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Part 2 : Overview of the department


The Transport and Regional Services Portfolio delivers transport and regional development services and programmes to assist the Minister for Transport and Regional Services and the Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government achieve the government's desired outcomes for the benefit of the Australian community. These outcomes are:

A better transport system for Australia

Greater recognition and development opportunities for local, regional and territory communities

The portfolio comprises five general government sector agencies that are predominantly funded, either directly or indirectly, by the Australian Government. They are the Department of Transport and Regional Services, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, the National Capital Authority and the Stevedoring Industry Finance Committee. Other portfolio agencies include Airservices Australia and the International Air Services Commission. Figure 1 (p. 9) illustrates our portfolio structure as at 30 June 2003.

Transport is an important element in Australia's economic prosperity and in ensuring all Australians have access to a high standard of general services and facilities that are safer, more effective and efficient.

The government, working in partnership with regional communities, provides programmes and services specifically for communities in regional, rural and remote Australia to foster the social and economic capacity of regional Australia and ensure that regional people share in the benefits of Australia's economic success.

The portfolio's responsibilities also recognise that local government, as well as other levels of government in Australia's states and territories, plays an important role in supporting services, amenities and lifestyles of regional, rural and remote communities.

The role and functions of the department

As the department of the Australian Government responsible for the national transport systems and regional development, we are helping the government achieve the portfolio outcomes through our strategic objectives*.

The strategic objectives guide delivery of research, policy, regulation, safety investigations, programmes and services (the departmental outputs) and administered programmes. Our strategic objectives for 2002-03 are:

  • Transport systems which are safer and more secure, more efficient, internationally competitive, sustainable and accessible.
  • Regional communities which have better access to economic opportunities and services, and which are able to take the lead in their own planning and development.
  • Local governments which serve their communities more efficiently and effectively.
  • Territories which provide for their residents the same opportunities and responsibilities as other Australians enjoy in comparable communities.

One of the functions of the department is to provide support for the Deputy Prime Minister in his broader, portfolio-related roles.

Figure 1: Transport and Regional Services Portfolio structure as at 30 June 2003

Figure 1: Transport and Regional Services Portfolio structure as at 30 June 2003

We move towards these objectives by:

  • providing policy advice on transport, regional development, territories and local government
  • delivering transport and regional development programmes
  • conducting research and providing data on transport and regional development
  • undertaking a range of economic, safety, security, environmental and regulatory activities
  • conducting investigations into transport safety
  • providing services to territories and local governments, including administering financial assistance grants to local government
  • administering relief and mitigation arrangements for natural disasters.

* The strategic objectives were described as key result areas in our 2001-02 Annual Report and 2002-03 Portfolio Budget Statements.

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Our operating environment

Australia faces significant transport and regional development challenges over the next twenty years. The department actively monitors emerging trends and adopts a flexible approach that enables responsiveness to changes in our operating environment.

Over the coming decades the transport task will grow substantially and become far more complex and demanding, fuelled by economic growth, a more competitive global economy, demographic changes, innovations in technology and changing community expectations regarding safety, security, accessibility and environmental performance.

The amount of freight carried around Australia is forecast to double over the next 20 years, and interstate road freight could triple. The amount of urban freight and passenger movements is forecast to increase by as much as 50 per cent. These changes will have implications for the capacity and design of transport networks, which in turn will influence Australia's competitiveness, our quality of life and the impact that we have on the environment.

Stronger regional communities are critical to a thriving Australia. These communities face fundamental social and economic change as a result of globalisation, new technology, changing social values and competitive pressures. Specific pressures come from differential access to services, dealing with difficult resource management issues and the need to retain and build community skills.

The desire is for more integrated and coherent policy, programmes and service delivery. This requires an effective partnership with communities, government and the private sector to foster the development of self-reliant communities and regions that take the lead to:

  • strengthen economic and social opportunities
  • sustain productive natural resources and the environment
  • deliver better regional services
  • adjust to economic, technology and government-induced change.

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Our organisation, our people, our values

Through our people and our relationships with our stakeholders and clients we seek to achieve a high performing organisation that is a great place to work. This enables us to achieve our business objectives and contribute to Australia's success and prosperity. We strive to achieve our organisation and people and workplace objectives of:

  • effective client and stakeholder relationships
  • organisational and administrative excellence
  • capable, committed and productive staff.
  • Our people embrace the Australian Public Service Values and Code of Conduct which define:
  • our relationship with government and parliament
  • our relationship with the public
  • our workplace relations
  • our personal behaviour and ethics.

These values and code of conduct can be found at www.apsc.gov.au/values/index.html and www.apsc.gov.au/conduct/index.html respectively.

Our department's values complement these and provide further guidance in the way we work and the ways we provide our services to our clients. Our values are:

  • results oriented
  • honest, professional and accountable
  • client and stakeholder focused
  • committed to improving our skills
  • diverse, trusting and respectful of each other.

Reporting on our performance in relation to our organisational and people and workplace management and accountability is provided in Part 4: Management and accountability.

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Our values and our client service

Our values guide us in the way we provide services to our clients, including our colleagues in the department.

We are results oriented

We work to our highest ability to provide excellent service.


  • provide our clients with a prompt, accurate and relevant response to their inquiries
  • include contact names and numbers in our information and correspondence to enable clients to contact the person best able to assist them.

We are honest, professional and accountable

We behave honestly and ethically with others and ourselves, accept responsibility for our actions and learn from our mistakes.


  • provide our clients with information to assist them to understand government policies
  • inform our clients about, and explain, decisions that affect them
  • give our clients and stakeholders a reasonable time to comment on policy proposals.

We are client and stakeholder focused

We work in partnership with our clients and stakeholders to deliver outputs for government so that it may achieve the outcomes it seeks.


  • consult widely to gain the views of our clients about future policy directions
  • use client feedback to monitor and improve our performance
  • report on our client feedback, and how it is used.

We are committed to improving our skills

We are open to new ideas, originality and vision. We share our knowledge to build a learning culture to improve our performance.


  • work in partnership with our clients, sharing information to achieve our mutual goals
  • establish channels through which our clients can have input into government policy.

We are diverse, trusting and respectful of each other

We treat our clients and each other with dignity and respect.


  • accommodate differences-acknowledging and exploring a range of perspectives with our clients
  • aim to ensure that the information we provide is easily accessible to our clients nationwide
  • respect our client confidentiality.

Reporting on our performance in relation to client and stakeholder management is included in Part 3: Report on performance.

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Outcome and output structure

The two transport and regional services portfolio outcomes are supported by 11 outputs (the services the department delivers). Our performance framework and the way our organisation operates are structured around achieving these outcomes and effective and efficient output delivery:

Outcome 1: A better transport system for Australia


  • transport policy advice
  • transport regulation and standards
  • transport safety investigations
  • transport programmes
  • transport research and data.

Outcome 2: Greater recognition and development opportunities for local, regional and territory communities


  • regional development policy advice
  • regional development programmes
  • services to territories
  • services to local government
  • natural disaster mitigation and relief arrangements
  • regional research and data.

These outcomes and outputs are unchanged from the 2002-03 Portfolio Budget Statements and Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements.

Part 3: Report on performance provides an assessment of our performance in 2002-03 against the outcomes and outputs.

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Organisation structure

There were two changes to the organisational arrangements and structure introduced in January 2002. In response to the heightened awareness of security issues a Security Division was created in January 2003. There was also a merger in January 2003 of the Business Services Division and Information Services and Executive Services Division into a new corporate division. Figure 2 (p. 14) shows our departmental structure as at 30 June 2003.

There were no machinery of government changes during the year and therefore no staff were reassigned duties as a result of such changes.

Figure 2: Department of Transport and Regional Services: Organisation structure as at 30 June 2003

Figure 2: Department of Transport and Regional Services: Organisation structure as at 30 June 2003

Structural change

For completeness, this annual report also reports on a package of important structural changes which come into effect on 1 July 2003. This will see the current organisation structure shift from three groups (based around transport, regional development and corporate governance) to five groups. Four of the new groups will be aligned with our outputs-policy and research, programmes, regulatory, and safety and investigation-and the fifth is a corporate group.

This restructure will pool divisional resources, enable wider flexibility, link similar functions and complete the link between the transport and regional development aspects of the portfolio.

Figure 3 maps the current divisions shown in Figure 2 to the new five-group structure. Figure 4 (p. 16) shows the new departmental structure from 1 July 2003 including new divisions and placement of senior executive service officers.

Figure 3: Department of Transport and Regional Services restructure from 1 July 2003

Figure 3: Department of Transport and Regional Services restructure from 1 July 2003

Figure 4: Department of Transport and Regional Services structure as at 1 July 2003

Figure 4: Department of Transport and Regional Services structure as at 1 July 2003

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Corporate governance

The department's governance framework of systems, structures and processes assures that we achieve our objectives, deliver our services and that the department is managed and accountable in accordance with legislation and the APS and departmental values.

While we continue our focus on effective governance, we are committed to developing systems, structures and processes that allow for the flexibility to deal effectively with the changing requirements of government and the needs of our clients and stakeholders.

We have a set of key documents to encourage a broader understanding of the department's corporate governance framework. These are:

  • Chief Executive's Instructions
    The Chief Executive's Instructions and practical guides provide instructions and guidance respectively for accountability requirements under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997.

  • Corporate Plan
    The corporate plan provides guidance for people who work in the department and information for stakeholders through its high level statement of how we propose to go about our work over the next three years.

  • Client Service Charter
    The charter sets out our service commitments and standards for our clients and stakeholders.

  • Governance Compendium
    The compendium outlines the department's internal governance framework and senior level committees.

  • Catalogue of Portfolio Agencies and Legislation Directory
    The catalogue of portfolio agencies provides a profile of all transport and regional services portfolio agencies, including non-statutory bodies and committees that the department works with. The legislation directory details portfolio legislation currently being considered by parliament.

Internal audit and internal control systems, structures and processes assure accountability. These are reported on in Part 4: Management and accountability.

Whilst our formal and informal structures set the framework for an accountable and effective organisation, the means by which we achieve high performance requires sustained emphasis on:

  • leadership at all levels
  • an emphasis on people management
  • effective knowledge creation and management mechanisms
  • integration and alignment of our planning and reporting processes.

Senior management committees and their roles

During 2002-03 various committees and working groups have been integral to the governance framework as decision-making and consultative forums within and external to the department. The senior committees and working groups are listed below. Details of committee responsibilities and membership are included in Figure 5 (p. 19).

  • Portfolio Business Meeting
  • Portfolio Chief Executives' Forum
  • Executive Board
  • Audit Committee
  • Group Executive Team
  • People Management Committee
  • Strategic Information Technology Committee
  • Departmental Executive Meeting

The weekly Departmental Executive Meeting is a forum for regular communication and discussion of immediate issues that impact on the department. This is a non decision-making body. Membership includes the secretary (chair), deputy secretaries, all division heads, the Chief Finance Officer, Chief Information Officer, Assistant Secretary People and Performance and the Special Counsel.

New governance structure for 2003-04

An integral part of the package of important structural changes, which come into effect on 1 July 2003, is an improved governance committee structure aligned with the new organisational structure. Figure 6 (p. 20) shows the new committee structure.

This structure will enhance support to the secretary who is responsible for managing the department and assisting the minister fulfil his accountability obligations to parliament in relation to the operation and administration of the department under the Public Service Act 1999.

There will be a clearer distinction between the roles of the Departmental Executive Team, comprising the secretary and deputy secretaries with First Assistant Secretary Corporate as corporate adviser, and the Executive Board. The Departmental Executive Team will be the key decision-making forum for issues that relate to the department as a whole or affect more than one group. In making decisions, it will draw as required on the work of other bodies.

The Executive Board becomes the chief advisory body to the secretary, with membership comprising the Departmental Executive Team, all first assistant secretaries, the Chief Finance Officer, Chief Information Officer and Assistant Secretary Policy and Governance. Other advisory committees include the Departmental Security Committee, the Senior Executive Service Forum and the Policy and Planning Forum.

Three committees directly report to the Departmental Executive Team and would consult with the Executive Board as required-the Audit Committee, the Strategic Information Technology Committee and the People Management Committee.

Figure 5: Governance committees as at 30 June 2003

Figure 5: Governance committees as at 30 June 2003

Figure 6: New departmental committee framework for 2003-04

Figure 6: New departmental committee framework for 2003x04

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