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 30 April 2015. The committee is responsible for examining the annual
reports of departments and agencies within the portfolios of:
Infrastructure and Regional Development.
This is the second 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
- Examine each annual report
referred to it and report to the Senate whether the report is apparently
- 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
- 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 year.
- Draw to the attention of the
Senate any significant matters relating to the operations and performance of
the bodies furnishing the annual reports.
- 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 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 November 2014 and 30 April 2015. The committee
examined the following reports:
Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation—Report for
Wine Australia Corporation —Report for 2013-14;
Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation—Report for
Fisheries Research and Development Corporation—Report for 2013-14;
Grains Research and Development Corporation—Report for 2013-14;
Cotton Research and Development Corporation—Report for 2013-14;
Australian Fisheries Management Authority—Report for 2013-14;
Queensland Fisheries Joint Authority—Reports for 2006-07 to
Queensland Fisheries Joint Authority—Report for 2013-14;
- Northern Territory Fisheries Joint Authority—Reports for 2008-09
Northern Territory Fisheries Joint Authority—Report for 2013-14;
Western Australian Fisheries Joint Authority—Reports for 2005-06
Western Australian Fisheries Joint Authority—Report for 2013-14;
National Rural Advisory Council—Report for 2013-14; and
Dairy Australia Limited—Report for 2013-14.
Infrastructure and Regional
National Capital Authority—Report for 2013-14.
Appendix 1 sets out a complete list of reports referred to the committee
during the period 1 November 2014 and 30 April 2015 (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 documents were referred
to the committee but have not been examined:
Airservices Australia—Report on Movement Cap for Sydney
Airport—Quarterly report on the maximum movement limit for the period 1 July to
30 September 2014;
Airservices Australia—Report on Movement Cap for Sydney
Airport—Quarterly report on the maximum movement limit for the period 1 October
to 31 December 2014; and
Report for 2013-14 in relation to compliance with the statutory
funding agreement between the Commonwealth of Australia and Dairy Australia Limited;
Joint Australian and Western Australian Government Response to
the Review of the Implementation of the Regional Forest Agreement for the
South-West Forest Region of Western Australia for the Period 1999-2009;
Joint Australian and New South Wales Government Response to the
Final Report on Progress with Implementation of NSW Regional Forest Agreements:
Report of Independent Assessor: February 2014; and
Local Government National— Report for 2011-12.
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
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 observes 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.
The committee also notes the extremely overdue provision of annual
reports dating from 2008 to 2013 for the Northern Territory Fisheries Joint
Authority, 2006 to 2013 for the Queensland Fisheries Joint Authority, and 2005
to 2013 for the Western Australia Fisheries Joint Authority. Under the Fisheries
Management Act 1991 (the Act), a joint authority is required to prepare a
report on its activities in the immediately preceding financial year and the
condition during that year of the relevant fisheries as soon as practicable
after 30 June in each year. In addition, the Act requires that the Commonwealth
minister ensure a copy of this report is to be presented before both the House
of Representatives and the Senate as soon as practicable after the preparation
of the report.
While the committee acknowledges the explanation for the delay provided
by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority in regard to the Queensland
Fisheries Joint Authority, the committee strongly encourages the timely
provision of future annual reports from these three authorities.
Comments on reports
The committee notes that the 2013-14 annual reports of the Grape and
Wine Research and Development Corporation (GWRDC) and the Wine Australia
Corporation (Wine Australia) were the final reports for these two bodies. The
Australian Grape and Wine Authority (AGWA), formed on 1 July 2014 through the
amalgamation of GWRDC and Wine Australia, will present its first report for the
period 2014-15. The committee notes the work of both GWRDC and Wine Australia
during the transition period and will follow the progress of AGWA in its goals
of improved strategic alignment and research for the wine industry in its future
reports on annual reports.
The committee considers that all reports received were 'apparently
satisfactory'. The following chapter of this report examines selected annual
reports in further detail.
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