Annual Report
2012–13

Governance

Support services for Government operations and official and ceremonial support are provided by the Governance Group.

The Group comprises five divisions:

  • Government Division
  • Ministerial Support Division
  • Cabinet Division
  • Corporate Services Division
  • G20 Operations Division.

Also within the Group is the Cabinet Implementation Unit.

Highlights 2012–13

This year we supported the Prime Minister, the Cabinet, Cabinet committees and our Portfolio Ministers, including the Cabinet Secretary and the Parliamentary Secretary by:

  • receiving, registering, tracking and analysing 194,024 items of incoming correspondence and coordinating 2,285 briefs for the Prime Minister and our Portfolio Ministers
  • coordinating a number of significant visits and events including:
    • the State Visit by His Excellency Dr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of the Republic of Indonesia
    • the Royal Visit by Their Royal Highnesses, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall
    • the National Memorial Service for the 10th Anniversary of the 2002 Bali Bombings
  • providing essential support to the Prime Minister to undertake nine overseas visits to 12 nations
  • coordinating a range of State occasions and official hospitality events around Australia, including State Funerals
  • launching the Department’s new intranet, boosting internal communication and focusing on the people and the life of the Department
  • coordinating arrangements for the delivery of eight Community Cabinet meetings across Australia
  • making major advances in our operational planning for the G20 summit in 2014 (see the G20 performance report at page 47)
  • supporting development and implementation of the Department’s Capability Action Plan following the 2011–12 Capability Review
  • coordinating the Government’s legislation program involving regular briefings to the Prime Minister on private Members’ business, over 400 briefs to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister on legislation as well as issuing 11 legislation circulars to departments and agencies
  • reviewing the implementation risk for 22 Portfolio Budget Submissions, including over 280 individual new proposals and engaging with agencies to provide substantive implementation planning advice on 19 complex new proposals
  • developing the Public Interest Disclosure Bill 2013, introduced into Parliament on 21 March 2013, establishing a scheme for investigating and responding to allegations of wrongdoing in the Commonwealth public sector
  • receiving and managing 138 new freedom of information (FOI) requests
  • leading work to achieve agreement with State Governments to a means of implementing important reforms that modernise the rules of Royal succession in Australia
  • assisting with the establishment of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, including the development of amendments to the Royal Commission Act 1902 to support ‘private sessions’ to be undertaken by the inquiry.

Figure 2.3 KPIs for the Governance Group

Support services for government operations (Program component 1.1.3) Met
High level of satisfaction of the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and Cabinet committee chairs, Portfolio Ministers and the Parliamentary Secretaries, the Governor-General and Federal Executive Council, with the quality and timeliness of advice, briefing, activities and/or support.
Satisfaction of other central agencies, portfolio departments and other key stakeholders, with the cooperation and collaboration of the Department.
Grants are administered in compliance with reporting mechanisms, objectives and other provisions of the grant funding deeds.
Compliance with all relevant legislation.
High level of satisfaction of the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and Cabinet committee chairs, Portfolio Ministers and the Parliamentary Secretaries, former Governors-General and the Governor-General designate with the quality and timeliness of advice, briefing, activities and/or support.
Satisfaction of departments, agencies and other key stakeholders, with the cooperation and collaboration of the Department.
High level of satisfaction with the quality of support provided by departmental secretariat to bodies supported by the Department, including the Official Establishments Trust.
Grants are administered in compliance with reporting mechanisms, objectives and other provisions of the grant funding deeds.
High level of satisfaction of key stakeholders with the management of the Government’s hospitality for overseas dignitaries, official ceremonies and program of official visits.
Compliance with all relevant legislation.

Government Division

The Government Division provides advice to the Prime Minister, and Portfolio Ministers and the Parliamentary Secretaries on the Government’s legislation program, parliamentary matters, Ministerial arrangements, public service matters, legal and constitutional policy matters, legislation administered by the Portfolio Ministers, royal commissions and Australian honours and symbols policy.

Parliamentary and government matters

We provided support to the Prime Minister, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, the Leader of the House and the Manager of Government Business in the Senate in coordinating the Government’s legislation program, including preparation of material for meetings of the Parliamentary Business Committee. We also supported the approval of legislation for introduction in the Parliament and provided regular briefing for the Prime Minister on private Members’ business.

In addition, we supported the Prime Minister in implementing changes to the Ministry as well as preparing amendments to the Administrative Arrangements Order for consideration by the Governor-General. We provided advice on a range of governance and remuneration policy issues and coordinated an update to the Annual Report Requirements for consideration by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit.

Legal policy matters

We contributed to whole of government advice to the Prime Minister on a broad range of legal policies and issues, including human rights, Federal courts and privacy as well as administration and support relating to the Ombudsman Act 1976.

We coordinated and progressed the portfolio’s legislation program, including developing legislation on public interest disclosures in the Commonwealth public sector (see the Public Interest Disclosure Bill feature).

We developed legislation to support the work of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The Royal Commissions Amendment Act 2013 was passed by the Parliament on 20 March 2013 and commenced on 28 March 2013.

Legal proceedings

We continued our involvement in the discovery process given by the Commonwealth in Spencer v Commonwealth of Australia & Anor (ACD24/2007). The applicant challenged privilege claims for public interest immunity on the grounds the documents revealed or tended to reveal Cabinet deliberations. On 7 June 2012 the Federal Court upheld in full the Commonwealth’s claims for public interest immunity. The Court’s decision was the subject of an application for leave to appeal to the Full Federal Court. On 26 November 2012 the Full Federal Court dismissed the applicant’s application for leave to appeal. The Court awarded costs to the Commonwealth.

FOI applications

We coordinated the processing of FOI applications to the Department and Portfolio Ministers and provided advice to FOI decision-makers for these applications. We also coordinated FOI consultation requests from other agencies, particularly concerning the Cabinet document exemption.

The Department and Portfolio Ministers received 138 new FOI requests in 2012–13 and notified 88 access decisions, with 90 per cent of decisions notified within the statutory deadlines under the FOI Act. In 2012–13 documents released in 28 FOI access decisions were posted to the Department’s disclosure log. Figure 2.4 contains further statistics on FOI requests and performance.

Figure 2.4 Freedom of information requests and performance

FOI requests handled 2010–11 2011–12 2012–13
Requests on hand at 1 July 42 55 35
New requests received 174 208 138
Requests withdrawn 47 78 42
Requests transferred to other agencies 21 21 21
Access decision notified 93 129 88
Timeliness of responses
Percentage of access decisions notified within statutory deadlines 78% 75% 90%

We undertook an FOI systems improvement project and redeveloped the processes and procedures for processing FOI requests within the Department.

Australian honours and symbols

During the year we provided advice to Portfolio Ministers on the operation of Australia’s honours system and supported the Department’s representatives on the Council for the Order of Australia, the Australian Bravery Decorations Council and the National Emergency Medal Committee. We also provided secretariat services to the committees that consider honours to public servants, such as the Public Service Medal.

We developed and delivered Australian Government recognition of the service of members of the Australian Women’s Land Army (AWLA). At a reception at Parliament House on 20 August 2012, former members were presented with certificates of appreciation signed by the Governor-General, a commemorative brooch designed by the Department of Defence and a copy of a publication produced by the Australian War Memorial for the anniversary documenting the history of the AWLA: Serving on the Home Front. Three hundred and seventy-five former AWLA members were recognised during 2012–13.

In August 2012 we were advised of Her Majesty The Queen’s approval of new Guidelines concerning the acceptance and wearing of foreign honours and awards. The new Guidelines were developed in consultation with the Australian Honours and Awards Secretariat of Government House, DFAT and Defence, to improve the process both for foreign countries seeking to offer honours and awards to Australians, and for Australians seeking approval to accept and wear honours and awards.

On the Prime Minister’s recommendation, in April 2013 Her Majesty The Queen approved the use of the title ‘the Honourable’ by Australian Governors-General, including former Governors-General.

We administered nominations for non-Australians for honorary awards in the General Division of the Order of Australia and the Governor-General made 25 honorary appointments during the year.

We provided information and advice about national symbols, including the Australian National Flag and the Australian National Anthem, including through the It’s an Honour website (www.itsanhonour.gov.au). We distributed advice on special occasions about the flying of the Australian National Flag, the Australian Aboriginal Flag and the Torres Strait Islander Flag to subscribers to the Commonwealth Flag Network. We also provided advice on the appropriate use of the Commonwealth Coat of Arms, including approval for its use in educational material or for teams representing Australia in international competitions. Advice was also provided to Government agencies regarding the Australian Government Branding Design Guidelines.

We also arranged 12,102 congratulatory messages from the Prime Minister to Australians celebrating significant birthdays and wedding anniversaries.

National Australia Day Council

The National Australia Day Council (NADC) is a Commonwealth owned, not-for-profit company within the Prime Minister’s portfolio, reporting under the provisions of the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 and the Corporations Act 2001. The NADC promotes the meaning of, and participation in, Australia Day and the Australian of the Year Awards. More information about the NADC can be found on the National Australia Day Council website.

In 2012–13 the Government provided $3.4 million to the NADC, administered through PM&C. The NADC performed effectively during the year and provided acceptable financial, audit and progress reports on its funded activities within the timeframes stipulated in the grant funding provisions.

Ministerial Support Division

The Ministerial Support Division coordinates the delivery of departmental services to the Prime Minister and our Portfolio Ministers and Parliamentary Secretary, including managing the delivery of briefing and correspondence, providing support to Ministerial offices, preparing draft speeches and providing internal communications support. We also support the delivery of Community Cabinet meetings and manage the Department’s internal governance arrangements, including supporting the Audit Committee and internal audit program; fraud control; risk management; operational planning and preparation of the Department’s annual report. Under Program 1.2, we provide high-level support for the State Occasions and the Official Visits Program, the operations of the Prime Minister’s official residences and for former Governors-General.

Internal communications and speeches

We supported internal communication through coordinating and drafting articles for promotion on the intranet and the staff e-newsletter, Watt’s On, managed the Communications Working Group, developed a Departmental Media Policy and drafted speeches for the Secretary and senior executive. We managed the intranet redevelopment, launched in September 2012, to enhance internal communication and information sharing and to create a sense of community across the Department. We also supported the Prime Minister through the preparation of draft speeches, video messages and other written material and provided quality assurance on briefs.

Internal governance and audit

We supported the Department’s internal governance arrangements through the establishment of the Department’s Governance Framework and through ongoing work in the areas of audit, fraud, risk and internal governance. More information about those arrangements is addressed in Part 3: Management and accountability (on page 50).

Supporting the Prime Minister, our Portfolio Ministers and their offices

We continued to facilitate the flow of all parliamentary, correspondence and briefing items between the Department and the Prime Minister and our Portfolio Ministers, including our Parliamentary Secretary. In 2012–13 there was a continuing shift from hardcopy correspondence to emails sent to the Prime Minister by the public. The Department provided responses to all Senate questions on notice either on the due date or within one day of the due date.

Figure 2.5 Performance relating to processed correspondence and parliamentary questions

Correspondence and parliamentary questions 2010–11 2011–12 2012–13
Correspondence processed
Number of items 158,000 155,000 194,024
Questions on Notice (QON) handled
Questions on hand at 1 July 9 5 1
New questions received 331 90 50
Questions transferred to other Ministers 1 15 3
Responses to questions lodged 28 77 34
Questions withdrawn/lapsed 1 / 7 0 0
Response time for House of Representatives questions2 59 51 66
Response time for Senate questions2 61 37 50
Numbers of Senate Estimates questions on notice3
AE - Additional Estimates (February) 56 100 74
BE - Budget Estimates (May) 116 125 98
SBE - Supplementary Budget Estimates (October) 2344 125 N/A5

Notes:

1 Questions directed to PM&C Portfolio Ministers are included only where PM&C supported the Minister in relation to the matter raised in the QON and supported the Minister in responding to the question.

2 Average number of days, for relevant responses, between questions being asked and responses being lodged.

3 Questions are excluded from these departmental figures where the response is managed by a separate portfolio agency.

4 All Senate Estimates questions on notice for 2011 were tabled by the due date.

5 N/A for SBE 2013: The estimates round will occur in 2013–14.

Community engagement

We planned, coordinated and delivered eight Community Cabinet meetings across Australia. Community Cabinet meetings provide opportunities for people to bring their concerns directly to the Government.

Each Community Cabinet meeting starts with pre-arranged Ministerial meetings, where community members can pursue matters of interest to them. This is followed by a Public Forum, where members of the public can ask questions of the Prime Minister and other Ministers. In 2012–13 Community Cabinet meetings were held in the following locations:

  • Ipswich, Queensland on 10 July 2012
  • Orelia, Western Australia on 5 September 2012
  • Launceston, Tasmania on 3 October 2012
  • Kippa-Ring, Queensland on 14 November 2012
  • Aberfoyle Park, South Australia on 20 February 2013
  • Thornlie, Western Australia on 27 March 2013
  • Norwood, Victoria on 17 April 2013
  • Regents Park, Sydney on 22 May 2013.

Meetings involved around 3,173 registered attendees, an average of 35 Ministerial meetings at each event and 14 questions asked at each public forum.

At the end of 2012 we administered an online survey to participants of the six Community Cabinet meetings held in the 2012 calendar year to explore attendee motivation, experience and engagement expectations and guide improvements to the program. Responses indicated that attendance was largely motivated by the opportunity to engage directly with Government and that attendees highly valued the question and answer focus of Community Cabinet. Most respondents characterised the experience as a genuine opportunity to talk to, and hear from, Government first-hand and said they would be willing to come again or participate in other types of Government engagement activities.

We created a Facebook page in 2012 to promote the meetings and improve reporting on meeting outcomes. Post meeting reporting via social media has been well received by attendees and is acquiring something of a broader online audience with the site recently achieving over 2,000 ‘likes’. Community response to the official photo albums of each meeting has been particularly strong as well as the ‘Speaks’ series of posts which enable attendees to share the issue most important to them with the wider online community.

Official Establishments

Under program 1.2, we managed the operations of the Prime Minister’s two official residences: The Lodge in Canberra and Kirribilli House in Sydney. We also provided secretariat support for four meetings of the Official Establishments Trust. Throughout the financial year, four charity events were held at Kirribilli House under the Official Establishments Charities Program.

We provided administrative support to five former Governors-General, including support for their staffing and office arrangements and related entitlements.

Ceremonial and hospitality support

Through Program 1.2, we also provided high-level support for major events, such as guest of government visits, ceremonies and state occasions, and co-ordinated the logistical arrangements for the Prime Minister’s overseas visits.

During 2012–13 we provided essential logistical and administrative support:

  • to the Prime Minister to undertake nine overseas visits to 12 nations
  • by coordinating a range of State occasions and official hospitality events around Australia, including State Funerals.

We planned and coordinated nine official visits overseas for the Prime Minister, including:

  • Cook Islands (Pacific Islands Forum) (29–30 August 2012)
  • Russia (APEC) (7–9 September 2012)
  • United States of America (United Nations General Assembly) (23–29 September 2012)
  • Indonesia (10th Anniversary Bali Memorial Service), Afghanistan and India (11–18 October 2012)
  • Laos (Asia–Europe Meeting, ASEM) and Indonesia (Bali Democracy Forum) (4–9 November 2012)
  • Cambodia (East Asia Summit, EAS) (19–21 November 2012)
  • New Zealand (8–10 February 2013)
  • China (5–10 April 2013)
  • Papua New Guinea (9–11 May 2013).

We arranged and facilitated 39 guest of government visits to Australia this year (see Figure 2.6), an increase of seven from the previous year. These ranged from Royal, State, Head of Government and Ministerial level visits and included official hospitality. Visits under the guest of government program in 2012–13 included:

  • Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall
  • Heads of State of Indonesia, Chile, Philippines, Mozambique, Myanmar, and Brunei Darussalam
  • Heads of Government of Zimbabwe, the Solomon Islands, Singapore and Papua New Guinea
  • His Royal Highness Prince Philippe of Belgium, Her Royal Highness Princess Bajrakitiyabha of Thailand, United Nations (UN) Under Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the State Councillor China and the President of the Asian Development Bank
  • Ministers from Armenia, Albania, the United States of America, Vietnam, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Chile, Timor-Leste, Poland, Morocco, Sri Lanka and Mauritania.

Figure 2.6 Summary of ceremonial and hospitality services

Services 2010–11 2011–12 2012–13
Prime Minister’s overseas visits
Visits made 8 8 9
Nations visited1 14 11 11
Total duration of visits (whole or part days) 48 42 40
Official visits to Australia by guests of the Australian Government
Heads of State 2 7 6
Heads of Government 4 8 4
Ministers 12 11 18
Other guests2 2 6 11
Total visits excluding airport visitations 20 32 39
Airport facilitations3 115 170 110
Other events of state
State Funerals 1 3 2
State Memorial Services 2 1 2
Additional events 20 25 29
Total other events of state 23 29 33

Notes:

1 Nations may be visited more than once in a given year.

2 Guests include visitors who are royalty but are not Heads of State.

3 Airport facilitation involved coordinating airport and border control procedures for Heads of State and Heads of Government on private or transit visits on their international arrival and departure. The facilitation is undertaken by part-time visit consultants.

We also managed airport facilitations for Heads of State and Heads of Government transiting or making private visits to Australia. Other major events we coordinated in 2012–13 included:

  • morning tea in honour of the 2013 Australian of the Year Awards Finalists (Canberra, 25 January 2013) and an Australia Day 2013 Reception (Canberra, 26 January 2013)
  • COAG Meetings (Canberra, 25 July 2012, 7 December 2012 and 19 April 2013)
  • State Funerals for the Honourable Joe Riordan AO (Sydney, 23 November 2012) and the Honourable Joan Child AO (Melbourne, 5 March 2013), a State Memorial Service for Mrs Hazel Hawke AO (Sydney, 25 June 2013) and the National Memorial Service for the tenth Anniversary of the 2002 Bali Bombings (Canberra, 12 October 2012)
  • receptions for the Australian Olympic Team (19 August 2012) and the AWLA (20 August 2012)
  • morning tea for the 25th Anniversary of the Open Gardens Australia (Canberra, 25 August 2012)
  • the PM’s XI Cricket Match (Canberra, 29 January 2013)
  • dinner to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations with China (Canberra, 12 December 2012).

Cabinet Division

The Cabinet Division includes the Cabinet Secretariat which provides administrative services to the Cabinet and its committees to support the Government’s decision-making processes. The Division is also responsible for supporting the Federal Executive Council, the Secretaries’ Committee on National Security, maintaining the registry of Cabinet documents for the current Government and preserving the Cabinet records of previous Governments.

Figure 2.7 Services to the Cabinet and other decision makers

Services 2010–11 2011–12 2012–13
Meetings held by the Cabinet and its committees in Canberra / Cabinet and committee meetings held outside Canberra
Cabinet 39 / 1 50 / 2 40 / 2
National Security Committee 20 / 0 27 / 0 19 / 0
Other Cabinet committees1 101 / 3 113 / 4 86 / 3
Total meetings held by the Cabinet and its committees 164 196 150
Percentage of Cabinet Minutes released within 24 hours / 48 hours of meeting
Cabinet 69 / 82 73 / 95 61 / 88
National Security Committee 50 / 92 38 / 82 35 / 68
All other committees 32 / 64 42 / 74 40 / 63
Other indicators of Cabinet workload
Cabinet documents lodged 544 491 596
Cabinet minutes recorded 1,146 1,524 1,260
Other meetings
Secretaries’ Committee on National Security 12 19 18
Support for the Governor-General in the Federal Executive Council
Meetings held 22 22 25
Papers considered 484 585 555
Availability of papers two working days before meeting 97.3% 98.5% 89.6%

Note:

1 The 2010–11 figure includes five Ministry and 14 Parliamentary Business Committee meetings; the 2011–12 figure includes two Ministry and 18 Parliamentary Business Committee meetings; and the 2012–13 figure includes two Ministry and 16 Parliamentary Business Committee meetings. All meetings were held in Canberra.

During 2012–13 we provided support for the Cabinet and 13 Cabinet committees and sub-committees. This included overseeing the establishment of the G20 Committee of Cabinet, which provides policy direction and oversees operational requirements required for Australia’s successful hosting of the G20 in 2014. There were 150 Cabinet and committee meetings held in 2012–13, of which five were held interstate. In addition, the Secretariat provided support for 18 meetings of the Secretaries’ Committee on National Security.

We also supported Her Excellency the Honourable Quentin Bryce AC CVO, the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, and provided high-level administrative support to the Federal Executive Council which met 25 times in 2012–13.

We assisted the National Archives of Australia in preparing the release of Cabinet documents including the transfer of records up to March 1996, as Australia transitions from a 30 closed period to 20 years. These documents will become available for request at www.naa.gov.au. As required by the Cabinet Handbook, we provided advice on FOI applications for Cabinet related documentation.

Cabinet Implementation Unit

The Cabinet Implementation Unit (CIU) assists with the implementation and delivery of the Government’s strategic priorities. This includes providing the Prime Minister and the Cabinet with regular progress reports and working collaboratively across Government to support implementation of key decisions on time, on budget and to the Government’s expectations.

During 2012–13 we provided the Prime Minister and the Cabinet with quarterly reports on progress towards achieving the Government’s most significant priorities. We also worked with departments and monitored delivery of the Government’s commitments to the Australian Greens and independent Members of Parliament, and worked with the State and Territory Governments to provide COAG with a report on the implementation status of major COAG initiatives.

We continued our proactive engagement with departments and agencies by providing direct support to 25 implementation exercises, including six major cross portfolio implementation exercises. We also reviewed the implementation risks for 22 Portfolio Budget Submissions, including over 280 individual new proposals.

Our ongoing involvement with the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) Senior Executive Service (SES) Leadership Development Framework included presentations at APSC training on developing Cabinet Submissions. We also conducted 27 presentations and extended lectures to departments and agencies, presented a guest lecture at the Australian National University (ANU) Crawford School of Public Policy on implementation and delivery, and presented at the 1st Biennial Australian Implementation Conference. We built on our external communication products by enhancing the CIU corporate website, producing a series of toolkit papers for 2013 release and expanding readership of our quarterly newsletter to over 500 regular subscribers.

Expertise in implementation was shared through collaboration with departments and agencies on complex implementation challenges. We used a ‘hub and spokes’ model to connect departments and agencies to examples of good practice and to people who have expertise in delivering similar programs, either by directly linking different areas together or by engaging the collective expertise of the program managers’ community of practice. This has resulted in stronger connections between agencies, more sharing of lessons learnt and expertise and higher quality implementation of Government initiatives.

We supported three meetings of the APS Policy Implementation Network (APS PIN) as well as three APS PIN workshops on implementing the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper, the NDIS and proposals for a Whole of Government Evaluation Framework.

In November 2012 the APS PIN was showcased at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Public Governance Committee in Paris as a best practice example of practical innovation in implementation and delivery, reflecting Australia’s reputation among OECD member countries as a leader in public administration and public sector reform.

Corporate Services Division

The Corporate Services Division provides the key enabling functions to the Department and consists of the Financial Management Branch, the Information Services Branch and the People, Capability and Performance Branch. During 2012–13 we focused on delivering against the Capability Action Plan and on enhancing the People and Leadership capabilities across the Department. We also enhanced our governance and reporting arrangements and implemented integrated people, Information Technology (IT) and finance strategies to support the Department now, and into the future.

Importantly, we worked with our stakeholders to enable the achievement of business outcomes. This included strengthening our IT applications and infrastructure to provide greater flexibility for staff and to improve overall productivity of the Department.

Further information on the functions of the Division is available in the Management and Accountability Section at Part 3 of this report (on page 50).