Terms of reference
On 31 August 2016, 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
Home Affairs 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.
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.
This report examines annual reports tabled between 1 May 2018
and 31 October 2018. As discussed later, the report also includes the annual
report for the Department of Home Affairs, which has been included in the
committee's examination despite not being tabled in the Senate until after 31
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. 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
Departments and agencies report under the Public Governance,
Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act), which commenced on
1 July 2014. The PGPA Act 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 Commonwealth
entities, including that annual reports must comply with any requirements
prescribed by rules. Section 97 sets out the annual reporting requirements for
Commonwealth companies. The Public Governance,
Performance and Accountability Rule 2014 (PGPA Rule) supports
the PGPA Act.
Annual reports for the 2017–18 reporting period were prepared
under the following requirements:
for non-corporate Commonwealth entities (departments, executive
agencies and statutory agencies): the PGPA Act, section 46, and the PGPA Rule,
Division 3A(A); the Public Service Act 1999, sections 63(2) and 70(2);
and other relevant enabling legislation for statutory bodies;
for corporate Commonwealth entities: the PGPA Act, section 46,
and the PGPA Rule, Division 3A(AB); and other relevant enabling legislation
for statutory bodies;
for Commonwealth companies: PGPA Act, section 97, which also
refers to requirements under the Corporations Act 2001 and the PGPA
Rule, Part 3-3; and other relevant enabling legislation for statutory bodies;
for non-statutory bodies: the guidelines are contained in the
government response to the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration
Report on Non-Statutory bodies.
The Department of Finance has produced three Resource Management Guides (RMGs) which set out the
obligations for entities under the Act and provide guidance on fulfilling the
mandatory requirements for the contents of annual reports prescribed by the
Resource Management Guide No. 135: Annual reports for
non-corporate Commonwealth entities;
Resource Management Guide No. 136: Annual reports for
corporate Commonwealth entities; and
Resource Management Guide No. 137: Annual reports for
In addition to the RMGs
listed above, the Department of Finance has produced a guide intended to
improve the quality of non-financial performance information in annual reports,
Resource Management Guide No. 131: Developing good performance information.
This guide sets out best practice for developing and reporting on performance
measures, including key performance indictors and deliverables. The committee
recommends that agencies use this RMG when preparing their reports.
This report examines the following annual reports; tabled in
the Senate or presented out of session to the President of the Senate and
referred to the committee between 1 May 2018 and 31 October 2018:
Administrative Appeals Tribunal—report for 2017–18;
Attorney-General's Department—report for 2017–18;
Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity—report for
Australian Financial Security Authority—report for 2017–18;
Australian Human Rights Commission—report for 2017–18;
Australian Law Reform Commission—report for 2017–18;
Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions—report for 2017–18;
Commonwealth Ombudsman—report for 2017-18;
Family Court of Australia—report for 2017–18;
Federal Circuit Court of Australia—report for 2017–18;
Federal Court of Australia—report for 2017–18, including the
report of the National Native Title Tribunal;
Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security—report for
National Archives of Australia and National Archives of Australia
Advisory Council—report for 2017–18; and
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner—report for
Office of Parliamentary Counsel—report for 2017–18.
Home Affairs portfolio
Department of Home Affairs—report for 2017–18; and
Australian Federal Police (AFP)—report for 2017–18, including
reports on assumed identities, the National Witness Protection Program and
unexplained wealth investigations and proceedings.
Under 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 committee has found all reports referred in this period
to be 'apparently satisfactory' in reporting the annual performance of the
The reports of these departments and agencies are considered
in detail at chapters 1 and 2.
Under Standing Order 25(20)(c), the committee must also report
to the Senate on any lateness in the presentation of annual reports.
Section 46 of the PGPA Act sets out the requirements for the
presentation of annual reports for Commonwealth entities to the responsible
minister by the 15th day of the fourth month after the end of the reporting
period for the entity. For entities reporting on a financial-year basis, this
requires reports to be provided to the minister by 15 October of that year. RMG
No. 135, which relates to departments, executive agencies and other
non-corporate Commonwealth entities, and RMG 136, which relates to corporate
Commonwealth entities, states that:
It has been practice for the responsible Minister to present
the report to each house of the Parliament on or before 31 October. If Senate
Supplementary Budget Estimates hearings are scheduled to occur before 31 October,
Ministers have sought to table annual reports prior to these hearings.
Where a body is unable to meet this deadline, an extension
of time to report can be sought under the provisions of subsections 34C(4)–(7)
of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901.
Section 97 of the PGPA Act sets out the requirements for the
provision of annual reports of Commonwealth companies to the responsible
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 May 2018 and 31 October 2018, 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
Subject to the exception described below, the annual reports
included and examined in this report were tabled in the Senate and referred to
the committee by 31 October 2018.
This date for reporting applied to all reports examined.
The annual reports of a number of
agencies were provided to the Minister by the prescribed date of 15 October 2018
and subsequently tabled in the House of Representatives before, or at the time
of, the Supplementary Budget Estimates hearings (23 and 24 October 2018).
However, the reports of some agencies or departments were not received by the
Senate or referred to the committee until 12 November 2018.
These entities included:
Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission;
Australian Federal Police;
Australian Financial Security Authority
Australian Institute of Criminology;
Australian Security Intelligence Organisation; and
Department of Home Affairs;
The committee notes that these agencies' annual reports were
tabled in the House of Representatives by the correct date, but were delayed in
their tabling in the Senate and subsequent referral to the committee.
The committee thus accepts the reports as being provided to
the Parliament on time, but will consider these agencies' annual reports in Report
on Annual Reports (No 2. of 2019).
The report for the Department of Home Affairs was tabled in
the House of Representatives on 18 October 2018 but was not tabled in the
Senate or referred to the committee until 12 November 2018. Although the
deadline for the report's provision to the committee within the appointed time
was missed, the committee accepts that tabling and referral of the report in
the Senate was unintentionally delayed. The committee has therefore decided to
include the report in its consideration of annual reports in this Report on
Annual Reports (see Chapter 1).
The committee continues to encourage bodies to table annual
reports before the Supplementary Budget Estimates hearings in October each
year, in accordance with best practice, as outlined in RMG No. 135 and RMG No.
Comments made in the Senate
Under the terms of Standing Order 25(20)(d), the committee is
required to take into account any relevant remarks made about an annual report
in debate in the Senate.
On this occasion, the committee is unaware of any occasions
during which an annual report was remarked upon during debate in the Senate
during the period between 1 May and 31 October 2018.
Requirement for non-reporting bodies to report
In accordance with Standing Order 25(20)(h), the committee
is required to report on bodies that do not present an annual report to the
Senate and which should present such a report.
On this occasion, the committee is unaware of any other body
required to table an annual report for 2017–18 which has failed to do so.
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