External scrutiny

​​Parliamentary committee reports

Parliamentary committees tabled 21 reports relevant to the department as shown in Table 31.​​​

Table 31 Parliamentary committee reports tabled in 2014–15
CommitteeInquiryTabling date
House Standing Committee on Agriculture and IndustryA clearer message for consumers: Report on the inquiry into country of origin labelling for food27 October 2014
House Standing Committee on the EnvironmentStreamlining environmental regulation23 February 2015
Joint Committee of Public Accounts and AuditReport 447 EPBC Act, Cyber security, mail screening, ABR and helicopter program: Review of ANAO Audit Reports nos. 32–54 (2013–14)2 March 2015
Joint Select Committee on Northern AustraliaThe development of Northern Australia4 September 2014
Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and TradeAustralia’s future activities and responsibilities in the Southern Ocean and Antarctic waters29 October 2014
The role of the private sector in promoting economic growth and reducing poverty in the Indo–Pacific region22 June 2015
Joint Standing Committee on TreatiesWTO agreement on trade facilitation26 March 2015
Senate Economics Legislation CommitteeCompetition and Consumer Act 2010: Competition and Consumer (Industry Codes—Food and Grocery) Regulation 201514 May 2015
Senate Environment and Communications References CommitteeNational Landcare Program25 March 2015
Environmental biosecurity13 May 2015
Australia’s environment23 June 2015
Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation CommitteeRural Research and Development Legislation Amendment Bill 20143 December 2014
Biosecurity Bill 2014 and related bills17 March 2015
Criminal Code Amendment (Animal Protection) Bill 201512 June 2015
Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References CommitteeFuture of the beekeeping and pollination service industries in Australia16 July 2014
Implications of the restriction on the use of fenthion on Australia’s horticultural industry31 July 2014
Industry structures and systems governing levies on grass-fed cattle9 September 2014
Current requirements for labelling of seafood and seafood products18 December 2014
Australian grain networks4 June 2015
Current and future arrangements for the marketing of Australian sugar24 June 2015
Industry structures and systems governing the imposition of and disbursement of marketing and research and development (R&D) levies in the agricultural sector30 June 2015

Government responses to inquiry reports

The Australian Government responded to six parliamentary committee reports relevant to the department, shown in Table 32.​​​​

Table 32 Government responses tabled in 2014–15
CommitteeInquiryTabling date
House of Representatives Standing Committee on Agriculture, Resources, Fisheries and ForestryNetting the benefits: Inquiry into the role of science for fisheries and agriculture1 June 2015
Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References CommitteeReview of the citrus industry in Australia4 August 2014
Future of the beekeeping and pollination service industries in Australia3 March 2015
Auditor-General’s reports on Tasmanian Forestry Grants Programs22 April 2015
Operational issues in export grain networks8 May 2015
Senate Select CommitteeAustralia’s food processing sector3 November 2014

Reports by the Auditor-General

The Auditor-General tabled one Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) report on the department’s activities.

ANAO Audit Report No.49 2014–15: Administration of the Imported Food Inspection Scheme

This audit assessed the effectiveness of the Department of Agriculture’s administration of the Imported Food Inspection Scheme. The ANAO made three recommendations to strengthen the department’s administration of the scheme. The department agreed to all of the recommendations.

ANAO reports are available on the ANAO website.

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 Michael Bond became the IIGB on 1 July 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 unless they contain information that is considered prejudicial to the public interest. The IIGB remains accountable to the secretary on administration and governance, and the department provides administrative support.

The IIGB completed audits or reviews of:

  • biosecurity controls for imported animal breeding material (mammalian semen and embryos)
  • biosecurity controls for imported fresh cut flowers
  • managing biosecurity risks for horse imports from June to November 2014
  • managing biosecurity risks associated with international online purchases
  • biosecurity controls for the import of plant-based stock feed.

The IIGB’s reports are available on the IGB website.

Reports by the Australian Commissioner for Law Enforcement Integrity

Since 1 July 2013, some of the department’s functions have fallen under the Australian Commissioner for Law Enforcement Integrity’s (ACLEI) jurisdiction for prescribed staff. Regional managers, officers involved in assessment, control and clearance of vessels and cargo imported into Australia, and officers with access to the Integrated Cargo System are under the ACLEI’s jurisdiction.

In 2014–15, the ACLEI did not release any reports into the activities of the department.

Other reports

In 2014–15, the Commonwealth Ombudsman and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner did not release any reports into the activities of the department.

Significant tribunal and court decisions

Animals’ Angels e.V. v Secretary, Department of Agriculture [2014] FCAFC 173

In December 2014, the Federal Court delivered judgment in the appeal from Animals’ Angels e.V v Secretary of the Department of Agriculture [2014] FCA 398. The full court dismissed the appeal. It found the appellant had standing to challenge the decision, but upheld the finding that the legislative power conferred on the secretary to issue a ‘show cause’ notice to a livestock export licence holder by section 23 of the Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997 was discretionary rather than obligatory.

Freedom of information

The department makes documents available to the public under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act), either in response to requests for access to information, or through 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, in accordance with part II of the Act. Each agency must display on its website a plan showing what information it publishes in accordance with the IPS requirements. The department’s plan is available on the department's website.

The department also publishes corporate and operational information on its website, and reports on information accessed through FOI applications in a disclosure log.

In 2014–15, the department received 64 requests for access under the FOI Act and did not receive any requests for internal review. The depart​ment finalised 58 requests and one internal review request that was in hand at the beginning of the year. All requests were processed in accordance with the statutory timeframes. Further statistical data on FOI requests received and processed by the department in 2014–15 can be accessed from the website of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

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Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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