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Annual Report 2013-14

Volume 1, Part 3 : Governance and Accountability

Chapter 10 - External accountability


Parliamentary business

In 2013–14, Defence provided 10 written submissions to various Senate, House of Representatives and joint committee inquiries. Defence witnesses appeared at nine hearings providing evidence on a range of issues, took 35 questions on notice (16 had not yet been tabled at 30 June 2014) and either tabled or contributed to eight government responses to parliamentary committee reports throughout the year. These are available at aph.gov.au.

To assist parliamentary committee members to gain a better understanding of Defence issues, Defence also provided private briefings on a variety of subjects, including matters of regional security and capability.

Table 10.1: Defence’s parliamentary contribution, 2011–12 to 2013–14

Parliamentary contribution

2011–12

2012–13

2013–14

Written submissions

15

24

10

Whole-of-government submissions

1

Nil

1

Government responses

5

2

8

Public hearings

14

16

13

Private briefings

12

14

25

Total

47

46

57

Parliamentary committees

Joint Committees

Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade

Further details of SEA 4000 Air Warfare Destroyer will be provided in the next Defence Annual Report 2014-15.

Further details of the Inquiry into Australia’s Relationship with Timor-Leste will be provided in the next Defence Annual Report 2014-15.

The Government response to the Inquiry into the Review of the Defence Annual Report 2011–2012 is being drafted and will be tabled during the 2014-15 reporting period.
The Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade released its report entitled Care of ADF Personnel Wounded and Injured on Operations on 24 June 2013.The government response to the report was tabled on 6 March 2014.

On 28 February 2014 the Minister for Foreign Affairs, The Hon Julie Bishop MP, asked the Committee to inquire into, and report on, The human rights issues confronting women and girls in the Indian Ocean – Asia Pacific region. The Department of Defence provided one submission to the inquiry on 17 June 2014.

The Defence Sub-Committee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade reviewed the Department of Defence Annual Report 2012-13. In support of the review, the Department of Defence appeared at a public hearing on 6 June 2014. The report entitled Review of the Defence Annual Report 2012-13 was released by the Committee on 28 October 2014.The government response to the inquiry is being drafted at present with the intent to table it during the 2014-15 reporting period.

Further details of the Inquiry into Government Support for Australian Defence Industry Exports will be provided in the next Defence Annual Report 2014-15.

Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security

The Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security released its report entitled Inquiry into potential reforms of Australia’s National Security Legislation on 24 June 2013.
The government response was due to be tabled on 24 September 2013. Upon dissolution of the 43rd Parliament the response was not tabled.

The Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security released its report entitled Review of the Administration and Expenditure No. 12 (2012-13) on 22 September 2014. The Department of Defence provided one submission to the inquiry on 21 February 2014.

Joint Committee on Public Accounts and Audit

The Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit conducted an inquiry into Auditor-Generals Report No 422, Review of the 2012-13 DMO Major Project Report. In support of this inquiry, the Department of Defence appeared at a public hearing on 14 March 2014.
Further details of Report 443—Review of Auditor-General’s Report Numbers 23 and 25 (2012–13) and 32 (2012–13) to 9 (2013–14) will be provided in the next Defence Annual Report 2014-15.

Joint Standing Committee on Public Works

Throughout the reporting period, a number of Department of Defence projects were reviewed by the committee. The reviews, which related to the projects listed have been completed, reports have been tabled and the works have been approved.

Joint Standing Committee on Treaties

The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties Report 141: Treaties tabled on 19 March and 13 May 14 was released by the committee on 15 July 2014. This report was relevant to the Department of Defence as it reviewed the Treaty between the Government of Australia and the Government of the Kingdom of Great Brittain and Northern Ireland for Defence Security Cooperation. The Department of Defence contributed to the review by appearing at a public hearing on 16 June 2014.

Senate Committees

Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade

On 27 March 2014, the Senate referred the Government Response to the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References committee for inquiry and report. The Department of Defence provided one submission to the inquiry on 12 June 2014.

On 5 March 2014 the Senate referred the Inquiry into the Breach of Indonesian Territorial Waters to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References committee for inquiry and report. In support of the inquiry, the Department of Defence attended a public hearing on 21 March 2014. The report entitled Breaches of Indonesian territorial waters was released by the committee on 27 March 2014. The government response to the report was tabled on 27 June 2014.

The Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade released its report entitled Report of the DLA Piper Review and the government’s response on 27 June 2013. The government response to the report was tabled on 13 May 2014.

The Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade released its report entitled The importance of the Indian Ocean Rim for Australia’s Foreign, Trade and Defence Policy on 14 June 2013.The government response was provided to the committee on 6 March 2014.

The Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade released its report entitled Australia's overseas development programs in Afghanistan on 16 May 2013. Defence contributed to the whole of government response tabled 26 June 2014.

The Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade released its report entitled Implementation of the Defence Trade Controls Act 2012, Progress report no. 1 on 27
June 2013. The government response was tabled on 8 January 2014.

On 12 December 2013, the Senate referred the Defence Legislation Amendment (Woomera Prohibited Area) Bill 2013 to the committee for inquiry and report. The Department of Defence contributed to one joint submission with the Department of Industry, which was provided to the committee on 10 February 2014.

On 27 March 2014, the Senate referred the Defence Legislation Amendment (Woomera Prohibited Area) Bill 2014 to the committee for inquiry and report. The Department of Defence contributed to one joint submission with the Department of Industry which was provided to the committee on 23 April 2014.

Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administrations

On 14 November 2013 the Inquiry into Commonwealth Procurement Procedures was referred to the Finance and Public Administration References committee for inquiry and report. The Department of Defence provided one submission to the inquiry on the 4 March 2014.

Senate Estimates and questions on notice

Defence attended three estimates hearings before the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (Table 10.4) and responded to a total of 450 questions on notice from the three hearings (Table 10.5). Of the questions taken on notice from the Senate and House of Representatives notice papers during 2013–14, Defence was asked a total of 18 (two had not yet been tabled at 30 June 2014).

Tables 10.2 to 10.4 provide information on Defence’s activities in relation to parliamentary committee inquiries.

Table 10.2: Defence’s involvement with joint committees, 2013–14

Joint committee

Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade

SEA 4000 Air Warfare Destroyer

Inquiry into Australia’s Relationship with Timor-Leste

Inquiry into the Review of the Defence Annual Report 2011–2012

Inquiry into the Care of ADF Personnel Wounded and Injured on Operations

Inquiry into the Human Rights Issues Confronting Women and Girls in the Indian Ocean – Asia–Pacific Region

Inquiry into the Review of the Defence Annual Report 2012–13

Inquiry into Government Support for Australian Defence Industry Exports

Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security

Inquiry into Reforms of Australia’s National Security Legislation

Review of Administration and Expenditure 2012–13

Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit

Report 422—Review of the 2012–13 DMO Major Project Report

Report 443—Review of Auditor-General’s Report Numbers 23 and 25 (2012–13) and 32 (2012–13) to 9 (2013–14)

Joint Standing Committee on Public Works

Joint Project 2047 Phase 3 Defence Terrestrial Communications Network Facilities and Infrastructure Project (JP 2047)

Air 9000 Phase 5C replacement Chinook facilities project, Townsville, Queensland

Development and Construction of Housing for Defence at RAAF Base Tindal, Northern Territory

Joint Standing Committee on Treaties

Treaty between the Governments of Australia and the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland for Defence Security Cooperation

Table 10.3: Defence’s involvement with Senate committees, 2013–14

Senate committee

Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade

Government Response to the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce

Inquiry into the Breach of Indonesian Territorial Waters

Report of the Review of Allegations of Sexual and Other Abuse in Defence, DLA Piper

Inquiry into the Importance of the Indian Ocean Rim for Australia’s Foreign, Trade and Defence Policy, tabled 6 March 2014

Inquiry into Australia’s Overseas Development Programs in Afghanistan

Implementation of the Defence Trade Controls Legislation

Defence Legislation Amendment (Woomera Prohibited Area) Bill 2013

Defence Legislation Amendment (Woomera Prohibited Area) Bill 2014

Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration

Inquiry into Commonwealth Procurement Procedures

Table 10.4: Defence’s involvement with Senate Estimates, 2014–14

Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade

Supplementary Budget Estimates 2013–14

Defence witnesses appeared at a hearing on 20 November 2013. Thirty-four questions were taken on notice during the hearing. An additional 103 written questions were received following the hearing.

Additional Estimates 2013–14

Defence witnesses appeared at a hearing on 26 February 2014. Twenty-eight questions were taken on notice during the hearing. An additional 108 written questions were received following the hearing.

Budget Estimates 2014–15

Defence witnesses appeared at hearings on 2 and 3 June 2014. Fifty-three questions were taken on notice during the hearing. An additional 124 written questions were received following the hearing.

Table 10.5: Defence’s questions on notice, 2011–12 to 2013–14

Source of questions on notice

2011–12

2012–13

2013–14

House of Representatives/Senate notice paper

358

167

18

Senate Estimates (October, February, June)

650

440

450

Parliamentary inquiries

118

97

35

Total

1126

704

503

Judicial decisions and decisions of administrative tribunals

In Danthanarayana and Another v Commonwealth of Australia & Ors [2014] FCA 552, the applicants sought damages for adverse consequences alleged to have been caused by the actions of the Commonwealth, six Defence employees and a contractor. On 28 May 2014, the Federal Court summarily dismissed the applicant’s Further Amended Statement of Claim as it failed to disclose a reasonable cause of action for the tort of civil conspiracy, for misfeasance in public office or for damages under the Trade Practices Act against the respondents. The court found that the applicants had no reasonable prospects of successfully prosecuting any of those causes of action and that the first applicant’s pleaded allegations of negligence were deficient and should be struck out. The court allowed the first applicant one last opportunity to plead a claim in negligence as against the Commonwealth subject to the condition that any further pleadings be submitted both to the court and to the respondents for consideration prior to leave being granted to file a further amended application. The matter is continuing and is expected to resume before the Federal Court later in 2014.

An ADF member had been convicted of a service offence of creating a disturbance on service land following a court martial under the Defence Force Discipline Act 1982. The conviction was upheld, on subsequent appeals, by the Defence Force Discipline Appeal Tribunal and the Full Court of the Federal Court. In Li v Chief of Army [2013] HCA 49, the High Court unanimously allowed an appeal against a decision of the Full Court of the Federal Court and quashed the conviction. The High Court held that ‘creating a disturbance’ involves the intentional doing of an act which results in a non-trivial interruption of order, the person charged being reckless as to the occurrence of that result. The High Court found that the court martial had been misdirected as to the proper law at first instance. The court remitted the matter to the Defence Force Discipline Appeal Tribunal for further consideration.

On 2 June 2014, the ACT Supreme Court dismissed the plaintiff’s application, in Barry Thomas Blunden v Commonwealth of Australia [2014] ACTSC 123, to reinstate proceedings under rule 76 of the ACT Court Procedures Rules 2006. The plaintiff’s application for an extension of time to commence proceedings seeking common law damages for injuries alleged to have been suffered as a consequence of the HMAS Voyager/HMAS Melbourne collision in 1964 had been previously dismissed by the ACT Supreme Court in 1999 and an appeal from that decision had not been successful. The court noted the prior applications and appeals between 2000 and 2007 and found that the plaintiff had taken no substantive steps in the proceedings since October 2007. The court found no justification in the interest of justice for the proceedings to be reinstated.

Auditor-General’s reports

In 2013–14, the Auditor-General tabled six performance audit reports relating directly to Defence and the Defence Materiel Organisation. The reports are listed in Table 10.6. Table 10.7 lists cross-portfolio audits involving Defence that were tabled during the year. Table 10.8 gives details of an audit in which Defence participated as the largest holder of radiation sources monitored by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA). The Auditor-General’s findings and recommendations can be found at www.anao.gov.au.

Table 10.6: Auditor-General’s reports on Defence, 2013–14

Report

Objective

Audit Report No. 3, AIR 8000 Phase 2—C-27J Spartan Battlefield Airlift Aircraft, tabled 15 August 2013

The objective of the audit was to assess the adequacy of Defence’s processes, including compliance with the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997, the Financial Management and Accountability Regulations 1997, and relevant Commonwealth and Defence procurement requirements, to select the capability solution recommended to the Government to satisfy the requirements of AIR 8000 Phase 2.

Audit Report No. 6, Capability Development Reform, tabled 30 October 2013

The objective of the audit was to examine the effectiveness of Defence’s implementation of reforms to capability development since the introduction of the two-pass process for government approval of capability projects and the Government’s acceptance of the reforms recommended by the Mortimer Review. The scope of this audit included the requirements phase and, to a limited extent, the acquisition phase of major capability development projects, focusing on changes flowing from the major reforms.

Audit Report No. 14, Explosive Ordnance and Weapons Security Incident Reporting, tabled 18 December 2013

The audit objective was to assess the effectiveness of Defence’s arrangements for monitoring and reporting explosive ordnance and weapons security incidents.

Audit Report No. 22, Air Warfare Destroyer Program, tabled 6 March 2014

The objective of the audit was to report on the progress of the current phase of the Air Warfare Destroyer Program, which is known as SEA 4000 Phase 3—Build. This phase commenced in June 2007, and covers the finalisation of the detailed design, the signing of the Alliance and Platform System Design contracts, and the construction and delivery of the ships by the industry participants to the Defence Materiel Organisation.

Audit Report No. 24, Emergency Defence Assistance to the Civil Community, tabled 16 April 2014

The audit objective was to assess the administrative effectiveness of Defence’s procedures to provide emergency assistance to the civil community.

Audit Report No. 52, Multi-Role Helicopter Program, tabled 25 June 2014

The audit objective was to assess Defence’s progress in delivering multi-role helicopters (MRH-90 aircraft) to the ADF through AIR 9000 Phases 2, 4 and 6, within approved cost, schedule and performance parameters.

Table 10.7: Auditor-General’s cross-portfolio reports involving Defence, 2013–14

Report

Objective

Audit Report No. 21, Pilot Project to Audit Key Performance Indicators, tabled 27 February 2014

In 2013–14, the ANAO pilot project to audit key performance indicators was continued with the objective of conducting a review of framework developments, in terms of both the clarity of the policy and guidance issued by Finance and the performance of agencies in applying this policy and guidance, as a basis for implementing a future program of audits; and to further develop and test an audit methodology to address the practical challenges of assessing the appropriateness of key performance indicators, and their complete and accurate reporting.

Audit Report No. 47, Managing Conflicts of Interest in FMA Agencies, tabled 23 June 2014

The audit objective was to determine whether Australian Government agencies were implementing appropriate policies and processes to identify and manage conflicts of interest.

Audit Report No. 54, Establishment and Use of Multi-Use Lists, tabled 26 June 2014

The objective of the audit was to assess the extent to which agencies have arrangements to establish and use multi-use lists to support value for money, efficiency and effectiveness in procurement.

Table 10.8: Auditor-General’s report on ARPANSA, 2013–14

Report

Objective

Audit Report No. 29, Regulation of Commonwealth Radiation and Nuclear Activities, tabled 7 May 2014

The objective of the audit was to assess the effectiveness of ARPANSA’s management of the regulation of Commonwealth nuclear and radiation facilities and sources, including ARPANSA’s compliance with its legislative requirements.

Ombudsman’s reports

There were no formal reports to the Chief of the Defence Force pursuant to section 15 of the Ombudsman Act 1976 during 2013–14; nor were any reports raised under section 16, 17 or 19 of the Act relating to the operations of the ADF during the period.

Information Publication Scheme

Agencies subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) are required to publish information to the public as part of the Information Publication Scheme. Each agency must display on its website a plan showing what information it publishes in accordance with the scheme’s requirements.

Further information is available on the Information Publication Scheme website.

Freedom of information

Table 10.9 shows the number of freedom of information requests received and completed or otherwise dealt with in 2013–14. The figures refer to requests for access to documents under section 15 of the FOI Act. Defence was 100 per cent compliant in 2013–14.

Defence also handles requests under Part V of the FOI Act for amendment or annotation of records of personal information. In 2013–14, 10 applications for amendment were received and 10 were completed. Defence also received 32 applications for internal review and completed 34 (which includes applications carried over from 2012–13).

In addition to formal FOI requests, the FOI Directorate processed 538 requests for access to personnel records that were redirected for administration, in accordance with section 15A of the FOI Act. Section 15A provides for access to be given in such cases, outside the provisions of the FOI Act, through established administrative channels.

The Directorate also assisted with the resolution of 441 other inquiries that did not require consideration under the FOI Act, which were also addressed through established administrative channels.

Table 10.10 shows Defence’s performance in meeting the applicable statutory time limit for responding to requests for access to documents under section 15 of the FOI Act.

Table 10.9: Requests for access to documents received and completed or otherwise dealt with under section 15 of the FOI Act, 2011–12 to 2013–14

 

2011–12

2012–13

2013–14

Number of requests received

334

414

433

Number of requests finalised (including withdrawn or transferred to another agency)

349

422

420

Number of requests withdrawn

94

121

125

Number of requests transferred to another agency

4

1

13

Total requests finalised under section 15

251

300

282

Number of requests outstanding

40

32

45

Table 10.10: Time taken to answer requests for access to documents under section 15 of the FOI Act, 2011–12 to 2013–14

 

2011–12

2012–13

2013–14

Applicable statutory period (with % of total)

251 (100)

300 (100)

282 (100)

Up to 30 days over[1] (with % of total)

_

_

_

Up to 31 to 60 days over[1] (with % of total)

_

_

_

Up to 61 to 90 days over[1] (with % of total)

_

_

_

More than 90 days over[1] (with % of total)

_

_

_

Note

  1. Over the applicable statutory period.