Ministerial and parliamentary support
We support the minister and parliamentary secretary by providing policy advice; delivering programs; managing, coordinating and advising on portfolio parliamentary business; providing administrative, budgetary and operational support; and communicating policies and programs to stakeholders.
All program areas of the department contributed to these activities during the year. These are reported in Part 3: Report on performance.
There were 284 415 items of ministerial correspondence registered in 2011–12, which was 556 per cent more than last year (see Figure 12). Most of the correspondence registered during the year was campaign-related and included a large volume of correspondence received, but not registered, in 2010–11 following the Four Corners report on live animal exports, which aired on 30 May 2011. More than 278 356 items of campaign correspondence, mainly relating to live animal exports, had been registered as at 30 June 2012.
We prepared 9707 responses to ministerial correspondence, of which 1627 were for signature by the minister or parliamentary secretary and 8080 were for departmental response.
To support the minister and parliamentary secretary effectively, we strive to maintain ambitious targets for quality and turnaround of ministerial correspondence. The department aims to have less than 5 per cent of responses for the minister's or parliamentary secretary's signature returned for redrafting for quality-related reasons. In 2011–12, 11 per cent of items were returned, although only some of these were for quality-related reasons.
We also aim to have no overdue responses to ministerial correspondence. During the year, 5 per cent of responses sent to the minister were reported as overdue. We continue to give a high priority to improving quality and timeliness through developing staff and improving systems.
Questions on notice
In 2011–12, we prepared 765 responses to Senate Estimates questions on notice, within the timeframes set by the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee (see Figure 13), and 40 responses to parliamentary questions on notice (see Figure 14).