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Introduction and Overview


About us

The portfolio of Transport and Regional Services contributes to the wellbeing of all Australians by fostering an efficient, sustainable, competitive, safe and secure transport system and by assisting regions to manage their own futures.

Our Ministers

During 2005-06, the Minister for Transport and Regional Services was the Hon Warren Truss MP, formerly the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. He replaced the former minister and deputy prime minister, the Hon John Anderson MP, when Minister Anderson retired from his ministerial appointments on 6 July 2005.

The Hon Jim Lloyd MP was appointed Minister for Local Government, Territories and Roads on 18 July 2004.

About the Portfolio

This annual report focuses on the Department of Transport and Regional Services. Information on other portfolio agencies may be obtained from their annual reports and websites. The main authorities and commissions in the portfolio are:

Other bodies and corporations in the portfolio include:

The Stevedoring Industry Finance Committee moved to the Employment and Workplace Relations portfolio from 21 July 2005 as part of reforms to government management of asbestos claims. Four portfolio agencies, including the department, belong to the general government sector. Figure 2.1 illustrates how these agencies contribute to portfolio outcomes.

Figure 2.1 Relationship of portfolio agencies in the general government sector, as at 30 June 2006

Figure 2.1    Relationship of portfolio agencies in the general government sector, as at 30 June 2006

The Department of Transport and Regional Services also includes the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) and the Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics (BTRE).

Two other portfolio authorities existed in 2005-06 but were non-operational: the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme Review Authority (TFESRA) and the Christmas Island Casino Surveillance Authority (CSA). There is no casino currently operating on Christmas Island and all board positions on the CSA are vacant. On 23 August 2005, the legislation enabling the CSA was repealed by the Casino Legislation Ordinance 2005 (CI). Appointments to the TFESRA are at the discretion of the minister, for a term of two years. There have been no appointments since 1997. No costs were incurred for either body in 2005-06.

General government-sector agencies provide public services that are mainly non-market in nature, are mainly for the collective consumption of the community, involve the transfer or redistribution of income or are financed mainly through taxes and other compulsory levies. For more information about this classification, which reflects standards issued by the International Monetary Fund, see the Australian Bureau of Statistics publication Australian system of government finance statistics: concepts, sources and methods, 2003 (Cat. No. 5514.0.55.001), available at www.abs.gov.au.

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About the Department

Who we are

The Department of Transport and Regional Services provides a range of transport and regional services and information to-and in partnership with-government, industry and the broader community.

We operate under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 and are accountable to the Minister for Transport and Regional Services, the Hon Warren Truss MP, and the Minister for Local Government, Territories and Roads, the Hon Jim Lloyd MP.

What we do

We contribute to the wellbeing of all Australians by fostering an efficient, sustainable, competitive, safe and secure transport system and by assisting regions to manage their own futures.

How we make a difference

The services and funding provided by the government through the department affect every Australian household. Our work bears on the safety and security of our transport system, the quality of the roads and council services we use, our access to goods and services from interstate and overseas, and our ability as a community to mitigate and recover from natural disasters.

We administer approximately $4.6 billion a year across a number of major business lines, as illustrated in Figure 2.2. For more information about the results we have achieved in each area, see our report on performance (chapters 3 and 4).

Figure 2.2 Departmental outcomes and outputs framework

Figure 2.2 Departmental outcomes and outputs framework

Changes in our organisation since our last report

In 2005-06, the secretary appointed a third deputy secretary, Mr Andrew Tongue, reflecting the government's increased emphasis on transport security issues.

Our heightened emphasis on sound organisational governance is discussed in more detail later in this chapter.

Our outputs and outcomes are unchanged from those reported in our last annual report and in the 2005-06 Portfolio Budget Statements. Figure 2.3 shows the alignment of our organisational structure with our output groups. Figure 2.4 details our current structure and the senior staff responsible for each area at 30 June 2006.

Figure 2.3 Relationship between organisational structure and outputs

Figure 2.3 Relationship between organisational structure and outputs

Other areas of the department, including the Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics and the Corporate Services Business Division, provide vital support to our business divisions by delivering essential research and business services for all outputs.

Figure 2.4 Organisational structure at 30 June 2006

Figure 2.4 Organisational structure at 30 June 2006

* Acting General Manager Local Government and Natural Disaster Relief, Barry O'Neill * Acting General Manager Regional Aviation and Cargo Security, Cheryl Johnson
* Acting General Manager AusLink Systems and Local Road Investment, Simon Atkinson

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Meet our executive team

Michael Taylor - Secretary

Michael Taylor
Michael Taylor leads and manages departmental staff in their policy development, regulatory and programme implementation work. He has specific responsibilities as secretary, many of which are set out in legislation. Mr Taylor participates in the Council of Australian Governments' pioneering work with Indigenous communities as sponsor for the remote East Kimberley communities. He is also president of the Institute of Public Administration of Australia (ACT branch). Mr Taylor has wide-ranging experience in economic, natural resource management, rural and industry policy making, including roles as the chief executive of various Victorian Government agencies (1992-2000) and Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (2000-04).

Mike Mrdak - Deputy Secretary Mike Mrdak
Mike Mrdak is responsible for transport and portfolio policy and research, aviation and airports, maritime and land transport, and rail investment and regulatory reform. He also chairs the department's Audit and People Management committees.
Susan Page - Deputy Director Susan Page
Susan Page joined the department in August 2005 as a deputy secretary. She is responsible for regional services, territories and local government, safety investigation and international and multilateral forums, such as those of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, and chairs the Strategic Information Technology and Departmental Security committees.
Andrew Tongue
Andrew Tongue was appointed as a deputy secretary in November 2005 and oversees transport security issues. Key priorities in transport security include implementing recommendations from the Wheeler Review of airport security and policing, enhancing protective security arrangements in the aviation and maritime sectors, and working with the states and territories on surface transport security. Mr Tongue represents the department on the National Counter-Terrorism Committee and the Australian Government Counter-Terrorism Policy Committee.

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Our governance arrangements

How we do business

The department's staff of 1,287 people is located throughout Australia and its territories. In accordance with our client service charter, we aspire to be:

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

These service standards underpin our approach to, and form the basis of our report on, management and accountability (see Chapter 5).

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Governance framework and senior management committees

During 2005-06, senior management committees provided leadership in, and coordination of, the maintenance of sound governance standards in the department. Supporting the secretary in his role as agency head and decision-maker, senior management committees focused on:

  • managing the department efficiently, effectively and in accordance with Australian Public Service legislative requirements
  • ensuring the department's outputs were of a high quality, were timely and contributed to the achievement of the Australian Government's desired outcomes
  • supporting the department to meet its obligation to be open and accountable to its stakeholders.

Figure 2.5 shows the governance committee framework in place during 2005-06.

Figure 2.5 The department's governance committee framework

Figure 2.5 The department's governance committee framework

The most senior of the department's committees is the Secretary's Business Meeting, made up of the secretary, deputy secretaries and the Executive Director Corporate Services. The committee meets weekly to consider high-level policy and departmental resourcing and operational matters.

The Executive Management Team, which also meets weekly, is the key information-sharing forum. The team consists of the secretary, deputy secretaries and executive directors (heads of the department's nine divisions). Other officers, including the Chief Financial Officer and the General Manager of People and Planning, attend meetings in an advisory capacity. The Executive Management Team meets to:

  • receive briefings from executive directors on key current issues for each business division
  • consider proposals and receive updates on issues relevant to all areas of the department, such as financial updates and human resource issues
  • provide the secretary with an opportunity to communicate key messages to executive directors.

All Senior Executive Service officers are required to demonstrate leadership in departmental governance and planning through participation in quarterly strategic planning forums and monthly Senior Executive Management Team meetings.

Audit Committee

The department's Audit Committee endorses the internal audit plan and monitors its implementation, monitors external audits by the Australian National Audit Office, monitors the department's risk management framework and oversees preparation of the department's financial statements. During 2005-06, the committee's members were deputy secretary Mike Mrdak (chair), two executive directors and three independent members (see Table 2.1). Further details of the work of the Audit Committee are given at page 175 in Chapter 5.

Table 2.1 Audit committee membership and meetings to 30 June 2006



Number of meetings held

Number of meetings attended

Mike Mrdak




Leslie Riggs




Jeremy Chandler




Johanna Barker




Jenny Morrison




Paul McGrath




A finance subcommittee of the Audit Committee was formed in March 2006. The membership consists of two of the three independent members of the Audit Committee, a representative division head and the chief financial officer. The primary role of the subcommittee is to oversee financial statements reporting and processes on behalf of the Audit Committee.

Other committees

The following is a brief description of the roles of the other committees that underpin governance in the department:

  • The Strategic Information Technology Committee develops a common vision for the department's information technology requirements; determines the department's data requirements and data collection priorities; and recommends information technology funding priorities to the secretary within the budget allocated by the executive.
  • The Departmental Consultative Committee ensures that the department meets its obligations under the Public Service Act 1999. These include ensuring a workplace that values communication, consultation, cooperation and input from employees on matters that affect their work environment.
  • The Departmental Security Committee provides a mechanism for an integrated agency approach to protective security and compliance with the Commonwealth Protective Security Manual.
  • The Occupational Health and Safety Committee considers occupational health and safety strategy, policy and performance matters with the aim of continually improving the department's health and safety environment.
  • The People Management Committee considers high-level strategic people management issues and directions for the department.