The Australian Government Agriculture and Water Resources portfolio comprises the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, including the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), as well as statutory bodies, non-statutory advisory bodies, independent advisory positions and other associated companies.
The department and each portfolio agency have
planned outcomes, which contribute to broader portfolio outcomes.
These bodies are established and operate under specific legislation, which usually stipulates membership, functions and reporting requirements.
Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA)—responsible for ensuring the sustainable and cost-effective management of Commonwealth fisheries, on behalf of the Australian community.
Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA)—responsible for assessing and registering agricultural chemicals and veterinary medicines. APVMA also regulates them up to the point of retail sale.
Forest and Wood Products Council (FWPC)—operates as the Forest Industry Advisory Council (FIAC) and advises the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources on forestry issues and recommendations on proposed legislation and policies.
Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA)—responsible for Basin-wide water resource planning and management. It also administers and enforces aspects of the Water Act 2007 and the Basin Plan.
View details of statutory appointments of departmental officers.
Accountability of members of statutory bodies
Directors are accountable to the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources and the Minister for Finance—and through them to the Parliament of Australia—for the operational and financial performance of their statutory authorities under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.
Boards of directors usually provide annual reports and long-term operational plans for ministerial and/or industry approval. They may also be accountable to specific industries through:
- levy payers
- peak councils
- representative organisations.
Boards are responsible for organisational performance and are accountable to stakeholders for achievement of commercial performance, conformity, statutory objectives and viability. AFMA and APVMA are each headed by a chief executive officer and have a direct line of communication and accountability to the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources.
Rural research and development
The rural research and development model is a mix of statutory bodies and industry-owned companies.
Statutory research and development corporations (RDCs)
Statutory research and development corporations (RDCs) administer funding for Australia’s rural research and development (R&D) activities. The current RDCs are:
Rural RDCs focus on expanding Australia’s rural R&D effort, improving industry effectiveness and efficiency by investing in high priority areas. They encourage uptake of research results to improve international competitiveness, productivity and sustainability.
Since 1 July 2015, statutory RDCs are required to operate under funding agreement with the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources.
Australian industry-owned companies provide R&D and marketing services for:
- egg and egg products
- horticultural products
- milk and dairy products
- pork and pork meat products
- red meat and red meat products
- timer and forest products
Industry-owned R&D companies are independent corporate entities, established under specific legislation with expertise-based boards. The company members appoint the directors of the board. Company boards are accountable to the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources through the legislation and statutory funding agreements. Companies are entitled to receive industry levies and matching government funding for eligible R&D expenditure.
Non-statutory portfolio bodies provide independent advice to the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources on specific issues or oversight on our policy, programme and operational responsibilities. Non-statutory bodies draw on industry stakeholders and outside expertise.
Agriculture Ministers’ Forum and Agriculture Senior Officials Committee
The Agriculture Ministers’ Forum (AGMIN) facilitates collaboration between the Australian, state and territory and New Zealand governments on portfolio issues of national significance.
AGMIN membership comprises ministers with portfolio responsibility for primary industries (including fisheries and forestry) and is chaired by the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources. An AGMIN communiqué outlining key discussion points is often published after meetings.
The Agriculture Senior Officials Committee (AGSOC) focuses on portfolio issues of national significance that require joint collaboration and, where appropriate, progresses issues to AGMIN.
AGSOC membership comprises the heads of the Australian, state and territory and New Zealand government departments with responsibility for primary industries. It is chaired by the Australian Government member.
Following a Council of Australian Governments (COAG) decision on 13 December 2013 to streamline its council system, the Standing Council on Primary Industries (SCoPI) was discontinued. Historical information about SCOPI can be found at Australian Government Web Archive.
Agricultural Industry Advisory Council
The Agricultural Industry Advisory Council (AIAC) provides the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources with information, advice and recommendations on contemporary issues affecting Australia’s agricultural, fishing and forestry sectors. It also functions as the Deputy Prime Minister’s advisory council to support the government’s deregulation agenda (reduction of red tape).
Indonesia–Australia Partnership on Food Security in the Red Meat and Cattle Sector
The Indonesia–Australia Partnership on Food Security in the Red Meat and Cattle Sector brings together Australian and Indonesian government and industry with the aim of improving joint competitiveness and prospects for long term investment. The partnership also aims to improve trade between Indonesia and Australia as part of a globally competitive supply chain in red meat and cattle.
Industry consultative committees
Industry consultative committees discuss specific industry issues to ensure efficient and effective service delivery.
National Landcare Advisory Committee
The National Landcare Advisory Committee advises the Natural Heritage Ministerial Board on development and implementation of the National Landcare Programme. This includes:
- achievement of outcomes
- community consultation
- investment priorities.
Inspector-General of Biosecurity
The Inspector-General of Biosecurity (IGB) provides assurance of the ongoing integrity of Australia’s biosecurity risk management systems through independent evaluation and verification. The IGB reports directly to the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources.
Other associated bodies
The Australian Government provides funding to not-for-profit, portfolio-related companies, including:
The Commonwealth is a shareholder in AHA and PHA.
Appointments to portfolio bodies
The Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources makes appointments to statutory and non-statutory bodies and positions—either directly or based on advice from an independent selection committee.
The agricultural portfolio skills database—Balance—supports the search for appointees to Australian Government bodies in the agriculture portfolio. Check here to learn more about the database, including how to register.
Information about appointments to Australian Government boards can be found at AusGovBoards.