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Monday, 7 March 2005
Page: 191

Senator O’Brien asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services, upon notice, on 20 December 2004:

(1)   Why was the department’s annual report not tabled in the Senate by 31 October 2004.

(2)   On what date: (a) did the Minister and/or his office first become aware that the deadline for laying the report before the Parliament would not be met; (b) did the department write to the Clerk of the Senate advising of the delay; (c) was a proof version of the annual report presented to the Minister; and (d) was the annual report provided to the Senate for tabling.

(3)   What action has the Minister taken to ensure that the department complies with the tabling deadline in the future.

Senator Ian Campbell (Minister for the Environment and Heritage) —The Minister for Transport and Regional Services has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:

(1)   As indicated in a statement tabled in November 2004, the department experienced delays in presenting its report, in part due to increased workload largely associated with preparing the 2004 Incoming Government Brief. As well, when the Federal Election was announced, a decision was taken to delay printing of the report as a courtesy to allow incoming ministers an opportunity to review and comment on the draft text.

(2) (a)   The Minister was first advised that the annual report could be delayed beyond 31 October as part of the incoming government brief. (b) A second briefing was provided to the Minister on 2 November 2004, and was subsequently forwarded to the Clerk of the Senate on 4 November 2004 for tabling as a clerk’s document. (c) A final proof of the report was submitted to the Minister’s office on 29 November 2004. (d) The Minister agreed to table the report on 6 December 2004 and the report was provided to the Senate for tabling on 7 December 2004.

(3)   The department has already started work on its 2004-05 Annual Report. The Department is reviewing other agency reports for examples of better practice, developing new case studies, and negotiating measures with the Australian National Audit Office that will allow its financial statements to be signed off earlier than in previous years. The department is also refining its quarterly reporting regime to streamline the production of performance information.