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Output 4.2 - Machinery of Government

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Output 4.2 Machinery of Government
Performance indicators
Advice, briefing and support on parliamentary, machinery of government, legal and cultural issues including on presentation of the government’s decisions in these areas. Quality: The degree of satisfaction of the Prime Minister, the Parliamentary Secretary to Cabinet, the Parliamentary Business Committee, the Prime Minister’s Office and departmental Executive as expressed through formal and informal feedback mechanisms, with the timeliness and quality of material for the Prime Minister’s and other Ministers’ consideration.

Maintenance of clear and up-to-date guidelines for annual reports, caretaker conventions, Guide for Official Witnesses Appearing before Parliamentary Committees and the Legislation Handbook.

Timely introduction of amendments to portfolio legislation, as necessary.

Extent to which legal actions involving the department are successful.

The degree of satisfaction of the Parliamentary Business Committee with the timeliness and accuracy of the production and distribution of:
  • the legislation programme
  • public lists of proposed legislation
  • reports of unproclaimed legislation.
Policy, coordination and promotion of awards and national symbols. The degree of satisfaction with support and promotion of the Australian honours system, including:
  • the quality and timeliness of policy advice
  • accurate and timely processing of nominations for awards.
The accurate and timely preparation of congratulatory messages.

Effective coordination with Government House on promotional activities related to the national honours and awards system.
Advice, briefing and support on domestic security, counter-terrorism, law enforcement and border protection issues.* The degree of satisfaction of the Prime Minister, the National Security Committee of Cabinet, the Prime Minister’s Office, the Secretaries’ Committee on National Security and departmental Executive, as expressed through formal and informal feedback mechanisms, with the timeliness and quality of material for the Prime Minister’s, other Ministers’ and the Executive’s consideration.

Cost of outputs - $7.6m

* Administrative and financial responsibility for this activity was transferred from International and Social Policy Divisions on 25 August 2002.

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Qualitative assessment


Government Division had regular discussions and consultations with the Prime Minister’s Office and the Prime Minister’s parliamentary secretaries, enabling the division to receive ongoing feedback. The meetings of the Parliamentary Business Committee, in which the division has a secretariat role, provided opportunities for feedback on the support the division provided to the committee. The views of the Prime Minister’s Office were sought on specific issues in the course of the year, and comments on overall performance were obtained from the office towards the end of the reporting year. Through annual work assessment processes and regular performance appraisals, senior staff of the department provided formal feedback.

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Feedback indicated a high level of satisfaction with the way the division carried out its responsibilities. The division was considered responsive and reliable in providing professional and timely advice.

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Key results

Government Division provided support to the government in relation to a number of issues in 2002-03, including assistance in the winding up of two royal commissions. The division also continued to provide advice on a range of government processes, contributing to the government’s ability to develop policy and deliver programmes in a sound and well coordinated manner. Some of the key results for the division in 2002-03 are described below.

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Royal commissions

The division provided advice in relation to the HIH Royal Commission and the Royal Commission into the Building and Construction Industry. The reports of both royal commissions were presented to the Governor-General and tabled in Parliament by the government during the reporting period. Following a determination by the Prime Minister, the records of both royal commissions were placed in the custody of the National Archives of Australia. The division is responsible for answering requests for access to the commissions’ records.

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Legal actions involving the department

The division, along with the Attorney-General’s Department, instructed the Australian Government Solicitor in relation to two cases arising from the Royal Commission into the Building and Construction Industry in which the Commonwealth was named as a respondent along with the Royal Commissioner, the Hon. Terence Cole RFD QC. The first case involved a complaint brought by members and officials of the New South Wales branch of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union against Commissioner Cole and the Commonwealth. As Commissioner Cole submitted to the jurisdiction of the court, the Commonwealth put arguments in order to ensure that the court had the benefit of a contradictor. The case was dismissed. The second case, involving the validity of a ‘notice to produce’, was settled before being heard.

The division also instructed the Australian Government Solicitor in claims for immunity from the production of Cabinet documents in the public interest in three cases during 2002-03. At the end of the reporting period the claims had not been finalised.

During 2002-03 the Administrative Appeals Tribunal heard two applications for the review of departmental decisions under the Freedom of Information Act 1982. As the decisions related to the same applicant, the tribunal heard both at the same time. At the end of the reporting period the tribunal’s decision was pending.

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Legal actions involving the Prime Minister

The division provided instructions in relation to one case involving the Prime Minister during the reporting period. The court dismissed an application to join the Prime Minister as an additional party to an existing proceeding involving a damages claim against officials of the then Department of Social Security.

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Executive Agencies

The division provided advice to the Prime Minister on the establishment of Executive Agencies under section 65 of the Public Service Act 1999. The division was also responsible for preparing Executive Council papers, in consultation with relevant departments and agencies, to effect the creation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Services (in May 2003) and the abolition of Invest Australia (in November 2002) as Executive Agencies.

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Honours system

The division undertook a range of promotional activities in support of the government’s public education and communications campaign to make Australian honours more accessible and better known to all Australians.

Government Division maintained the website <>, which provides up-to-date information about Australian honours, including a complete list of recipients of Australian honours, as well as information about the National Flag and the National Anthem.

Division staff conducted regional visits to the Riverina district of New South Wales, to the Bendigo-Ballarat region of Victoria, to the outer Adelaide suburbs and to the Hunter and Newcastle regions of New South Wales, where they ran workshops to explain Australian honours to community leaders. The workshops were complemented by local media coverage.

The travelling exhibition It’s An Honour Australia continued its schedule of visiting all states and territories. It was exhibited at Queensland’s Parliament House, at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre and at the Royal Queensland Show, where it attracted some 2,000 visitors daily. In May 2003 the exhibition began travelling around South Australia, through regional and urban centres, including Port Augusta, Salisbury and Adelaide.

The division handled applications for the Civilian Service Medal 1939-1945, the Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal and relevant medals for civilian surgical and medical teams who served during the Vietnam War, as well as requests by foreign governments to recognise the efforts of certain Australian citizens by granting them foreign awards.

The Centenary Medal was established to recognise people who have made a particular contribution to Australian society or government. In addition, all Australian citizens who were born in 1901 or earlier and lived until 1 January 2001 - known as ‘centenarians’ - have an entitlement to the award. Nominations for the award of the medal, submitted by the Australian, state and territory governments, were processed; and the division serviced the Council for the Centenary Medal and prepared schedules of nominations for submission to the Governor-General - 15,703 medals were awarded.

The division provided secretariat services to public service honours committees, as well as assistance to departmental staff who serve ex officio as members of the Council of the Order of Australia and the Australian Bravery Decorations Council.

The division provided support to the Prime Minister in relation to the nominations of non-Australian citizens for honorary awards in the Order of Australia. The division also assisted the Prime Minister in sending over 12,400 messages of congratulation - substantially more than in 2001-02, as a result of increased public awareness of the scheme - to Australians celebrating significant wedding anniversaries and birthdays.

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Domestic security and border protection

In October 2002 the Domestic Security and Border Protection Unit coordinated the Review of Commonwealth Counter-Terrorism Arrangements commissioned by the Prime Minister following the Bali bombings, and assisted the Prime Minister with arrangements for the formal signing of the Inter-Governmental Agreement on Australia’s National Counter-Terrorism Arrangements. The unit subsequently provided support for the new National Counter-Terrorism Committee, established under the agreement, which met for the first time in November 2002. The committee contributes to the security of the Australian community by coordinating a nationwide cooperative framework to counteract terrorism and its consequences.

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Administered Item - National Australia Day Council

Administered item
Performance indicators
National Australia Day Council Quality: Grant administered in compliance with the reporting mechanisms, objectives and other provisions of the grant funding deed with the National Australia Day Council so as to contribute to achieving the vision of the NADC (to inspire national pride and spirit to enrich the life of the nation).

Administered expenses - $1.3m

The division administered the Australian Government’s grant to the National Australia Day Council (NADC) and provided advice on a range of issues relating to the funding and activities of the NADC. The Australian Government is represented on the board of the NADC by a senior officer of the department.

The NADC is an agency within the Prime Minister’s portfolio. It is a Commonwealth company for the purposes of the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 and produces its own annual report in accordance with the provisions of that Act. Further information about the activities of the NADC can be found in that report.

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Administered Item - National Security Campaign

In December 2002, the Prime Minister announced that the Australian Government would conduct a public information campaign to reassure Australians about national security issues.

Australia has been at a heightened level of national security alert since 11 September 2001. This extended period of heightened alert for acts of terrorism is unprecedented in Australia’s history. The terrorist attack in Bali, and the announcement of a security alert on 19 November 2002, further served to keep public attention focused on national security issues.

With the issue of the security alert and the prospect that Australia could remain at a heightened level of national alert for the foreseeable future, the level of public concern also increased. As a result, the community was actively seeking more information on what the heightened level of national security alert meant and what people could, and should, do in response.

A taskforce was established within the department to develop and manage the campaign.

Following a selection process, a number of consultants were appointed to develop the campaign (see Appendixes 3 and 4).

The campaign’s aims were to:

  • reassure the community by placing the level of threat and the strength of our national security system into perspective
  • enlist a sense of ownership and support for national security, by educating people about the current security environment and the need to be aware without becoming alarmist.

Total expenditure on the campaign to 30 June 2003 amounted to $18.5 million.


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