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Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee—Senate Standing—Reports on annual reports referred to legislation committees no. 2 of 2021, dated August 2021


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August 2021

The Senate

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee

Annual reports (No. 2 of 2021)

© Commonwealth of Australia 2021

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Committee Members

Chair Senator the Hon Eric Abetz LP, TAS

Deputy Chair Senator Kimberley Kitching ALP, VIC

Members Senator Tim Ayres ALP, NSW

Senator the Hon David Fawcett LP, SA

Senator the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells LP, NSW

Senator Jacqui Lambie JLN, TAS

Secretariat Lyn Beverley, Committee Secretary Margaret Cahill, Research Officer Shannon Ross, Administrative Officer

Committee Webpage: http://www.aph.gov.au/senate_fadt

PO Box 6100 Phone: + 61 2 6277 3535

Parliament House Fax: + 61 2 6277 5818

Canberra ACT 2600 Email: fadt.sen@aph.gov.au

Australia

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Table of Contents

Committee Members ........................................................................................................................ iii

Chapter 1—Annual reports (No. 2 of 2021) .................................................................................... 1

Introduction .......................................................................................................................................... 1

Terms of reference ................................................................................................................................ 1

Background ........................................................................................................................................... 1

Reports examined ................................................................................................................................ 2

Timeliness ............................................................................................................................................. 3

Senate debate ........................................................................................................................................ 4

Assessment of reports ......................................................................................................................... 4

Appendix 1—Dates relating to the presentation of reports between 6 February and 30 April 2021................................................................................................................................... 7

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Chapter 1

Annual reports (No. 2 of 2021)

Introduction 1.1 Under Senate Standing Order 25(20), annual reports under the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee's (the Committee) allocated portfolios which are presented in the Parliament stand referred to the

Committee for examination and report.

Terms of reference 1.2 Under Standing Order 25(20) the Committee is required to:

(a) Examine each annual report referred to it and report to the Senate whether the report is apparently satisfactory. (b) Consider in more detail, and report to the Senate on, each annual report which is not apparently satisfactory, and on the other annual reports which

it selects for more detailed consideration. (c) Investigate and report to the Senate on any lateness in the presentation of annual reports. (d) In considering an annual report, take into account any relevant remarks

about the report made in debate in the Senate. (e) If the committee so determines, consider annual reports of departments and budget-related agencies in conjunction with examination of estimates. (f) Report on annual reports tabled by 31 October each year by the tenth

sitting day of the following year, and on annual reports tabled by 30 April each year by the tenth sitting day after 30 June of that year. (g) Draw the attention of the Senate to any significant matters relating to the operations and performance of the bodies furnishing the annual reports. (h) Report to the Senate each year whether there are any bodies which do not

present annual reports to the Senate and which should present such reports.

Background 1.3 Details about the annual reporting requirements of departments, agencies and statutory offices/office holders under the Committee's allocated portfolios for 2019-20 annual reports are set out in the Committee's first report of 2021.

1.4 Copies of this and other Committee reports can be obtained from the Senate Table Office or online at the Committee's webpage.

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Reports examined 1.5 Under the Standing Order, for the year's second report, the Committee is required to examine those annual reports presented to the Parliament after 31 October 2020 and up until 30 April 2021. However, for the Committee's first

report of 2021, it chose to also examine reports that were tabled after 31 October 2020 and available at the time of preparing that report, that is, up until 5 February 2021. Therefore, this report examines reports tabled after that time, that is, between 6 February and 30 April 2021. Four reports were presented to the Parliament in this time frame under the Committee's allocated portfolios. These reports are listed in Appendix A.

1.6 The Committee has chosen to examine the following two annual reports and make comment on the timeliness of one other:

 Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force Report for 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020; and  Australia's Foreign Relations (State and Territory Arrangements) Act 2020 Report for the period 10 December to 31 December 2020.

Reporting requirements

Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force 1.7 The Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force (IGADF) is a statutory office holder established under Part VIIIB of the Defence Act 1903 (Defence Act). Section 110R of the Defence Act sets out the requirements for the IGADF

to prepare an annual report. It states that as soon as practicable after the end of each financial year, the IGADF must prepare and give to the Minister, for presentation to the Parliament, a report on the operations of the Inspector-

General during the financial year. This section also notes that reference should also be made to section 34C of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901, which requires the Minister to lay a copy of the report before each House of Parliament within 15 sitting days of receipt of that report.

Australia's Foreign Relations (State and Territory Arrangements) Act 2020 annual report pursuant to section 53A 1.8 Australia’s Foreign Relations (State and Territory Arrangements) Act 2020 (the Foreign Relations Act) commenced on 10 December 2020 and established the

Foreign Arrangement Scheme. The purpose of the scheme is:

…to ensure that arrangements between state and territory governments (and their entities) and foreign entities do not adversely affect Australia's foreign relations and are not inconsistent with Australia's foreign policy.

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As of 10 March 2021, states and territories and their entities must notify the Minister for Foreign Affairs of their prospective foreign arrangements.1

1.9 Section 53A of the Foreign Relations Act, requires the Minister to prepare, as soon as practicable after the end of each calendar year, an annual report on the exercise of the Minister's decision-making powers under the Act. Under section 53A(2) of the Act, the report must include:

(a) statistical information about the decisions made by the Minister under the Act during the year, including the total number of decisions, the total number of decisions in each class of decision, and the outcomes of the decisions;

(b) a summary of the details of each of the decisions made by the Minister under the Act during the year; (c) an outline of the engagement that has occurred during the year with entities covered by the Act to articulate and explain to those entities

Australia’s foreign policy and how they should engage with foreign entities in Australia’s national interest.

1.10 Section 53A(4) requires the Minister to table the report in each House of the Parliament within 15 sitting days of that House after the end of the year to which the report relates.

1.11 Section 53A(5) provides that before the tabling of the report:

…the Minister may make such redactions to the report as the Minister considers necessary in order to avoid prejudice to security, the defence of Australia, Australia's relations with other countries, law enforcement operations or the privacy of individuals.

1.12 Under the Senate procedural order of continuing effect 9E agreed to on 3 December 2020, each annual report tabled by the Minister for Foreign Affairs pursuant to section 53A of the Foreign Relations Act, stands referred to the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee for inquiry and report in accordance with standing order 25(20).

Timeliness 1.13 The 2019-20 report of the IGADF was submitted to the Minister on 4 December 2020, approximately five months after the end of the reporting period (and the same date the previous year's report was submitted to the Minister), and

received by the Minister on 18 January 2021. The report was subsequently tabled in the House of Representatives on 25 February 2021 and in the Senate on 15 March 2021, that is, 11 sitting days and 12 sitting days, respectively, after receipt; therefore meeting the legislative requirement of being tabled within 15 sitting days of receipt.

1.14 The report on the Foreign Relations Act for the period 10 to 31 December 2020 was presented in the Senate out of sitting on 29 March 2021 and tabled in the

1 See https://www.foreignarrangements.gov.au/ (accessed 3 August 2021).

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House of Representatives on 11 May 2021. It therefore did not meet the requirement for tabling the report within 15 sitting days in each House after the year it related to, which was by 18 March in 2021. As this is a new scheme and processes are being bedded down, the Committee hopes to see the next report tabled in a more timely manner.

1.15 Although the Committee has chosen not to focus on the report Schedule of Special Purpose Flights - 1 January to 30 June 2020, it notes its late presentation on 11 February 2021 in the Senate, and 15 February 2021 in the House of Representatives. Under the Guidelines for the use of special purpose aircraft, the Minister for Defence is responsible for tabling the schedule of special purpose flights in December for the six months ending the previous 30 June.

Senate debate 1.16 The Committee notes that the reports examined were not the subject of comments or debate in the Senate.

Assessment of reports 1.17 Under Standing Order 25(20)(a), the Committee is required to examine the annual reports referred to it and report to the Senate on whether they are 'apparently satisfactory'.

1.18 The IGADF's annual report provides a satisfactory account of the operations of the IGADF and the office during 2019-20.

1.19 The first annual report on the exercise of ministerial decision-making power under the Foreign Relations Act covered the period of 22 days from the commencement of the Act on 10 December 2020 to 31 December 2020. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, advised that she did not exercise her powers to make decisions under the Act during the reporting period, nor had any arrangements been notified to her as at 31 December 2020.2 The report outlined engagement with state and territory with stakeholders, which included entities with obligations under the Foreign Relations Act.3

1.20 The Committee considers these reports to be 'apparently satisfactory', meeting the legislative requirements set out in the respective Acts as outlined above.

2 Australia's Foreign Relations (State and Territory Arrangements) Act 2020 Report 10 December 2020 to

31 December 2020, dated 18 March 2021, p. 2

3 Australia's Foreign Relations (State and Territory Arrangements) Act 2020 Report 10 December 2020 to

31 December 2020, dated 18 March 2021, p. 2.

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Senator the Hon Eric Abetz Chair

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Appendix 1

Dates relating to the presentation of reports between 6 February and 30 April 2021

Report Submitted to/

received by minister

Senate1 HoR2

Defence Portfolio

Schedule of Special Purpose Flights - 1 January to 30 June 2020 Not available 11.02.2021* 15.02.2021

Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force Report 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020 04.12.2020/18.01.2021 15.03.2021 25.02.2021

Foreign Affairs and Trade Portfolio

Export Finance Australia - Equal Employment Opportunity Program - Report for period 1 November 2019 to 31 October 2020

25.01.2021/25.01.21 15.03.2021 15.03.2021

Australia's Foreign Relations (State and Territory Arrangements) Act 2020 - Report for the period 10 December to 31 December 2020

15.03.21/18.03.21 29.03.2021* 11.05.2021

1 *indicates the report was presented to the President of the Senate out of sitting

2 HoR - House of Representatives