Annual reports of departments
The annual reports of the following departments for the financial year 2018-19, were referred to the
committee for examination and report:
Attorney-General's Department (the AGD); and
Department of Home Affairs (the DHA).
The 2018-19 annual report was tabled in the Senate on 11 November 2019,
after having been tabled in the House of Representatives on 21 October 2019.
The report was available to senators for the Supplementary Budget Estimates
2018-19 hearing on 22 October 2019.
In his review for 2018-19, the Secretary of the AGD, Mr Chris Moraitis
PSM, noted the department's continued support of the Attorney-General by
providing high‑quality advice to government and delivering policies and
programs. He particularly highlighted the AGD's work in areas affecting
vulnerable people, including:
family law reform, following the release of the Australian Law
Reform Commission's review of the family law system on 10 April 2019;
preparation and execution of the National Apology to Victims and
Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse on 22 October 2018;
integral involvement in the establishment of both the Royal
Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety and the Royal Commission into
Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with a Disability.
The Secretary noted the AGD's work in formulating legislative responses
to significant events, including the judgment in Griffiths v State of Northern
Territory (Timber Creek), a decision he described as one of the most
significant native title decisions since Mabo and Wik.
He also noted the swift contribution of the AGD to legislative reform in
response to food contamination events and the sharing of violent material
through the passage of criminal laws.
Mr Moraitis noted the AGD's instrumental role in the commencement of the
Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme in 2018, and the additional controls that
were implemented under the scheme for election periods.
The Secretary's year in review noted the AGD's international successes, including:
the department's contribution to Papua New Guinea's hosting of the Asia‑Pacific
Economic Cooperation forum; the assistance the AGD provided to Pacific Island
countries to advance cybercrime laws; and the department's continued
contributions to the response to the downing of flight MH17, to name a few.
The Secretary's outlook for 2019-20 noted the incorporation of
industrial relations into the AGD following amendment to the Administrative
Arrangements Order announced on 29 May 2019. Mr Moraitis stated that concurrent
to that transition, the AGD would be furthering government priorities,
including: the development of a religious discrimination bill; the establishment
of a Commonwealth Integrity Commission; and further progression of family law
The AGD has made further refinements to its structure for performance
evaluation implemented during the 2017-18 reporting period, applying three high‑level
key performance indicators (KPIs), as opposed to the four proffered previously.
effectiveness in achieving objectives;
efficiency in meeting goals; and
Each of these are used
to measure achievement of the AGD's five strategic priorities.
Performance criteria and targets under each strategic priority are
outlined in the Portfolio Budget Statement (PBS) for 2018-19.
This is, in turn, reflected in the Corporate Plan 2018-19.
The Corporate Plan outlines the relevant KPIs under each strategic priority and
explains how each are connected to the performance criteria
outlined in the PBS.
The performance statement
contained in the annual report reflects a combination of the performance
criteria in the PBS and the KPIs set by the Corporate Plan. This approach
provides a 'clear read' when compared with the PBS and Corporate Plan.
The methodology employed in undertaking the evaluation of the AGD's
performance against the KPIs was largely based on client and stakeholder
surveys, and by reference to the World Justice Project Rule of Law Index and
the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index. Two surveys were
undertaken: the Australian Government Solicitor Group's biennial client survey;
and an independently conducted stakeholder survey across the other departmental
In respect of the former, over 2,000 clients were invited to participate, and
430 responses were received.
In respect of the latter, more than 1700 stakeholders were invited to
participate, and more than 450 responses were received. The latter survey
sought views on two of the three KPIs: efficiency and effectiveness.
The two Indexes were used to garner indicators of community perceptions and
The committee has noted on two previous occasions that one performance
criterion, 'Community impact', has not been applied to Strategic Priority 1:
Legal in either its annual report statement or its Corporate Plan.
The 2018-19 annual report appears to continue this trend.
The committee has raised a number of apparent anomalies with this approach,
including the resultant inconsistency in evaluation of programs that appear in
multiple strategic priorities, especially in light of a lack of explanation in
any of the PBS, the Corporate Plan or the annual report.
It would be of benefit to the committee if, should the trend continue in the
2019-20 annual report, an explanation might be provided as to why 'Community
Impact' is not applied to this strategic priority.
The AGD largely met its KPIs, with the exception of the following:
Strategic priority 1 (Legal), Target 5: Efficiency–Royal
Commission private session transcripts provided within six weeks of request.
The AGD stated that the nature of the Royal Commission into Institutional
Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (which was the first to hold public hearings)
raised 'complicated legal questions' requiring regulatory amendments and policy
changes, which in turn delayed provision of the transcripts.
Strategic priority 2 (Integrity), Target 3: Community Impact–a
score of 80 or more on the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions
Index. Australia's score was 77.
No further discussion was provided.
Strategic priority 3 (Security), Target 1: Effectiveness–stakeholder
satisfaction with the effectiveness of the department's delivery of national
security and criminal justice priorities. 63 per cent of respondents expressed
satisfaction, compared to a target of 80 per cent.
Strategic priority 3 (Security), Target 3: Efficiency–referred to
stakeholder satisfaction with the efficiency in policy advice, program work and
legislative change under this strategic priority. The recorded satisfaction
rate was 74 per cent, against a benchmark of 80 per cent. The AGD identified a
number of factors that might have contributed to this result, including a
limited pool in the number of stakeholders available to participate in the
relevant survey, and the time constraint imposed on the parliamentary year by
the May 2019 federal election, which limited time in which targets might be
Strategic priority 3 (Security), Target 4: Community
Impact–Australia's regional and global position on criminal justice (Factor 8)
in the World Justice Project's Rule of Law Index. Australia achieved a score of
0.73 and a ranking of 12, compared to a target score of greater than 0.75.
Australia's ranking improved by one place from its previous position.
As in respect to Target 3, the AGD identified a small pool of available
stakeholders, and the shortened parliamentary year as a result of the federal
election as possible contributory factors to this result. 
Strategic priority 5 (Rights), Target 1: Effectiveness–Stakeholder
satisfaction with the department's effectiveness in enabling a free society.
The recorded satisfaction rate was 77 per cent, compared to a target of 80 per
The AGD noted that this satisfaction rate was an increase from the previous
year (75 per cent), but referred again to the impact of the federal election in
May 2019 on the amount of time available to achieve targets.
The AGD recorded a surplus of $5.623 million (after providing for income
tax expenses and asset revaluation) compared to a surplus of $20.506 million in
In the Secretary's year in review, Mr Moraitis attributed the surplus to a
strong performance by the Australian Government Solicitor and the timing of
implementing budget measures.
The total administered expenses for the financial year was reported to
be $413.222 million, which was a slightly reduced figure compared to the 2017-18
period which reported $426.166 million in total administered expenses. The
expenses for the reported financial year included $47.347 million for the royal
commissions, $284.481 million in grants payments, and $16.709 million paid to
the corporate entities within the portfolio.
The committee considers the report to be 'apparently satisfactory'.
Department of Home Affairs
Tabling of report
The 2018-19 annual report was tabled in the Senate and the House of
Representatives on 16 October 2019. The report was available to senators for
the Supplementary Budget Estimates 2018-19 hearing on 21 October 2019.
The committee notes that neither the Secretary's nor the Commissioner's
transmittal letter is dated by the accountable authority on the date that the
final text was approved as required by PGPA Rule 17AD(g).
Secretary's and Commissioner's
The Secretary of Home Affairs, Mr Michael Pezzullo, and the Commissioner
of the Australian Border Force (ABF), Mr Michael Outram APM, provided separate
reviews for the annual report.
In the Secretary's review, Mr Pezzullo emphasised the DHA's continued
contribution towards Australia's prosperity, national security and unity by
delivering services such as: Australia's Migration Program; responses to
national disasters; modernisation to support Australian businesses and
travellers; and the improvement of strategy, planning and coordination of
domestic security and law enforcement.
Mr Pezzullo stated that following the establishment of the Home Affairs
Portfolio in December 2017, the DHA prioritised supporting its people and
embedding its organisational culture in 2018-19.
The DHA pursued new initiatives at the graduate level, with 103 graduates
commencing in February 2019 who would undertake a 12 month program which
includes the completion of a Diploma in Government.
Leadership development was also prioritised, with a number of initiatives,
including capability assessments, conferences and other learning opportunities
The DHA developed a Statement of Commitment to promote diversity and
inclusivity in the workplace.
In looking forward, Mr Pezzullo stated that the DHA would continue to
build on successes in the following year, with a focus on improvement to
service provision to the community and government.
In the Commissioner's review, Mr Outram highlighted the ABF's position
as a 'global influencer within the international customs and border enforcement
Mr Outram noted that while the ABF maintains operational independence from DHA,
both entities have complimentary imperatives: 'the facilitation of travel and
trade, and the security of Australia's border'.
The Commissioner noted that 53 million air cargo consignments and 2.3 million
sea cargo containers were processed in the reporting period, culminating in
324,697 detections of prohibited and restricted goods.
Further, a record 35,763 detections of illicit drugs and precursors were
recorded, with an overall weight of 19,440 kilograms.
The Commissioner's review noted that the DHA, with the support of the
ABF, commenced the Future Maritime Surveillance Capability Project, which aims
to ensure that marine capability is kept well positioned to address threats in
the maritime context.
The annual performance statement clearly draws links between the
relevant PBS outcomes and purposes, and the purposes and correlating Strategic
Performance Measures contained in the Corporate Plan to provide a 'clear read'.
The annual report notes that the performance measures in the report have been
updated to accurately account for the Machinery-of-Government change in
Most KPIs were met or partially met. Those that were not met are as
Purpose 3 (Advance Trade and Revenue), KPI 3.2.2–Increased level
of compliant Import and Export Declarations. The DHA reviewed 5,720 Import
Declarations, a decrease from the 6,175 reviewed in 2017-18. Of those reviewed,
75.4 per cent were compliant, a decrease of 2.1 per cent from the previous
reporting period. 668 Export Declarations were reviewed, compared to 895 from
the previous period. Of those reviewed, 50.9 per cent were compliant, a
decrease from 68 per cent in the previous reporting period.
Purpose 3 (Advance Trade and Revenue), KPI 3.2.3–Increase in
voluntary compliance resulting from the range of industry engagement
initiatives compared with the previous year. In the reporting period, 51
voluntary disclosure cases by importers were finalised, compared to 55 cases
from the previous reporting period. The annual report notes the fluctuations in
figures common in initiatives that rely on self-reporting, and states that
reported values are not indicative of seasonal trends or operational tempo, nor
are they a predictor of future trends.
The committee notes the failure to meet a number of KPIs. However, the
committee recognises that Home Affairs largely explained the causes of this.
The committee commends Home Affairs' overall continued success in achieving
The total departmental operating result for 2018-19 was a $344.69
million deficit, an increase from the $324.4 million deficit seen in the
previous reporting period. The DHA notes, however, that, had the Australian government
funded depreciation and amortisation expenses, the total departmental operating
result would have been a $0.24 million surplus.
The DHA reported that the reporting period's administered expenses were
$2.04 billion, a decrease from the previous reporting period of $2.36 billion.
The difference between the reporting periods was attributable to the gifting of
infrastructure to the Papua New Guinea government after the cessation of
Australia's involvement in managing the Manus Island Regional Processing
Home Affairs' net asset position was $1.23 billion (assets minus
liabilities), representing a decrease from the previous reporting period by
$91.04 million. Liabilities equated to 43 per cent of the total asset base.
Management of human resources
In previous annual reports, the committee has noted the omission of
statistics relating to the number of employees who identified as Indigenous as
is required under PGPA Rule 17AG(4)(b).
The committee notes the inclusion of this statistic in the current annual
and congratulates the DHA on improving its compliance with the PGPA Rules.
The committee considers the report to be 'apparently satisfactory'.
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