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Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Amendment (Improved Grants Reporting) Bill 2021

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2019-2021

 

 

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

 

 

SENATE

 

 

 

 

 

PUBLIC GOVERNANCE, PERFORMANCE AND ACCOUNTABILITY AMENDMENT (IMPROVED GRANTS REPORTING) BILL 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Circulated by authority of Senator Katy Gallagher)

 



 

PUBLIC GOVERNANCE, PERFORMANCE AND ACCOUNTABILITY AMENDMENT (IMPROVED GRANTS REPORTING) BILL 2021

 

OUTLINE

 

The Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Amendment (Improved Grants Reporting) Bill 2021 is being introduced to improve accountability and standards in grants administration.

 

The Commonwealth Grants Rules and Guidelines, issued under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 , establish the Commonwealth’s grants policy framework and sets out the requirements and expectations for the administration of grants.

 

Sub-paragraph 4.12a of the Grants Rules and Guidelines require Ministers to report annually to the Finance Minister on all instances where they have approved grants that relevant officials have recommended be rejected.  This report must contain a brief statement of reasons, and is to be provided to the Finance Minister by 31 March each year for the preceding calendar year.

 

Sub-paragraph 4.12b of the Grants Rules and Guidelines requires reporting to the Finance Minister of grants awarded by Ministers within their own electorates.

 

While there is public reporting of this information, there is a lag in timing.  There is a Senate Order that requires the tabling of all reports and correspondence received by the Finance Minister under paragraph 4.12 of the Grants Rules and Guidelines by no later than 30 April.  These reports and correspondence relate to grants awarded in the preceding calendar year (so the Senate Order this year related to grants awarded from 1 January to 31 December 2020).

 

This bill amends the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 to prescribe the reporting requirements currently found in the Grants Rules and Guidelines in primary legislation and improve the timeliness of those requirements. The bill would require Ministers approving grants against departmental recommendation, within their own electorates, or grants that did not meet any of the relevant selection criteria to provide reports to the Finance Minister within 30 days of their approval. The Finance Minister would then need to table those reports in the Parliament within 5 sitting days of receiving them.

 

 

NOTES ON CLAUSES

Clause 1: Short Title

1.                Clause 1 is a formal provision specifying the short title of the Bill.

Clause 2: Commencement

2.             This clause provides for the Act to commence the day after the Act receives Royal Assent.

Clause 3 - Schedules

3.         Each Act specified in a Schedule to this Act is amended or repealed as is set out in the applicable items in the Schedule.  Any other item in a Schedule to this Act has effect according to its terms.

Schedule 1—Amendments

Items 1 and 2

4.         These items amend the Guide to Part 4-1A at section 105A of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 relating to the proposed new reporting requirements.

Item 3

5.         Item 3 inserts a new section 105CA into the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 requiring the reporting of ‘reportable grants’ approved by Ministers to the Finance Minister.

6.             A new definition of ‘reportable grants’ is inserted, which is a grant approved against departmental recommendation, or a grant approved in the Minister’s own electorate, or a grant approved that did not meet any of the relevant selection criteria (i.e. an ineligible grant).

7.         It requires the provision of a report, containing a statement of reasons explaining the basis for approval, to the Finance Minister within 30 days of the grant being approved.

8.             If a Minister is a member of the House of Representatives and has approved a reportable grant for a grantee in their electorate, then this information must be included in the statement of reasons provided to the Finance Minister. However, this requirement does not apply if the grant is awarded Australia-wide, state-wide or across a region on the basis of a formula, and the reportable grant happens to fall within the relevant Minister’s electorate.

9.         The Finance Minister then must table those reports within 5 sitting days of receiving them.



 

Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights

Prepared in accordance with Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011

 

Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Amendment (Improved Grants Reporting) Bill 2021

 

This Bill is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 .

 

Overview of the Bill

The bill would require Ministers approving grants against departmental recommendation, within their own electorates, or that did not meet any relevant section criteria to provide reports to the Finance Minister within 30 days of their approval.  The Finance Minister would then need to table those reports in the Parliament within 5 sitting days of receiving them.

 

Human rights implications

This Bill does not engage any of the applicable rights or freedoms.

 

Conclusion

This Bill is compatible with human rights as it does not raise any human rights issues.

 

Senator Katy Gallagher