External scrutiny

​​Inquiries by parliamentary committees

Parliamentary committee reports

During the year, parliamentary committees released 39 reports relevant to DAFF. The reports were:

  • House Public Works Committee
    • Construction of a new post-entry quarantine facility at Mickleham, Victoria—15 May 2013
  • House Standing Committee on Agriculture, Resources, Fisheries and Forestry
    • The role of science for fisheries and aquaculture—27 November 2012
    • Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Legislation Amendment Bill 2012—28 February 2013
    • Report on the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities Annual Reports 2011–12: Caring for Our Country and Landcare—15 May 2013
    • Report on the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation Annual Report 2011–12—28 May 2013
    • Report on the National Rural Advisory Council Annual Report 2011–12—3 June 2013
  • House Standing Committee on Climate Change, Environment and the Arts
    • Australia’s biodiversity in a changing climate—26 November 2012
  • House Standing Committee on Health and Ageing
    • Health issues across international borders—20 March 2013
  • House Standing Committee on Regional Australia
    • Certain matters relating to the proposed Murray-Darling Basin Plan—6 July 2012
    • Water Amendment (Water for the Environment Special Account) Bill 2012—28 November 2012
    • The use of ‘fly-in, fly-out’ (FIFO) workforce practices in Regional Australia—13 February 2013
  • Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit
    • Review of Audit Report No 46 (2011–12) Administration of the Northern Australian Quarantine Strategy—29 November 2012
  • Joint Committee on the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity
    • Integrity of overseas Commonwealth law enforcement operations—24 June 2013
  • Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade
    • Australia’s overseas representation—29 October 2012
    • International Fund for Agricultural Development Amendment Bill 2012—26 November 2012
    • Australia’s trade and investment relationship with Japan and the Republic of Korea—3 June 2013
  • Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services
    • Family Business in Australia—27 February 2013
  • Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement
    • Regulatory Powers (Standard Provisions) Bill 2012—26 November 2012
  • Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works
    • Construction of a new post-entry quarantine facility at Mickleham, Victoria—16 May 2013
  • Senate Finance and Public Administration Committees
    • Progress in the implementation of the recommendations of the 1999 Joint Expert Technical Advisory Committee on Antibiotic Resistance—7 June 2013
  • Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee
    • Framework and operation of subclass 457 visas, Enterprise Migration Agreements and Regional Migration Agreements—24 June 2013
  • Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee
    • Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Legislation Amendment Bill 2012—27 February 2013—no government response required
    • Competition and Consumer Amendment (Australian Food Labelling) Bill 2012 (No. 2)—25 March 2013
    • The performance of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, and agencies— 22 April 2013
    • Sugar Research and Development Services Bill 2013—6 June 2013
  • Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee
    • Examination of the Foreign Investment Review Board National Interest Test—26 June 2013
    • Management of the Murray-Darling Basin—13 March 2013
    • Auditor-General’s reports on Tasmanian Forests Grants Programs —19 June 2013
  • Senate Select Committee on Australia’s Food Processing Sector
    • Australia’s food processing sector—16 August 2012
  • Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications
    • Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment Bill 2013 [Provisions]—13 May 2013
    • Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Great Barrier Reef) Bill 2013—13 June 2013
  • Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade
    • Inquiry into the Defence Trade Controls Bill 2011—10 October 2012
    • The importance of the Indian Ocean rim for Australia’s foreign, trade and defence policy— 14 June 2013
    • Implementation of the Defence Trade Controls Legislation—27 June 2013
  • Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs
    • Law Enforcement Integrity Legislation Amendment Bill 2012—20 November 2012
    • Migration Amendment (Unauthorised Maritime Arrivals and Other Measures) Bill 2012—25 February 2013
    • Customs Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2012—13 March 2013
    • Native Title Amendment Bill 2012—13 March 2013
    • Regulatory Powers (Standard Provisions) Bill 2012—18 March 2013

Government responses to inquiry reports

During the year, the Australian Government responded to eight reports from parliamentary committees relevant to DAFF:

  • House Standing Committee on Agriculture, Resources, Fisheries and Forestry
    • The Australian forestry industry—19 June 2013
  • House Standing Committee on Primary Industries and Resources
    • The role of government in assisting Australian farmers to adapt to the impacts of climate change—30 October 2012
  • Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit
    • Review of Audit Report No. 46 (2011–12) Administration of the Northern Australian Quarantine Strategy—29 May 2013
  • Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade
    • Australia’s Trade and Investment Relations with Asia, the Pacific and Latin America—20 December 2012
  • Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee
    • Matters relating to the Torres Strait Region—9 August 2012
  • Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee
    • Australia’s biosecurity and quarantine arrangements—27 July 2012
  • Senate Rural Affairs and Transport References Committee
    • Animal welfare standards in Australia’s live export markets—10 July 2012
  • Senate Select Committee on Agricultural and Related Industries
    • Pricing and supply arrangements in the Australian and global fertiliser market—6 June 2013

Reports by the Auditor-General

During 2012–13, the Auditor-General tabled one Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) report dealing with the department’s activities.

ANAO Audit Report No. 22 2012–13: Administration of the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement Contractors Voluntary Exit Grants Program

The objective of this cross-agency audit was to examine the effectiveness of the department’s administration of the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement Contractors Voluntary Exit Grants Program. The ANAO made two recommendations aimed at improving the quality and transparency of assessment processes. We agreed to all the recommendations.

Reports by the Interim Inspector-General of Biosecurity

In 2008, the Australian Government agreed in principle to establish a statutory office of the Inspector-General of Biosecurity. In 2009, pending enabling legislation, the government appointed Dr Kevin Dunn as the Interim Inspector-General of Biosecurity (IIGB). Dr Dunn’s stewardship of the role ended on 30 June 2013.

The IIGB reports to the minister and has a broad scope to audit and review the performance of biosecurity risk management systems that are the department’s responsibility. The IIGB makes key findings and recommendations available publicly. The IIGB remains accountable to the secretary on matters of administration and governance and the department provides administrative support.

The IIGB conducts a multi-year assurance work program. In 2012–13, the IIGB completed work on assessing the effectiveness and performance of controls and systems that the department uses to manage biosecurity risks across the continuum (offshore, at the border and onshore).

This included:

  • examination of biosecurity controls associated with the export from Australia of live abalone to China and Hong Kong
  • review into the undeclared importation of food from the Republic of Korea detected in December 2010
  • examination of the effectiveness of the department’s current controls to manage biosecurity risks in the importation of freshwater and marine ornamental fish
  • desktop review of the approval of offshore pre-export quarantine facilities for importing horses to Australia
  • audit of the Eastern Creek Animal Quarantine Station in New South Wales
  • audit of the Werribee Post–Arrival Quarantine Facility in Victoria.

The IIGB has made several recommendations across the biosecurity continuum to support and improve Australia’s world-class biosecurity standing. The IIGB’s reports are available on the Department of Agriculture website.

Other reports

The Commonwealth Ombudsman, the Australian Information Commissioner and the Privacy Commissioner did not publish any reports in 2012–13 scrutinising the department’s operations.

Freedom of information

The department makes records available to the public under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act), either in response to requests for access to information under the FOI Act or on its websites in accordance with the government’s Information Publication Scheme (IPS).

Agencies subject to the FOI Act are required to publish information to the public as part of the IPS. This requirement is in Part II of the FOI Act and has replaced the former requirement to publish a Section 8 statement in an annual report. Each agency must display on its website a plan showing what information it publishes in accordance with the IPS requirements.

The department has met its statutory obligations relating to the IPS. This includes publishing a range of corporate and operational information on our website and reporting on information accessed through FOI applications in a disclosure log.

Tribunal and court decisions

In 2008, a group of Victorian abalone fishermen appealed to the Federal Court of Australia, challenging Victorian legislation that they alleged curtailed their rights to take abalone in Victoria. The Commonwealth and the State of Victoria were respondents in the case, because both were party to the arrangement under which the relevant fishery was managed. In 2013, the Full Court of the Federal Court dismissed the appeal and the whole of the proceedings.

Claims for compensation for detriment caused by defective administration

The department received five claims and one application under the Scheme for Compensation for Detriment caused by Defective Administration (CDDA). Another six unresolved claims were carried over from 2011–12, including one carried over because the claimant rejected the compensation offered by DAFF in 2009–10 and provided further information in June 2012. Four of the 11 claims were completed in 2012–13 and seven claims and one application remain outstanding.

All claims made under the CDDA are assessed in accordance with the Department of Finance and Deregulation (DoFD) Finance Circular 2009/09: Discretionary compensation and waiver of debt mechanisms. Of the four claims completed in 2012–13, compensation of $7783.75 was offered to one claimant (which was accepted) and three claims were declined. One outstanding claim was approved and was awaiting payment as at 30 June 2013.

If claimants are not satisfied with the outcome of their claims, the department advises them to contact the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

Act of grace payments

DoFD asked the department to provide submissions on 11 requests for act of grace payments. Of these, nine related to closure of the Exceptional Circumstances Exit Grant program. Another 23 claims were carried over from 2011–12. During 2012–13, we provided 31 submissions to DoFD. Submissions are being prepared on the three remaining claims.

During the year, the Minister for Finance and Deregulation, or her delegate, decided on 25 of the 31 requests, offering payment to 14 claimants and declining 11 requests.

Any payments made are included in the financial statements section of this annual report (see Part 6: Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Note: 28).

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Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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