Australian Government - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Advancing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally

Australian Government - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Advancing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally



External scrutiny

In 2010–11, the Auditor-General tabled in Parliament the following reports by the ANAO related to the department’s operations:

Report No. 22: Audits of the Financial Statements of Australian Government Entities for the period ended 30 June 2010

Financial statement audits are an independent examination of the financial accounting and reporting of public sector entities. This report complements the interim phase report and provides a summary of the final results of the audits of the financial statements of all Australian Government entities, including the Consolidated Financial Statements for the Australian Government.

Report No. 35: Management of the Overseas Leased Estate

The audit assessed the effectiveness of OPO’s management of the overseas leased estate, as a companion to ANAO Audit Report No. 32: Management of the Overseas Owned Estate (previous audit in 2009–10). The audit examined whether the department has effective governance, reporting and funding arrangements in place to support the sound management and oversight of the overseas leased estate; effectively manages overseas leased chancery and residential property on a day-to-day basis; and manages the relationships with landlords and attached agencies effectively and adequately consults with stakeholders.

The report made one recommendation that the department review the current governance arrangements for the overseas leased estate, with the intent of more clearly delineating roles and responsibilities within the department. The department agreed with the recommendation and has undertaken appropriate steps to implement new governance arrangements during 2010–11.

Report No. 54: The Interim Phase of the Audit of Financial Statements of Major General Government Sector Agencies for the year ending 30 June 2011

The interim audit of agencies related to their financial reporting responsibilities was undertaken and included an examination of relevant internal controls, including information technology system controls.

Courts and administrative tribunals

The department was involved in a number of legal matters during the year. There were no decisions that had a significant legal impact on the operations of the department. Details of matters in which the department was involved are at Appendix 7.

Commonwealth Ombudsman

The Commonwealth Ombudsman investigated 18 issues with respect to the department’s activities in 2010–11 and recorded one administrative deficiency. No formal reports were issued.

Legislation

The process for all portfolio-related legislation has been managed effectively.

The department facilitated the enactment of the Autonomous Sanctions Act 2011 that entered into force on 27 May 2011 and the Australian Civilian Corps Act 2011 that entered into force on 13 April 2011.

The department facilitated the enactment and amendment of a number of regulations and determinations. Among them were the Australian Passports Amendment Determination 2010 (No 2), Nuclear Non-Proliferation (Safeguards) Amendment Regulations 2010 (No 1) and numerous Charter of the United Nations (Sanctions) Amendment Regulations.

We provided input to legislation managed by agencies within the portfolio and to legislation managed by other agencies that affected foreign affairs and trade portfolio legislation.

Privacy

No reports were served on the department under section 30 of the Privacy Act 1988 (the Privacy Act), nor were there any determinations made by the Privacy Commissioner relating to the actions of the department under sections 52 or 53 of the Privacy Act.

No public interest determinations were sought from the Privacy Commissioner under section 72 of the Privacy Act.

No complaints were made directly to the department this year. The department finalised one investigation from a complaint received in 2009–10, finding that while no breach of the Privacy Act had occurred, the department had not acted in accordance with its internal policies. Those policies were reviewed and amended as necessary.

The Privacy Commissioner finalised one complaint it received in 2007–08, without investigating the merits of the privacy complaint, finding that the department had handled the matter appropriately through conciliation.

Parliamentary committees

The department made submissions and/or gave evidence to nine parliamentary committee inquiries. In addition, departmental staff appeared before the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties in relation to 18 proposed treaty actions (see Appendix 6 for further details).

Compensation for detriment caused by defective administration

Fourteen new cases were lodged under the compensation scheme for detriment caused by defective administration. Twenty-six cases were resolved during the year (20 from previous financial years). Thirteen payments were made from administered funds (including seven from previous financial years). In 11 cases, compensation under the scheme was found not to be warranted. Two cases were withdrawn. Ten cases remained in progress at the end of the financial year (two from previous financial years).

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