program 6.1: Arts and Cultural Development.
The department reported meeting 42 of 51 performance targets. Of the targets relating to measures under communications and the arts, 19 targets were met and one target was partially met. The target that was partially met related to the GDP contribution by the creative and cultural sectors.
In relation to the department’s role in oversight and efficient management of portfolio entities, the department noted that:
As measures are set in the corporate plan and PB [portfolio budget] statements, these were set before the merger of our department. The
2019-20 Infrastructure Corporate Plan did not include oversight and efficiency measures. This is addressed in our 2020-21 Corporate Plan.
Of the measures relating to providing oversight and ensuring efficiency, three targets were met, one was partially met and two were not met. Regarding the target partially met, the department delivered 15 of 17 digital technologies and communications services administered items on time and on budget. The two targets not met related to keeping expenses within five per cent of published budget figures both for Program 1.1: Digital Technologies and Communications Services and Program 2.1: Arts and Cultural Development’ in the Communications portfolio budget statements.
The department’s annual performance statements were clearly presented, provided a good level of detail, and demonstrated the relationship between purposes, measures, targets and results. Usefully, the department also included the previous period’s results which provided a point of comparison for each measure.
Overall, the committee considers that the department has met its reporting requirements and its 2019-20 annual report to be 'apparently satisfactory'.
The department reported a deficit on continuing operations of $29.7 million, or $15.9 million after adjusting for net cash funding arrangements and the timing of lease expenses. The department stated that:
The deficit was due to a combination of one-off costs, non-cash accounting adjustments and timing differences.
Departmental expenses increased by $57.5 million mainly due to the payment of Drought Communities Programme Extension grants from departmental appropriations… and depreciation on right-of-use assets under the new Australian Accounting Standard for Leases (AASB 16).
With regard to administered finances, the department reported the following:
total administered expenses of $8.3 billion, stating that this ‘increase of
$1.1 billion [is] mainly due to subsidy and grant expenditure as part of the Australian Government’s emergency response to COVID-19’;
‘the government also brought forward $1.4 billion in Financial Assistance Grant payments from the 2020-21 financial year to support the Australian economy’;
administered income increased by $180.8 million ‘mainly due to interest accrued on loan to NBN Co as a result of $6.4 billion in loan advances made from the NBN loan facility during the year’;
assets administered on behalf of the Australian Government increased by $10.7 billion;
administered non-financial assets reduced by $55.6 million; and
administered liabilities decreased by $25.4 million.
The ANAO’s independent report found that the department’s financial statements for the year ended 30 June 2020 were compliant and presented fairly the financial position, financial performance, and cash flows of the department. The report also noted a change in approach to the department’s valuation of the administered investment in NBN Co Limited.
The revised valuation technique changed from an approach that considered the net assets of the company to an income based approach applying a discounted cash flow model that reflects the company’s expected future cash flows and income…
The discounted cash flow model used to determine the fair value of
NBN Co Limited requires a higher level of judgement and estimation by the Entity [department] because the primary inputs into this model, particularly, estimated future cash flows, discount rate, terminal value and weighted average cost of capital are not based on observable market data.
Furthermore, the report also spoke to the valuation of the administered investments in the Australian Postal Corporation where a discounted cash flow model was also used to determine the fair value of the investment, noting that:
The complexity of these valuations was increased due to uncertainty associated with estimating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on future cash flow estimates used in the Entity’s [department’s] valuation models, particularly:
In respect of the Australian Postal Corporation, given the increase in volume of parcels delivered by the company due to the increase of
e-commerce transactions experienced as a result of the pandemic. At
30 June 2020, there is increased uncertainty as to whether the volume of parcels, which contribute significant revenue and cost drivers to the entity, will be maintained.
Special Broadcasting Service
The Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) 2020 annual report was tabled in the House of Representatives on 20 October 2020 and subsequently tabled in the Senate on 9 November 2020.
In a letter to the Communications Minister the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, the Chair and Managing Director described SBS’s role in managing the COVID-19 pandemic and covered a number of other notable achievements, including:
the launch of its Multilingual Coronavirus Portal to deliver critical updates and health information in 63 languages, on a rolling basis;
working closely with the Federal Department of Health to deliver essential health and safety messages through its ‘Coronavirus Explained’ videos in
NITV News provided critical updates on the impact of COVID-19 and issues facing Indigenous Australians;
achieving record audience numbers at 11.9 million a month, as well as increased digital traffic with 70 million hours of programming streamed on SBS On Demand and registered users climbing to 8.3 million;
delivered content that aims to raise awareness of important social issues such as Filthy Rich & Homeless, Struggle Street and Where Are You Really From?;
SBS On Demand curated a Black Lives Matter collection of programs and documentaries;
delivery of SBS’s most successful original drama series to date, the Hunting which explored the issue of online safety and reached 1.6 million viewers;
launched SBS World Movies as a free-to-air channel in July 2019;
partnered with the NBA in a multiyear broadcast agreement in August 2019 to make SBS the exclusive free-to-air home of basketball; and
became the first media operator in Australia to offer in-language login and navigation in February 2020.
The annual performance statement reports on the extent to which SBS has fulfilled its purpose as set out in its 2019-20 corporate plan. The statement reports on all of the non-financial performance criteria and measures set out in the SBS 2019-20 Corporate Plan and the portfolio budget statements in connection with the SBS Charter, contained in section 6 of the Special Broadcasting Service Act 1991. SBS’s purpose, as described in its 2019-20 corporate plan, states ‘SBS inspires all Australians to explore, respect and celebrate our diverse world and in doing so, contributes to a cohesive society.’ This purpose is mapped to the portfolio budget statements performance criteria for SBS.
SBS stated that it ‘achieved increased audience engagement and also delivered on commercial objectives’, despite the highly competitive market for audiences in Australia.
SBS reported exceeding all targets under content creation, acquisition and curation. For content broadcast, technology and distribution, all targets were either met or exceeded. On content commercialisation, SBS exceeded its target of $106.8 million in total commercial revenue, achieving $120.4 million. Lastly, on content support activities, SBS also met its targets.
The committee appreciates the accessibility of the SBS’s performance statement which presented results for each of SBS’s key activity areas against the performance criteria from the portfolio budget statements and corporate plan, and usefully provided clear information on targets versus actuals. The inclusion of page references to the source documents also assisted in navigating between the documents.
The annual report provided a summary of the SBS’s financial performance in 2019-20. The SBS reported an operating surplus of $4,716,000 for the year ended 30 June 2020.
The directors and chief financial officer stated that the:
…financial statements for the year ended 30 June 2020 comply with subsection 42(2) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act), and are based on properly maintained financial records as per subsection 41(2) of the PGPA Act.
In our opinion, at the date of this statement, there are reasonable grounds to believe that the Special Broadcasting Service Corporation will be able to pay its debts as and when they fall due.
The SBS reported a number of major budget variances for 30 June 2020 including explanations for each. These variances included:
the adoption of the new leasing standard (AASB16) occurred during the 2019-20 financial year, noting that the implementation of AASB16 was not included in the original budget consistent with the whole of government approach;
advertising sales were higher than budget largely due to increased activity and better than budgeted advertising sales revenue, noting the launch of the SBS World Movies channel in July 2019;
increased value of Land and Buildings due to revaluation conducted in June 2019, noting that this was not included in the original budget, as the budget was prepared prior to the finalisation of the revaluation;
lower level of program inventory, noting the impact of COVID-19 on overall production activities;
payables reflecting a lower level of spend, noting COVID-19 and the timing of payments;
employee provisions were higher than budget, noting adjustments to the discounting of employee provisions associated with reductions in the government bond rate as at 30 June 2019 which was finalised after the original budget was prepared; and
discrepancy between the estimated and actual trade and other receivables, noting a lower than budgeted revenue at year end.
The ANAO’s independent report found that SBS’s financial statements for the year ended 30 June 2020 were compliant and presented fairly the financial position, financial performance, and cash flows of the entity.
As a corporate Commonwealth entity, SBS is required to prepare its annual report in accordance with the legislative requirements of the PGPA Rule. Entities are required to include the table set out in the PGPA Rule; however SBS provided a modified, shorthand version of the index without the complete list of requirements. Despite this, the report advised that it was prepared in accordance with the PGPA Act and other relevant legislation.
While most of the required information under the PGPA Rule was able to be located in the report, the omission of a relevant compliance index did not assist in the examination of this report. For example, a number of requirements under the PGPA Rule could not be identified within the report. For items not located, it is unclear whether that requirement was not applicable or was inadvertently omitted.
The committee expects to see the correct compliance index included in future annual reports which will enhance the accountability and accessibility of the report.
The committee considers that SBS has met its reporting obligations as a corporate Commonwealth entity under the PGPA Act and PGPA Rule and its annual report for 2019-20 to be 'apparently satisfactory'.
Industry, Science, Energy and Resources portfolio
Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources
The Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources 2019-20 annual report was presented to the President of the Senate on 15 October 2020 and tabled in the House of Representatives on 19 October, before being tabled in the Senate on 9 November.
In his review, the Secretary, Mr David Fredericks, provided a review covering the department’s role in the response to COVID-19 as well as some notable achievements over the 2019-20 period, including:
in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the department assisted with access to personal protective equipment and medical equipment, provision of a hotline for businesses impacted by the pandemic, worked closely with states and territories, energy market bodies and the energy industry to ensure a stable energy supply for Australian customers, redeployed casual employees from Questacon to Services Australia to assist with the increased workload, and department staff also provided assistance to the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission bringing industry, manufacturing and energy policy expertise;
the first rounds of the Regional and Remote Communities Reliability Fund were launched which will deliver $40 million in grants to help community groups and businesses lower their energy bills and reduce emissions. Feasibility studies in 17 microgrid projects were backed to support energy affordability and reliability in regional and remote Australia;
the announcement of an agreement to Australia’s fuel supplies, establishing the country’s first Government-owned oil reserves for domestic fuel security;
the release of the National Hydrogen Strategy which aims to remove barriers to industry development;
supporting the Australian Government in progressing the world-first Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain Pilot Project, a joint investment of the Australian and Victorian governments, which will test the feasibility of converting brown coal from the Latrobe Valley into hydrogen;
publication of the King Review which was the result of an expert panel on incentivising low cost abatement; and
delivery of the Technology Investment Roadmap discussion paper which provides a framework for setting economic stretch goals for priority technologies to accelerate their commercial competitiveness.
Following a revision to the Administrative Arrangements Order, which took effect from 1 February 2020, ‘Program 2.2: Adapting to climate change’ was transferred to the department.
The department noted that there were some difficulties in aligning corporate plans and annual performance statements due to ‘the notable variations of the reporting structures inherited from the three former departments’ (the former Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, the former Department of the Environment and Energy and the former Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business) and that it would ‘address this issue by establishing a more cohesive performance reporting structure for the 2020-21 reporting period.’
In its annual report, the department also noted:
The performance criteria set out in the Portfolio Budget Statements 2019-20 were overridden and/or superseded in the corporate plans 2019-20 of the former Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, the former Department of the Environment and Energy and the former Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business. As such, they are not reconciled in the Annual Performance Statements 2019-20 to avoid undue complexity in reporting, following the advice of the Department of Finance.
The department reported on progress towards its six purposes as set out in the corporate plans of the former departments and the alignment between the outcomes and purposes in the department’s annual performance statements for the 2019-20 reporting period. Of the six purposes, two relate to the energy portfolio, including ‘purpose 4: climate change’ and ‘purpose 5: energy’ and each purpose was assessed against intended results and performance criteria.
Under ‘purpose 4: climate change’, in relation to ‘intended result 4.1: shaping the global response to climate change’, some information was provided on the activities of the department in pursuit of this intended result, however the analysis could have benefitted from greater detail, particularly in measuring against the target and the development of more performance criteria in order to justify the stated result. Comparatively, ‘intended result 4.2: achieving Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets’, provided a greater level of detail and demonstrated clearer alignment between the performance criterion, target, yearly measures against the target and stated the result.
Similarly, the intended results under ‘purpose 5: energy’ provided sufficient detail in demonstrating the alignment between criteria, targets and results. However, greater consistency between performance reporting across the department’s purposes would enhance the readability and accessibility of the report. The committee acknowledges the difficulty of merging multiple portfolios and looks forward to the department’s more cohesive performance reporting structure for the 2020-21 reporting period.
The department reported corrections to errors in its 2018-19 annual report in relation to figures provided in the consultants section of the report. Corrections were made to the number of new and ongoing consultancy contracts and the total actual payments as a result of these contracts.
The committee considers that the department has met its reporting obligations and its 2019-20 annual report to be 'apparently satisfactory'.
The department reported a deficit in the reporting period pointing to the impact of the bushfires and COVID-19:
The department recorded a loss of $7.0 million in 2019-20 after excluding depreciation and amortisation, the impacts of AASB 16 Leases accounting adjustments and changes in the asset revaluation reserve through other comprehensive income. This deficit is largely due to unexpected reductions in revenue from the bushfires and COVID-19 restrictions, as well as increased expenditure on general resourcing to support the government’s COVID-19 response.
After taking into account depreciation and amortisation, the impacts of AASB 16 Leases accounting adjustments and changes in the asset revaluation reserve, the department recorded a loss of $37.1 million for 2019-20. This reflects the introduction of the net cash appropriation arrangements where appropriation for depreciation and amortisation expenses ceased. Entities now receive a separate capital budget provided through equity appropriations.
With net assets of $202.1 million, the department stated that it has sufficient financial and non-financial assets to settle its payables as and when they fall due.
The ANAO’s independent report found that the department’s financial statements for the year ended 30 June 2020 were compliant and presented fairly the financial position, financial performance, and cash flows of the department.
Climate Change Authority
The Climate Change Authority (CCA) 2019-2020 annual report was tabled in the House of Representatives on 20 October 2020 and subsequently tabled in the Senate on 9 November 2020.
The Chief Executive Officer, Mr Brad Archer, provided a brief review reflecting on the intersection of the challenges faced by Australia with regard to the bushfires and pandemic and the work of the CCA in 2019-20 noting the release of two relevant research reports, including: Prospering in a low-emissions world: An updated climate policy toolkit for Australia and Economic recovery, resilience and prosperity after the coronavirus. The CCA also completed and released its statutory review of the Emissions Reduction Fund legislation which is with the government for consideration.
According to the CCA’s annual report, its singular outcome and purpose is to:
Provide expert advice to the Australian Government on climate change mitigation initiatives, include through conducting regular and specifically commissioned reviews and undertaking climate change research.
This outcome is linked to ‘Program 1.1: Reviewing Climate Change Mitigation Policies’ and the entity’s performance is assessed against this outcome.
During the reporting period, in pursuit of the abovementioned purpose, the CCA undertook two main activities:
Activity 1: Commenced the 2020 review of the Emissions Reduction Fund (Carbon credits legislation)
Activity 2: Self-generated research and analysis:
Publication 1: Economic recovery, resilience and prosperity after the coronavirus
Publication 2: Prospering in a low-emissions world: An updated climate policy toolkit for Australia.
In line with the CCA’s 2019-2020 corporate plan, the CCA assessed its performance in 2019-20 against the following indicators:
advice is timely, high quality, well-received by stakeholders, and used in public policy forums and discussions;
public consultation processes are transparent, accessible and highly regarded by stakeholders; and
the secretariat supports effective decision making by the CCA.
The CCA summarised its activities against these indicators before providing a detailed report on performance which assessed the accomplishment of targets for each activity which were recorded as either 'met' or ‘on track to meet’.
The annual report provided a summary of the CCA’s financial performance in 2019-20. The CCA recorded an operating surplus of $108,000 for the year ended 30 June 2020 and stated that all of its financial obligations were met in 2019-20.
The annual report explained variances between the CCA’s original budget and its reported actuals, stating that:
Prior to the 2019-20 Federal Budget it was Government policy to wind up the Authority during the term of the then current Parliament. In the
2019-20 Federal Budget, the Government made a decision to retain the Authority. Through the subsequent 2019-20 Additional Estimates process, the Authority received additional funding to secure its ability to continue operations at current operating levels. The Authority had been receiving its funding through its Portfolio Department. The additional funding for 2019-20 was received via direct appropriation. Through the forward estimates, the Authority's funding is now via direct appropriations.
The Portfolio Budget Statements for the Authority were prepared based on the Authority only receiving in 2019-20 the amount to be provided via the Portfolio Department. The additional funding subsequently made available in the Additional Estimates process had not been determined at the time of the 2019-20 Budget. This explains a number of variances to the original budget, specifically in relation to the Statement of Financial Position, Statement of Changes in Equity and the Cash Flow Statement whereby the original budget is lower than reported actuals, and there is no direct appropriation present.
The ANAO’s independent report found that CCA’s financial statements for the year ended 30 June 2020 were compliant and presented fairly the financial position, financial performance, and cash flows of the entity.
As a non-corporate Commonwealth entity, CCA is required to prepare its annual report in accordance with the legislative requirements under the PGPA Rule. The PGPA Rule requires the list of requirements to be included in an entity’s annual report as an aid of access, including references to where the mandatory requirements are found in the annual report. Whilst the compliance index in CCA's annual report was included at the end of the report, the column which assists the reader to find which part of the report the requirement can be found was left blank.
The committee notes that the CCA has been previously reminded of these rules. In the Annual reports (No. 1 and No. 2 of 2019) the committee stated:
…the Climate Change Authority's annual report failed to provide any page references in its index of mandatory requirements. The committee suggests that providing accurate page references for all relevant PGPA Rule requirements will improve the overall accessibility of agency annual reports.
While most of the required information under the PGPA Rule was able to the located in the report, the omission of page references in the index did not assist in the examination of this report. For items not located, it is unclear as to whether that requirement was not applicable or was inadvertently omitted.
To further complicate the accessibility of the report, an alphabetical index was also not included in the report which is required under the PGPA Rule.
Under the section of the PGPA Rule which relates to management and accountability, non-corporate Commonwealth entities are required to include specific information relating to fraud. Whilst the CCA included the following passage in its annual report, the relevant sections under the PGPA Rule require this information to be certified by an accountable authority:
The Authority updated its Fraud Control Plan, with the revised version endorsed by the Audit Committee in March 2020. The plan complies with the requirements of the Commonwealth Fraud Control Policy and PGPA Act. The Fraud Control Plan sets the standards and processes for the management, control and reporting of actual fraud, suspected fraud and the risk of fraud. All suspected fraud matters are required to be reported to the CEO and Audit Committee.
As part of its ongoing fraud risk assessment activities, the Authority conducted a review of its fraud risks and a formal risk assessment. This included identifying control measures and proposed treatments. The plan requires all Authority staff to participate in fraud awareness training.
There were no incidents of suspected or actual fraud in 2019-20.
In future the CCA should include information to this effect in the letter of transmittal, which is signed off by the chief executive officer, as a means of certifying fraud compliance by an accountable authority as is the practice of many other agencies. Alternatively, a separate signed accountable authority statement could be included.
Entities must include the following statement in full in annual reports under the PGPA Rule: “Annual reports contain information about actual expenditure on contracts for consultancies. Information on the value of contracts and consultancies is available on the AusTender website.” CCA only included the second part of this statement in its annual report.
The PGPA Rule requires a website reference to where the entity’s Information Publication Scheme statement can be found, pursuant to Part II of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) which requires an agency to publish a plan showing how information will be published in accordance with Information Publication Scheme requirements. Whilst the CCA provided the following statement, in future a direct link to the website should be included:
The Authority publishes on its website all mandatory information on activities under the FOI Act.
The committee expects to see all mandatory information under the PGPA Rule included as well as the inclusion of page number references in the compliance index in future annual reports.
Overall, the committee considers the CCA 2019-20 annual report to be 'apparently satisfactory'.
Office of the National Wind Farm Commissioner
The Office of the National Wind Farm Commissioner (NWFC) annual report for the year ending 31 December 2019 was presented to the President of the Senate on 24 September 2020 and tabled in the House of Representatives and the Senate on 6 October.
As a non-statutory body, the NWFC’s annual reporting requirements are contained in the government response to the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration's Report on non-statutory bodies.
In the Commissioner’s review, Mr Andrew Dyer, spoke to the office’s activities for the period 1 January to 31 December 2019, including:
noting that 2019 was the first full calendar year in which the NWFC’s terms of reference included solar farms and energy storage projects;
with 36 large-scale renewable projects commissioned in 2019, the NWFC conducted a large number of project site visits, stakeholder consultations, community meetings and progressed various reforms;
the NWFC received 75 new complaints, down from 2018, with most of these relating to proposed wind farms (including projects under construction), relatively few complaints in relation to solar farm proposals, and no complaints about energy storage projects; and
attending 21 project site visits where stakeholders raised concerns largely relating to construction matters, visual amenity, compound impacts from multiple projects in close proximity, and environmental concerns.
According to the NWFC’s annual report, its key roles include:
facilitating the referral and resolution of complaints received from concerned residents about proposed or operating wind farms, large-scale solar farms (5 MW or more) and energy storage facilities such as large-scale batteries (1 MW or more);
providing greater transparency on information related to wind farms,
large-scale solar farms and energy storage in Australia; and
identifying and promoting best practices related to the planning, development and operation of energy projects, including standards and compliance, complaint handling procedures and community engagement.
The NWFC’s activities for the period are assessed against the National Wind Farm Commissioner Terms of Reference 2018-21.
The NWFC’s annual report provided extensive detail on the Commissioner’s observations and recommendations based on the NWFC’s 2018 report, including updates from 2019. The report also covered complaint management processes, a breakdown of complaints received during the period, as well as details on the resolution and closure of complaints. Further, the report discussed the NWFC’s role in stakeholder engagement as a means of resolving complaints, provision of information, and liaising with industry, government and experts.
The information provided in the report aligned with the NWFC’s terms of reference and demonstrated fulfilment of its roles. As such, the committee considers the NWFC annual report to be 'apparently satisfactory'.
The requirements contained in the government response to the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration's Report on
non-statutory bodies include a number of financial reporting requirements that were not contained within the NWFC’s annual report. These include:
Response to Recommendation 11: In cases where non-statutory bodies maintain its own accounts, annual reports of these bodies' activities are to include audited financial statements. In the case where a non-statutory body operates through its parent bodies' accounts, its activities should be incorporated in the program statements given in parent bodies' annual reports, so that receipts and expenditures are accounted for and reported on a program basis.
Response to Recommendation 12: Annual reports are required to show how the level remuneration (if any) paid to members of each non-statutory body is determined.
Response to Recommendation 13: Annual reports are required to show how each non-statutory body is funded, including information regarding other financial arrangements such as the kinds of expenditure that can be made from the funds provided, and the nature of secretariat services provided and the way these are funded.
The committee expects that the NWFC’s finances are reported as per the requirements contained in the government response to the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration's Report on non-statutory bodies. In the case where a non-statutory body’s finances are managed by the department, the department should provide clear reporting of the
non-statutory body’s financials in its annual report and, ideally, the
non-statutory body should provide a statement in its annual report referring to such an arrangement.
Senator the Hon David Fawcett