Jump to Content

External Scrutiny

Service Charters
Legal Action
Australian National Audit Office Activity In The Department
Inquiries By Parliamentary Committees
Comments By The Ombudsman
Freedom Of Information

Service Charters

The Department introduced its Client Service Charter on 1 July 1998. The Charter sets out the Departments commitment to providing a high level of service including treating its clients fairly, courteously and professionally, and providing timely and accurate advice and information.

The Charter was reviewed and updated in 1999. The Department is now in the process of reinforcing the client service message to staff, by conducting training sessions and reviewing staff attitudes to the Charter. Because of the nature of its functions, the Department does not have a large external client base, and evaluation of the success of the Charter has not yet been undertaken.

Customer feedback and complaints for 1999-2000

A record is kept of feedback received by the Client Service Officer and referred to the appropriate Division. During the year the Department recorded 303 compliments, nine complaints and two expressions of regret (that related to the cessation of the Australian Pacific Air Safety magazine).

The Executive Group was provided with reports on the Departments performance during the year. Complaints were analysed and remedial action implemented as appropriate.

Contact information

A copy of the Departments Client Service Charter is available on the Departments website at www.dotars.gov.au/department/dotars/charter.aspx or by contacting the Departments Client Service Officer:

Client Service Officer
Department of Transport and Regional Services
GPO Box 594

A detachable reply-paid feedback card is included with the Departments Service Charter. Feedback may also be forwarded by e-mail to clientserv@dotars.gov.au or by calling the toll-free number 1800 075 001. Clients may also write to the Client Service Officer at the above address.

The Island Administrations and Jervis Bay

Similar client service charters are in place for the administrations of Cocos (Keeling), Norfolk and Christmas Islands, and the Jervis Bay Territory. They are also available on request from the following addresses.
Christmas Island Administration
Deputy Administrator
Christmas Island Administration
Christmas Island WA 6798
Telephone: (08) 9164 7901
Cocos (Keeling) Islands Administration Deputy Administrator
Cocos (Keeling) Islands Administration
GPO Box 93
Cocos (Keeling) Islands
Indian Ocean WA 6799
Telephone: (08) 9162 6615

Office of the Administrator Norfolk Island
Official Secretary or the Administrator
Office of the Administrator
Quality Row
Norfolk Island NSW 2899
Telephone: (0011) 6723 22152
Facsimile: (0011) 6723 22681

Jervis Bay Territory Administration Regional Director
Jervis Bay Territory Administration
Village Road
Jervis Bay NSW 2540
Telephone: (02) 44421006
Facsimile: (02) 44421063

Back to Top   

Legal Action

In October 1997 the Botany, Randwick and Woollahra Councils sought judicial review of: (a) the decision by the Minister for the Environment that no Environmental Impact Statement was necessary prior to the implementation of the Long Term Operating Plan for Sydney Airport (LTOP); and (b) the decision by the Minister for Transport and Regional Services to direct Airservices Australia to implement the LTOP.

The Federal Court (November 1998) and then the Full Federal Court, on appeal (November 1999), upheld the validity of the Ministers decisions. On 16 June 2000, the High Court refused an application by the Councils for special leave to appeal the Federal Court decision.

Back to Top   

Australian National Audit Office Activity In The Department

Throughout 1999-2000 the following Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) audit reports, which include recommendations on the operations of the Department, were undertaken.

Audit Report number 32 Management of Commonwealth Non-primary Industry Levies, tabled 17 February 2000.

The recommendations involved no direct criticism of the Department and essentially involve upgrading or strengthening administrative processes. The Department agrees with the recommendations and will institute appropriate action, although the applicability of the recommendations must be considered on a cost-benefit basis.

Audit Report number 41 Commonwealth Emergency Management Arrangements, tabled 28 April 2000.

The Department agreed with the recommendations, and has already undertaken discussions with the Department of Finance and Administration to facilitate the alignment of the Departments relevant programs.

Audit Report number 47 Survey of Fraud Control Arrangements in APS agencies, tabled 20 June 2000.

The Department is ensuring that its new fraud control arrangements aligning with the ANAO report are appropriate.

Back to Top   

Inquiries By Parliamentary Committees

During 1999-2000 the Department provided submissions to the following committees and inquiries.

  • Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Inquiry into the sinking of HMAS Sydney.
  • Senate Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts References Committee Inquiry into Australias Response to Global Warming.
  • Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit Inquiry into Corporate Governance and Accountability Arrangements for Commonwealth Government Business Enterprises.
  • Senate Select Committee Inquiry on the Socioeconomic Consequences of National Competition Policy report Riding the Waves of Change.
  • Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee Report on the Stevedoring Levy (Collection) Amendment Bill 1999.
  • Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories Inquiry into Norfolk Island Health Services.
  • Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Inquiry into Australias relations with the Middle East including the Gulf Region.
  • House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications, Transport and the Arts Inquiry into Managing Fatigue in Transport.
  • House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family and Community Services Inquiry into Substance Abuse in Australian Communities.
  • Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee Inquiry into Airspace 2000.
  • Senate Employment, Workplace Relations, Small Business and Education Legislation Committee Inquiry and Report on the Navigation Amendment (Employment of Seafarers) Bill 1998.
  • Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee Inquiry into Brisbane Airport Corporation Master Plan.

Reports tabled by Parliamentary Committees on matters related to the Department:

  • Senate Employment, Workplace Relations, Small Business and Education References Committee, Jobs for the Regions: A report on the inquiry into regional employment and unemployment (tabled September 1999).
  • House of Representatives Committee on Primary Industries and Regional Services, Time Running Out: Shaping Regional Australias Future (tabled March 2000).
  • Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee Report on AlburyWodonga Development Bill 1999 (tabled April 2000).

Back to Top   

Comments By The Ombudsman

In 1999-2000, the Ombudsman received 34 complaints about Departmental actions. Of the 37 complaints addressed during the year (three from the previous year), the Ombudsmans Office exercised its discretion not to investigate in 23 cases, and one case was withdrawn by the complainant or lapsed. Of the 13 issues investigated, the Ombudsmans Office found an arguable agency defect in four cases, no apparent agency defect in six cases, and three cases indeterminate. There were no formal reports to the Minister under the provisions of the Ombudsman Act 1976.

The Department received no complaints under the Privacy Act 1988 in 1999-2000.

Back to Top   

Freedom Of Information

Section 8 of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act) requires Commonwealth Government agencies to make available information about their organisation, functions and operations, and about rules and practices used in making decisions that affect members of the public.

How to get information

Under section 15 of the FOI Act, any person is entitled to apply for access to documents that fall within its scope. If you need further information or wish to lodge a formal request for information under the FOI Act, please contact:

Freedom of Information Coordinator
Department of Transport and Regional Services
GPO Box 594
Telephone (02) 6274 7844
Fax (02) 6274 6775
Email foi@dotars.gov.au

A request under the FOI Act must be in writing (email is acceptable), accompanied by a $30 application fee, and stating an address in Australia to which notices under the FOI Act can be sent. In certain instances the fee is not required or can be remitted. For a quick response, provide as much information as possible about the document/s you are seeking. It is advisable to include a telephone number in case clarification of your request is necessary.

For the purposes of the FOI Act, the records of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, the Bureau of Transport Economics and the administrations of Jervis Bay Territory, Christmas Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Norfolk Island are records of the Department.

Table 9 Freedom of information statistics 1999-2000

Requests received
On hand at 1 July 1999 17
Received 1 July 1999-30 June 2000 53
Response time
030 days 23
3160 days 18
6190 days 8
91+ days 3
Withdrawn 10
On hand at 30 June 2000 8

Departmental documents

In accordance with section 9 of the FOI Act, a list has been compiled of manuals and other documents used by departmental officers when making decisions or recommendations that affect the public. The list, as at 30 June 2000, is available on request from the FOI Coordinator or any office of the Australian Archives.

The following categories of documents are held by the Department:

  • briefing papers and submissions prepared for Ministers, Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet and Executive Council;
  • documents relating to the development of legislation;
  • internal administration documents;
  • environmental impact statements;
  • codes of practice;
  • ministerial responses to parliamentary questions, interdepartmental and general correspondence and papers;
  • policy documents, recommendations and decisions;
  • program, fund and grant administration papers;
  • legal documents, including legislation, contracts, leases and court documents;
  • technical maps, charts, photographs, drawings and specifications, manuals, statistics and databases;
  • registers of documents, approvals, permits and licences;
  • service delivery arrangements;
  • documents prepared by international agencies;
  • international treaties, memoranda of understanding and international conventions;
  • Standards Australia guidelines for road design, signage and technical benchmarks;
  • communiques of the Australian Transport Council;
  • records of compliance plate and vehicle import approvals;
  • vehicle safety recalls;
  • birth, death and marriage records (non-selfgoverning territories only); and
  • motor vehicle registry records (non-selfgoverning territories only).

Functions and decision-making powers

The organisation and functions of the Department are described in Part 2 of this report.

Certain officers exercise delegated decision-making powers and advise the Minister on the exercise of powers in relation to the following:

  • the investigation of air safety occurrences and safety deficiencies;
  • the investigation of marine incidents;
  • air navigation;
  • air navigation, fuel spillage;
  • aviation security;
  • aircraft noise;
  • airports;
  • airport curfews;
  • Australian land transport development;
  • motor vehicle standards;
  • Commonwealth explosives;
  • interstate road transport;
  • coastal trade;
  • ships capital grants;
  • stevedoring levy;
  • trade practices, Part X;
  • local government;
  • self-governing territories;
  • non-selfgoverning territories;
  • public service employment;
  • financial management and accountability;
  • archives; and
  • freedom of information.

Arrangements for outside participation

The Department welcomes views and comments from members of the public and bodies outside the Commonwealth on its policy formulation and administration of portfolio legislation. Public consultation is widely practised at varying levels, across many fields of policy and output delivery. Formal participation and consultation are arranged through the following bodies.


  • Sydney Airport Community Forum
  • Airport Environment Consultative Committee

Australian Transport Safety Bureau

  • Human Factors Advisory Group
  • Flight Safety Forums
  • The Australian Research Council Key Centre for Human Factors and Applied Cognitive Psychology
  • Nuclear Safety Committee Council
  • Convention on International Civil Aviation
  • International Air Transport Association
  • Australasian Flight Safety Council
  • Flag State Implementation Sub-Committee of the International Maritime Organisation
  • Marine Accident Investigators International Forum
  • Rail Safety Consultative Forum
  • Austroads Incorporated
  • National Road Safety Strategy Panel
  • Committee to Advise on Recall and Safety
  • Motorcycle Safety Consultative Committee
  • Road Safety Black Spot Program Consultative Panels


  • Year 2000 Aviation Committee
  • National Advisory Facilitation Committee
  • Aviation Working Group
  • International Air Services Conference

Cross-modal and Maritime Transport

  • AsiaPacific Economic Cooperation Transportation Working Group
  • AustraliaIndonesia Development Area Transport Working Group
  • Supermarket to Asia Council, Transport and Logistics Working Group
  • Tradegate Electronic Commerce of Australia Logistics Management Working Group
  • Australian Maritime Group
  • The Integrated Logistics Network

Land Transport

  • Austroads Incorporated
  • Rail Group Industry Advisory Committee
  • Technical Liaison Group
  • Australian Motor Vehicle Certification Board
  • Advisory Committee on the Transport of Dangerous Goods
  • Motor Vehicle Environment Committee
  • Vehicle Standards Review Advisory Committee
  • National Road Transport Commission
  • State and Territory road authorities

Regional Services, Development and Local Government

  • Local Government Ministers' Conference
  • National Awards for Innovation in Local Government
  • Development Assessment Forum
  • Rural Transaction Centres Programme
  • Rural Communities Program
  • Rural Domestic Violence Programme

Territories and Regional Support

  • Community Consultative Committees
  • Administrators Advisory Committees
  • Justice Issues Group
  • Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community Council
  • Canberra Region Ministerial Forum


In 1999-2000 the following activities were undertaken by the Department to enhance social justice and integrate cultural diversity in keeping with the principles of the Commonwealths Charter of Public Service in a Culturally Diverse Society.

  • Primary producers and businesses in non-metropolitan areas will benefit from a new on-road diesel grants scheme. The Diesel and Alternative Fuel Grants Scheme provides grants to users of diesel and certain alternative fuels in order to cut transport costs, with particular focus on transport activities in rural and regional areas. Under the scheme, operators of heavy vehicles of between 4.5 and 20 tonnes transporting goods or passengers are eligible for a grant which offsets their on-road diesel costs in respect of journeys conducted in non-metropolitan areas. The scheme applies in addition to fuel excise reductions under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime.
  • The Government wants Australians with a disability to have the ability to move actively within the community. Draft Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport are being developed by a taskforce that reports to the Australian Transport Council. Draft standards were prepared after extensive consultation with representatives of key stakeholder groups, and are designed to provide access to mainstream public transport for people with a disability, and to provide transport operators with certainty and flexibility.
  • The Government allocated 90 per cent of its direct spending on roads to non-urban areas in recognition of the importance of road transport to regional Australia. Road repair and construction provide jobs in rural and remote areas. One million dollars spent on road upgrading generates or sustains 17 jobs.
  • The Federal Road Safety Black Spot Program recognises the high level of road trauma throughout rural Australia. Approximately 60 per cent of fatal crashes and 50 per cent of serious injury crashes occur outside metropolitan areas. In line with national road safety objectives, approximately 50 per cent of Black Spot funds is reserved for projects in non-metropolitan areas, to ensure that rural crash locations are treated.
  • The Australian Transport Safety Bureau meets its primary objective of promoting safety by widely disseminating safety information to the transport industry and the general public, and by targeted safety initiatives. Examples include the distribution of free road safety education materials such as A Simple Guide to Child Restraints, A Simple Guide to Bicycle Safety and the Impact Speed Card, and a subtitled version of a motorcycle safety training videotape, Ride On, for hearing-impaired novice riders.
  • Legal Aid funding is provided to Norfolk Island to ensure that all Norfolk Islanders have access to legal representation.
  • During 1999-2000, the Department was involved in the establishment of the Jervis Bay Territory Justice Issues Group, comprising both public officials and representatives of the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community Council. The group has the broad objective of ensuring that the range and nature of justice outcomes available to Jervis Bay residents are comparable to those available to residents of the ACT and the surrounding Shoalhaven region of NSW. Aboriginal persons comprise roughly one-third of the population of Jervis Bay Territory, and services provided are sensitive to the communitys differing needs.
  • The Indian Ocean Territories Administrations continue to liaise closely with community groups to ensure that the services provided by the Commonwealth reflect the principles of social justice. Some 1500 people are usually resident on Christmas Island, with an ethnic composition of approximately 70 per cent Chinese, 20 per cent European and 10 per cent Malay. The total population of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands is around 600, composed of around 85 per cent Cocos Malay people and 15 per cent of European extraction.
  • The Sydney Airport Long Term Operating Plan continued to achieve a more equitable sharing of the impact of aircraft noise than under previous operations (where the parallel runways were used almost all of the time).
  • Subsidies were paid to operators of airlines under the Remote Air Service Subsidy scheme to provide services where there are no suitable alternative forms of transport to communities. A review of the scheme was completed during the year, resulting in funds doubling over the next four years.
  • An aerodrome inspection service continued under contract for 59 nominated aerodromes serving remote indigenous communities in northern Australia.
  • A joint review was completed with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission examining the provision, maintenance, development and operation of aerodromes serving remote indigenous communities. A taskforce was established to implement the recommendations of the review, which will help to address the accessibility needs of those communities.
  • Funding was provided through the Bass Strait Passenger Vehicle Equalisation Scheme and the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme to reduce the Bass Strait transport cost disadvantage.
  • The Rural Transaction Centres (RTC) program helps to ensure that people living in rural Australia have the same access to basic transaction services that people in large towns and cities take for granted. RTCs provide access to services such as banking, post, telephone, fax and Medicare Easyclaim, in towns unable to attract some or all of those services. The program is particularly designed for smaller towns with populations of fewer than 3000. The program encourages community-based provision of services, including services provided by indigenous bodies.
  • Funding has been provided for the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal. The Foundation is taking a significant role in helping regional communities respond to social, cultural and economic change. It will collaborate with communities around Australia and strengthen their capacity to turn change into opportunity.
  • The Commonwealth Working Group on Regional Forums was set up in April 1999. Its aim is to formally address issues and priorities raised through the Regional Forums Australia Programme, such as access to health, education, welfare and telecommunications services.
  • The Rural Communities Program (RCP) is designed to provide opportunities for the development of rural and remote communities. It includes support for community planning, financial counselling, information provision, information services technology, and community development. Its objective is to contribute to the development of vibrant rural communities by improving access to information and services and to encourage community ownership of services.

Back to Top