Parliamentary committee reports
Parliamentary committees tabled 21 reports relevant to the department as shown in Table 31.
|House Standing Committee on Agriculture and Industry||A clearer message for consumers: Report on the inquiry into country of origin labelling for food||27 October 2014|
|House Standing Committee on the Environment||Streamlining environmental regulation||23 February 2015|
|Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit||Report 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 Australia||The development of Northern Australia||4 September 2014|
|Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade||Australia’s future activities and responsibilities in the Southern Ocean and Antarctic waters||29 October 2014|
|The role of the private sector in promoting economic growth and reducing poverty in the Indo–Pacific region||22 June 2015|
|Joint Standing Committee on Treaties||WTO agreement on trade facilitation||26 March 2015|
|Senate Economics Legislation Committee||Competition and Consumer Act 2010: Competition and Consumer (Industry Codes—Food and Grocery) Regulation 2015||14 May 2015|
|Senate Environment and Communications References Committee||National Landcare Program||25 March 2015|
|Environmental biosecurity||13 May 2015|
|Australia’s environment||23 June 2015|
|Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee||Rural Research and Development Legislation Amendment Bill 2014||3 December 2014|
|Biosecurity Bill 2014 and related bills||17 March 2015|
|Criminal Code Amendment (Animal Protection) Bill 2015||12 June 2015|
|Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee||Future of the beekeeping and pollination service industries in Australia||16 July 2014|
|Implications of the restriction on the use of fenthion on Australia’s horticultural industry||31 July 2014|
|Industry structures and systems governing levies on grass-fed cattle||9 September 2014|
|Current requirements for labelling of seafood and seafood products||18 December 2014|
|Australian grain networks||4 June 2015|
|Current and future arrangements for the marketing of Australian sugar||24 June 2015|
|Industry structures and systems governing the imposition of and disbursement of marketing and research and development (R&D) levies in the agricultural sector||30 June 2015|
Government responses to inquiry reports
The Australian Government responded to six parliamentary committee reports relevant to the department, shown in Table 32.
|House of Representatives Standing Committee on Agriculture, Resources, Fisheries and Forestry||Netting the benefits: Inquiry into the role of science for fisheries and agriculture||1 June 2015|
|Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee||Review of the citrus industry in Australia||4 August 2014|
|Future of the beekeeping and pollination service industries in Australia||3 March 2015|
|Auditor-General’s reports on Tasmanian Forestry Grants Programs||22 April 2015|
|Operational issues in export grain networks||8 May 2015|
|Senate Select Committee||Australia’s food processing sector||3 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.
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  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  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 department 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.