The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee (the
committee) is responsible for examining the annual reports of the departments
and agencies of the Attorney-General's Portfolio and the Home Affairs Portfolio.
This report on annual reports (No. 1 of 2020) provides an overview of the
committee's examination of annual reports presented to the Parliament between
1 May 2019 and 31 October 2019.
Copies of this and other committee reports can be obtained from the Senate
Table Office, the committee secretariat, or online at the committee's web page.
Terms of reference
Under Senate Standing Order 25(20), the annual reports of certain
departments and agencies stand referred to committees for examination and
assessment. 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
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
4 July 2019.
In accordance with that resolution, the committee has responsibility for the
oversight of the following:
Home Affairs Portfolio.
Performance Reporting Framework
The Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013
(PGPA Act) established a performance reporting framework for all
Commonwealth entities and companies. Section 38 of the PGPA Act requires
all Commonwealth entities to measure and assess their performance.
Section 39 of the PGPA Act requires all Commonwealth entities to prepare
an annual performance statement and include those statements in their annual
reports. Entities use annual performance statements to report on the results
achieved against the targets, goals and measures established at the beginning of
a reporting year in the relevant corporate plan and Portfolio Budget Statements
These documents are an essential part of the accountability system that
provides the minister, the Parliament and the public with detailed information
about the actual financial and non‑financial performance of entities
through the cycle of reporting periods, and facilitate the examination of how
the use of public resources achieve the intended results for a Commonwealth body.
The Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014
(PGPA Rule) supports the implementation of the PGPA Act and outlines the
requirements of annual reports for Commonwealth entities.
Requirements for 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 government
Different types of Commonwealth bodies have separate provisions for
annual reporting which affect content and preparation requirements. Legislative
provisions for Commonwealth bodies include:
Non-corporate Commonwealth entity—section 46 of the
PGPA Act and Subdivision A of Division 3A of Part 2–3 of the PGPA Rule;
Corporate Commonwealth entity—section 46 of the PGPA Act and
Subdivision B of Division 3A of Part 2–3 of the PGPA Rule;
Commonwealth company—section 97 of the PGPA Act,
which refers to additional requirements under the Corporations Act 2001 and
Part 3–3 of the PGPA Rule;
Statutory office holders and statutory bodies—statutory office
holders are engaged or employed under an Act, which may prescribe annual
reporting requirements pursuant to the office. It should be noted that there
may be reporting requirements in the enabling legislation for statutory bodies
(which may also be a Commonwealth entity); and
Non-statutory bodies (NSBs)—NSBs are established by a minister
and are not pursuant to a statute. Guidelines for the preparation of annual
reports for NSBs are contained in the government response to the Senate
Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration report on non-statutory
In addition to legislative requirements, the Department of Finance
(Finance) provides guidance material for Commonwealth entities and companies
which sets out further detail on the content requirements for annual reports
under the Commonwealth performance framework in accordance with the PGPA Act
and PGPA Rule.
The material available from this website includes the following guides which
apply to the reports being examined:
Resource Management Guide No. 135—Annual reports for non-corporate
- Resource Management Guide No. 136—Annual reports for corporate
Commonwealth entities; and
Resource Management Guide No. 137—Annual reports for
The committee notes that Finance published updated versions of these
guidance documents in May 2019 intended for 2018–19 annual reports, which
include implementation steps resulting from the Independent review into the
PGPA Act (the review).
Following the review, two amendments to the PGPA Rule were registered on
4 April 2019. These amendments—the Public Governance, Performance and
Accountability Amendment (Annual Reporting) Rules 2019 and the Public
Governance, Performance and Accountability Amendment (Reporting Executive
Remuneration) Rules 2019—affect reporting obligations for entities' and
Commonwealth companies' annual reports from the 2018–19 period.
The amendments expand the Commonwealth entity and company annual
reporting requirements in the following ways:
Public Governance, Performance and
Accountability Amendment (Annual Reporting) Rules 2019
providing for annual reports to be published using Finance's
digital reporting tool as soon as practicable after presentation to the
creating a requirement to report on statistics of all employees
of an entity or company (in addition to statistics on Australian Public Service
(APS) employees of the entity or company); and
inclusion of compliance index templates for corporate
Commonwealth entities and companies, in a structure similar to the existing
compliance index for non-corporate commonwealth entities.
Public Governance, Performance and
Accountability Amendment (Reporting Executive Remuneration) Rules 2019
providing for further requirements for Commonwealth entities and
companies to report on the details of the remuneration of key management
personnel and other senior executives in their annual report;
establishing further requirements for Commonwealth entities and
companies to report on their policies and practices for the remuneration of key
management personnel; and
requiring Commonwealth entities and companies to publish their
annual reports on their website as soon as practicable after tabling in either
House of Parliament, if required to do so.
The committee assessed Commonwealth entities' and companies' annual
reports for compliance with these new requirements. The committee's assessment
is set out in this report.
In accordance with Standing Order 25(20)(f), this report examines annual
reports tabled in the period 1 May 2019 to 31 October 2019. In this period, 25
annual reports of Commonwealth entities, companies and statutory office holders
were tabled and referred to the committee. The annual reports examined in this report
are categorised as follows:
Administrative Appeals Tribunal—report for 2018–19;
Attorney-General's Department—report for 2018–19;
Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity—report for
Australian Financial Security Authority—report for 2018–19;
Australian Human Rights Commission—report for 2018–19;
Australian Law Reform Commission—report for 2018–19;
Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions—report for 2018–19;
Commonwealth Ombudsman—report for 2018–19;
Family Court of Australia—report for 2018–19;
Federal Circuit Court of Australia—report for 2018–19;
Federal Court of Australia—report for 2018–19, including the
report of the National Native Title Tribunal;
Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security—report for 2018–19;
National Archives of Australia and National Archives of Australia
Advisory Council—report for 2018–19;
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner—report for 2018–19;
Office of Parliamentary Counsel—report for 2018–19.
Home Affairs portfolio
Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre—report for
Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission—report for 2018–19;
Australian Institute of Criminology—report for 2018–19;
Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO)—report for
Department of Home Affairs—report for 2018–19; and
Australian Federal Police (AFP)—report for 2018–19, including
reports on delayed notification search warrants, the National Witness
Protection Program and unexplained wealth investigations and proceedings.
The committee is not obliged to examine reports on the operation of
Acts, policy papers, budget documents or corporate plans. A list of all reports
referred to the committee, including those not examined in this report can be
found at Appendix 1.
Section 46 of the PGPA Act requires Commonwealth entities (corporate and
non-corporate) to prepare annual reports and for such reports to be provided to
the responsible minister by the 15th day of the fourth month after
the end of the reporting period for the entity. The PGPA Act does not provide a
timeframe for presentation to the Parliament; however the minister is obliged
to present it within 15 sitting days upon receiving the report.
The PGPA Rule 2014 states that annual reports for corporate Commonwealth
entities, non-corporate Commonwealth entities and Commonwealth companies must
comply with the guidelines for presenting documents to the Parliament.
The Guidelines for the Presentation of Documents to the Parliament
(including Government Documents, Government Responses to Committee Reports and
Other Instruments), prepared by the Department of the Prime Minister and
Cabinet (PM&C), were superseded by new Tabling Guidelines (the
guidelines), which were published in June 2019.
The revised PM&C guidelines direct Commonwealth entities and
companies to consult the Finance resource management guides for information
about the preparation, content and reporting timeframes for annual reports.
Timeliness of reports examined
Standing Order 25(20)(c) requires the committee to report to the Senate
on the late presentation of annual reports. The committee considers the timely
presentation of annual reports to be an important element in accountability to
the Parliament and reiterates its preference of having annual reports available
to the Parliament before Supplementary Budget Estimates hearings.
Appendix 1 lists the annual reports tabled between 1 May 2019 and 31 October
2019 and referred to the committee for examination. This table includes the
dates the reports were tabled in the Senate (or received by the President out
of session) and the House of Representatives. For the purposes of the committee's
examination of timeliness, the earlier date is taken as the presentation date
to the Parliament. The table also includes the dates the reports were submitted
to, and received by, the minister, if available.
The committee notes that all Commonwealth entities submitted their
annual reports to the responsible minister by the prescribed date of
15 October 2019. However, a number of reports were tabled on the date
immediately preceding Supplementary Budget Estimates hearings on 21 and 22
October 2019. The committee reminds entities of best practice advice articulated
within the PM&C guidelines, which states that reports should be tabled
before the commencement of Supplementary Estimates hearings.
The committee encourages Commonwealth entities and companies to prepare
annual reports in accordance with the timeframe outlined by the PGPA Rule, the
PM&C guidelines and the Finance resource management guides.
Bodies which have not presented annual reports to the Parliament
Standing order 25(20)(h) requires the committee to report to the Senate
on whether there were any bodies that were required but failed to present an
annual report to the Senate. The committee notes that all relevant bodies in
the portfolios over which the committee has oversight presented annual reports
to the Senate.
Annual reports referred to in the Senate
Under Standing Order 25(20)(d), the committee is required to take into consideration
any remarks made in the Senate about each annual report. The committee notes
that there were no relevant remarks about tabled annual reports in the Senate
for the periods covered in this report.
Standing Order 25(20)(a) requires the committee to report to the Senate
on whether the annual reports referred to it in the relevant period were 'apparently
In assessing these reports, the committee has taken into consideration the
position of the annual reports within the Commonwealth performance framework,
the legislative requirements for the reports, and guidance for best practice
issued by the PM&C guidelines and the Finance resource management guides.
The committee considers all reports examined to be 'apparently satisfactory',
however, as noted above, it continues to encourage Commonwealth bodies to aim
for standards of best practice in preparing annual reports.
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