Management and Accountability

External scrutiny

Decisions of courts and tribunals

In 2009–10 the Department was involved in a range of matters before Australian courts and tribunals. The matters related to issues such as motor vehicle imports, airport planning approval and personal injury claims. Some of the matters were ongoing at 30 June 2010.

A significant matter which concluded during the year was the matter of Lihou and Others v Commonwealth of Australia. This matter was resolved in June 2010.

Legal services expenditure

Under paragraph 11.1(ba) of the Legal Services Directions 2005, issued by the Attorney General, the Department required to make publicly available their legal services expenditure for the previous year. For 2009–10 the Department's legal expenditure was:

  • Total external legal services expenditure $3,532,252
  • Total internal legal services expenditure $843,581

Audit office and parliamentary scrutiny

Reports on matters relating to the Department are released by the ANAO, parliamentary committees or other public bodies from time to time.

The Department formally responds to ANAO reports in writing, and the ANAO includes the Department's responses in its reports. The ANAO makes its reports available online at

Details of the reports of parliamentary committee inquiries are available online at The Australian Government tables its responses to parliamentary inquiries and other reports in the Parliament.

Table 7.1 lists the reports relating to the Department that were released in 2009–10.

Table 7.1 External reports relating to the Department in 2009–10
Inquiry type Title Tabled
Australian National Audit Office
  Airservices Australia's Upper Airspace Management Contracts with the Solomon Islands Government 5 November 2009
Performance audits Management of the Strategic Regional Program/Off-Network Program 22 April 2010
Management of the AusLink Roads to Recovery Program 22 April 2010
Cross-portfolio audits Audit of the Financial Statements of Australian Government Entities for the Period Ended
30 June 2009
17 December 2009
Effective Cross-Agency Agreements 26 May 2010
Fraud Control in Australian Government Agencies 27 May 2010
Interim Phase of the Audit of Financial Statements of Major General Government Sector Agencies for the Year ending 30 June 2010 24 June 2010
Parliamentary committees
House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government The Global Financial Crisis and regional Australia 23 November 2009
Senate References Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Investment of Commonwealth and State funds in public passenger transport infrastructure and services 20 August 2009
Senate Legislation Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Excise Tariff Amendment (Aviation Fuel) Bill 2010 [Provisions] 23 June 2010
Customs Tariff Amendment (Aviation Fuel) Bill 2010 [Provisions] 23 June 2010

Senior Executive Service (SES) level employees of the Department, in addition to attending specific parliamentary inquiries, also attend Senate estimates committee hearings to respond to questions about the Department's activities.

Table 7.2 provides a summary of the number of parliamentary questions on notice received by the Department.

Table 7.2 Parliamentary questions in 2009–10
Source of questions Number
House of Representatives 34
Senate 44
Senate estimates committee hearings 607
Total 685

Complaints made through external bodies

In 2009–10, the Ombudsman received 10 approaches about the Department, representing a 55 per cent decrease on the result for the previous year. The Ombudsman's Office elected to investigate one of the matters raised and made a finding of administrative deficiency.

Clients also have rights of complaint to the Privacy Commissioner and the Australian Human Rights Commission. In 2009–10, no complaints about the Department were investigated by the Privacy Commissioner or the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Table 7.3 provides information on external complaints and scrutiny.

Table 7.3 External complaints and scrutiny in 2009–10
Complaints recorded by the Commonwealth Ombudsman  
Complaints received 10
Finding of defective administration 1
Formal reports to the Minister under the Ombudsman Act 1976 0
Complaints recorded by other external bodies
Complaints to the Australian Human Rights Commission 0
Complaints to the Privacy Commissioner 0

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Last Updated: 24 October, 2014