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Tuesday, 10 March 2009
Page: 1214


Senator Brandis asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 5 December 2008:

With reference to the department’s annual report for 2007-08:

(1)   Why did the department report an operating loss of $11.7 million in the 2007-08 financial year?

(2)   Why did employee expenses for the department rise from 2007 to 2008?

(3)   Why did the total expenses for the department rise from 2007 to 2008?

(4)   Given that the department’s annual report states that the write-down and impairment of assets for the 2007-08 financial year was $4.737 million: (a) which assets were written down; and (b) why were these assets written down?


Senator Wong (Minister for Climate Change and Water) —The Attorney-General has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:

(1)   The Department’s reported operating loss arose from impairment charges in relation to the write-down in the value of assets and expenditure on programs for which an appropriation was received in a prior financial year.

(2)   Employee expenses increased from 2007 to 2008 as a consequence of:

(a)   an net increase in staffing levels associated with new policy proposals,

(b)   the transfer of functions to and from the Department, in particular a transfer of functions from the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, and

(c)   an increase in remuneration in accordance with the Department’s workplace agreement and performance appraisal advancement

(3)   The Department’s expenses increased in 2008 as a consequence of:

(a)   Employee expenses - as explained above,

(b)   Suppliers - additional new policy proposals and the increased costs associated with the transfer of functions from the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, and

(c)   Depreciation - increase in the value of assets acquired during the year through purchase and a result of the transfer of functions from the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government

(4)  

(a)   Asset write downs relate to the Auscheck IT System ($4.595m), and minor adjustments and write offs for debtors ($0.142m).

(b)   The Auscheck IT system is used to co-ordinate the background checks of individuals working in the Aviation and Maritime industries. The value of the asset was written down to its fair value as a consequence of a portion of this asset being deemed unusable due to an inadequate security structure. Stocktake adjustments were the result of stock price adjustments and the write off of obsolete assets. Debtors relating to Commonwealth entities were written off.