The Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation
Committee's (the committee) report on annual reports provides an overview of
the committee's examination of annual reports for the 2013–14 financial year
tabled by 31 October 2014. The committee is responsible for examining the
annual reports of departments and agencies within the portfolios of:
Infrastructure and Regional Development.
This is the first of two reports on annual reports that the committee is
required to produce this year.
Terms of reference
Under Senate Standing Order 25(20), annual reports of departments and
agencies shall stand referred to the legislation committees in accordance with
an allocation of departments and agencies in a resolution of the Senate. Each
(a) Examine each annual report
referred to it and report to the Senate whether the report is apparently
(b) Consider in more detail, and
report to the Senate on, each annual report which is not apparently
satisfactory, and on other annual reports which it selects for more detailed
(c) Investigate and report to the
Senate on any lateness in the presentation of annual reports.
(d) In considering an annual
report, take into account any relevant remarks about the report made in debate
in the Senate.
(e) If the committee so
determines, consider annual reports of departments and budget-related agencies
in conjunction with examination of estimates.
(f) 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.
(g) Draw to the attention of the
Senate any significant matters relating to the operations and performance of
the bodies furnishing the annual reports.
(h) 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.
Purpose of annual reports
The tabling and scrutiny of annual reports by Senate committees under
Standing Order 25(20) is an important element in the process of the government accountability
to Parliament. The information provided in annual reports is placed on the
public record and assists Parliament in its examination of the performance of
departments and agencies and the administration of government programs.
Reports referred to the committee
In accordance with Standing Order 25(20)(f), this report examines annual
reports tabled between 1 May 2014 and 31 October 2014. The committee examined the
Torres Strait Protected Zone Joint Authority—Report for 2010-11;
Australian Landcare Council—Report for 2012-13;
National Rural Advisory Council—Report for 2012-13;
Department of Agriculture—Report for 2013-14; and
Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority—Report
Infrastructure and Regional
International Air Services Commission—Report for 2013-14;
Australian Rail Track Corporation Limited—Report for 2013-14;
National Heavy Vehicle Regulator—Report for 2013-14;
Civil Aviation Safety Authority—Report for 2013-14;
Airservices Australia—Report for 2013-14;
Moorebank Intermodal Company—Report for 2014;
Australian River Co. Limited—Report for 2013;
National Transport Commission—Report for 2013-14;
Australian Maritime Safety Authority—Report for 2013-14;
Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development—Report for
Australian Transport Safety Bureau—Report for 2013-14.
Appendix 1 sets out a complete list of reports referred to the committee
during the period 1 May 2014 and 31 October 2014 (including those not examined).
This appendix includes references to the relevant legislation, the letter of
transmittal dates, the dates on which the annual reports were sent to, and
received by, the relevant minister, and the dates on which the annual reports
were tabled in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Reports not examined
The committee is not obliged to report on Acts, statements of corporate
intent, surveys, corporate plans or errata. The following five documents were
referred to the committee but have not been examined:
Report to Parliament on Live-stock Mortalities During Exports by
Sea for the Reporting Period 1 January to 30 June 2014;
Airservices Australia Corporate Plan 2014-2019;
Australian Rail Track Corporation Statement of Corporate Intent
Report on Movement Cap for Sydney Airport – quarterly report on
the maximum movement limit for the period 1 January to 31 March 2014; and
Report on Movement Cap for Sydney Airport – quarterly report on
the maximum movement limit for the period 1 April to 30 June 2014; and
Method of assessment
Senate Standing Orders require the committee to examine the annual
reports referred to it to determine whether they are timely and 'apparently
satisfactory'. In forming its assessment, the committee considers whether the
reports comply with the relevant legislation and guidelines for the preparation
of annual reports:
for departments of state and executive agencies these are: the Public
Service Act 1999, subsections 63(2) and 70(2), and the Requirements for
Annual Reports for Departments, Executive Agencies and FMA Act Bodies (Requirements
for Annual Reports), Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
(PM&C), approved by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit and
updated by PM&C on 29 May 2014;
for Commonwealth authorities and companies: the Commonwealth
Authorities and Companies Act 1997 (the CAC Act), sections 9, 36 and 48,
the Commonwealth Authorities (Annual Reporting) Orders 2011, the
Commonwealth Companies (Annual Reporting) Orders 2011 (CAC Orders) and
the requirements of the Corporations Act 2001;
for non-statutory bodies: the requirements are contained in the
Government response to the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance
and Government Operations on Non-statutory bodies.
Timeliness in tabling of annual reports
Standing Order 25(20)(c) requires the committee to report to the Senate
on the late presentation of annual reports.
Annual reports must be tabled in Parliament by 31 October each year,
except where an agency's own legislation specifies a timeframe for its annual
Those agencies reporting under the CAC Act are required to provide annual reports
to the minister by the 15th day of the fourth month after the end of
the financial year.
Where the financial year ends on 30 June, this deadline translates to 15
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.
The Senate Supplementary Budget Estimates hearings in 2014 were scheduled for
20-21 October 2014.
Where an agency's own legislation provides a timeframe for its annual
report, an alternative timeframe applies. However, the committee reminds such
bodies that there is a requirement upon them to ensure that annual reports are tabled
in Parliament by 31 October.
The committee has observed that while many agencies and other relevant
entities sent their report within the specified timeframes, a considerable
number were not tabled by 31 October 2014. The committee will continue to
monitor the matter of timeliness in future reports on annual reports.
Finally, the committee notes that the last annual report received from
the Torres Strait Protected Zone Joint Authority (PZJA) was in October 2014 for
the 2010-11 financial year. Under the relevant legislation, PZJA is required to
prepare an annual report 'as soon as practicable after 30 June in each year'.
The committee strongly encourages PZJA to provide the outstanding reports for
2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 as soon as possible and to complete all future
reports in a more timely fashion.
Comments on reports
The committee considers that the all reports received were 'apparently
satisfactory'. The following chapter of this report examines selected annual
reports in further detail.
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