Our department

​​​The Department of Agriculture an​d Water Resources:

  • provides advice to the Australian Government on how to help our primary industries remain competitive, productive and sustainable into the future
  • provides advice to the government on how best to achieve social, economic and environmental benefits from the use of water resources in the national interest
  • administers government programs and legislation that support these objectives, including the collection of levies for research, development and marketing
  • regulates the importation of food and other goods to ensure that Australia is safeguarded against exotic animal and plant pests and diseases
  • regulates the provision of export certification of agriculture, fish and forest products to meet importing country requirements.

Our outcomes

We have three outcomes:

  • Support more sustainable, productive, internationally competitive and profitable Australian agricultural, food and fibre industries through policies and initiatives that promote better resource management practices, innovation, self-reliance and improved access to international markets.
  • Safeguard Australia’s animal and plant health status to maintain overseas markets and protect the economy and environment from the impact of exotic pests and diseases, through risk assessment, inspection and certification and the implementation of emergency response arrangements for Australian agricultural, food and fibre industries.
  • Improve the health of rivers and freshwater ecosystems and water use efficiency through implementing water reforms, and ensuring enhanced sustainability, efficiency and productivity in the management and use of water resources.

The legislative responsibilities of the department are detailed in the Administrative Arrangements Order.

Our objectives

In 2015–16, the department changed its program structure in the Portfolio Budget Statements to align its programs with a set of strategic objectives as shown in Figure 2:

Figure 2 Programs and strategic objectives 2015–16

This chart shows changes to the department’s program structure, with each program assigned to a strategic objective. Building successful primary industries includes:Program 1.5, relating to the Horticulture industry;Program 1.6, relating to the Wool industry;Program 1.7, relating to the Grains industry;Program 1.8, relating to the Dairy industry;Program 1.9, relating to the Meat and livestock industry; andProgram 1.10, relating to Agricultural resources.Program 1.3, relating to the Forestry industry, and Program 1.4, relating to the Fishing industry, also contribute to building successful primary industries.Supporting agricultural communities includes:Program 1.11, relating to Drought programs; andProgram 1.12, relating to Rural programs.Expanding agricultural, fisheries and forestry exports includes Program 1.13, relating to International market access.Sustaining natural resources for longer-term productive primary industries includes:Program 1.1, relating to Agriculture adaptation;Program 1.2, relating to Sustainable management of natural resources;Program 1.3, relating to the Forestry industry; andProgram 1.4, relating to the Fishing industry.Improving water use efficiency and the health of rivers, communities, environmental assets and production systems includes Program 3.1, relating to Water reform. Managing biosecurity and imported food risk includes Program 2.1, relating to biosecurity and export services, and program 2.2, relating to plant and animal health.Building an efficient and capable department includes the department’s enabling activities.Being a best practice regulator includes the department’s regulatory activities.

Our priorities

The department’s priorities for 2015–16 were:

  • implementing the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper and relevant measures from the White Paper on Developing Northern Australia
  • preparing for the Biosecurity Act 2015 to enter into force on 16 June 2016
  • opening the new post-entry quarantine facility at Mickleham, Victoria
  • implementing revised cost-recovery arrangements
  • pursuing market access for Australian exporters, including through the opportunities created by the free trade agreements concluded with Japan, the Republic of Korea and China
  • implementing the Water Recovery Strategy in the Murray–Darling Basin
  • facilitating the effective operation of the Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism in the Murray–Darling Basin in mid-2016
  • negotiating an agreement with the Tasmanian Government for a second tranche of irrigation projects
  • finalising a strategic management plan to continue the Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative through to 30 June 2017.

The department pursued its internal reform agenda to:

  • continue to be a trusted, effective and transparent best practice regulator
  • strengthen our capability in intelligence-led, risk- and evidence-based decision-making and policy advice
  • continue to build on the success of stakeholder engagement and client participation in our business activities
  • participate in whole-of-government processes to improve our efficiency and effectiveness such as the Functional and Efficiency Review and the Digital Transformation Agenda.

Our structure

Our divisions work individually and together to meet our objectives. Figure 3 shows our organisational structure.

Figure 3 Organisational structure at 30 June 2016

This chart shows the Department of Agriculture’s organisational structure as at 30 June 2016: Daryl Quinlivan was the Secretary. The Office of the General Counsel reported directly to the Secretary. Kerrie-Anne Luscombe was the General Counsel.Jo Evans was a deputy secretary reporting to the Secretary. Ms Evans was responsible for five divisions, which were:Corporate Strategy and Governance, led by Simon Smalley as acting division head;Exports, led by Greg Read;Finance and Business Support, led by the Chief Finance Officer, Emily Canning;Information Services, led by the Chief Information Officer, Graham Gathercole.And Trade and Market Access, led by Louise van Meurs.Lyn O’Connell was a deputy secretary reporting to the Secretary. Ms Mellor was responsible for five divisions, which were:Biosecurity Animal, led by Tim Chapman;Biosecurity Plant, led by Marion Healy;Compliance, led by Raelene Vivian;Service Delivery, led by Nico Padovan; andBiosecurity Policy and Implementation, led by Matt Koval;Two other positions reported to Rona Mellor. They were:The Australian Chief Veterinary Officer, Mark Schipp;And the Chief Scientist and Australian chief Plant Protection Officer, Kim Ritman.David Parker was a deputy secretary reporting to the Secretary. Mr Parker was responsible for two divisions:The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, with Karen Schneider as Executive Director; andWater, led by Tony SlatyerDavid Williamson was a deputy secretary reporting to the Secretary. Mr Glyde was responsible for three divisions, which were:Sustainable Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, led by Ian Thompson;Agricultural Policy, led by Fran Freeman; and Farm Support, led by Greg Williamson.

Our executive

Mr Daryl Quinlivan commenced as the secretary of the department in June 2015. Mr Quinlivan is responsible for the efficient and effective operation of the department. His other roles include:

  • Director of Biosecurity
  • chair of the National Biosecurity Committee
  • chair of the Executive Management Committee (EMC)
  • chair of National Management Groups for nationally coordinated emergency responses to pest and disease incursions.

Four deputy secretaries assist the secretary across a range of issues and departmental functions and oversee the work of particular divisions.

Ms Jo Evans was appointed deputy secretary in November 2014. In 2015–16, Ms Evans was responsible for international trade and market access, the regulation of live animal exports, export certification services for food (meat, dairy, fish and eggs) and residue monitoring services, and the department’s corporate services including information services, corporate strategy and governance, and finance and business support. She also chaired the People, Safety and Culture Committee.

Ms Lyn O’Connell joined the department in August 2015. Ms O’Connell is responsible for biosecurity, compliance, service delivery and also oversees the Australian Chief Veterinary and Chief Plant Protection Offices.
Ms O’Connell chairs the Business Transformation Committee and is a member of the National Biosecurity Committee.

Mr David Parker joined the department in October 2015 as part of the transfer of water resources policy to the portfolio. Mr Parker is responsible for water resources policy and the Australian Bureau of Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).

Mr Parker is the deputy chair of the Audit Committee.

Mr David Williamson was appointed deputy secretary in May 2016. Mr Williamson is responsible for agricultural policy, farm support, and sustainable agriculture, fisheries and forestry.

Mr Williamson is the Australian Commissioner to the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna.


This annual report covers the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and has been prepared in accordance with the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013. It includes the:

  • annual report required under subsection 26(1) of the Natural Resources Management (Financial Assistance) Act 1992 (see Appendix 5)
  • annual report of the National Residue Survey program, required under section 10 of the National Residue Survey Administration Act 1992 (see Appendix 6)
  • annual report of the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Scheme, required under section 75 of the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Act 2005 (see Appendix 7)
  • annual report of the Water for the Environment Special Account, required under Section 86AI of the Water Act 2007 (see Appendix 8).

Portfolio agencies table their own reports, which are available on their websites.

Disability reporting

Since 1994, Commonwealth departments and agencies have reported on their performance as policy adviser, purchaser, employer, regulator and provider under the Commonwealth Disability Strategy. In 2007–08, reporting on the employer role was transferred to the Australian Public Service Commission’s State of the Service Report and the APS Statistical Bulletin. These reports are available at apsc.gov.au.

The Commonwealth Disability Strategy has been overtaken by the National Disability Strategy 2010–2020, which sets out a 10-year national policy framework to improve the lives of people with disability, promote participation and create a more inclusive society. A high-level, two-yearly report will track progress against each of the six outcome areas of the strategy and present a picture of how people with disability are faring. These reports are available at dss.gov.au.

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Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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