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External Scrutiny

Parliamentary Committees

Defence interacted with a number of parliamentary committees throughout 2002-03. This segment reports on the status of inquiries or other action by parliamentary committees in relation to Defence. The information below is correct as at 30 June 2003.

Information on parliamentary reports, inquiries and hearings can be accessed through the Australian Parliament House website at: http://www.aph.gov.au

Joint Statutory Committees

Public Accounts and Audit

Report No. 396, October 2003 - Review of Auditor-General's Reports, 2002-03, First, Second and Third Quarters

This report considered Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) Report No. 3, 2002-03: Facilities Management at HMAS Cerberus.

Defence lodged submissions and Defence officers attended a public hearing on 28 March 2003.

Report No. 396, October 2003 - Review of Auditor-General's Reports, 2002-03, First, Second and Third Quarters

This report considered ANAO Report No. 18, 2002-03: Management of Trust Monies, and ANAO Report No. 25, 2002-03: Financial Statements of Commonwealth Entities for 2001-02.

Defence lodged submissions and Defence officers attended a public hearing on 30 April 2003.

Report No. 368, May 2000 - Review of Auditor-General's Report 34, 1997-98: New Submarine Project.

Defence officers provided a brief on 28 May 2002 on an incident on board HMAS Dechaineux earlier in the year where a flexible hose failure caused flooding. An oral briefing was provided on 4 June 2003.

Management and Integrity of Electronic Information in the Commonwealth (current inquiry)

Defence lodged three submissions and Defence officers attended a public hearing on 16 June 2003.

Update on the Jindalee Operational Radar Network Project

A verbal brief was provided to the committee on 25 September 2002.

Public Works

Report No. 2/2002, September 2002 - RAAF Base Williamtown Redevelopment Stage 1 and Facilities for Early Airborne Warning and Control Aircraft

The project was considered by the committee at a public hearing in August 2002 and approved by Parliament on 17 September 2002. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2006.

Report No. 4/2003, June 2003 - ACT Multi-User Depot at HMAS Harman

The project was considered by the committee at a public hearing in May 2003 and approved by Parliament on 25 June 2003. Construction is expected to be completed by August 2004.

Joint Standing Committees

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade

Inquiry into the Suitability of the Australian Army for Peacetime, Peacekeeping and War

The Government response was tabled on 3 June 2003.

Watching Brief on the War on Terror

In July 2002, some committee members travelled to Kuwait, the Persian Gulf, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan to visit the ADF deployed to the international coalition against terrorism.

Review of Australia's relations with the United Nations

Defence submissions to the inquiry were lodged on 9 August and 4 October 2002.

Review of Defence's 2000-01 Annual Report

The committee tabled its report on 23 September 2002. The Government response was tabled on 27 March 2003.

Review of Defence's 2001-02 Annual Report

Defence witnesses appeared before the sub-committee on 27 February 2003. Responses to nine questions arising from the February hearing were forwarded to the committee on 2 April 2003.

Review of Australia's Relations with Indonesia

A Defence submission was lodged on 22 April 2003 and Defence witness appeared at a public hearing on 23 June 2003.

Inquiry into the Role of Maritime Strategy in Australia's Defence Policy

Defence witnesses appeared at public hearings on 25 February and 24 March 2003. A Defence submission was lodged on 12 March 2003 and supplementary submissions were lodged on 16 and 30 April 2003.

As part of the inquiry, committee members visited the Australian Defence College, Weston Creek, ACT on 3 March 2003 and the Special Air Service Regiment at HMAS Stirling, Garden Island, WA on 1 April 2003.

Inquiry into Human Rights and Good Governance Education in the Asia Pacific Region

A Defence submission was lodged on 7 May 2003.

Private Briefings

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade - Defence Sub-Committee

The Chief of the Defence Force and the Service Chiefs provided a series of private briefings throughout 2002. Responses to questions taken on notice during the private briefings were lodged on 3 January 2003.

Defence officers provided a private briefing on 17 June 2003 on issues concerning the use of night vision goggles.

Treaties

Review of Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of the United States of America concerning Security Measures for the Reciprocal Protection of Classified Information, at Canberra on 25 June 2002

Defence witnesses appeared at a public hearing on 10 October 2002.

Senate Standing Committees

Finance and Public Administration References Committee

Inquiry into APS Recruitment and Training

A Defence submission was lodged on 5 July 2002. Defence witnesses appeared at a public hearing on 14 August 2002.

Inquiry into the Order of the Senate for Department and Agency Contracts (amended 27 September 2001)

A Defence submission was lodged on 28 August 2002.

Inquiry into Aspects of the Veterans' Entitlement Act 1986 and the Military Compensation Scheme

Defence witnesses appeared before the committee on 16 and 23 June 2003.

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee

2002-03 Budget Estimates Supplementary Hearing 21 November 2002

Responses to 41 questions taken on notice at the hearing were lodged with the committee on 10 February 2003.

2003-03 Additional Estimates Hearing 12 February 2003

Responses to 63 questions taken on notice at the hearing were lodged with the committee on 2 April 2003.

2003-04 Budget Estimates Hearing 4-5 June 2003

Responses to 58 questions taken on notice at the hearing were lodged with the committee on 30 July 2003.

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee

Inquiry into Recruitment and Retention of Australian Defence Force Personnel

The Government response was tabled on 13 May 2003.

Inquiry into Materiel Acquisition and Management in the Department of Defence

Defence witnesses appeared before the committee on 9 October, 8 and 15 November 2002 and 7 February 2003. The report of the inquiry was tabled on 27 March 2003.

Inquiry into Australia's Relationship with Papua New Guinea and Other Pacific Island Countries

A Defence submission to the inquiry was lodged on 25 July 2002.

Inquiry into the Assessment of Threats to the Security of Australians in South-East Asia

Defence witnesses appeared at a public hearing on 20 June 2003.

Regulations and Ordinances Committee

Defence Determination 2002 (Employer Support Payments)

A Defence submission was lodged on 10 September 2002.

Inquiry into the Rate of Additional Vehicle Allowance

A Defence submission was lodged on 5 December 2002.

Amendments to the Defence Force Regulations

A Defence submission was lodged on 9 May 2003.

Defence Determination 2003/3, Section 58 of the Defence Act 1903 - Logistic Officers Retention Bonus

A Defence submission was lodged on 12 May 2003.

Senate Select Committee

Certain Maritime Incident

Defence witnesses appeared at two further public hearings on 11 and 30 July 2002. Responses to 95 questions on notice were lodged with the committee on 25 June 2003 and a further 31 responses were lodged on 20 September 2003.

Parliamentary Joint Committee on ASIO, ASIS and DSD

The committee visited DSD facilities at Geraldton on 20 September 2002.

Auditor-General's Reports

Seven Auditor-General's reports relating specifically to Defence were tabled during the year. The key findings and recommendations of each report were referred to relevant areas within Defence for implementation.

Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) reports and general information on the audit office's operations, including its audit timetable, can be accessed through the ANAO website at: http://www.anao.gov.au.

Audit Report No. 3, 31 July 2002 - Facilities Management at HMAS Cerberus

HMAS Cerberus is a Navy base situated south-east of Melbourne, Victoria. Initial recruit training and specialist category training in areas such as communications and engineering are conducted at the base. The ADF schools of catering and physical training are situated at the base, as is a major health centre for operational and training needs. The health centre and various other facilities at the base were redeveloped several years ago. In August 2001, the then Minister for Defence announced that, in response to continuing concern over facilities management at HMAS Cerberus, he had asked the ANAO to conduct an independent investigation. The ANAO agreed to review these matters. The objective of the audit was to examine facilities management issues at HMAS Cerberus with a view to clarifying those of concern and ensuring that lessons would be learned to assist Defence facilities management generally.

The ANAO made three recommendations - all of which Defence agreed or agreed with qualification.

Audit Report No. 30, 27 February 2003 - Defence Ordnance Safety and Suitability for Service

The Chiefs of the Navy, Army and Air Force are accountable to the Chief of the Defence Force for the way equipment is used by their Service and also account for the safety, fitness for service and environmental compliance of the equipment. The audit report dealt with the way Service Chiefs are assured of the safety and suitability for service of the ADF's ordnance systems. Ordnance systems include munitions such as missiles, shells and mines, and the auxiliary material necessary to aim, launch and guide munitions.

The ANAO made four recommendations - all of which Defence agreed in principle.

Audit Report No. 31, 5 March 2003 - Retention of Military Personnel Follow-up Audit

The audit followed up the ANAO's Audit Report No. 35 1999-2000, Retention of Military Personnel, which focused on examining whether ADF personnel management practices to retain personnel were commensurate with the cost of recruiting and training new personnel, or whether more cost-effective steps could be taken to reduce the separation rates of desirable personnel. The objective of the follow-up audit was to assess Defence's implementation of recommendations made in the original audit report and to assess the effectiveness of the recommendations in helping Defence control the flow of trained personnel from the Services.

Defence agreed with the ANAO's findings about the current implementation status of the original audit recommendations.

Audit Report No. 39, 17 April 2003 - Navy Operational Readiness

The audit examined the systems that the Navy uses to manage readiness: readiness organisation and management structures (as well as the interface between these systems and Defence enabling operations); management and maintenance of operational readiness (covering personnel, collective training and other components of operational readiness); and readiness performance information processes. The objective of the audit was to provide assurance to Parliament concerning the progress that the Navy has made in the development of operational readiness management and evaluation systems and to identify areas for improvement in these systems.

The ANAO made six recommendations - all of which Defence agreed.

Audit Report No. 46, 6 June 2003 - Australian Industry Involvement Program

The audit examined Defence's management of its Australian Industry Involvement program. This is the major program through which Defence gives effect to Government policy on Australian industry. The objective of the audit was to assess the extent to which the program had achieved its two policy objectives:

The ANAO made six recommendations - all of which Defence agreed.

Audit Report No. 51, 19 June 2003 - Defence Housing and Relocation Services

Defence has long provided housing assistance for members of the ADF and their families. In 1988, this function passed to the Defence Housing Authority, which was established to provide suitable housing to meet Defence's operational needs. In 2000, Defence and the Authority signed a services agreement valued at $3.5b over ten years. The objective of the audit was to assess whether Defence's management of its housing and relocation services provided for ADF members met specified requirements, and to make practical recommendations for more efficient, effective and economical use of public resources provided for this purpose.

The ANAO made five recommendations - all of which Defence agreed or agreed with qualification.

Audit Report No. 56, 25 June 2003 - Management of Specialist Information System Skills

In June 2001, the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit, after reviewing the ANAO's Audit Report No. 11, Knowledge System Equipment Acquisition Projects in Defence, commented that its major concern about Defence's ability to develop a knowledge edge with adequate coherence centred on Defence's ability to recruit, develop and retain skilled individuals needed in all parts of the Defence information environment. The committee recommended that the ANAO conduct an audit of Defence's strategies for recruiting, developing and retaining skilled information technology personnel.

The objective of the audit was to report to Parliament on the progress Defence has made, since June 2001, in implementing appropriate strategies for recruiting, developing and retaining skilled information technology personnel. The audit focused on management of specialist information system skills and did not examine skills needed by users of information systems.

The ANAO made four recommendations - all of which Defence agreed.

Cross-Portfolio Reports

Defence also participated in, or contributed to, the following cross-portfolio Auditor-General's reports:

Audit Report No. 4 Audit Activity Report: January to June 2002
19 August 2002

Audit Report No. 8 Senate Order for Department and Agency Contracts (September 2002)
18 September 2002

Audit Report No. 10 Management of Trust Monies
27 November 2002

Audit Report No. 13 Benchmarking the Internal Audit Function Follow-up Report
23 October 2002

Audit Report No. 20 Employee Entitlement Support Schemes
10 December 2002

Audit Report No. 24 Energy Efficiency in Commonwealth Operations - Follow-up Audit
20 December 2002

Audit Report No. 27 Management of Commonwealth Guarantees, Warranties and Letters of Comfort
1 January 2003

Audit Report No. 29 Audit Activity Report: July to December 2002
7 February 2003

Audit Report No. 38 Referrals, Assessment and Approvals Under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999
10 April 2003

Audit Report No. 41 Annual Reporting on Ecologically Sustainable Development
7 May 2003

Audit Report No. 45 Reporting of Financial Statements and Audit Reports in Annual Reports
6 June 2003

Audit Report No. 52 Absence Management in the Australian Public Service
20 June 2003

Audit Report No. 60 Closing the Books
27 June 2003

Defence force Ombudsman

There were no formal reports to the Chief of the Defence Force pursuant to section 15 of the Ombudsman Act 1976, nor were any reports raised under sections 16, 17, or 19 of the Act relating to the operations of the ADF during the period under report.

Decisions of Courts and Tribunals

During 2002-03, there were no decisions of a court or tribunal in relation to matters handled by the Defence Legal Service which resulted in a significant change to the law.

Litigation continued in relation to common law claims for damages for personal injury against the Commonwealth by crew members of the former HMAS Melbourne. Generally, the plaintiffs claimed post-traumatic stress disorder arising out of the 1964 HMAS Melbourne/HMAS Voyager collision. One claim for like injuries from an unrelated incident is currently awaiting court decisions. All continuing claims for damages are being resolved on a case-by-case basis.

The State Coroner of Western Australia conducted an extensive inquest into the death of four crew members of HMAS Westralia after an onboard fire on 5 May 1998. The inquest is nearing completion and the State Coroner is expected to hand down his finding in late 2003. Proceedings, initiated in the Federal Court of Australia by the Commonwealth against ADI Limited, Parker Enzed Technologies Limited, Jetrock Pty Ltd (in liquidation) and Todd Hydraulics Pty Ltd for damages relating to the fire on HMAS Westralia, are continuing with a confidential mediation of the claim now under way.