Terms of reference
On 29 September 2010, a resolution of the Senate allocated
the following portfolios to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation
Committee (the committee):
Attorney-General's portfolio; and
- Immigration and Citizenship portfolio.
This report was prepared pursuant to Standing Order 25(20)
relating to the consideration of annual reports by committees. The Standing
Annual reports of departments and agencies shall stand
referred to the committees in accordance with an allocation of departments and
agencies in a resolution of the Senate. Each committee shall:
each annual report referred to it and report to the Senate whether the report
is apparently satisfactory;
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;
and report to the Senate on any lateness in the presentation of annual reports;
considering an annual report, take into account any relevant remarks about the
report made in debate in the Senate;
the committee so determines, consider annual reports of departments and
budget-related agencies in conjunction with examination of estimates;
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;
to the attention of the Senate any significant matters relating to the
operations and performance of the bodies furnishing the annual reports; and
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.
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
Parliament, as the information provided in annual reports assists in the
effective examination of the performance of departments and agencies, and the
administration of government programs.
Annual reporting requirements
Standing Order 25(20)(f) requires that committees 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.
Pursuant to subsections 63(2) and 70(2) of the Public
Service Act 1999, departments of state and executive agencies must prepare
annual reports in accordance with the Requirements for Annual Reports for Departments,
Executive Agencies and FMA Act Bodies (Requirements for Annual Reports). As
a matter of policy, the Requirements for Annual Reports also apply to
prescribed agencies under section 5 of the Financial Management and
Accountability Act 1997 (FMA Act).
The 2011–12 annual reports are prepared in accordance with the
Requirements for Annual Reports issued on 28 June 2012. Amendments to the
latest issue of the Requirements for Annual Reports are:
Consultancy reporting – recognising the functionality provided by
the AusTender database, the requirement to provide details of consultancy contracts
let in the reporting year...has been omitted.
Carer recognition – a new requirement has been added for public
service care agencies to report on compliance with the Carer Recognition Act
- Freedom of information – simplification of reporting following
accommodation of major reforms to freedom of information reporting in the 2010–11
Orders made by the minister under section 48 of the Commonwealth
Authorities and Companies Act 1997 (CAC Act) set out guidelines for
the annual reports of Commonwealth authorities. The content of annual reports
of Commonwealth companies is based on the reporting requirements under the Corporations
Act 2001, in accordance with section 36 of the CAC Act.
Statutory authorities must also report in accordance with
their establishing legislation.
Guidelines for the annual reports of non-statutory bodies
are set out in the government response to recommendations of the then Senate
Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations, in its report entitled
Reporting Requirements for the Annual Reports of Non-Statutory Bodies. The
government response was incorporated into the Senate Hansard of 8 December
Under the terms of Standing Order 25(20)(a), the committee
is required to report to the Senate whether reports are 'apparently
satisfactory'. In making this assessment, the committee considers such aspects
as compliance with relevant reporting guidelines.
The reports examined by the committee in this report were
found to be of a satisfactory standard, adequately describing the functions,
activities, performance and financial positions of the departments and
agencies. The committee finds all submitted annual reports to be
Under Standing Order 25(20)(c), the committee must also report
to the Senate on any lateness in the presentation of annual reports.
In accordance with the Requirements for Annual Reports, agencies
are required to present:
A copy of the annual report...to each House of the Parliament
on or before 31 October in the year in which the report is given. 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 hearings.
Where an agency's own legislation provides a timeframe for its
annual report, for example "within six months" or "as soon as
practicable after 30 June in each year", that timeframe applies.
If a department or agency is unable to meet this deadline,
the secretary or agency head is to advise the responsible minister of the
reasons for the delay and the expected tabling date. The responsible minister
is to table this explanation in the Parliament.
9(1) of the CAC Act requires the director of a Commonwealth authority to:
- prepare an annual
report in accordance with Schedule 1 for each financial year; and
- give it to the
responsible Minister by the deadline for the financial year for presentation to
- The deadline is:
- the 15th day of the
4th month after the end of the financial year; or
- the end of such
further period granted under subsection 34C(5) of the Acts Interpretation
Under section 36 of the CAC Act:
A Commonwealth company must give the responsible Minister:
- a copy of the
company's financial report, directors' report and auditor's report that the
company is required by the Corporations Act 2001 to have for the
financial year (or would be required by that Act to have if the company were a
public company); and
- any additional report under subsection (2); and
- in the case of a wholly-owned Commonwealth company— any additional
information or report required by the Finance Minister's Orders.
- (1A) The Commonwealth
company must give the reports and information by:
- if the company is
required by the Corporations Act 2001 to hold an annual general
meeting—the earlier of the following:
- 21 days before the
next annual general meeting after the end of the financial year;
- 4 months after the end of the financial year; and
- in any other case—4
months after the end of the financial year; or the end of such further period
granted under subsection 34C(5) of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901.
In the absence of any specific provision, the Acts
Interpretation Act 1901 requires bodies to present annual reports to ministers
within six months after the end of the period reported upon (subsection
34C(2)), and ministers must table reports within 15 sitting days after
A table listing the annual reports of departments and agencies
tabled in the Senate (or presented out of session to the President of the
Senate) between 1 November 2012 and 30 April 2013, and which have been referred
to the committee for examination, can be found at Appendix 1.
Also included in this table is the date each report was tabled in the House of
The annual reports of FMA Act bodies examined in this report
missed the 31 October 2012 tabling deadline for the Senate.
Although the report of the High Court of Australia was tabled after
31 October 2012, the High Court of Australia (which is a body not bound by the
FMA Act), presented its annual report in accordance with its respective
In accordance with best practice, as outlined in the
Requirements for Annual Reports, the committee encourages bodies to table
annual reports before the supplementary budget estimates hearings in October
Requirement to report agencies for non-reporting
In accordance with Standing Order 25(20)(h), the committee must
report bodies which are required to present an annual report to the Senate but
which have failed to do so.
On this occasion, the committee is unaware of any body
required to table an annual report which has failed to do so.
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