Corporate plan 2018-19

Corporate plan 2018-2019

The corporate plan provides information to our stakeholders and the wider community on the ​department’s purpose and how we intend to measure our activities against that purpose.

Also provided on this page is the department’s Performance Framework 2018–19. The framework describes the department’s arrangements to comply with the performance reporting requirements of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013, and provides more detailed information about how we measure our performance.​


Department of Agriculture and Water Resources




Please direct all inquiries relating to this publication through our contact page.


The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources works with national and international governments and industry partners to grow the value of Australia’s agricultural trade and reduce risk to the agricultural sector. The Corporate Plan 2018–19 sets out our strategic framework for achieving this purpose, this year and through to 2021–22.

We provide a policy and regulatory environment that enables primary producers to be more productive, compete better in domestic and international markets and make their businesses more profitable and resilient.

Our corporate plan shows how we will direct our efforts to meet our objectives:

  • increase, improve and maintain markets
  • encourage agricultural productivity
  • support sustainable, high-quality natural resources.

Biosecurity risk management is critical to achieving these objectives.

This plan also identifies the core functions necessary to meet our objectives. We will build our capabilities, enabling us to be more efficient and effective in meeting challenges into the future. We will measure and report on our performance against these functions.

We are committed to the agricultural sector and take pride in delivering Australian Government priorities. In 2018–19 these priorities include building on work done through the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper to administer new funding for pest and weed management, improve access to agricultural and veterinary chemicals, and develop a national forestry industry plan.

We can take advantage of new trade agreements and opportunities to expand market access in Asia, Europe and Latin America. We will do more technical and science-based work to support market access requests, and extend our network of overseas counsellors to enhance our international relationships.

All of this work would mean little without a strong and responsive biosecurity system. We will implement initiatives to strengthen preparedness for pest and disease incursions, trial new technologies, increase assurance and verification activities, and exercise our authority and powers under the Biosecurity Act 2015.

We are going to work with industry to implement a more sustainable biosecurity funding model, including a biosecurity imports levy. We will consult industry on sharing the cost of managing biosecurity risks as the number of passengers and goods entering Australia continues to increase.

As a regulator, we will work with industry and other stakeholders to implement government decisions on live sheep exports and the health and welfare of exported animals. We will respond to the findings of the independent review of our regulatory capability and culture, to improve where needed.

We will deliver on these priorities and continue our efforts to expand the agricultural sector and manage Australia’s water resources. Our presence across the country and around the world will be maintained, working in airports, cargo terminals, mail centres, shipping ports, quarantine facilities, laboratories, abattoirs, offices and out in the field.

We will also continue to focus on the integrity of our organisation. We work in positions of trust and we must uphold our high standards of behaviour and judgement to protect our business and safeguard our reputation.

We are proud of our people and the work we do. This corporate plan outlines how we will be working to grow the value of agricultural trade and reduce risk in the agricultural sector.

[Original signed]

Daryl Quinlivan

We are committed to the agricultural sector and take pride in delivering Australian Government priorities.

Our purpose

We work with national and international governments and industry partners to grow the value of agricultural trade and reduce risk to the agricultural sector.

Our role

Our department has a diverse role as a policy adviser to government, researcher, program administrator, service provider, market access negotiator and regulator. We work to protect human health and the environment by ensuring the safe movement of people, food and other goods into Australia.

Our work contributes to maintaining and improving market access for our primary producers, encouraging agricultural productivity in our primary industries and supporting sustainable, high-quality natural resources to benefit primary producers and the community.

Our people

Our people are our most important resource in delivering all that we do. We have a presence across Australia and around the world. We work in airports, mail centres, shipping ports, quarantine facilities, laboratories, abattoirs and offices in regional centres, rural communities and cities.

Our skills and experience are diverse. We are policy officers, program administrators, scientists, researchers, economists, accountants, information and communication technology specialists, veterinarians, survey staff, biosecurity officers and more.

Our work involves collaboration and consultation with other Australian Government and state and territory governments. Our partnerships and stakeholders include agricultural, fisheries and forestry industries, importers and exporters, consumers, rural and regional communities, and travellers.

Our culture

We value these behaviours in our people so we can achieve our purpose:

  • Understanding agriculture and its contribution to Australia
  • Striving for high performance, professionalism and improvement in all that we do
  • Knowing and understanding the law, our stakeholders and the impact of our decisions
  • Working together across the organisation and with our partners to achieve shared objectives
  • Valuing diversity of people and ideas to bring about change that adds value
  • Directing effort and resources to areas of highest priority
  • Exercising high levels of accountability and ethical standards and displaying sound judgement.


Our operating environment

Australian agricultural, fisheries and forestry sectors are multi-billion dollar industries that benefit from our regulation, research, policies and programs to improve their productivity, competitiveness and sustainability.

Australia’s biosecurity system aims to anticipate, prevent, prepare, detect, respond to and recover from risks to these sectors, and to protect human health and the environment. The volume of passengers and mail is increasing and global trade pathways are becoming more complex. We need a risk-based approach supported by research, science and intelligence to target what matters most.

Australia’s water is critical to the future of agriculture and the health of our environment and communities. We work to improve the health of rivers and freshwater systems, to ensure the sustainable, efficient and productive management and use of water resources, and to maximise social, economic and environmental benefits to water users and the community.

We work in partnership with state and territory governments, primary industries and the community to grow the agricultural sector. The range of this work makes for a diverse and dynamic operating environment that also interacts with a range of other global systems.

Our changing environment

We are in a period of growth in trade and demand for Australia’s agricultural exports. This is accompanied by increasing competition from other exporting countries, changing consumer expectations and more stringent market access requirements. These factors are set against a background of changing technological possibilities and increasing populations.

How we operate

To meet these challenges, we have developed a new operating model. It sets out a framework in which our capabilities and functions support our objectives and contribute to achieving our purpose.

Our objectives

We will carry out activities under three objectives over the next four reporting periods to achieve our purpose. We will direct our efforts towards taking advantage of opportunities and managing risks.

Objective 1: Increase, improve and maintain markets

We work to ensure Australia’s interests are represented and that markets are open to Australia’s agricultural products and services. Central to our purpose is creating these trade opportunities.

An increasingly broad range of existing, new and emerging risks may affect Australia’s access to current and new markets, particularly in the areas of biosecurity, export requirements and trade relations.

We work to mitigate these risks by carrying out inspections, undertaking audit and verification activities, preparing and implementing emergency and business continuity plans, implementing legislation and animal welfare policies, and liaising with our industry and trading partners.

Our overseas counsellors maintain and strengthen relationships, represent Australia’s interests and anticipate and manage issues.



Objective 2: Encourage agricultural productivity

Australia’s productivity must increase every year to ensure producers keep pace with key competitors. By supporting rural research and development we aim to ensure Australia’s productivity improves and the sector remains internationally competitive.

Encouraging agricultural productivity includes big-step and small-step innovation. In most cases, big-step innovation comes from the private sector, through new technologies incorporated into agricultural production and practice.

Risks to productivity include pest and disease incursions; floods, storms and fires; and degradation of our natural resources because of drought and rising sea levels. Our biosecurity policy and operations work to mitigate risks to agriculture from pest and disease incursions.

Rural research, development and extension, and boosting the capability of producers by investing in management skills, will help reduce risks to productivity growth. In a changing climate, we work with state and territory governments to strengthen drought policy and programs to support business resilience, preparedness and risk management.

Working to implement whole-of-government policies such as transport and infrastructure, and competition policy to ensure a well-functioning market, will further address these risks.


Objective 3: Support sustainable high-quality natural resources

We aim to ensure Australia’s natural resources base is used sustainably and protected from pests and disease. The natural resource base includes water, soil, vegetation and biodiversity. This underpins
the agricultural sector.

Risks to natural resources include the impact of climate change and unsustainable use. Our natural resources must be managed in a way that ensures environmental sustainability and supports economic and social requirements.

Monitoring and managing risks to natural resources such as water is a significant part of our work. To help manage this risk, we contribute to the implementation of the Murray–Darling Basin Plan by recovering water in ways that achieve the outcomes of the plan. We also promote sustainable water use nationally under the National Water Initiative.

We work with state and territory governments, industries and community groups to implement policies and programs that drive continual improvement in sustainable agriculture, fisheries and forestry. This includes encouraging fishers, foresters, farmers and land managers to maintain and improve the natural resource base on which production relies.

Having an effective and efficient department is key to achieving these strategic objectives.

We implement strong governance and financial controls, a learning and development framework to deliver essential training programs to our workforce, and provide high-quality services.

We continue to invest in enterprise-wide technology and business systems to enable us to meet increasing business demands, support staff productivity and capability and continue to improve our service delivery.

Our functions

We deliver our objectives through six broad categories of activities that we undertake across our business. Through these functions, we strive to provide the most effective support to primary industries, regulated businesses and our other stakeholders.

Key functions

Regulation and service delivery Regulate effectively by understanding and managing risks to our objectives, and by providing assistance, assurance and enforcement
This function relates to the implementation of regulation in biosecurity and other areas including food safety, illegal logging, water efficiency and grants. It includes:
  • continuously improving our regulatory framework to manage future risks
  • helping individuals, governments and industries understand our regulations
  • verifying that individuals and industries are complying with those controls and providing assurance that our regulatory frameworks are effective
  • responding to risk incidents and instances of non-compliance.
Policies and programs Develop policies and programs to assist producers
We consult our stakeholders, including industries and regulated businesses, to provide appropriate opportunities, incentives and regulations to grow the agricultural sector.
We work to create an environment where producers can continue to grow their business or respond to temporary adversity.
Trade and market access Negotiate and influence to increase, improve and maintain markets
This function involves international trade negotiations, technical work to open, improve or maintain market access, and representing Australia’s interests in international trade and standards-setting forums.
Our aim is to negotiate trade and market access measures that benefit Australian producers, industries and consumers.
Research and innovation Invest in research and innovation to achieve our objectives
We administer funding for rural research and development, including levies collection, and support and drive research to promote innovation and grow agricultural productivity. This function ensures we get the best return from those investments.
We also foster scientific capability in the department.
Enterprise-wide enabling services Deliver enabling services and support
A high-performing organisation requires effective and efficient enterprise-wide services.
These provide the resources to support our performance and put in place the necessary checks and balances to ensure our department meets its legal obligations and the expectations of the government and the community.
Forecasting and strategic intelligence Identify current and future opportunities, risks and challenges, and advise government, industry and the community
We work to anticipate what is going to happen, looking for emerging trends and issues that present opportunities or risks. Through effective forecasting and strategic intelligence functions, we are able to provide value-added advice and use our resources to the best effect.

Our capabilities

We have identified six capabilities that we will use to deliver our functions to help grow the agricultural sector into the future.

Regulation and risk
  • Designing effective and efficient regulatory systems
  • Working expertly with all levels of risk
Services and outcomes
  • Providing high-quality services to meet clients’ needs in the national interest
  • Measuring and evaluating the achievement of outcomes
Knowledge and engagement
  • Building and applying knowledge of agricultural industries, science, natural resources, global supply chains and economics
  • Engaging, influencing, negotiating and collaborating with stakeholders
Enterprise management
  • Managing our people, finances, property, data and information technology
  • Designing and implementing streamlined enterprise-wide systems and workflows
Intelligence and strategy
  • Collecting, using and sharing data and information, working with predictive analytics, foresighting and actionable intelligence
  • Developing robust strategies and policies
Innovation and improvement
  • Investing in innovation, including advanced technology
  • Continuously improving our workforce, processes and systems to deliver good outcomes for the businesses and industries that deal with us.


Building our capabilities

To achieve our purpose, we have a strong focus on continuing to build our capabilities. In 2018–19 this will include a number of initiatives.

  • Revise our People Strategy
  • Finalise a new Workforce Plan
  • Implement the findings of a review of our approach to learning and development
  • Embed integrity throughout the employment lifecycle
  • Revise our ICT Strategy
  • Implement an enterprise capability ICT program to deliver efficiencies and provide a long-term platform for future departmental systems
  • Bed down our new Financial Management Information System and look for further opportunities to deliver efficiency
How we work
  • Support staff access to our flexible working policy
  • Complete and evaluate the pilot of flexible workspaces
  • Implement technology that supports greater mobility
  • Trial project-based work to meet work demands and facilitate staff development
  • Build on our innovation culture through formal and informal channels, to enable staff to propose and test new ideas


How we measure our performance

In the reporting periods of this corporate plan, we will measure and report on our achievement against our purpose using two tiers of performance criteria.

Our objectives

Our objectives provide the basis to measure the effectiveness of our activities at an outcome level. These high-level performance criteria are also published in the Portfolio Budget Statements 2018–19.

Objective 1: Increase, improve and maintain markets

TABLE 1 Performance measure
Performance criterion 2018–19 measure 2019–20
The trend in value of agricultural exports increases in real terms over time The value of food and fibre exports exceeds the average value of the previous 10 years As per 2018–19 As per 2018–19 As per 2018–19

This objective will be measured using a 10-year average of the value of food and fibre exports based on data from ABARES and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Objective 2: Encourage agricultural productivity

TABLE 2 Performance measure
Performance criterion 2018–19 measure 2019–20
Portfolio industries record an increase in productivity Average annual productivity growth is equal to or exceeds average annual market sector productivity growth of the previous 10 years As per 2018–19 As per 2018–19 As per 2018–19

This objective will be measured using a forecast of productivity for the reporting year, and ABS data from the preceding nine years.

Objective 3: Support sustainable high-quality natural resources

TABLE 3 Performance measure
Performance criterion 2018–19 measure 2019–20
The quality of the resource base is maintained or improved The status and productivity of agricultural land, water resources and Commonwealth fisheries is at least maintained in trend terms As per 2018–19 As per 2018–19 As per 2018–19

This objective will be measured using a combination of indicators relating to soil, ground cover, water recovery under the Murray–Darling Basin Plan and the status of fish stocks in Commonwealth fisheries.

Our functions

Our other performance measures are grouped around our six functions, allowing us to measure the efficiency and quality of the activities that contribute to our objectives.

Function 1: Regulation and service delivery

TABLE 4 Performance measures
Description Criterion 2018–19 measure 2019–20
Identify and manage risks Maintained or improved effectiveness and efficiency in managing biosecurity risk The department achieves a substantial, cost-effective reduction in risk, measured by avoided loss and return on investment As per 2018–19 As per 2018–19 As per 2018–19
Ensure compliance with obligations and that risks to policy outcomes are being managed Effective intervention on compliance pathways Rates of compliance with regulations administered by the department are maintained or improved As per 2018–19 As per 2018–19 As per 2018–19
Regulatory practices seek to minimise the impact of regulation on clients and stakeholders Qualitative assess​ment of the development of new and amended regulations in line with whole-of-government practice As per 2018–19 As per 2018–19 As per 2018–19
Design and implement effective capability and controls to administer programs Business processes and services are improved through the better use of modern technology and improved work practices Agreed service standards are met and stakeholders provide positive feedback As per 2018–19 As per 2018–19 As per 2018–19
Evaluations of programs have positive findings As per 2018–19 As per 2018–19 As per 2018–19

This function will be measured by:

  • calculating the avoided loss, measured in dollar terms, to both market and non-market sectors, against the return on the investment in biosecurity activities
  • tracking rates of compliance with the range of regulations administered by the department, including: biosecurity screening; import permits; export certification; due diligence on logging imports; and water efficiency labelling and standards
  • assessing the department’s approach to developing new regulations against the requirements of the whole-of-government Regulation Impact Statement process.
  • reporting against service standards as set out in our client service charters and ICT service level agreements
  • using program evaluations to report on findings about how well we set up our programs.

Function 2: Policy and programs

TABLE 5 Performance measures
Description Criterion 2018–19 measure 2019–20
Develop policy and programs
to assist producers
Policy advice is evidence-based, practical and timely Positive ministerial feedback on the quality and timeliness of the department’s advice As per 2018–19 As per 2018–19 As per 2018–19
Effective programs are developed and delivered to achieve policy objectives Evaluations of programs have positive findings As per 2018–19 As per 2018–19 As per 2018–19

We provide policy advice to government and are responsible for developing and administering programs to implement the government’s policy decisions. This function will be measured by:

  • the degree of satisfaction with the quality and timeliness of the advice provided as assessed through formal and informal feedback from ministerial offices
  • using program evaluations to report on findings on the achievement and administration of the department’s programs.

Function 3: Trade and market access

TABLE 6 Performance measures
Description Criterion 2018–19 measure 2019–20
Negotiate and influence to increase, improve and maintain markets Increased access to overseas markets generates more export opportunities for Australian primary producers The number of export markets that are gained, maintained or improved As per 2018–19 As per 2018–19 As per 2018–19
New or improved markets show an increase in export volumes and values in trend terms As per 2018–19 As per 2018–19 As per 2018–19

We work with international governments and industry to negotiate new trade agreements and market access arrangements to enable primary producers to export their commodities, products and services to trading partners. This function will be measured using:

  • data published on the department’s website tracking the number of export markets gained, maintained or improved
  • analysis of markets where new or improved access has recently been achieved to show what changes have occurred in terms of export volumes and values.

Function 4: Research and innovation

TABLE 7 Performance measures
Description Criterion 2018–19 measure 2019–20
Invest in research and innovation to achieve our objectives Investment in rural research and development programs demonstrates positive returns Qualitative assessment using case studies of benefits from rural research and development As per 2018–19 As per 2018–19 The final year evaluation for the Rural Research and Development for Profit program is positive.
The efficient collection and distribution of levies to fund rural research and development Levy collection processes cost no more than 1.2% of levies disbursed As per 2018–19 As per 2018–19 As per 2018–19
  Inspections of levy agent records cover at least 20% of levy revenue over a three-year rolling average As per 2018–19 As per 2018–19 As per 2018–19

We are responsible for collecting industry levies and providing them to various recipients, including rural research and development corporations, to fund their work. We also administer research grants programs, such as the Rural Research and Development for Profit program. This function will be measured by:

  • reporting case studies drawn from project participants to show examples of outcomes from the Rural Research and Development for Profit program, ahead of its end-of-program evaluation
  • reporting our efficiency in collecting levies, as well as the level of assurance activity we undertake to ensure levies are properly paid.

Function 5: Enterprise-wide enabling services

TABLE 8 Performance criteria
Description Criterion 2018–19 measure 2019–20
Deliver enabling services and support The department maintains a positive, professional and engaged workforce The department’s employee engagement measures in the APS Employee Census are maintained or improved As per 2018–19 As per 2018–19 As per 2018–19
The department maintains safe and healthy workplaces The notifiable workplace incident rate is maintained or reduced As per 2018–19 As per 2018–19 As per 2018–19
The department delivers a balanced and financially sustainable budget The end-of-year financial position is consistent with the budget at the start of the reporting period As per 2018–19 As per 2018–19 As per 2018–19
Information and communication technology meets business needs The department’s satisfaction with the delivery of ICT Services is improved      

Our people, financial management and ICT services enable the department to work towards achieving its objectives. This function will be measured by:

  • continued reporting of the department’s staff engagement results in the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) annual employee census
  • the rate of incidents notified in accordance with the Work Health and Safety Act 2011
  • reporting against the department’s budget as published in the Portfolio Budget Statements
  • internal customer satisfaction ratings obtained through an annual ICT Survey, ICT project closure reports and ICT help desk surveys, with baseline established in 201819.

Function 6: Forecasting and strategic intelligence

TABLE 9 Performan​ce measure
Description Criterion 2018–19 measure 2019–20
Identify current and future opportunities, risks and challenges, and advise government, industry and the community Fit-for-purpose economic and scientific modelling​ Outcomes are consistent with forecasts, allowing for unforeseeable events As per 2018–19 As per 2018–19 As per 2018–19

Our forecasting and strategic intelligence activities, including research by ABARES and risk-return analysis for biosecurity activities, provide data and evidence-based advice to inform primary producers, industries and government agencies, as well as supporting our policy work, program development and client services.

This function will be measured by comparing the department’s economic and scientific forecasts to actual outcomes over time.

How we manage risk

Our Enterprise Risk Management Policy and Framework are administered in line with the requirements of the Commonwealth Risk Management Policy and overseen by the Executive Management Committee and the independent Audit Committee.

We take a risk-based approach to policy and program development and integrate risk management with our governance, planning and performance management processes. Each division develops a risk plan as part of its annual business plan and risk management procedures are integrated into our project management processes. We have also established a network of SES risk champions to promote risk management and create an environment where all staff are engaging with risk as part of their work.

Engaging with risk positively and transparently allows us to identify opportunities for innovation and ways to improve policy development and service delivery.

Our risk appetite

We face a range of risks reflecting the department’s responsibilities as a policy adviser, researcher, program administrator, service provider, market access negotiator and regulator. These include risks to our business objectives of maintaining and improving market access, encouraging agricultural productivity and supporting sustainable high-quality resources.

We recognise that it is not possible, or necessarily desirable, to eliminate all of the risks inherent in our work. Accepting some degree of risk in our business practices promotes efficiency and innovation.

However, in other areas, for example the safety of our staff and threats to biosecurity, our risk appetite (the level of risk we are willing to accept) is very low.

Our risk appetite and tolerance for each of our major business functions have been established in our Risk Appetite Matrix. This provides our staff with a clear understanding of tolerated levels of risk, enabling them to make informed decisions and confidently manage risk.

Our strategic risks

For 2018–19 the department has maintained four areas of strategic risk:

Three of our strategic risks have an external focus and are concerned with the department achieving its objectives. The other focuses internally on the department’s capacity and capability. This implementation capability is also a key feature of how well we are managing all other risks.

The strategic risks are monitored regularly by the Executive Management Committee, as our primary governance body.


Our integrity

Our department promotes a culture of integrity and adherence to the APS Values and Code of Conduct, with zero tolerance for fraud and corruption. Managers are expected to lead by example and demonstrate high standards of professionalism, integrity and ethics. All staff undertake mandatory training on understanding, recognising and reporting fraud and corruption. We report annually on our fraud management to the Australian Institute of Criminology.

Our Fraud and Corruption Control Plan provides a comprehensive framework for identifying, deterring, detecting, investigating and reporting fraud and corruption, and meeting broader government obligations. Fraud and corruption risk assessments are undertaken biennially to identify risks, treatment strategies, responsibilities, target dates and reporting obligations.

In accordance with the Law Enforcement Integrity Commissioner Act 2006, prescribed employees of the department are under the jurisdiction of the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity.

Our security

Our Protective Security Control Plan provides the framework for preventing, deterring and detecting security risks, and for meeting the security obligations detailed in the Australian Government’s Protective Security Policy Framework. We conduct security-focused risk assessments biennially.

All departmental officers complete biennial security training in recognising security vulnerabilities, understanding security obligations and reporting security incidents. Staff who require access to security-classified information are required to obtain and maintain an appropriate security clearance.

We report annually to the Attorney-General’s Department and other key stakeholders on our compliance with the Protective Security Policy Framework.

Our assurance

The Executive Management Committee and its subcommittees oversee the implementation and improvement of our business operations and governance structures, share responsibility for building capability and promote collaboration between business areas, other agencies and our stakeholders.

The Audit Committee provides independent assurance and assistance to the secretary on our risk, performance, control and compliance frameworks and external accountability responsibilities.

The internal audit function reports to the Audit Committee and works independently of business areas to evaluate our management systems, practices and controls. External service providers are also contracted to undertake audit functions. Internal audits provide assurance to senior management on corporate governance, departmental administration, and our ability to meet the department’s objectives.

Our work is subject to independent scrutiny by the Inspector-General of Biosecurity, who is responsible for evaluating our performance in delivering biosecurity functions. The Inspector-General reports to the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources.

Further external transparency and accountability is provided through Australian National Audit Office audits, parliamentary inquiries and other reviews commissioned by the Australian Government.


Corporate Plan 2018-19 (full d​ocument) PDF​​
[1.4 MB, 26 pages]​

Performance Framework 2018–19 PDF​​
​[1.6 MB, 19 pages]​

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