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Introduction and overview

2. About us

The Transport and Regional Services portfolio, in accordance with its two published outcome statements, 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 and Parliamentary Secretary

The Department is accountable to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services, the Minister for Local Government, Territories and Roads and the portfolio Parliamentary Secretary.

For most of 2006-07, the Minister for Transport and Regional Services was the Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon Mark Vaile MP, replacing the former Minister the Hon Warren Truss MP on 29 September 2006.

The Hon Jim Lloyd MP was the Minister for Local Government, Territories and Roads throughout 2006-07.

The Hon De-Anne Kelly MP was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services on 29 September 2006.

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:

Four portfolio agencies, including the Department of Transport and Regional Services, belong to the general government sector. Figure 2.1 illustrates how these agencies contribute to portfolio outcomes. A complete list of portfolio bodies, including agencies which are outside the general government sector, appear at Appendix J.

Figure 2.1 Relationship of portfolio agencies in the general government sector, as at 30 June 2007

Figure 2.1 Relationship of portfolio agencies in the general government sector, as at  30 June 2007

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

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.

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.

The Department operates under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 and is accountable to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services, the Hon Mark Vaile MP; the Minister for Local Government, Territories and Roads, the Hon Jim Lloyd MP; and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services, the Hon De-Anne Kelly 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.

The Department administers approximately $4.5 billion a year across a number of major business lines, as illustrated in Figure 2.2, noting that the Corporate Services Division and the Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics provide vital support to business divisions by delivering essential research and business services for all outputs. 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 the last report

There were some changes to the structure of the Department including the appointment of a Chief Financial Officer at SES Band 2 level, and restructuring of various branches within the business divisions to reflect changing priorities.

The Department's outputs and outcomes are unchanged from those reported in the last annual report and in the 2006-07 Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS), Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements (PAES) and Portfolio Supplementary Additional Estimates Statements (PSAES). Figure 2.2 shows the alignment of our organisational structure with our output groups. Figure 2.3 details our current structure and the senior staff responsible for each area at 30 June 2007.

Figure 2.3 Organisational structure as at 30 June 2007

Figure 2.3 Organisational structure as at 30 June 2007

(click on the image to view the larger version)

Meet our Executive Team

Michael Taylor AO

Michael Taylor AO
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 also participates in the Council of Australian Governments' pioneering work with Indigenous communities as sponsor for the remote East Kimberley communities. During 2006, he was president of the Institute of Public Administration of Australia (ACT branch).


Mike Mrdak
Mike Mrdak is responsible for transport and portfolio policy and research, aviation and airports, maritime and land transport. He also chairs the Department's Audit and People Management Committees.


Susan Page
Susan Page is responsible for AusLink, 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 oversees transport security issues including security regulation of the aviation and maritime sectors. Andrew represents the Department on the National Counter-Terrorism Committee and the Australian Government Counter-Terrorism Policy Committee, and chairs the Transport Security Working Group with the States and Territories.

Our Governance Arrangements

How we do business

The Department's staff of 1,289 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; and
  • 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 in Chapter 5. This section of the report focuses on our governance arrangements and describes our governance framework and the various committees that underpin it.

Governance framework and senior management committees

During 2006-07, 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; and
  • supporting the Department to meet its obligation to be open and accountable to its stakeholders.

There are four high-level departmental groups which meet regularly and assist the Secretary and senior management in the organisation's decision-making process. These are:

  • Secretary's Business Meeting;
  • Executive Management Team;
  • Senior Executive Service (SES) Management Team; and
  • SES Strategic Planning Forum.

There are also six supporting committees that focus on specific areas of organisational management and decision making. These are:

  • Audit Committee;
  • Strategic IT Committee;
  • Departmental Consultative Committee;
  • Departmental Security Committee;
  • People Management Committee; and
  • Occupational Health and Safety Committee.

Additionally, a Finance Sub-Committee of the Audit Committee meets to support the financial statements activity.

Figure 2.4 Governance committee framework in place during 2006-07.

Figure 2.4 Governance committee framework in place during 2006-07

The most senior of the Department's committees is the Secretary's Business Meeting, made up of the Secretary, Deputy Secretaries and the Chief Operating Officer. The committee meets weekly to consider high-level policy and departmental resourcing and operational matters.

Senior departmental staff attending a management team meeting (Photo DOTARS)

The Executive Management Team, which also meets weekly, is the key information-sharing forum. The team consists of the Secretary, Deputy Secretaries, the Chief Operating Officer and Executive Directors (heads of the Department's nine business divisions). Other officers, including the Chief Financial Officer, General Counsel, Chief Information Officer, Director of Communications, General Manager of People and Planning and the Director of Governance 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 and human resource management;
  • receive advice from the Secretary's Business meeting; and
  • 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 objective of the committee is to provide independent assurance and assistance to the Secretary and the Executive Management Team on the Department's risk, control and compliance framework, and its external accountability responsibilities. The Department's Audit Committee endorses the internal audit programme 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 2006-07, the committee's members were Deputy Secretary Mike Mrdak (Chair), the Chief Operating Officer, one Executive Director and three independent members (see Table 2.1).

Table 2.1 Audit Committee membership and meetings to 30 June 2007

Member Role Number of meetings held Number of meetings attended
Mike Mrdak Chair 7 7
Leslie Riggs Member 7 6
Jeremy Chandler Member 7 5
Johanna Barker Independent 7 7
Jenny Morison Independent 7 7
Paul McGrath Independent 7 7

The Audit Committee has a Finance Sub-Committee whose primary role is to oversee financial statements reporting and processes on behalf of the Audit Committee. The committee membership consists of two independent members of the Audit Committee (one as chair) and the Chief Financial Officer. Several other observers contribute to the sub-committee meetings; these include ANAO representatives, the Chief Internal Auditor, and various members of the Financial Services Branch.

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 provides a forum for consultation on matters arising out of the implementation and ongoing application of the Department's Collective Agreement 2006-09.
  • 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

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