Freedom of information
The Treasury handles freedom of information matters for the Treasury, the Foreign Investment Review Board, the Australian Office of Financial Management, the Companies Auditors and Liquidators Disciplinary Board, and the Financial Reporting Council.
The Foreign Investment Review Board, the Takeovers Panel and the Financial Reporting Panel each publish their own annual report. Those reports detail the organisations and their structures.
Under section 8 of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 , the Treasury must report on its activities. The Australian Competition Tribunal’s statement then follows. The tribunal is a separate body within the Treasury portfolio but does not publish an annual report.
Section 8 of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 requires the Treasury to publish detailed information about:
- how it is organised and what decisionmaking powers it has;
- what arrangements it makes for public involvement in its work;
- what types of documents it holds; and
- how the public can obtain access to these documents.
The following information addresses these requirements.
Organisation of the Treasury
Details of the Treasury’s organisational and senior management structure are set out in Figure 1 on page 15. The Treasury’s functions and the decisionmaking powers are set out in the Departmental Overview and Corporate Governance sections of this report.
The Treasury delegations and authorisations
The Treasurer, other ministers and the Secretary to the Treasury delegate certain powers to officials, or authorise officials to act on their behalf, under Acts of Parliament and agreements. These delegations and authorisations stand in force until renewed, and are listed below.
- Under section 21 of the A New Tax System (CommonwealthState Financial Arrangements) Act 1999 , the Treasurer has delegated the power to make payments to the states under sections 18 and 19 of the Act to the Executive Director, Fiscal Group; General Manager, CommonwealthState Relations Division; and General Manager, Budget Policy Division.
- Under section 23 of the Federal Financial Relations Act 2009 , the Treasurer has delegated the power to make payments to the states under section 5 and Part 2 of the Act to the Executive Director, Fiscal Group; General Manager, CommonwealthState Relations Division; and General Manager, Budget Policy Division.
- Under the Crimes (Currency) Authorisation 2009, the Treasurer has delegated certain powers to the General Manager, Corporations and Financial Services Division; the Chief Executive Officer, Royal Australian Mint; and the Senior Manager, Communication and Risk, Note Issue Department, Head Office, Reserve Bank of Australia, pursuant to the definition of ‘an authorised person’ in subsection 3(1) of the Crimes (Currency) Act 1981 .
- Under the Currency Delegation 2007, the Treasurer has delegated the power to determine the issue price of coins of certain denominations under subsection 14A(2) of the Currency Act 1965 , to the General Manager, Corporations and Financial Services Division and the Chief Executive Officers of the Royal Australian Mint and the Gold Corporation.
- Under the Gold Corporation Agreement Delegation 1999, the Treasurer has delegated authority to approve a range of essentially administrative matters provided for under the Gold Corporation Agreement between the Commonwealth and Goldcorp Australia relating to gold, platinum and silver coins to the Executive Director, Markets Group and the General Manager, Corporations and Financial Services Division.
- Under subsections 21A, 21A(2), 22, 22(1) and 25, and Regulations 3(e) and 3(h) of the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975 , the Treasurer has authorised the General Manager, Managers and Assistant Managers of the Foreign Investment and Trade Policy Division to act on his behalf to approve and conditionally approve various proposals and, in specific circumstances, to make an order.
- Under section 22 of the Mutual Assistance in Business Regulation Act 1992 , the Treasurer has delegated to the General Manager, Corporations and Financial Services Division the authorisation to exercise the Treasurer’s powers to consider requests raised under the Act from foreign regulators for information, documents or evidence, including the ability to impose conditions on an authorisation.
- The Treasurer has delegated to Treasury officials the authority to vote on the Treasurer’s behalf on routine matters arising from the Treasurer’s Governorship of the IMF, the World Bank Group, the Asian Development Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
- Under subsection 9A(2) of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority Act 1988 , the Minister for Financial Services, Superannuation and Corporate Law, on behalf of the Treasurer, has delegated power to the Executive Director, Markets Group and the General Manager, Financial System Division to approve APRA to enter into an agreement to provide prudential regulation of advice services for a fee.
- Under subsection 35(1) of the Archives Act 1983 , the Minister for Financial Services, Superannuation and Corporate Law, on behalf of the Treasurer, has delegated to the Secretary to the Treasury and Executive Directors, the authorisation to arrange to exempt records from the open access period.
- Under subsection 56(2) of the Archives Act 1983 , the Minister for Finance and Deregulation has delegated to the Treasurer, the Secretary to the Treasury and Executive Directors, the authorisation to approve access to records not in the open access period.
- Under subsections 147(2) and 601DC(2) of the Corporations Act 2001 , the responsible minister has delegated the powers to consent to a name being available to a body corporate, to ASIC’s Chief Executive Officer and Director, Public Information Program — Operations.
- Under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 , and the Financial Management and Accountability Regulations 1997, the Minister for Finance and Deregulation has delegated certain powers to the Secretary to the Treasury who has subdelegated them to Treasury officials. The Secretary to the Treasury holds powers in his own right under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 , and he also has delegated these to Treasury officials.
- Under subsection 23(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 , the Secretary to the Treasury has authorised senior executive service officers within the Treasury to make decisions regarding initial requests for access to documents. Executive directors are authorised under section 23 to consider and make decisions on applications for internal review.
- In accordance with subsections 33(5), 33A(6) and 36(8) of the Freedom of Information Act 1982, the Treasurer has delegated his powers to the Secretary to the Treasury, in respect of documents of the Treasury.
- Under section 22(1) of the Reserve Bank Act 1959 , the Secretary to the Treasury has nominated a senior executive service officer from within the Treasury to attend meetings of the Reserve Bank Board at which the Secretary is not present.
- Under the following legislation, the Secretary to the Treasury has delegated to nominated Treasury officials certain responsibilities and decisionmaking powers as an employer: Public Service Act 1999 ; Public Service Regulations 1999; Public Service Classification Rules 2000; Public Service Commissioner’s Directions 1999; Long Service Leave (Commonwealth Employees) Act 1976 ; Maternity
Leave (Commonwealth Employees) Act 1973 ; Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 ; and Fair Work Act 2009 .
- Under section 7 of the COAG Reform Fund Act 2008 , the Treasurer has delegated his powers to vary the Standard Business Reporting — Payroll Tax Arrangements Agreement, to the Program Director, Standard Business Reporting Management Group.
Arrangements for outside participation
People or organisations outside the Australian Government administration may participate in forming policy or administering enactments and schemes for which the Treasury is responsible. They can do this by writing to Treasury portfolio ministers, the Secretary to the Treasury, or agencies in the Treasury portfolio. In addition, the Treasury website includes details of current public consultations, reviews and inquiries, with details on how to make submissions.
Community consultation enables the Treasury to be better informed when providing advice to the Government.
As part of the Business Liaison Program, Treasury officers conduct regular discussions with companies and organisations to monitor, analyse and report on economic conditions and prospects. The Treasury also engages in consultation to inform the development and implementation of specific policy proposals, including comprehensive consultation on substantive tax and superannuation policy proposals. By being fully informed of the effects of specific proposals, the Treasury can better advise the government on how to best meet its objectives and minimise unintended consequences.
The Treasury takes a number of different approaches to liaison and consultation, depending on time available or commercial and other sensitivities surrounding an issue.
The Treasury generally conducts public consultation on proposed tax changes at both the policy design and legislative design stages. The default minimum period for consultation is four weeks, although on occasions this may be reduced, for example, where introducing the legislation is the priority. Consultation summaries are posted on the Treasury website when new legislation is introduced into Parliament. These summaries provide feedback to consultation participants on the key issues raised in consultation; changes made as a result of consultation; and where possible, why certain suggestions were not adopted. Consultation summaries also invite feedback on the consultation process to provide information for the Treasury to continuously improve its consultation practices and arrangements.
Where possible, the Treasury seeks to consult on tax changes at the initial policy design stage. To facilitate this consultation, in 2009, the Treasury established by tender a Tax Design Advisory Panel comprising five accounting firms, five law firms, two economic research and modelling houses, and one legal academic and research organisation. Establishing this panel also allows the Government to develop important tax legislation by teams involving the Treasury, the ATO and the private sector, as represented by panel members.
On occasions, conflicts arise between the need to consult and draft measures for introduction, particularly in integrity and budget measures. This is because budget tax measures generally remain confidential until their announcement, and public consultation follows the announcement. However, the Government may consult confidentially with members of the Tax Design Advisory Panel prior to announcing of these measures.
Proposed consultation arrangements are set out in the Government’s forward work program for tax measures. The forward work program also indicates which measures are proposed for introduction in the next sittings of Parliament. The Government released an updated forward work program in August 2009 and February 2010.
Additionally, the following allow bodies outside the Australian Government administration to advise on policy and administer enactments or schemes.
Australian Office of Financial Management Advisory Board
The Australian Office of Financial Management (AOFM) Advisory Board, a nonstatutory advisory body established in 2000, primarily advises on operational debt. The board comprises seven members: the Secretary to the Treasury, the AOFM Chief Executive Officer, a senior Treasury official, a senior officer of the Department of Finance and Deregulation and three experts drawn from the financial sector. The outside appointments are for three years and members may be reappointed.
The AOFM Advisory Board is accountable to the Secretary to the Treasury who chairs the board. The board has an advisory role and does not possess executive powers or decisionmaking authority in its own right. It provides general counsel and guidance to the Secretary to the Treasury on all aspects of operational debt policy matters and AOFM performance generally. It reviews the financial statements, legislative and policy compliance, and management recommendations on matters requiring ministerial approval.
Board of Taxation
The Board of Taxation, a nonstatutory advisory body established in 2000, advises on the design and operation of Australia’s tax laws, ensuring full and effective community consultation in designing and implementing tax legislation.
The Board comprises ten members; seven are drawn from the business and community sectors, including the chair. These members are appointed on a parttime basis and with a view to their ability personally to contribute a broad range of relevant business, practitioner and broader community knowledge and experience to developing the tax system. The appointments are for up to three years and members may be reappointed. The Secretary to the Treasury, the Commissioner of Taxation and the First Parliamentary Counsel serve as exofficio members.
The Board of Taxation provides advice to the Treasurer on:
- the quality and effectiveness of tax legislation and processes for its development, including community consultation and tax design;
- improvements to the general integrity and functioning of the tax system;
- research and other studies it commissions on topics approved or referred to it by the Treasurer; and
- other tax matters referred to it by the Treasurer.
The Treasury provides secretariat support to the Board.
Commonwealth Consumer Affairs Advisory Council
The Commonwealth Consumer Affairs Advisory Council is a nonstatutory, expert advisory body established in 1999. Its primary role is to provide the relevant minister with independent advice on consumer affairs.
Members of the Commonwealth Consumer Affairs Advisory Council are appointed by the Minister and come from a range of industries and backgrounds. All serve as individuals, rather than as representatives of organisations.
The Commonwealth Consumer Affairs Advisory Council meets regularly to identify and advise on new and emerging consumer issues, and investigate, advise and report on consumer issues referred to the council by the Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs. The council undertook a review of statutory implied conditions and warranties, and reported to the minister in October 2009.
Corporations and Markets Advisory Committee
The Corporations and Markets Advisory Committee is a body corporate established under Part 9 of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 (ASIC Act).
The Corporations and Markets Advisory Committee comprises parttime members appointed by the responsible minister. Members are selected from throughout Australia on the basis of their knowledge of, or experience in business, company administration, financial markets, law, economics or accounting. Under section 147 of the ASIC Act, the chairman of ASIC is an exofficio member of the Advisory Committee.
The committee, on its own initiative or when requested by t
he Minister, provides advice and recommendations on such matters connected with:
- a proposal to make or amend corporations legislation (except excluded provisions);
- the operation or administration of the corporations legislation (except excluded provisions);
- law reform on corporations legislation (except excluded provisions);
- companies or a segment of the financial products and financial services industry; and
- a proposal to improve the efficiency of financial markets.
In fulfilling these functions, the committee seeks to stimulate and lead public debate to enhance the standards for corporations and participants in financial markets, and propose suitable regulatory reform when necessary.
The committee is assisted by its legal sub-committee.
Financial Sector Advisory Council
The Financial Sector Advisory Council is a nonstatutory body established in April 1998 as part of the Government’s response to the Financial System Inquiry. The council provides advice to the Government on policies to facilitate the growth of a strong and competitive financial system. The Treasurer appoints members in their personal capacity for two years, subject to their continued involvement in the relevant area of the financial sector.
Financial Sector Advisory Council submissions and recommendations to Treasury portfolio ministers are confidential.
The Treasury provides secretariat support to the council.
Foreign Investment Review Board
The Foreign Investment Review Board is a nonstatutory body that advises the Government on foreign investment policy and its administration. The board comprises four members; three, including the chair, are drawn from the business and community sectors. These members are appointed on a parttime basis. The General Manager of the Foreign Investment and Trade Policy Division also serves on the board as an Executive Member. The Board:
- examines proposals by foreign interests for acquisitions and new investment projects in Australia and, against the background of the Government’s foreign investment policy, makes recommendations to the Treasurer on those proposals;
- advises the Government on foreign investment matters generally;
- fosters an awareness and understanding, both in Australia and abroad, of the Government’s foreign investment policy;
- provides guidance, where necessary, to foreign investors so their proposals conform with the policy; and
- monitors and ensures compliance with foreign investment policy.
The Board’s functions are advisory only. Responsibility for the Government’s foreign investment policy and for making decisions on proposals rests with the Treasurer.
Categories of documents held by the Treasury
The Treasury holds correspondence, analysis and policy advice by Treasury officers, comments on Cabinet submissions and drafts of these and other documents. Every six months, the Treasury posts an indexed list of its policy file titles at www.treasury.gov.au.
The Treasury holds representations made to Treasury portfolio ministers on matters falling within their portfolio responsibilities, including:
- economic, fiscal and monetary policy;
- international economic conditions;
- CommonwealthState financial relations;
- tax and excise;
- microeconomic reform;
- competition policy;
- consumer affairs;
- corporate regulation;
- financial sector policy and regulation;
- foreign investment in Australia and free trade agreements; and
- activities of portfolio agencies.
The Treasury holds files dealing with policy and administration in areas falling within the responsibilities of the Treasury portfolio detailed in the annual report.
Documents on internal departmental administration
The Treasury documents relating to staff, the organisation and operations include personal records, organisation and staffing records, financial and expenditure records, and internal operations, such as office procedures and instructions.
The Treasury holds documents relating to grants that the Government provides to other levels of government and to organisations under the programs it administers.
A detailed listing of the Treasury’s documents published during the year and available on request (publications, papers and annual reports) is available at www.treasury.gov.au.
Facilities for access to documents
If a member of the public requests a document and the Treasury approves access, the Treasury will provide copies of documents after the applicant pays any charges.
Alternatively, applicants may arrange to inspect documents at the Treasury, Langton Crescent, Parkes, ACT between 9.00 am and 5.00 pm, Monday to Friday (except on public and public service holidays).
Freedom of information applications and initial contact points
The Policy Coordination and Governance Unit coordinate requests under the Freedom of Information Act 1982. Applicants seeking access under the Act to the Treasury’s documents should apply in writing to:
Freedom of information The Treasury Langton Crescent PARKES ACT 2600
An application fee of $30 or a written request, pursuant to subsection 30A(1) of the Act, to waiver the fee should accompany requests. Telephone inquiries should be directed to Freedom of Information, telephone 02 6263 2111, between 9.00 am and 5.00 pm Monday to Friday (except on public or public service holidays).
Under section 23 of the Freedom of Information Act 1982, Treasury senior executive service officers can grant or refuse requests for access to documents. In accordance with section 54 of the Act, an applicant may, within 30 days of receiving notification of a decision under the Act, apply to the Secretary, seeking an internal review of a decision to refuse a request. The prescribed fee of $40 should accompany the application. Executive directors can, under section 23, consider and make decisions on applications for internal review.
Freedom of information activity
In 2009-10, the Treasury and the Treasurer received 63 requests for access to documents under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 , compared with 66 requests in the previous year. Further details are set out in Table 11.
|On hand at 1 July 2009||13|
|Breakdown across the treasury|
|Minister for financial services, superannuation and corporate law||0|
|Minister for competition policy and consumer Affairs||1|
|Minister for sustainable population||0|
|corporate services Group||2|
|executive and parliamentary division||1|
|policy coordination and Governance||2|
|Action on requests|
|Access in full||12|
|Access in part||19|
|Access refused or no documents located||9|
|Transferred in whole||1|
|current as at 30 June 2010||9|
|Review by Administrative Appeals tribunal|
|Outstanding at 1 July 2009||0|
|Fees and charges|
|Total application fees collected||$1,740.00|
|Total charges collected||$12,321.00|
|Total application fees and charges collected||$14,061.00|
Note: A new request does not include an internal review or an appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Section 16 of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 provides that, as far as possible, the most appropriate agency will deal with a freedom of information request, regardless of which agency receives it. Details relating to reviews by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal are provided in Part Three, External Scrutiny.