Annual Report 2016-17

Published
Description:

​​​​​​​​​​​​​The department’s operations and performance for the financial year, and review of our progress towards more sustainable, profitable and competitive Australian agriculture, food, fisheries and forestry industries.

Author:
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
Subject:
Agriculture
Contact:

​Please direct all inquiries relating to this publication through our contact page.

Letter of transmittal

The Hon. Barnaby Joyce MP
Deputy Prime Minister
Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Dear Deputy Prime Minister

I present the annual report for the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources for the year ended 30 June 2017.

Section 46 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) requires that I provide you with an annual report for presentation to the Parliament. This annual report also presents the department's second annual performance statements in accordance with the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014.

In presenting this report, I am satisfied that the department has prepared fraud risk assessments and fraud control plans in accordance with section 10 of the PGPA Act. The department has in place appropriate fraud prevention, detection, investigation, reporting and data collection procedures and processes to meet its needs, and has taken all reasonable measures to minimise the incidence of fraud in our agency and to investigate and recover the proceedings of fraud.

I am pleased to present our annual report to you and acknowledge the efforts of our staff in delivering the department's strategic objectives in 2016–17.


Yours sincerely

[signed]

Daryl Quinlivan
Secretary
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

27 September 2017​

​​​

Overview​

Secretary’s review

As the secretary and accountable authority of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources I welcome readers to our annual report for the year ended 30 June 2017. This report highlights the achievements of 2016–17 and outlines the key priorities for 2017–18. It also provides an account of our performance, based on our performance measures and targets.

One of our most important priorities has been the implementation of the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper. Since the announcement of the White Paper in 2015, we have implemented 25 of 31 measures and the rest are on track, with longer implementation schedules. These measures can be expected to contribute to lowering tax, cutting red tape, building infrastructure, encouraging trade, developing northern Australia and supporting business to innovate and create jobs.

Another major priority was laying the groundwork for the Regional Investment Corporation, with legislation introduced to the parliament in June 2017. Once established, the corporation will streamline the delivery of farm business concessional loans and administer the National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility. Our dedicated departmental team will continue to work on this initiative in the coming year.

We also focused on building an inclusive and productive workplace. We released our Gender Equality Statement, pledging to provide a supportive environment for all employees, and we launched our ‘stretch status’ Reconciliation Action Plan, outlining the actions and targets we will implement to demonstrate our commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Building successful primary industries

Australia's rural industries performed well in 2016­–17, with a record-breaking winter crop contributing to agricultural production worth around $63 billion. We played a significant role in the success of the agriculture sector by supporting research and development programs delivered by our portfolio’s research and development corporations. On behalf of Australia’s primary industries, we collected, administered and disbursed around $790 million in levies, charges and Commonwealth matching payments to 18 levy bodies for use in research and development, animal and plant health and residue testing programs. In the first two rounds we have delivered more than $115 million through the Rural Research and Development for Profit Program, matched by almost $285 million in cash and in-kind contributions. Seven projects, worth $35.8 million, were funded under round three in June 2017.

Supporting agricultural communities

Support for rural industries extended to specific purpose payments. In 2016–17, we made available $389 million in financial and business assistance to primary producers, including concessional loans to farm businesses affected by drought and retrospective price cuts by milk suppliers.

We partnered with other agencies and third party bodies to improve the delivery of services, including the Farm Household Assistance package, which assisted 7,400 recipients and involved granting more than 1,400 Farm Household Allowance claims. Our Rural Financial Counselling Service Program also assisted primary producers to improve the financial management of their business, increase cash flow and adopt better farming and business practices. Additionally, we encouraged the uptake of risk management tools, such as Farm Management Deposits and insurance products that will assist our farmers to manage their financial risks and income variations.

Expanding agricultural, fisheries and forestry exports

The exports story was positive, with ABARES estimating that the total agriculture, fisheries and forestry exports will be around $52 billion in 2016–17.

With Free Trade Agreements in place with the Republic of Korea, Japan and China, import tariffs were reduced or eliminated for some Australian agricultural products and the value of our exports to these countries increased in 2016–17. Our focus on technical market access resulted in improved access in 22 markets, new access in 19 markets, and we maintained and restored access in 11 other markets. We also continue to provide certification that exported goods meet importing country food safety and animal and plant health requirements. In 2016–17, we issued more than 347,000 export certificates, 50,900 manual certificates and managed the export of more than 2.7 million animals.

Our work with multilateral fora to set international standards included the development of a number of standards forwarded to the Codex Alimentarius Commission for adoption. We also hosted the Codex Committee on Food Import and Export Inspection and Certification Systems, led the expert group that drafted the international grains standard, and supported the development and adoption of cold treatment standards for fruit fly in citrus for Australian horticultural exporters.

Sustaining natural resources for longer-term productive primary industries

Agricultural productivity relies on the good management of natural resources. The National Landcare Program continued to support the improved management of Australia’s natural resources and strengthen the capacity of farmers and communities to respond and adapt to changes in weather, climate and markets.

We are also seeing the results of fisheries management by the Australian Government. Since 2004, the number of fish stocks assessed as ‘uncertain if overfished’ has decreased from 28 to 11. The number of stocks assessed as ‘overfished’ has also decreased slightly. These results reflect sustained efforts to manage fisheries.

Our forestry work included reviewing the Regional Forest Agreements. This culminated in the 20-year extension of the agreement for Tasmania. We have also been implementing reforms to illegal logging laws. The report Reforming Australia’s illegal logging regulations—consultation Regulation Impact Statement was published in November 2016, and will inform recommendations to the government.

Improving water use efficiency and the health of rivers, communities, environmental assets and production systems

Farmers, communities and the environment also benefit from the sustainable management of water resources. A key outcome of our collaborative work on the sustainable management of the Murray–Darling Basin was the recovery of more than 2,000 gigalitres of water for the environment. That’s about 80 per cent of our target and we are within sight of the delivery of the ambitious Murray–​Darling Basin Plan. The water delivers environmental outcomes and helps protect and restore rivers, wetlands and floodplains in the Basin.

In addition, the Water Legislation Amendment (Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment) Act 2016 was passed in November 2016, providing for a second notification of Sustainable Diversion Limit measures. In June 2017, the Murray–Darling Basin Ministerial Council endorsed a final package of adjustment measures which will allow us to protect the reliability of supply for irrigators, without diminishing the Basin Plan environmental outcomes.

This was also a significant year for the development of water infrastructure. We have funded 39 water infrastructure feasibility studies, including 16 in northern Australia. All feasibility studies are underway, with seven studies completed, including two in South Australia, three in Victoria and two in Western Australia. In February 2017, we opened the National Water Infrastructure loan facility to expressions of interest from state and territory governments.

Managing biosecurity and imported food risk

Strengthening Australia’s biosecurity system is a major undertaking for the department. This is underpinned by the new Biosecurity Act 2015, which commenced on 16 June 2016. A number of achievements have helped us progress towards this goal, including the implementation of Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper measures and investment in pest and disease eradication programs.

We also completed the rollout of the Maritime Arrivals Reporting System (MARS). This intelligence-led and evidence-based online system ensures incoming vessels meet biosecurity regulations to minimise the risk of pests and diseases entering Australia. Since the system's implementation, the maritime industry’s compliance with biosecurity clearance requirements has significantly improved. MARS won the digital and data category in the 2017 Public Sector Innovation Awards.

We responded to the demand for biosecurity services which increases every year. In 2016–17, this included more than 20 million international travellers. We checked 158 million mail items, dealt with 18,000 vessels, inspected 45,000 sea containers and 31,226 lines of imported food. We also processed 1,800 dogs, 4,200 cats and 460 horses through our post-entry quarantine facilities.

The detection and rapid response to incursions show that our systems are largely working but biosecurity outbreaks inevitably occur. During the year, 35 exotic agricultural pests were detected and there were five detections of exotic environmental pests. We responded quickly to the outbreak of white spot disease in Queensland prawns through eradication and a coordinated assistance package for affected prawn farmers. We also responded to tomato potato psyllid in Western Australia and Varroa jacobsoni in Townsville. Additionally, we continued to fund programs to eradicate major biosecurity pests such as the red imported fire ant and we conducted preparedness exercises such as Exercise Athena, to explore our biosecurity capability.

Building an efficient and capable department

Our focus on providing a safe workplace and supporting and challenging our staff to reach their potential and build rewarding careers has reaped rewards. The results from the latest Australian Public Service Commission’s Employee Census for employee engagement show that our ratings in the key areas of Team and Supervisor engagement improved and there was a slight decrease in the rate of unscheduled leave in 2016–17.

We have been investing in new systems, including a new financial management information system and a learning management system. These systems will help us become more efficient and provide even better services to clients and stakeholders.

I am pleased to report that, after several unsuccessful attempts, in June 2017 a new enterprise agreement was voted in that will bring increased remuneration to our hard-working staff.

Reporting our performance

This is the second edition of the annual performance statements prepared under the enhanced Commonwealth Performance Framework. Acting on advice from the Department of Finance and the Australian National Audit Office and looking to draw from better practice where we see it in other Commonwealth agencies, we have aimed to improve the accessibility, transparency and readability of the performance statements. We report against the performance targets set out in our 2016–17 corporate plan and ensure a line of sight between our stated purposes and our performance in delivering on our commitments.

The year ahead

Our 2017–18 corporate plan outlines our priorities for the year ahead. We will continue to implement initiatives under the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, and introduce new ballast water management requirements as well as new policies for using onshore and emergency powers to respond to biosecurity incidents. We will also move closer to delivering the outcomes of the Murray–Darling Basin Plan and expand the scope for water infrastructure development. The establishment of the Regional Investment Corporation is in our sights and managing the funding for new projects under the Landcare Program is on our agenda. We will help industry set up the new Livestock Global Assurance Program and continue to support research and development in the agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors. Investment in our people, policies, processes and systems will help us deliver on our commitments.

Our employees across Australia and around the globe are critical to our work and I thank them for their dedication over the past year. I would also like to pass on my appreciation to my former deputy secretary David Parker who has taken up a new career opportunity.

[signed]
Daryl Quinlivan
Secretary

Our portfolio

The Agriculture and Water Resources portfolio supports the sustainability, profitability and competitiveness of Australia’s agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries. The portfolio comprises the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, statutory bodies and research and development corporations.

During 2016–17, the portfolio consisted of:

  • the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
  • three statutory authorities that undertake regulatory roles:
    • Australian Fisheries Management Authority
    • Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority
    • Murray–Darling Basin Authority
  • four research and development corporations:
    • Cotton
    • Fisheries
    • Grains
    • Rural Industries
  • one entity that undertakes both a regulatory role and acts as a research and development corporation:
    • Australian Grape and Wine Authority.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, the Hon. Barnaby Joyce MP, was responsible for the portfolio in 2016–17.

Senator the Hon. Anne Ruston was appointed as the Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources on 21 September 2015. The Hon. Luke Hartsuyker MP was appointed as the Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister on 19 July 2016.

FIGURE 1 Portfolio structure at 30 June 2017

Our department

Our purpose

We help drive a stronger Australian economy by building a more profitable, resilient and sustainable agriculture sector, and by supporting the sustainable and productive management and use of rivers and water resources.

Our role

The department has a diverse role as a policy adviser to government, researcher, program administrator, service provider, market access negotiator and regulator.

Our work contributes to strengthening Australia’s primary industries, delivering better returns to primary producers at the farm gate, protecting Australia from animal and plant pests and diseases, and improving the health of Australia’s rivers and freshwater ecosystems.

Australian agriculture, fisheries and forestry are multi-billion dollar industries that benefit from our regulation, research, policies and programs to improve their productivity, competitiveness and sustainability.

We minimise the biosecurity risks to the environment and to human, animal and plant health by ensuring the safe movement of millions of people, goods, vessels and aircraft into and out of Australia.

Australia’s water is critical to the future of agriculture and the wellbeing of the environment and our communities. We work to improve the health of rivers and freshwater systems, to ensure the sustainable, efficient and productive management and use of water resources and to maximise social, economic and environmental benefits to water users and the community.

As a policy adviser to government, we provide rigorous, evidence-based advice, with a focus on
whole-of-government priorities. Our policy advice is grounded in analysis undertaken by our scientists and economists.

Our outcomes

We have three outcomes:

  • More sustainable, productive, internationally competitive and profitable Australian agricultural, food and fibre industries through policies and initiatives that promote better resource management practices, innovation, self-reliance and improved access to international markets.
  • Safeguard Australia’s animal and plant health status to maintain overseas markets and protect the economy and environment from the impact of exotic pests and diseases, through risk assessment, inspection and certification, and the implementation of emergency response arrangements for Australian agricultural, food and fibre industries.
  • Improve the health of rivers and freshwater ecosystems and water use efficiency through implementing water reforms, and ensuring enhanced sustainability, efficiency and productivity in the management and use of water resources.

Our objectives

In 2016–17, we changed our program structure in the portfolio budget statements to align the programs with six strategic objectives, and introduced two corporate strategic objectives, as shown in Figure 2.

FIGURE 2 Programs and strategic objectives 2016–17
a Activities under these programs also contribute to the strategic objective Building successful primary industries.

Our priorities

The department’s priorities for 2016–17 were:

  • implementing initiatives under the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper to build the infrastructure to support a competitive agriculture sector
  • implementing the government’s election commitments
  • continuing to build a modern, flexible and responsive biosecurity system under the Biosecurity Act  2015
  • pursuing new market access for Australian exporters, including opportunities arising from completed free trade agreements with North Asian countries, and supporting work on prospective free trade agreements
  • implementing programs for new water infrastructure, including the National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility, the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund and new irrigation schemes in Tasmania
  • delivering programs to support the implementation of the Murray–Darling Basin Plan through water recovery and the Sustainable Diversion Limit adjustment mechanism
  • driving regulatory reform to be a trusted, effective and transparent best practice regulator
  • continuing to modernise our approach to service delivery to provide efficient and effective services that meet our clients’ needs
  • investing in our people to continue to build our capability and effectiveness
  • contributing to the government’s initiative to manage public data as a national resource for the benefit of the Australian people.

Our structure

Our divisions work individually and together to meet our objectives. Figure 3 shows our organisational structure.

FIGURE 3 Organisational structure at 30 June 2017

Our executive

Mr Daryl Quinlivan has been the secretary of the department since June 2015. Mr Quinlivan is responsible for the efficient and effective operation of the department. His other roles include:

  • chair of the National Biosecurity Committee
  • chair of National Management Groups for nationally coordinated emergency responses to pest and disease incursions.

Four deputy secretaries assist the secretary across a range of issues and departmental functions and oversee the work of particular divisions.

Ms Lyn O’Connell started as deputy secretary in the department in October 2015 and is responsible for the Biosecurity and Service Delivery divisions, and oversees the Australian Chief Veterinary and Chief Plant Protection Office.

Mr David Williamson was appointed deputy secretary in May 2016. Mr Williamson is responsible for the Agricultural Policy, Farm Support, and Sustainable Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry divisions.

Ms Cindy Briscoe commenced with the department in October 2016 and is responsible for the Assurance and Legal, Corporate Governance and Strategy, Finance and Business Support, and Information Services divisions.

Mr Malcolm Thompson joined the department in July 2017, following the departure of Mr David Parker to head the Clean Energy Regulator. Mr Thompson is responsible for the Exports, Trade and Market Access, and Water divisions, and the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).  

Reporting

This annual report covers reporting requirements for the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and has been prepared in accordance with the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013. It includes the:

  • annual report required under subsection 26(1) of the Natural Resources Management (Financial Assistance) Act 1992 (See Appendix 5)
  • annual report of the National Residue Survey program, required under section 10 of the National Residue Survey Administration Act 1992 (see Appendix 6)
  • annual report of the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Scheme, required under section 75 of the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Act 2005 (see Appendix 7)
  • annual report of the Water for the Environment Special Account, required under section 86AI of the Water Act 2007 (see Appendix 8).

Portfolio agencies table their own reports, which are available on their websites.

Disability reporting

Since 1994, non-corporate Commonwealth entities have reported on their performance as policy adviser, purchaser, employer, regulator and provider under the Commonwealth Disability Strategy. In 2007–08, reporting on the employer role was transferred to the Australian Public Service Commission’s State of the Service reports and the APS Statistical Bulletin. These reports are available on the Commision’s website. Since 2010–11, entities have not been required to report on these functions.

The Commonwealth Disability Strategy has been overtaken by the National Disability Strategy 2010–2020, which sets out a 10-year national policy framework to improve the lives of people with disability, promote participation and create a more inclusive society. A high-level, two-yearly report will track progress against each of the six outcome areas of the strategy and present a picture of how people with disability are faring. The first of these progress reports was published in 2014.

Annual performance statements

Accountable Authority’s statement

I Daryl Quinlivan, as the Accountable Authority for the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (the department), present the department’s annual performance statement for 2016–17, prepared in accordance with sub-section 39(1)(a) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

In my opinion, this performance statement accurately presents the department’s performance in the year ending 30 June 2017, and complies with sub-section 39(2) of the Act.

[signed]
Daryl Quinlivan
Secretary
1 October 2017

Introduction to the annual performance statements

The performance statements report on our results against the performance measures and targets as defined in the department’s performance framework. These results are reported in the context of our strategic objectives. The framework is published in full as part of our 2016–17 corporate plan.

Figure 4 sets out the enhanced Commonwealth Performance Framework.

FIGURE 4 Commonwealth Performance Framework

The portfolio budget statements include information on the contribution of our programs to our purpose, based on a select number of performance measures and targets from the department’s performance framework

The corporate plan sets out our purpose, the activities we will undertake to achieve that purpose and the results we expect to achieve over a four-year period, based on the performance measures and targets in the performance framework.

The annual performance statements report the actual results in the given reporting year, and an analysis of the factors that contributed to the result. Results are reported in the context of the performance measures and targets for the given year.

Our performance measures are designed to assess the effectiveness, efficiency and quality of our activities in meeting our strategic objectives. In 2016–17, we report against eight strategic objectives. Each strategic objective is supported by one or more objectives. The relationship between our programs and strategic objectives is set out at Figure 2.

The relationship between strategic objectives, objectives, performance measures and targets is defined at Figure 5. The entire framework is set out in the 2016–17 corporate plan.

FIGURE 5 Department of Agriculture and Water Resources performance framework 2016–17

Our performance reporting

The performance measures and targets reported as part of the 2016–17 annual performance statement are based on the 2016–17 corporate plan. The inclusion of targets provides a specific focus for reporting. Our performance reporting has also been improved by the experience of preparing the 2015–16 annual performance statements, and advice received from the Department of Finance and the Australian National Audit Office. This has resulted in a number of changes that aim to improve the readability and structure of our performance statements.

We report separately on each strategic objective as its own chapter of the annual performance statements. Each chapter sets out the strategic objective and its related objectives, and provides a report on the performance measures and activities listed in the 2016–17 corporate plan, and an analysis of the factors that contributed to the performance outcome. Each target is supported by relevant data, information and an assessment methodology, which is maintained by the department.

Strategic objective: Building successful primary industries

Objective: Improve the net farm-gate returns for agriculture, fisheries, forestry, food and fibre industries.

We develop and administer policies and programs to help Australia’s primary industries and producers become more productive and profitable. Our work contributes to strengthening primary industries and better farm-gate returns to primary producers.

We provide advice to the Australian Government on how to help our primary industries remain productive into the future, and administer government programs and legislation that support this objective, including the collection of levies for research, development and marketing. We collaborate with industries and state and territory governments to address domestic and international issues, and work with statutory and industry-owned research and development corporations to promote innovation.

Our scientific and economic research through ABARES provides evidence-based research and data to support policy and decision making across our strategic objectives.

We report the following activities and achievements against this strategic objective in the context of the performance measures, targets and activities described in our 2016–17 corporate plan.1 These include:

  • delivering the third round of the Rural Research and Development for Profit program and monitoring the progress of funded projects for the first and second rounds
  • continuing levies reform, including enabling rural research and development corporations to access levy payer information.

There are additional activities outlined in the 2016–17 corporate plan that are not addressed in the measures and targets. These are reported at the end of the chapter.

Industry performance

Annual performance statement
TABLE 1 Performance measure—Portfolio industries record an increase in productivity a
Target
Result against performance measure

Average annual productivity growth for the past 10 years is equal to or exceeds average annual market sector productivity growth over the same period.

Met: Over the past 10 years, the average annual productivity growth for the agriculture, fishing and forestry sector was 0.80%. This exceeded average annual market sector productivity growth of 0.43% over the same period b.

In the 2015–16 performance statement we reported that the average annual productivity growth for the agriculture, fishing and forestry sector was 0.98%, exceeding the average annual market sector productivity growth of 0.38% over the same period c.

a Performance measures and targets published in the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 15. b Based on actual Australian Bureau of Statistics data for the years 2007–08 to 2015–16, and a forecast for 2016–17. Measured on a value-added basis, and with a trend adjustment in 2007–08 to account for volatility at the beginning of the time period. c Based on Australian Bureau of Statistics data for the years 1995–96 to 2015–16. Measured on a gross output basis.

TABLE 2 Performance measure—The rate of return on capital invested across portfolio industries is maintained or increased a
Target
Result against performance measure

The trend growth for the past 10 years is positive.

Met: Over the period 2007–08 to 2016–17, the annual trend growth for the rate of return on capital was 0.15% for broadacre and dairy farms b.

This is an increase from 2015–16 results, where the growth for rate of return on capital was 0.01% c.

a Performance measures and targets published in the Portfolio Budget Statements 2016–17, p.33 and Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 15. b Based on actual ABARES broadacre and dairy farm surveys for the years 2007–08 and 2015–16, and a forecast for 2016–17. Rates of return on capital invested are not collected for businesses in the fishing and forestry sector. A trend adjustment in 2007–08 is undertaken to account for volatility at the beginning of the time period. c Based on ABARES broadacre and dairy farm surveys data for the years 1995–96 to 2015–16.

Productivity growth and rates of return in the agricultural sector

In spite of growing global food demand, farm businesses have faced declining terms of trade (output prices relative to input prices). Improving productivity is one of the key ways in which farmers can increase profitability and meet the challenges of uncertain seasonal conditions and other factors beyond their control.

Productivity growth is therefore an important measure of performance for Australian agriculture. It reflects changes in the efficiency with which farmers use land, labour and capital to produce agricultural outputs. It is generally assessed over longer timeframes.

Over the past 10 years, the average annual productivity growth in the agriculture, fishing and forestry sector was 0.80 per cent. This exceeds annual average productivity growth in the market sector of 0.43 per cent over the same period.

While productivity growth in the agricultural sector is partially explained by broader changes in the Australian economy, there is a significant relationship between longer-term productivity growth in the agricultural sector and research and development, as reported in our 2015–16 annual performance statements.2 We also report on recent investment in the research and development section of this chapter of the performance statements.

FIGURE 6 10-year growth in agricultural and market sector productivity, 2007–08 to 2016–17
Note: Based on actual Australian Bureau of Statistics data for the years 2007–08 to 2015–16 and a forecast for 2016–17. Measured on a value-added basis and with a trend adjustment in 2007–08 to account for volatility at the beginning of the time period.

Rates of productivity growth across the Australian economy have slowed in the past decade or two, compared with earlier decades. This is not an isolated occurrence and similar trends have been observed in other developed economies. Potential causes of this slowdown include a falling pace of innovation, sectoral shifts to lower productivity sectors and, in the case of Australia, the fading impact of past economic reforms and information and communication technologies.

Care needs to be taken when interpreting trends in productivity and profitability in the agriculture, fishing and forestry sectors as they are subject to significant factors outside the department’s control—particularly global economic performance and the effects of climate variability. It should also be noted that this productivity target refers to the ANZSIC06 industry division of ‘agriculture, fishing and forestry’, meaning that productivity fluctuations in related industries, such as food processing and logistics possibly classified as ‘manufacturing and transportation’, are not captured.

Despite such volatility, farm businesses in the broadacre and dairy industries have, on average, generated positive returns on capital investment over the past 10 years. Overall, the rates of return on capital in the agriculture sector remain volatile, reflecting years of good and poor seasonal conditions beyond the control of producers. As a measure of longer-term profitability, annual trend growth in the rate of return on capital (excluding land appreciation) for broadacre and dairy farms was 0.15 per cent over the 10 years to 2016–17.

This implies, broadacre and dairy farm businesses have generated returns comparable with other forms of capital investment, once differences in risks have been accounted for.

FIGURE 7 Average rate of return on capital for broadacre and dairy farms, 2007–08 to 2016–17
Note: Based on actual ABARES broadacre and dairy farm surveys for the years 2007–08 and 2015–16 and a forecast for 2016–17. Rates of return on capital for broadacre and dairy farms exclude land appreciation. Data on rates of return on capital invested are not collected for businesses in the fishing and forestry sector. A trend adjustment in 2007–08 is undertaken to account for volatility at the beginning of the time period.

Research and development

Annual performance statement
TABLE 3 Performance measure—Investment in rural research and development corporation programs demonstrates positive returns a
Target
Result against performance measure
100% of allocated funding under the Rural Research and Development for Profit program expended in accordance with the agreed timetable. Met: The Rural Research and Development for Profit program aims to improve farm-gate productivity and profitability and deliver real outcomes for Australian farmers. Total funding available for the program is $180.5 million over eight years, ending on 30 June 2022.

Grant funding of $114.7 million has already been awarded to 36 projects over the first three rounds of the program, matched by almost $170 million in cash and in-kind contributions from successful applicants and their partners. Round three grant agreements were executed in June 2017. Seven projects, worth $35.8 million, were funded under round three.

Grant agreements for all projects are in place and projects are progressing in accordance with agreed timeframes.
100% of rural research and development corporations are compliant with statutory and contractual requirements. Met: Under their funding agreements, research and development corporations provide annual compliance audit reports and certification reports.

All rural research and development corporations advised that they were materially compliant with their obligations for 2015–16.

All research and development corporations are obliged to notify the department of any significant events that may materially impact their ability to comply with their funding agreements.

Pending formal notification for 2016–17 of material compliance, no research and development corporation has advised of any events. Research and development corporations provide their compliance audit reports as part of finalising their annual reports.

a Performance m​easures and targets published in the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 15.

Rural research and development investment

We continue to provide funding to and work with research and development (R&D) corporations to help them meet the government’s requirements. In 2016–17 the Australian Government provided $271.7 million in matching funding to the RDCs. Investment in research and development and innovation is vital for ongoing growth and improvement in the productivity, profitability, competitiveness and sustainability of Australia’s agriculture, fishing, forestry, food and fibre industries.

Government investment in primary industry innovation:

  • recognises that the large number of small producers could not gain an economic return from individual investment in research and that R&D outputs are largely non-rival in nature and can be applied broadly across farms
  • acknowledges the significant intra- and inter-industry spillovers and regional and rural benefits that accrue from publicly supported R&D
  • addresses important national development and sustainability objectives, such as biosecurity and natural resource management.

Investment in such initiatives provides both industry and community benefits.

During 2016–17, the Australian Government provided $35.8 million for seven projects as part of the third round of the Rural Research and Development for Profit program. Cash and in-kind contributions from five RDCs and their project partners bring the total value of projects in round three to more than $94.8 million. These projects will all contribute to the objective of realising significant productivity and profitability improvements for primary producers through:

  • generating knowledge, technologies, products or processes that benefit primary producers
  • strengthening pathways to extend the results of rural R&D, including understanding the barriers to adoption
  • establishing and fostering industry and research collaborations that form the basis for ongoing innovation and growth of Australian agriculture.

Projects funded under the first two rounds are tracking well and delivering outcomes that are helping to improve the productivity and profitability of Australian farmers. The program funds projects that deliver practical and accessible results for farmers, such as:

  • better control of major weeds
  • new technologies to measure lean meat yield and eating quality of meat
  • better use of nitrogen to improve soil quality
  • improving seasonal and extreme weather forecasts for farmers
  • improving emergency animal disease responses in livestock industries.

In December 2016, the program’s first project, led by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, was completed. Known as ‘eXtensionAUS’, the project was developed to meet the needs of rural and regional Australia in the extension of knowledge to enable collaboration and improve the delivery of information to Australian farmers and fishers.

The project provides a direct benefit to farmers by facilitating a stronger extension system. It has delivered a web-based hub that consolidates existing knowledge, tools and resources and, through a Community of Practice function, encourages ongoing collaboration between extension professionals to improve the delivery of research to farmers.

Snapshot: Smarter Irrigation for Profit

In 2015, the Australian Government funded the Smarter Irrigation for Profit project under round one of the Rural Research and Development for Profit program. Grant funding of $4 million was awarded to the project, which was matched by almost $6.4 million in cash and in-kind contributions by industry and research partners.

The project aims to improve the profit of cotton, dairy, rice and sugar irrigators with the support of research and development partners and farmer-led irrigation technology learning sites. The research and extension is collecting commercially relevant comparative data on different irrigation systems and technologies.

The project will provide growers with a better understanding of the implications for capital investment, management and resource requirements associated with different irrigation systems. The project is also investigating the use of automation technology for farming systems.

The expected outcomes are:

  • 10 to 20 per cent improvement in water productivity, efficiency and farmer profitability
  • adoption of new irrigation technologies and science applications by farmers and irrigation professionals to improve farm profits
  • improved cross-sector industry research collaboration with public and private sectors in four major irrigation industries, providing a legacy platform that for other sectors can benefit from.

In 2016–17, the project held 10 key activities across the rice, dairy, cotton and sugar industries, involving 16 research and development partners, 21 farmer demonstration sites and almost 3,000 irrigators.

These industries are improving their access to crop and climate-based irrigation technologies and practice, to improve the uptake and application of irrigation water to crops and pastures. By improving water application methods and fine-tuning irrigation scheduling, costs can be reduced, water saved, yield and crop quality improved and profits increased.

Source: Joe Foley, University of Southern Queensland

Rural research and development capability

Annual performance statement

ABARES is the department’s research arm. We provide professionally independent multidisciplinary research, analysis and advice to inform decision-makers in this department, other government agencies and the private sector on significant issues affecting Australia’s agriculture, fishing and forestry industries.

TABLE 4 Performance measure—Stakeholders and clients assess ABARES research and analysis as high-quality evidence-based, accurate and meeting their needs a
Target
Result against performance measure

80% of underpinning research, advice, forecast, projects and data services meet stakeholder expectations and are delivered within agreed timeframes b.

Not met: In 2015–16, ABARES reported a high level of satisfaction with its products, based on a client survey. However, in 2016–17, the client survey response rate was not sufficient to support an assessment of ABARES performance for the period. 

We have initiated a revised system of evaluation that will support enhanced reporting in future years. This will provide advice in relation to client satisfaction.

ABARES publications continue to enjoy wide use and acceptance by stakeholders. Media monitoring indicates that ABARES products continue to be prominent in the rural news media and significant in defining industry performance. Anecdotal evidence suggests ABARES products are highly regarded by polic​ymakers and industry stakeholders.

85% of respondents are satisfied that the ABARES Outlook Conference met or exceeded expectations c.

Not met: 80.4% of respondents reported that, overall, Outlook 2017 met or exceeded their expectations. While this is lower than the 90% satisfaction rate reported in 2015–16, it remains a highly regarded conference for the rural sector. Feedback on program design, speaker recommendations and content will be used to improve the quality of future conferences.

a Performance measures and targets published in the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 29.
b Client satisfaction survey as measured by an annual survey of ABARES clients. c Client satisfaction survey as measured by an annual survey of ABARES Outlook 2017 conference participants.

Levies

Annual performance statement
TABLE 5 Performance measure—A high level of efficiency is achieved in collecting and distributing levies to fund research and development in research and development corporations a
Target
Result against performance measure
Levy collection processes cost no more than 1.2% of levies disbursed. Met: Cost-recovery charges in 2016–17 represented 0.94% of levies disbursed.
Inspections of levy agent records cover at least 30% of levy revenue over a three-year rolling average. Met: The record inspection program covered 30% of levy revenue in 2016–17.

a Performance measures and targets publi​shed in the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 15.

Levies administration

We are responsible for collecting, administering and disbursing levies. Levies are collected from producers to fund marketing, research and development, animal and plant health, and residue testing programs. The implementation of the levies system enables our agricultural sectors to respond to industry needs and helps maintain and strengthen their positions in highly competitive international markets through resource sharing and cooperation.

There are currently 110 levies on 75 commodities and we are responsible for collecting and disbursing levies to 18 levy recipient bodies.

In 2016–17, we disbursed $792.916 million (including the government-matched research and development expenditure) to levy recipient bodies. Staff processed 46,080 returns for 75 commodities.

We support the integrity of the levies system through a national compliance program, using a mix of compliance activities. The risk-based program ensures coverage of 30 per cent of the collection each year on an average over three years.

We publish semi-annual reports for our stakeholders, which provide a financial overview of the administration and disbursement of levies and charges.

Improving our levies system

In 2016–17, we further improved the levies system to deliver better value for money to levy payers. This included the design of levy payer registers; working with primary industries to introduce or amend levies and charges and streamlining transactions through Levies Online.

We are also delivering a program of work aimed at further improving levies policy, processes and legislation. This includes consulting with stakeholders on options for a more flexible, less complex process; reviewing sunsetting levies legislation; and delivering the government’s response to the Senate inquiry on levies.

Additional activities and initiatives under the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper

Our work under this strategic objective also included delivering a number of initiatives from the Australian Government’s Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper. These initiatives are aimed at strengthening the agricultural sector and ensuring it remains as competitive as possible for primary producers. Such activities include providing primary producers with information on cooperatives and streamlining the regulation of agricultural and veterinary chemicals.

Providing primary producers with information on cooperatives

The $13.8 million Farm Co-operatives and Collaboration Pilot Programme gives farmers business tools to improve farm-gate returns. Through the pilot programme, farmers will be empowered with knowledge and resources to establish cooperatives and adopt innovative business models to boost their bargaining position in the marketplace.

The pilot programme is delivering expert advice and information to farmers and farmer groups across the nation and will run until 30 June 2018.

Streamlining the regulation of agricultural and veterinary chemicals

The Australian Government has committed $17.1 million to improve farmers’ and other users’ access to agricultural and veterinary chemicals, while retaining protections for the health and safety of humans, animals and the environment. We have been preparing draft legislation to streamline Australia’s agricultural and veterinary chemical regulations.

During 2016–17, we also funded two studies on intellectual property and quality assurance arrangements, to inform a forthcoming review of the agricultural and veterinary chemical legislative framework announced by the Deputy Prime Minister in April 2017.

Further information on progress on White Paper measures is provided.

Country-of-origin food labelling

The Australian Government recognises consumers want clear and accurate labelling to help them identify and buy food grown and processed in Australia. We worked with the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, other agencies and businesses on improving the country-of-origin food labelling framework.

The new labelling framework commenced on 1 July 2016 and businesses have two years to change their food labels. Early indications are that the reforms have been well received by consumers and industry, with many food businesses adopting the new labels ahead of the 1 July 2018 deadline.

Changes to income tax averaging for farmers

Tax averaging ensures that primary producers with fluctuating incomes pay no more tax over a number of years than individuals on comparable, but steady, incomes. This is achieved by making a ‘tax adjustment’ each year in which averaging applies.

The Tax and Superannuation Laws Amendment (2016 Measures No. 2) Act 2016, which received Royal Assent on 28 February 2017, allows primary producers to be opted back into income averaging 10 years after they opted out. Primary producers who opted out of income averaging for 2006–07, or an earlier financial year, will be opted back into income averaging for the first financial year after 2016–17 in which their taxable primary production income is greater than that for the previous financial year. Prior to the amendment, a primary producer who opted out of income tax averaging could never opt back in, except in special circumstances.

The following table lists the status of initiatives under the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper. Many of the measures are discussed in the annual performance statement.

TABLE 6 Status updates—Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper
Measure
Status
Building the infrastructure of the 21st century
National Water Infrastructure Development FundOngoing
Freight modelling for agriculture – expand CSIRO’s TranSITImplemented
A fairer go for farm businesses
Productivity Commission inquiry into regulations affecting agriculture and fisheriesImplemented
Reforms to country-of-origin labellingImplemented
Streamlining the regulation of agvet chemicalsOngoing
Cooperatives and innovative business model knowledgeImplemented
ACCC engagement in agricultural sectorImplemented
Changes to income tax averaging for farmers—allowing opt-inImplemented
Farm Management Deposits—Increasing the deposit limit to $800,000 Implemented
Farm Management Deposits—Allowing loan offset Implemented
Simplified accelerated depreciation—fencingImplemented
Strengthening our approach to drought and risk management
Better seasonal forecastingImplemented
Tax arrangements for water facilities and fodder storageImplemented
Managing Farm Risk ProgrammeImplemented
Transitional drought and drought recovery concessional loans (implemented) and Drought Concessional Loans Scheme­—(Ongoing) Ongoing
Farm Management Deposits—early access provisions in droughtImplemented
Increased case management—Farm Household AllowanceImplemented
Advice and assistance from ATO to taxpayers in droughtImplemented
Additional resources to Rural Financial Counselling ServiceImplemented
Enhanced social and community supportImplemented
Drought Communities ProgrammeImplemented
Pest animal and weed management in drought-affected areasImplemented
Farming Smarter
Clearer research development & extension prioritiesImplemented
Extend Rural Research & Development for Profit programmeImplemented
Improve efficiency of research & development corporations—governanceImplemented
Funding to RIRDC for research, development & extension for small industries, levies—tea tree oil and export fodderImplemented
Boost emergency pest and disease eradicationImplemented
Manage established pest animals and weedsOngoing
Accessing Premium Markets
Technical barriers to trade (new agricultural counsellors)Implemented
Strengthening Australia’s Biosecurity—surveillance, community-based action, scientific capability and information and analysisOngoing
Enhanced traceability systemsOngoing​

Note: Measures from the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper. A number of the measures are discussed within the 2016–17 annual performance statements.​

Strategic objective: Supporting agricultural communities

Objective: Provide targeted assistance to help primary producers, their families and communities manage adjustment pressures in hard times.

We provide targeted support and financial assistance to primary producers and rural small businesses. Some of these programs involve mutual obligations that encourage producers to adopt better-practice approaches to managing their businesses.

Other programs provide assistance and support to farm businesses during times of hardship, such as severe drought. In the longer term, these programs are designed to improve the ability of primary producers to manage risks and support their families and communities.

Australian farmers contribute approximately $64 billion to our nation’s economy. Supporting viable farm businesses to better manage through hardship, including drought, is firmly in the national interest.

We report achievements against this strategic objective in the context of the performance measures, targets and activities described in our 2016–17 corporate plan.3 This includes:

  • providing concessional loans to farm businesses affected by drought and retrospective price cuts of milk suppliers Murray Goulburn, Fonterra, and National Dairy Products in 2015–16, through agreements with state and territory governments
  • working with the Department of Human Services to provide the Farm Household Allowance
  • delivering the Rural Financial Counselling Service program to support primary producers
  • encouraging farmers to consider whether agricultural insurance is right for them.

We undertook additional activities as reported in the department’s 2016–17 corporate plan.
These include:

  • continued work with states and territories on a national approach to drought assistance, including preparations for a review of the Intergovernmental Agreement on National Drought Program Reform, which is due to expire on 1 July 2018. Agriculture ministers have agreed to a terms of reference and a working group has been established, with all jurisdictions represented. It is expected that a report will be provided to ministers by early 2018
  • work with the Treasury, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority and finance industry stakeholders to finalise parameters for the regular collection of robust data on farm debt levels and serviceability.

Drought and rural assistance programs

Annual performance statement
TABLE 7 Performance measure—Financial and business assistance improves primary producers’ business and personal circumstances a
Target
Result against performance measure
$388 million is made available to primary producers bc. Met: During 2016–17, the Australian Government made available over $389 million in financial and business assistance to primary producers.
Less than 3% of drought-related concessional loans are in arrears greater than 90 days. Met: At 30 June 2017, there were no drought-related concessional loans in arrears greater than 90 days.
100% of current Farm Household Allowance recipients complete Farm Financial Assessments and Financial Improvement Agreements in the required timeframesd. Met: In 2016–17, there were more than 1,400 Farm Household Allowance claims granted. For these claims there were no overdue Farm Financial Assessments or Financial Improvement Agreements for customers without an appropriate exemption granted. As at 30 June 2017, more than 7,400 recipients had been granted assistance under the Farm Household Allowance.

a Performance measures and targets published in the Portfolio Budget Statements 2016–17, p. 35 and Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2016–17, pp. 17–18. b Based on funding made available by government for the drought concessional loans (ongoing), Rural Financial Counselling Service, Managing Farm Risk Programme and uptake of the Farm Household Allowance. c The Farm Household Allowance is an uncapped, demand-driven program. d The required timeframes for assessments and agreements are outlined in the Farm Household Support Act 2014; further guidance on extensions is contained in supporting instruments.

Farm Household Allowance

The Farm Household Allowance provides eligible farmers and their partners experiencing financial hardship with assistance through planning and training for long-term financial improvements as well as income support for up to three years.

As at 30 June 2017, 7,472 recipients had been granted assistance under Farm Household Allowance since 1 July 2014.

The Farm Household Allowance program is demand driven. Expenditure includes direct payments made to recipients and the cost of waiving debts raised in previous financial years. Farm Household Allowance expended around $66 million in 2016–17 providing support to farmers and farmers’ partners.

During 2016–17, the government also made the following changes to improve the Farm Household Allowance program and its underpinning legislation:

  • In December 2016, the Farm Household Support (Non-farm Assets) Minister’s Rule 2016 was amended to clarify the treatment of water assets under the Farm Household Support Act 2014. The change exempted the first $1.1 million in the value of an applicant’s water assets from the non-farm assets limit. This followed feedback about certain asset classes not captured within the definition of farm assets, and was done as an interim measure pending amendments to the Act.
  • On 5 April 2017, amendments to the Act came into effect to improve the accessibility and efficiency of the Farm Household Allowance. The improvements included removing two mandatory waiting periods that applied under Social Security legislation to speed up payments to eligible applicants and more precisely defining farm assets used to assess eligibility. These improvements have enabled those experiencing hardship to receive payments at the earliest possible opportunity, to help them take the appropriate steps to improve their financial circumstances.
  • In April 2017, the Farm Household Support (Non-farm Assets) Amendment Rule 2017 was executed to preserve the operation of the Act and the Farm Household Support (Non-farm Assets) Minister’s Rule 2016 prior to 5 April 2017.

As part of the Australian Government’s Dairy Support Package, we worked with the Department of Human Services to hold dairy industry roundtables in Victoria, to hear from affected farmers and their communities. Several participants who had accessed Farm Household Allowance told the roundtables the measure had been useful and beneficial.

In early 2017, we released the Victorian Dairy Roundtables Report which outlined key themes raised by stakeholders, and responses provided during the roundtable meetings or subsequently agreed between the department and the Department of Human Services. Most of the issues raised about the timeliness of accessing support have been addressed by the department and through Department of Human Services’ implementation of the FHA program.

Snapshot: Turmeric farmers reap the benefits of the Farm Household Allowance

Three years ago, Heyden and Eleanor Lane were vegetable farmers in Nymboida, New South Wales, struggling through the area’s worst drought in recorded history. Now they are the largest organic turmeric producers in Australia.

Heyden has no doubt their turnaround is due in large part to the Farm Household Allowance, jointly delivered by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and the Department of Human Services.

‘It’s been brilliant’, Eleanor said. ‘It’s given us the opportunity to pour everything back into the farm and put food on the table’.

Both Heyden and Eleanor applied for the allowance and found the assistance worked well for them.

‘It’s been a good long-term solution’, Heyden said. ‘We’re going to bounce right out of this drought’.

‘We had 24 millimetres of rain over a 17-month period, lost our entire mature ready-to-harvest crops and completely ran out of irrigation water. With very little money, we were faced with some hard decisions’.

The Farm Household Allowance gave Heyden and Eleanor time to assess their options. It also paid for consultants to advise them on their transition from mixed vegetable to organic turmeric farming, which is now paying dividends.

Their Farm Household Case Officer, Cath Curan, proved to be a valuable support.

‘Service was unbelievable’, Heyden said. ‘It’s been good to have someone to talk to and Cath’s been a big help’.

‘From on our knees, like we were, we’re going to come out of this the largest organic turmeric producer in Australia’.

Heyden and Eleanor sell their turmeric in a number of ways, including online. They are now looking at expanding operations to supply large supermarket chains in Australia and even to export into Asia, where turmeric is commonly used in cooking and health products.

Heyden predicts they will stop needing the allowance a few months before their three years are up.

‘Many farmers have come off the allowance voluntarily’, Cath said. ‘They’ll say they’re okay as it has helped them over the hump’.

Cath has also put Heyden and Eleanor in touch with a Rural Financial Counsellor to help them apply for a grant for future expansion. With a custom-designed turmeric harvester and big plans for the future, the family’s future looks bright and turmeric yellow.

Photograph: Turmeric crop in Nymboida, New South Wales.
Concessional loans

In 2015–16, the Drought Recovery and Dairy Recovery Concessional Loans schemes were extended to 31 October 2016 until the opening of the Farm Business Concessional Loans Scheme in 2016–17. We concluded negotiations with all states and territories, except Western Australia, on loan settings and arrangements for the Farm Business Concessional Loans Scheme, which opened for applications on 1 November 2016. As at 30 June 2017, 209 farm businesses were approved for loans worth $123.608 million under the 2016–17 Farm Business Concessional Loans Scheme, noting that applications under the scheme are still being assessed.

The Farm Business Concessional Loans Scheme provides up to $250 million annually (2016–17 and 2017–18). Eligible farm businesses are able to access two types of loans under the scheme—Drought Assistance Concessional Loans and Dairy Recovery Concessional Loans. Loan amounts are up to a maximum of $1 million in total with conditions applying. The maximum loan term is 10 years, with interest-only repayments for the first five years.

Dairy Recovery Concessional Loans were extended to Victorian dairy farm businesses affected by the National Dairy Products retrospective price reduction during 2016–17. These loans had previously been made available to commercially viable dairy farm businesses in Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania affected by the 2016 decisions of Murray Goulburn and Fonterra to reduce farm-gate milk prices retrospectively.

We extended the eligibility for the Farm Business Concessional Loans Scheme to eligible farmers who will have exhausted their full three-year entitlement to the Farm Household Allowance by 30 June 2018. These Business Improvement Concessional Loans will be for debt restructuring purposes and will be available in 2017–18.

From 2018–19, the Regional Investment Corporation will be the national administrator for Commonwealth farm business concessional loans, and the National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility. Until the corporation is fully operational in July 2018, farm businesses will continue to apply for concessional loans under existing loans schemes through state delivery agencies.

Annual performance statement
TABLE 8 Performance measure—Primary producers use deposits and withdrawals under the Farm Management Deposits Scheme to manage their financial risks and income variations a
Target
Result against performance measure
The number of primary producers using Farm Management Deposits is maintained or increased. Met: The total number of primary producers that used Farm Management Deposits increased during 2016–17 as shown by the number of active Farm Management Deposit accounts, which rose from 51,387 in June 2016 to 54,383 in June 2017.

a Performance measures and targets published in the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 17–18.

Farm Management Deposits

Farm Management Deposits assist primary producers to deal more effectively with fluctuations in cashflows. The scheme is designed to increase the self-reliance of Australian primary producers by helping them manage financial risk and meet business costs in low-income years by building up cash reserves.

On 1 July 2016, a number of changes to the scheme came into effect, including a doubling of the cap on deposits from $400,000 to $800,000, the re-establishment of an early access trigger during times of drought, and allowing Farm Management Deposits to be used to offset the interest costs of primary production business debt.

During 2016–17, the scheme reached its highest level of deposits since the program began in 1999. On 30 June 2017, $6.09 billion was held in primary producer accounts across multiple industries. Queensland and New South Wales also recorded strong increases of 32.4 per cent and 27.8 per cent, respectively. Industry-wise, there were significant increases in deposits for beef (35.4 per cent), sheep (27.9 per cent), grapes (27.4 per cent) and grain (20.4 per cent).

We worked with the Treasury to make consequential amendments to the scheme’s regulations, updating the information that banks must provide to primary producers that hold Farm Management Deposits. This completed improvements made under the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.

Communication activities were also undertaken to encourage more primary producers to participate in the Farm Management Deposit Scheme. Communication was targeted to primary producers, accountants, financial advisers and financial institutions, and included media advertising, fact sheets and direct mail-outs to relevant stakeholders.

The department, working with the Treasury and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (as the collection agency), in March 2017 released a consultation package calling for submissions regarding the annual collection of data on farm debt. It is anticipated that the annual publication of industry-level statistics on agricultural lending will allow stakeholders—such as governments, financial institutions, peak industry and farming organisations—to effectively discuss and debate the state of agricultural lending, as well as the nature and causes of debt stress and how measures provided by all parties can be best targeted to assist farmers.

Annual performance statement
TABLE 9 Performance measure—Recipients of business and financial assistance report improved business management skills and increased confidence to make informed business decisionsa
Target
Result against performance measure
The number of farm businesses encouraged to seek a new insurance product increases. Met: During the year, 46 farm businesses applied to the Managing Farm Risk Programme. While this was an increase from 2015–16, uptake of the rebates has not been as strong as originally expected. This may be due to a range of factors, including that farmers are able to seek insurance and claim a rebate at a time that is right for them at any point within the four-year program. Farmers could be monitoring the forecasts and choosing to seek insurance and apply for a rebate when they need to manage greater risk. There are two years remaining in the program.
80% of clients who used the Rural Financial Counselling Service report being more confident in making informed business decisions. Partially met: This measurement was implemented when the grant funding round began on 1 April 2016. Providers have only had one opportunity to report on progress in that time (for the period April to September 2016). While anecdotal information from exit surveys shows that most clients report being more confident in making informed business decisions, there is not yet sufficient reporting to show the target has been met.

a Performance measures and targets published in the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 17–18.

Managing Farm Risk Programme

The Managing Farm Risk Programme provides rebates to farmers to help them prepare and apply for insurance that assists with the management of drought and other production risks. While the uptake has been slow, during 2016–17, around 80 per cent of applicants reported that the Programme that the availability of a rebate under the program encouraged them to apply for a new insurance. Those with insurance reported reduced stress levels, and easier access to secure finance.

In February 2017, the department used digital and print media to advertise the Managing Farm Risk Programme to coincide with the multi-peril crop insurance offering season. The department also engaged media outlets and journalists to increase awareness of the program.

We have commenced a routine review of the program to evaluate its effectiveness in meeting its objectives. This is the government’s first funding program to encourage consideration of the uptake of agricultural insurance. The program has underspent against its initial budget. During 2016–17, funding for the Managing Farm Risk Programme was adjusted from the $5,550,000 made available at the start of 2016–17. A total of $1,375,000 was reallocated for concessional loans funding, and $1,065,000 was redirected to the Rural Financial Counselling Service to help providers manage the expected high demand from farmers transitioning off the Farm Household Allowance.

Annual performance statement
TABLE 10 Performance measure—Funding and grants programs are delivered according to requirements and have a positive end-of-program evaluationa
Target
Result against performance measure
100% of Rural Financial Counselling Service providers meet requirements. Met: All providers met the requirements of their Deed of Grant and have received their milestone payments in full. Reporting on end-of-program evaluation is expected in 2019–20.

a Performance measures and targets published in the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 17–18.

Rural Financial Counselling Service

The Rural Financial Counselling Service assists a range of clients who are experiencing or are at imminent risk of suffering financial hardship, by discussing their financial options and providing support to help them make the right decision for their families and businesses.

In 2016–17, there were 4,754 active Rural Financial Counselling Service clients. During the year, more than 2,100 clients stopped using the program. Approximately three-quarters of clients who left the service did so because their circumstances improved. Responses indicate the most common reasons for a client ceasing engagement with the program were because they improved the financial management of their business, increased their cashflow or improved their farming or business practices. Less than 7 per cent sold their property and left farming.

The Australian Government has allocated $72.03 million to the program over four years to June 2020. Providers are contracted from 1 April 2016 until 30 June 2019 and the government has an option to extend arrangements for a further 12 months if required.

Part of this funding includes $7.1 million to assist areas suffering from the effects of drought, and $1.6 million in 2016–17 to assist farmers (including those transitioning off support from the Farm Household Allowance) by giving them access to professional advice to work through their financial situation.

Strategic objective: Expanding agricultural, fisheries and forestry exports

Objective 1: Maximise returns to primary producers from selling into export markets.

Objective 2: Provide certification of exports to meet importing country requirements.

We handle the technical aspects of market access and negotiate with trading partners on arrangements to open, maintain and improve access. We also provide expert advice in negotiations to restore markets when trade is disrupted.

We work with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to achieve the best outcomes for Australian agricultural, fisheries and forestry exports in bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations.

We provide export inspection and certification services for primary producer’s to ensure exporters meet the requirements of trading partners and maintain their access to international markets. We also manage quota arrangements for commodities (including dairy, meat and livestock) exported to the European Union, Japan and the United States.

Australia exports around 60 per cent of its farm, fish and forest products.

We report achievements against this strategic objective in the context of the performance measures, targets and activities described in our 2016–17 corporate plan.4 This includes:

  • implementing Australia’s free trade agreements and continuing to work towards new agreements with other trading partners
  • delivering the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper initiative—Agricultural Trade and Market Access Cooperation program
  • developing new market access strategies at the country, region and commodity levels and
  • reporting on export certification achievements as these are essential to export outcomes.

There are additional activities outlined in the 2016–17 corporate plan that are not addressed in the measures and targets. These are reported at the end of the chapter.

Increased exports

Annual performance statement
TABLE 11 Performance measure—Trend in value of agricultural exports increases in real terms over time ab
Target
Result against performance measure
The value of agricultural exports exceeds the average of the previous 10 years.

This target reports on rural exports (agriculture, fisheries and forestry).
Met: In 2016–17, rural exports were valued at $52.1 billion, significantly higher than the 10-year average of $43.4 billion. This is slightly higher than the value of rural exports in 2015–16 ($49.4 billion), and still well above the 10-year average.
The value of agricultural exports to China, Japan and the Republic of Korea exceeds the 10-year average. Partially met: Total agricultural exports to China, Japan and the Republic of Korea in 2016–17 were valued at an estimated $18.2 billion. The estimated results by country were as follows:

China—$10.1 billion, well above the 10-year average of $5.9 billion.

Japan—$4.7 billion, slightly lower than the 10-year average of $5.1 billion.

Korea—$3.4 billion, well above the 10-year average of $2.5 billion.

Overall, the value of exports to these three countries in 2016–17 increased by an estimated $3.2 billion, when compared with exports estimates reported in the 2015–16 performance statement.

a Ten-year average is based on ABARES and Australian Bureau of Statistics data and covers the period 2006–07 to 2015–16 and is reported in real (2016–17 constant dollar) terms. Matters outside the control of the department, which affect production and currency movements, also influence export volumes and value. Performance measure and target published in the Portfolio Budget Statements 2016–17, p. 37 and the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2016–17, p.21.

Value of rural exports

We work to facilitate trade and market access arrangements that contribute to export performance. This assists Australian primary producers pursuing opportunities to compete in international markets.

Australia’s export of rural resources remains positive, with significant and sustained increases in the value of exports in 2016–17. The value of rural exports was an estimated $52.1 billion. This is significantly higher than the 10-year, long-term average of $43.4 billion (Figure 8). This comprised agriculture exports of $47.3 billion, fisheries exports valued at $1.4 billion and forestry exports valued at $3.4 billion. The final estimates for exports will be made available online as part of the ABARES Agricultural commodities series.

FIGURE 8 Value of rural exports in real terms (2016–17 constant dollar), 2006–07 to 2016–17
Note: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, International trade, Australia, cat. no. 5465.0. The 10-year average is based on ABARES and Australian Bureau of Statistics data for the period 2006–07 to 2015–16. The value of 2016–17 exports is based on preliminary estimates only.

Total agricultural exports comprise cropping and livestock exports. Cropping exports, in both volume and value terms, fluctuate with seasonal conditions that affect production. Wheat remains the largest crop exported in value terms. Horticultural exports have grown in importance over the past 10 years. ABARES reports show increased exports over recent years.

While there will be year–on-year variation in export by value, there is a significant longer-term trend. This has been driven by a range of factors, including the changing diets of Asia’s middle class, depreciation of the Australian dollar, improved market access following the negotiation of several free trade agreements and the success and drive of Australia’s exporters. This also reflects our efforts to overcome technical barriers to trade, and the delivery of high-quality export certification. This is being pursued through bilateral and multilateral processes.

ABARES commodity forecasting and analysis provide up-to-date data on Australian and world markets for agricultural commodities.

Snapshot: Raise a glass—China set to become Australia’s largest wine market

China and Hong Kong have continued to grow in importance as markets for Australian wine exports. Exports to China increased by 55 per cent to $416 million in 2015–16, making it Australia’s second-largest wine market ahead of the United States. Exports to Hong Kong, Australia’s sixth-largest market, rose by 4 per cent to $142 million.

China was forecast to overtake the United States in 2016–17 as Australia’s largest wine export market.

Exports to China and Hong Kong added a cumulative $2.8 billion to the value of Australian wine exports in the 10 years to 2015–16, reversing a downward trend in overall value that began in 2006–07.

The China–Australia Free Trade Agreement, which came into force in December 2015, will progressively reduce wine tariffs to zero by 1 January 2019. This is expected to further improve the competitiveness of Australian wine, particularly against French and American imports. China does not have a free trade agreement with either country.

FIGURE 9 Index of value of Australian wine exports and total value of exports, selected countries, 2006–07 to 2015–16
​Source: ABARES

The value of Australian wine exports to China is forecast to increase by 40 per cent in 2016–17. Continued expansion of the Chinese middle class and the high-quality and value perceptions of Australian wine are expected to support exports over the medium term. However, growth is projected to slow from 2018–19 onwards as competition intensifies from other suppliers such as Argentina, Chile and South Africa.

Exports to free trade agreement countries

In 2016–17, China was Australia’s largest agricultural export market in value terms, followed by Japan, the United States and Indonesia. Australia has pursued free trade agreements with a number of countries. These provide:

  • better Australian access to important markets
  • an improved competitive position for Australian exports
  • more prospects for increased two-way investment
  • reduced import costs for Australian businesses and consumers.

The Australian Government has implemented free trade agreements with the Republic of Korea, Japan and China. These agreements will reduce or eliminate import tariffs on many Australian agricultural exports over the next 20 years.

Based on the export information available, there has been an increase in exports to all three countries since 2013–14. ABARES estimates Australian agricultural exports to China in 2016–17 were worth $10.1 billion, exports to the Republic of Korea were worth $3.4 billion and exports to Japan worth $4.7 billion.

The value of exports to China and the Republic of Korea exceeded the 10-year average. Exports to Japan were below the 10-year average, but are now approaching the 10-year average (Figure 10).

FIGURE 10 Value of agricultural exports to China, Japan and the Republic of Korea in real terms (2016–17 constant dollar)
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2017, International trade, Australia, cat NO. 5465.0. The 10-year average is based on ABARES and Australian Bureau of Statistics data for the period 2006–07 to 2015–16. The value of 2016–17 exports is based on preliminary estimates only.

Building market access

Annual performance statement
TABLE 12 Performance measure—Access to overseas markets accepting Australian agricultural, fisheries and forestry exports is gained, maintained or improveda
Target
Result against performance measure
Exports markets are gained, maintained or improved. Met: There were 52 market access achievements in 2016–17:
  • improved access to 22 markets
  • new access to 19 markets
  • maintained access to six markets
  • restored access to five markets.

a Performance measure and target published in the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 21.

Building market access

We play a key role in technical market access, negotiating with trading partners on arrangements to open, maintain and improve access for commodities, and providing expert advice in negotiations to restore markets when trade is disrupted.

We work with industry, state and territory governments and other Australian Government agencies, including through our overseas network, to address trade disruptions and maintain or restore market access.

We take a strategic view of our international approach, in keeping with our International Strategy 2016–19. Through the strategy we will be focusing on:

  • prioritising export and import technical market access requests in collaboration with industries, state and territory governments and trading partners
  • negotiating science-based, commercially viable conditions for prioritised Australian exports
  • proactively advocating acceptance by trading partners of Australia’s export inspection, verification and certification systems
  • continuing to reform the biosecurity system to maintain Australia’s favourable pest and disease status.
Restoring market access

There were some disruptions to trade during 2016–17, which we are seeking to address with each destination country.

Horticulture to Indonesia

In 2016–17, the horticulture trade was impacted by Indonesia’s import licensing regime that set quotas, seasonal import permits and reference price systems. This has affected a range of horticultural export commodities, particularly Australian citrus exports. The United States (US) and New Zealand have taken Indonesia to the World Trade Organisation (WTO} dispute settlement body over their import licencing regime for horticultural (and animal products). The WTO Panel ruled in favour of the US and New Zealand. At the time of writing, Indonesia has appealed the ruling. The department continues to advocate for removal of horticulture trade restrictions through bilateral forums and in Ministerial and senior officials’ level meetings.

Meat exports to the United Arab Emirates

In February 2017, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) introduced new standards for accreditation of halal certification bodies. Following the implementation of these standards, the department was advised that the number of bodies approved to provide halal certification for meat exported to the UAE had been reduced from eight to three. We continue to pursue the UAE government to clarify the process for listing certifying bodies for exports.

Plant commodities to Myanmar

In February 2017, Myanmar requested pest lists from all trading partners to establish import conditions for plant commodities currently traded. To ensure our markets are maintained we provided submissions by the requested deadline of 31 March 2017, and at the time of writing was waiting for a response from Myanmar. Trade continues for all commodities currently traded in the interim, excluding seed potatoes and wheat for sowing.

Melons to New Zealand

Australia’s export of melons to New Zealand was temporarily suspended in early 2017. In response we conducted audits and provided information about Australian melon production systems to the New Zealand government. New Zealand restored market access for Australian melons in June 2017.

Annual performance statement
TABLE 13 Performance measure—Positive industry feedback is received on agreed market access priorities and resolution of market access problemsa
Target
Result against performance measure
Positive market research results. Met: The majority of stakeholders indicated the department’s market access activities had opened up new opportunities that had increased export volumes or had flow-on effects to other commodities. It was noted that work by the department is helping raise the profile of lesser-known commodities in markets such as China and Japan.

Stakeholders noted the department went about its market access activities in a professional manner, was willing to listen and consider other points of view, and priorities for market access were based on sound research. There were comments suggesting that transparency about market negotiations and setting realistic timeframes could improve.

Major industry associations reported their relationship with us was strong, with regular contact occurring. Smaller associations had less contact with us and were looking to improve engagement.

a Performance measure and target published in the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 21. 

Evaluating our market access activities

During 2016–17, we undertook market research on stakeholder feedback on our market access work.

Major industry associations reported that their relationship with us was strong, with regular contact occurring. Smaller associations had less contact with us and were critical about how market priorities were set, believing their priorities received less attention than the major industry associations.

Communicating market access activities by email was seen as an effective method of delivering information to a wide audience. Industry associations also played a critical role in delivering the department’s information to their members. Online information was seen as an area for improvement, including the possibility of a central area for stakeholders to lodge their interest in certain topics and developing a summary of all our activities.

Key issues we should address in resolving market access were identified as:

  • improving our timeliness
  • building our industry knowledge
  • setting market access priorities.

Stakeholders said we went about our activities in a professional manner and based market access priorities on sound research. However, they identified a need to expedite matters relating to goods held up in transit or stranded at ports.

Stakeholders believed the quality of Australian agricultural products and biosecurity measures placed us in a very strong position to negotiate more favourable market access outcomes for producers. The majority of stakeholders interviewed suggested our market access activities had opened new opportunities, which had contributed to increased export volumes and/or flow-on effects to other commodities.

International engagement

Annual performance statement
TABLE 14 Performance measure—International policy and standards supporting Australian agricultural, fisheries and forestry exports are maintained or improveda
Target
Result against performance measure
The department influences the work of international standard-setting bodies, including the Codex Alimentarius Commission, International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). Met: There was progress in relation to the following matters:

Australia participated in 12 Codex committees during the year. Australia influenced and contributed to the development of many standards, more than 50 of which are being forwarded to the Codex Alimentarius Commission for adoption. Australia also hosted the 23rd session of the Codex Committee on Food Import and Export Inspection and Certification Systems, which finalised the draft Principles and Guidelines for Monitoring the Performance of National Food Control Systems, as well as agreeing to seek approval from the commission for three new pieces of work.

Australia influenced and contributed to the review, development and adoption of several IPPC standards. Australia hosted an expert group that drafted the international grains standard and actively supported the development and adoption of cold treatment standards for fruit fly in citrus that are used by Australian horticultural exporters. Australia currently chairs the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures and its executive bureau (the governance body of the IPPC). The chair has used this position to drive key global plant health issues such as the association of pests with the movement of sea containers, harmonising approaches to detect and respond to plant pests moving through e-commerce, and the establishment of a committee to oversee plant health capacity development and the implementation of standards.

Australia influenced and contributed to the review and development of several OIE standards in 2016–17. New procedures have also been introduced for the official recognition of disease status by the OIE.
Feedback from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the OECD confirms Australia’s participation demonstrates leadership and influences effective change. Met: We play a constructive and active role in a host of multilateral forums. During the year the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources attended the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) conference in Rome. Australia participates in relevant regional bodies. Our participation in these bodies involves multiple agencies. We are a significant financial contributor to FAO.

a Performance measure and targets published in the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 21.

TABLE 15 Performance measure—Australia’s international agricultural relationships are uphelda
Target
Result against performance measure
100% of all portfolio statutory reporting obligations under international agreements are met. Met: Australia met its reporting obligations as a member of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the International Plant Protection Convention and the World Organisation for Animal Health. We are active participants in developing initiatives and meeting Australia’s obligations.
100% of membership funds to international organisations are paid in accordance with Australia’s international obligations and statutory requirements. Met: Australia contributed $13.491 million to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in 2016–17. Australian also contributed $263,187 to OIE.
The department actively participates in bilateral and multilateral negotiations, meetings and high-level visits to pursue and promote Australia’s international trade objectives. Met: As evidenced by the results against other performance targets, the department has played a role in bilateral and multilateral negotiations and held a range of meetings. We pursued key issues through our international network of counsellors. We responded to the trade issues, and in keeping with our International Strategy 2016–19, we:
  • prioritised export and import technical market access requests in collaboration with industries, state and territory governments and trading partners
  • negotiate science-based, commercially viable conditions for prioritised Australian exports
  • proactively advocate acceptance by trading partners of Australia’s export inspection, verification and certification systems.

a Performance measure and targets published in the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 21.

Setting international standards

We participate in a range of multilateral forums, where we seek to influence the work and strategic priorities of international standards setting bodies. In keeping with our strategic objectives, we participate in key international and regional forums addressing trade, standards and rule setting. Where there are significant benefits to Australia and portfolio stakeholders, we will seek a leadership role.

Contributing to the development of international standards and rules reduces unnecessarily restrictive and sometimes costly requirements on market access and affords Australia the opportunity to implement biosecurity policies that adequately protect our favourable pest and disease status. We ensure international standards are based on science through our work on the World Trade Organization Sanitary and Phytosanitary Committee and on international standard-setting bodies such as the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the International Plant Protection Convention and the World Organisation for Animal Health.

Representing Australia’s interests

We use our lead role in many international commodity organisations, including those representing the grains, cotton, sugar and wine industries, to promote improved market transparency and determine the least trade-restrictive international standards for product labelling, safety and marketing.

We facilitate bilateral meetings and workshops to discuss trade-related matters and to strengthen relationships with trading partners and coordinate study tours, visits and audits to progress new market access or maintain existing trade.

During the year, there were four high-level overseas visits by portfolio ministers. The Deputy Prime Minister represented Australia at the G20 Agriculture Ministers meeting in Berlin. Portfolio ministers also represented Australia’s agricultural interests overseas with visits to China, Indonesia and the Solomon Islands.

Export certification

Annual performance statement
TABLE 16 Performance measure—Export certification meets importing country requirementsa
Target
Result against performance measure
Less than 1% of consignments are rejected as a result of export certification failure b. Met: There were no consignments rejected because of a failure to meet export certification requirements.
No markets are lost as a consequence of failed departmental certification services. Not met: There was one instance of a market suspension, with live horse exports to the United Arab Emirates suspended for five months.
Less than 5% of quota allocations are rejected because of quota certification failures. Met: All quotas were allocated in accordance with relevant legislation. No quota allocations were rejected.

a Performance measure and targets published in the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 21. b Target published in the Portfolio Budget Statements 2016–17, p. 46.

Certifying exports

We certify the compliance of exported goods to meet importing country food safety and animal and plant health requirements. In 2016–17, we issued more than 347,207 export certificates and 50,900 manual certificates and managed the export of more than 2,700,000 animals (Table 17).

TABLE 17 Compliance certification of export commodities by number processed, 2013–14 to 2016–17a
Item
2016–17 2015–162014–152013–14
Export certificates for dairy35,99336,50731,74431,595
Export certificates for eggs431453408266
Export certificates for fish25,04924,60422,73822,545
Export certificates for grains and horticulture produce99,35181,67568,32563,083
Export certificates for meat by-products7,7957,2569,1646,167
Export certificates for meat for human consumption158,368225,669174,706156,057
Export certificates for skins and hides8,0958,4149,7609,741
Export certificates for wool12,12510,80912,04410,928
Exports of cats3,6583,4003,7263,209
Exports of dogs8,4708,6588,2997,637
Exports of live cattle909,0651,244,3961,356,1621,141,229
Exports of live goats29,20880,14488,89779,691
Exports of live sheep1,826,2401,944,8022,135,5501,953,058

a Includes electronic and manually generated certificates.

As part of Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper initiatives, we are designing a streamlined traceability system to support market access for agricultural exports. The new system will modernise current electronic documentation and establishment register databases, increase our reporting capacity to assist decision-making, introduce interactive workflow processes and capture and report on incident management. The traceability system is on track to be built by July 2018 and the project is expected to be implemented by July 2019.

The introduction of inspections by external plant authorised officers is supporting a more effective and timely system that continues to deliver high-quality product to export markets. As at 30 June 2017, we had 1,174 industry-based authorised officers performing export inspections, with another 1,085 applications being processed.

Horses to the United Arab Emirates

In August 2016, the United Arab Emirates banned the import of Australian horses and their transit through the UAE, following inspections of a consignment of 39 horses from Australia. At the time of import, several horses were obviously unwell and during their post–entry quarantine period, 37 tested positive for strangles disease.

With the support of our Dubai counsellor, we conducted a thorough investigation and advised the UAE Government of the outcome on 17 October 2016.

A new health certificate was successfully negotiated, and new testing arrangements for strangles disease were agreed in January 2017. We developed new standard operating procedures for pre-export quarantine premises, in consultation with regional veterinarians and industry.

Export of horses to the United Arab Emirates is underway and Australian horses are able to again transit through Dubai to European countries and attend the Dubai World Cup, the world’s most lucrative event on the racing calender.

Snapshot: Greater efficiency in certification for livestock exporters

In 2016–17, we successfully implemented approved arrangements for livestock exporters, with 100 per cent of consignments now exported under the risk-based framework. Approved arrangements have reduced administrative duplication, improved timeframes for consignment approval and allowed compliant exporters to operate with less intervention.

Following approval of each arrangement, we monitor the performance and obligations of approved arrangement holders through a combination of scheduled and targeted inspections and audits. By  supporting exporters through this implementation and providing regular feedback on performance, 98 per cent of consignments in 2016–17 were assessed as compliant.

For those consignments assessed as non-compliant, sanctions have been applied including corrective action requests, increased inspection rates and additional audits.

Approved arrangements provide an opportunity for exporters to reduce their costs, while continuing to manage animal health and welfare risks. Since implementation, the cost of certification to exporters has reduced by an average of 45 per cent, contributing to the sustainability of the industry whilst improving the efficiency and capability of livestock export regulatory systems.

Additional activities

Priority projects under the Agricultural Trade and Market Access Cooperation program  

The Agricultural Trade and Market Access Cooperation (ATMAC) program offers grants for projects to promote cooperation in accessing international markets. Total grant funding of $3.1 million (GST exclusive) has been made available over four years from 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2019. Funding of $1.65 million was made available in 2016–17.

Reviewing the quota administration system

We are completing regulation impact statement (RIS) on the management of our export quotas. The RIS examines the effectiveness and efficiency of the existing tariff rate quota (TRQ) administration. It identifies areas where TRQ management can be improved.

Following the completion of consultation in August 2017, we will prepare recommendations for a final RIS.

Rolling out projects to help small exporters improve market access

We administer the Package Assisting Small Exporters, which provides up to $15 million over four years to support activities by small exporters to improve market access. The program comprises three components:

  • a rebate for eligible export-registered establishments in the meat, dairy, fish, eggs, horticulture and grain sectors (no longer available)
  • a fees and charges review (now complete)
  • funding for projects that support market access.

The program is due to conclude on 30 June 2018.

Trialling an electronic system for export certification

Approximately 50 per cent of our export meat certificates are issued electronically directly to authorities in importing countries. We are continuing efforts to extend paperless certification, which will help improve clearance processes for exports.

In 2016–17, we conducted trials with countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Thailand, and the European Union. These trials enable countries to gain a better understanding of the technology requirements, align their certificate data and information and assess the potential impact on their clearance activities.

Implementing the recommendations of the plant and meat export cost-recovery reviews

We worked with industry consultative committees through our Cost Recovery Taskforce to undertake the fees and charges review, which was completed in 2015. Implementation is ongoing.

Snapshot: Live animal exports—Noah’s Ark

While the live export of cattle and sheep is important, the majority of export consignments of live animals are for companion animals and other species, including horses, birds and bees, aquatics, corals and invertebrates.

The largest number of consignments each year are dogs and cats travelling with their owners to new homes in more than 30 countries. In addition to the 12,000 companion animals that departed our shores in 2016–17, we exported almost 15,000 bees and more than 2,000 horses for breeding and sports purposes.

The oldest animals exported were two 50-year-old Australian saltwater crocodiles from Rockhampton to Turkey. The male and female crocodiles—five and three metres long, respectively—were exported via Brisbane and Singapore to their final home at an underwater zoo in Istanbul. Our officers worked with Turkish counterparts to make this unusual export happened as smoothly as possible, ensuring all importing requirements were in order and that the welfare of the animals was maintained during the voyage.

Live animal export also extends to animal reproductive material, including embryos, eggs, ova and semen—anything from which a complete live animal can be produced. In 2016–17, more than 375,000 embryos and batches of semen left Australia in 239 consignments.


Strategic objective: Sustaining natural resources for longer-term productive primary industries

Objective: Promote stewardship of agricultural land, forests and fisheries to maintain the quality of natural resources, including in times of drought.

We administer programs to promote the adoption of land-use management practices that sustain and improve Australia’s soils, waters and vegetation, support agricultural production, and strengthen the capacity of farmers and communities to respond and adapt to changes in weather, climate and markets. We work with other agencies, industry and stakeholders to support national approaches to natural resource management.

We support the ecologically sustainable management of Australia’s forests through regional forest agreements and are responsible for measures to combat illegal logging and its associated trade. We also represent Australia’s interests overseas to promote sustainable forest management.

We work with the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) on managing Commonwealth fisheries, and with the state and territory agencies on national approaches to the sustainable management of the fishing industry.

Our work strengthens Australia’s primary industries and the sustainable management of natural resources.

We report achievements against this strategic objective in the context of the performance measures, targets and activities described in our 2016–17 corporate plan.5 This includes:

  • providing analysis and advice to build the capability of farmers, fishers and foresters to productively and sustainably manage Australia’s natural resources
  • working with the Department of the Environment and Energy to administer the National Landcare Program and design future natural resource management programs
  • administering the natural resource management and related grants programs

We also report on activities that are improving the resource base for the agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors.

There are additional activities outlined in the 2016–17 corporate plan that are not addressed in the measures and targets. These are reported at the end of the chapter.

Improving the resource base

Annual performance statement
TABLE 18 Performance measure—The status of the resource base is maintained or improveda
Target
Result against performance measure
The percentage of fish stocks solely managed by the Commonwealth that are not overfished was maintained or increased in the previous year b. Met: In 2015, 72% of fish stocks solely managed by the Commonwealth were classified as not overfished. In 2014, 71% were classified as not overfished. There are policies in place to improve sustainability of fishing and to improve the information supporting assessment of fisheries impacts.
100% of active Commonwealth fisheries maintain approval under Part 13A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Met: All fisheries managed solely by the Commonwealth were operating with approval under Part 13A of the Act.
Ground cover is maintained or increased in the reporting year compared with the 10-year average c. Not available: Regular ground cover monitoring and reporting is expected to begin in 2018. This is a new measure yet to be fully implemented.

a Performance measure and targets published in the Portfolio Budget Statements 2016–17, p. 38, and Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 23. b Status is assessed retrospectively for the previous year. c The methodology for assessing the status of the resource base using remote sensing is under development.

Managing the resource base
Fisheries

We work with AFMA in managing Australia’s Commonwealth fisheries and engage state and territory agencies on national approaches to sustainable management of the fishing industry. We represent Australia’s interests overseas to promote responsible fishing practices and combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and we report on the status of fisheries resources on the high seas.

In its 2016 Fishery status reports, ABARES reported on the status of fish stocks in fisheries solely and jointly managed by the Commonwealth. The total number of fish stocks in fisheries solely managed by the Commonwealth increased from 47 in 2004 to 65 in 2015 (Figure 11).

FIGURE 11 Biomass assessment for Australian managed fish stocks
Source: Patterson, H, Noriega, R, Georgeson, L, Stobutzki, I & Curtotti, R 2016, Fishery status reports 2016, ABARES, Canberra

Since 2004, the number of fish stocks assessed as ‘uncertain if overfished’ decreased from 28 to 11. The number of stocks assessed as ‘overfished’ also decreased slightly. These results reflect efforts over the past 10 years to control fishing efforts and ensure harvest levels are sustainable.

The assessment of whether a fish stock is ‘overfished’ is based on the estimated biomass of a stock. An assessment of ‘subject to overfishing’ is based on the level of harvest. During 2015, no fish stocks in fisheries solely managed by the Commonwealth were classified as subject to overfishing. Assessments of these figures do not include fisheries jointly managed with the states, territories and other countries.

The Fishery status reports offer an independent assessment of the biological and economic status of the key commercial fish stocks managed by the Australian Government.

Although management of Australian fisheries is the responsibility of the relevant state, territory or Commonwealth fisheries management agency, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 also plays an important role in ensuring the ecological sustainability of Australia’s fisheries. In 2016–17, all active fisheries managed solely by the Commonwealth were operating with approval under Part 13A of the Act. In addition, these approvals are informed by assessments undertaken by the Department of the Environment and Energy against the Guidelines for the ecologically sustainable management of fisheries.6

During 2016–17, we worked with AFMA to identify potential amendments to the Fisheries Management Act 1991 to strengthen enforcement powers and provide greater disincentives for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. The proposed amendments received support from relevant Australian Government agencies, and work is under way to amend the legislation.

We also work across the region to improve international fisheries management. For example, we represent Australia in the Regional Plan of Action to Promote Responsible Fishing Practices, and we support AFMA in capacity-building in the region. We are also involved in setting harvest limits in the western and central Pacific.

In May 2017, the Australian Government responded to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into the regulation of the Australian marine fisheries and aquaculture sectors. The report identifies a number of opportunities to increase productivity and reduce regulatory burden. The Government will work with state and territory governments to develop a cross jurisdictional strategy to progress the report’s recommendations.

Work is already being undertaken in these areas as part of our efforts to implement a number of Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper initiatives to reduce red tape in the fishing industry. This includes:

  • shifting to single jurisdiction fisheries management
  • devolving aquaculture management to the states and territories
  • sharing licensing and compliance services
  • extending export approvals to 10 years for low-risk fisheries.

Snapshot: Fishery status reports

The Fishery status reports offer an independent assessment of the biological and economic status of the key commercial fish stocks managed by the Australian Government. The reports provide a review of fisheries management effectiveness and flag potential problems or uncertainty emerging in the status of fish stocks so that they may be addressed.

For the biological status, the reports assess if fish stocks are overfished and if they are subject to overfishing. The former category reflects the biomass of the stock, while the latter is based on the level of harvest.

The 2016 reports found that of the 93 fish stocks managed solely by the Australian Government, 66 stocks (or 71 per cent) were both not overfished and not subject to overfishing. The reports also showed that, for the third consecutive year, no stocks managed solely by the Australian Government were classified as subject to overfishing.

The evaluation of economic status in the reports assesses each fishery’s performance against the economic objective of the Fisheries Management Act 1991 to maximise net economic returns to the Australian community within the constraints of ecologically sustainable development.

Photo source: Lee Georgeson ABARES.

Snapshot: Sustainable harvest strategies for international fisheries

In 2016–17, we successfully led Australia’s efforts to negotiate important measures towards sustainable harvest strategies in the Pacific and Indian oceans.

The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, representing 26 countries, adopted binding measures on harvest strategies. The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission, with 31 member countries, agreed to a work plan to develop its harvest strategies.

Formalising harvest strategies will help tuna fisheries in our region to continue supporting economic development and food security.

The strategies are also important to Australia’s domestic fisheries industry, ensuring that stocks are fished responsibly by other countries and subjecting international fleets to the same high standard of management as fishers here in Australia.

These steps towards regional sustainable fisheries will ensure the profitability and competitiveness of Australia’s fishing industry into the future.

Agriculture

Ground cover information is critical for land management and the assessment of soil condition in Australia. We are developing systems for reporting on ground cover in agriculture, using remote sensing technologies. Increased ground cover is associated with protection of our soil resources and reduced loss of soil arising from wind and water erosion.

Regular ground cover monitoring and reporting is expected to begin in 2018. It will be used as an indicator of soil and vegetation conditions to monitor the performance of the new National Landcare Program commencing in July 2018. We have also worked closely with agencies such as CSIRO to provide an improved set of ground cover information products to support land managers.

We are coordinating ongoing mapping programs with state and territory agencies. This has wide application and broadens the opportunities to address strategic needs. For example, land-use mapping is being used for activities to improve biosecurity outcomes, for natural resource management and in response to emergencies.

Snapshot: Situational awareness for biosecurity—new developments in land-use mapping

Each year, ABARES releases a compilation of updated land-use mapping. This includes ‘catchment-scale’ mapping, compiled in collaboration with the state and territory partners of the Australian Collaborative Land Use and Management Program (ACLUMP).

Funding from the National Landcare Program has enabled ACLUMP to map horticultural crops and intensive animal industries and their facilities for management of biosecurity risks. In 2015, this included mapping banana plantations following an outbreak of Panama disease tropical race 4.

As part of a Rural Research and Development for Profit project with Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited, ACLUMP has developed national maps of mango, avocado and macadamia plantations. This has been assisted by the development of a land use survey app by the Queensland Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation (QDSITI). Users record the location and attach a photograph that is used to validate the desktop map. Industry users are also encouraged to review the draft map using an interactive web map produced by QDSITI.

The data was used to assess the impact of Tropical Cyclone Debbie in March 2017 on agriculture, including horticultural tree crops around the Mackay area of the north Queensland coast. Mapping is supported by high-resolution satellite imagery and validation points to ensure reliability.

Satellite imagery used as a base map for land use mapping of horticultural tree crops
Field validation points collected with the land use survey app
Source: Queensland Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation
Forestry

We work with the other jurisdictions to maintain the forest resource base. This work includes reviewing regional forest agreements, implementing illegal logging laws, including consideration of reforms, and international engagement.

RFAs are 20-year plans for the conservation and sustainable management of Australia’s native forests. There are 10 RFAs in four States: Western Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales. The agreements provide certainty for forest-based industries, forest-dependent communities and conservation. On 20 January 2017, the Australian and Victorian governments extended the East Gippsland RFA by 13 months, to 27 March 2018. This extension will allow the governments to consider the outcomes from the third five-yearly review of Victoria’s RFAs which is expected to be completed early in 2018. The Australian Government is working closely with all the RFA states to complete their five-yearly reviews and 20-year rolling extensions. The Tasmanian RFA is expected to be extended by 20 years early in the 2017/18 financial year.

The report Reforming Australia’s illegal logging regulations—consultation regulation impact statement7 was published in November 2016, seeking feedback on options for reducing the regulatory burden on Australian businesses. The results of this consultation will inform recommendations to the government on the operation of Australia’s illegal logging laws.

The Forest Industry Advisory Council, an advisory body to the Australian Government, released a report on transforming Australia’s forest industry. The report outlines a vision to transition the forest industry to a bio-economy and includes a goal of tripling the economic value of the industry by 2050. We are already delivering against a number of the recommendations and developing an implementation plan.

The National Institute for Forest Products Innovation was a government election commitment that allocated $4 million towards the establishment of the institute, with hubs in Launceston, Tasmania, and Mount Gambier, South Australia. The institute will investigate innovation in areas such as forest management, timber processing, wood fibre recovery, advanced manufacturing and the bio-economy.

Matching funding has been confirmed by the South Australian and Tasmanian governments and we will be seeking industry contributions at the project level.

Unplanned bushfires have a significant impact on forests, in particular the availability of habitat for wildlife and timber for the forestry industry. We provided funding for mechanical fuel load reduction trials, which are currently investigating whether there are operational and economic advantages in the mechanical removal of fuel loads compared with, or as well as, prescribed or planned burning.

International engagement

Australia’s international forestry engagement supports market access for Australian forest products and promotes an open dialogue with key strategic policy and trading partners.

In 2016–17, we actively participated in a variety of international forestry forums, including the United Nations Forum on Forests, the Montréal Process Working Group on Criteria and Indicators, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Committee on Forestry, the Asia–Pacific Economic Cooperation Experts Group on Illegal Logging and Associated Trade, and the International Tropical Timber Organization.

Attendance at these meetings furthers Australia’s international profile as a producer of sustainable legal timber and timber products, while encouraging the trade in legally harvested timber and improving market access. Australia has ongoing formal bilateral relationships on forestry with the People’s Republic of China, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

Building the capability of farmers, fishers and foresters

Annual performance statement
TABLE 19 Performance measure—Positive industry feedback on the applicability and usability of better practice information that the department providesa
Target
Result against performance measure
Positive market research results Met: We work with and through regional delivery and other organisations to deliver information. Stakeholders recognised this has been beneficial in fast-tracking the uptake of sustainable land management practices and improving productivity.

a Performance measure and target published in the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 23.

Evaluating our capability-building activities

We undertook market research in 2016–17 to engage our stakeholders on the applicability and useability of better practice information for natural resource management. Stakeholders supported our ongoing focus on providing funding to extension groups, regional organisations, industry associations and Landcare facilitators to deliver natural resource management education.

The research indicated activities under the National Landcare Program, including the Regional Funding Program, Sustainable Agricultural Small Grants and the Reef 2050 Plan, are delivering benefits for farmers in fast-tracking the uptake of practices and improving productivity. Interviewees noted that there is scope for us to increase awareness of our activities in this area to include natural resource management information and programs and to play a more direct role in some areas. This research will inform the implementation of new programs.

Effective program delivery

Annual performance statement
TABLE 20 Performance measure—Funding and grants programs are delivered according to requirements and have positive program evaluationsa
Target
Result against performance measure
100% of the sustainable agriculture outcomes of the National Landcare Program are delivered in accordance with grant guidelines and financial reporting arrangements. Met: All outcomes of the National Landcare Program were delivered in accordance with grant guidelines and financial reporting arrangements.
More than 70% of evaluations under the sustainable agriculture components of the National Landcare Program are positive. Met: Assessment of project documentation provided by grantees is routinely undertaken. The projects show positive outcomes. In May 2017 we undertook a formal evaluation of the entire program over the period from 2013–2017. The evaluation shows positive outcomes, and the results have informed successor programs.

a Performance measure and targets published in the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 23

Delivering the National Landcare Program

The National Landcare Program is a key part of the Australian Government’s commitment to natural resource management. The government has invested $1 billion through the National Landcare Program from July 2014 to June 2018. A further $1.08 billion has been committed to continue the program to June 2023.

This includes continued commitment to Landcare networks, the 20 Million Trees program and regional delivery. This funding helps support local environmental and sustainable agriculture projects including implementing the Reef 2050 Plan and the new SMART Farm program, which encourages local delivery, innovation, partnerships and community capacity-building.

In 2016, we collaborated with the Department of the Environment and Energy to conduct a review of the National Landcare Program and its predecessors.8 The report found:

  • investment has contributed to the increased adoption of better land management practices, leading to improved agricultural productivity, a ‘clean and green’ brand that assists access to markets, and improved farm-gate returns
  • investment in soil health has improved management of soil acidification, water and wind erosion and organic carbon depletion in many regions
  • the programs have successfully removed pest animals and weeds that are major threats both to agricultural productivity and threatened plants and animals, and developed and extended new control methods
  • investment in natural resource management has created strong and interconnected local and regional networks and organisations that have integrated conservation, community, farming and government interests
  • farm-gate profits, productivity and market access have improved because of the delivery of the program, and the program has supported the development and adoption of new and innovative farm practices and technologies
  • expanding partnerships to include better connections with organisations such as industry bodies and research organisations would facilitate increased sharing of expertise and knowledge
  • there is support for an increased focus on concepts like resilience and adaptive capacity
  • the effectiveness and efficiency of direct small grants vary, but there remains strong support for small grants that target issues of importance to the community.
Additional activites

During 2016–17, we were also involved in additional activities that are not assessed against the performance measures and targets. This included continuing work on delivering Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper initiatives, including research and national plans to manage pest animals and weeds.

We reviewed the Australian Pest Animal Strategy, and the Weeds Strategy and developed new strategies for 2017–2027. We are continuing work to implement the Established Pest Animals and Weeds Measure, a $50 million investment over four years to 2018–19 to improve the tools, technologies, information and skills that farmers and their communities need to tackle pest animals and weeds.

This includes a project agreement for pest animal and weed management in drought-affected areas. The project will help increase the profitability of farmers by providing $25.8 million over four years to help the New South Wales, Queensland, Victorian, Western Australian and South Australian governments to reduce the impact of feral and pest animals and weeds in drought-stressed regions. In 2015–16, $15 million in government funding was provided to those states and a further $4 million was committed in 2016–17.

Snapshot: Electronic monitoring at work in Commonwealth fisheries

In recent years, electronic monitoring technologies have replaced at-sea observers in the Commonwealth Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery, the Western Tuna and Billfish Fishery and the gillnet, hook and trap sector, with the aim of improving the quality of logbook reporting and compliance with regulations.

Electronic monitoring uses gear sensors and video cameras to automatically record fishing activities on a central computer. The footage is stored and can be independently reviewed and verified later onshore for both management and compliance purposes.

ABARES is exploring the impact of electronic monitoring on national logbook reporting and international data exchange obligations through the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission. This will provide important insights and lessons on the effectiveness of electronic monitoring and its role in the improvement of fishery-dependant data.

ABARES is also collaborating with international partners to examine what data collection tools could be used in the absence of at-sea observers to meet scientific data requirements. This work will assist in the development of an electronic standard for the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.

electronic
Photo: Electronic monitoring equipment on a fishing vessel.
Source: AFMA, 2017


Strategic objective: Improving water use efficiency and the health of rivers, communities, environmental assets, and production systems

Objective 1: Improve the environmental health of the Murray–Darling Basin consistent with national and international obligations by recovering water, including by prioritising water-saving infrastructure projects.

Objective 2: Help communities, irrigators and businesses to use water resources sustainably and efficiently consistent with nationally agreed water reforms.

We provide advice to the Australian Government on how best to achieve social, economic and environmental benefits from the use of water resources.

We administer government programs and legislation that support this strategic objective, including the Water Act 2007, and programs implementing the Murray–Darling Basin Plan, the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund and the National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility.

We also support sustainable and productive management and use of rivers and water resources in partnership with other governments and water users.

We report achievements against this strategic objective in the context of the performance measures and targets described in our 2016–17 corporate plan.9 This includes:

  • administering programs and infrastructure projects to support the implementation of the Murray–Darling Basin Plan (Basin Plan) through water recovery and the sustainable diversion limit adjustment mechanism
  • delivering the National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility and the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund.

There are additional activities outlined in the 2016–17 corporate plan that are not addressed in the measures and targets. These are reported at the end of the chapter.

Water recovery

Annual performance statement
TABLE 21 Performance measure—Water recovery continues in the Murray–Darling Basin, consistent with the Water Recovery Strategya
Target
Result against performance measure
Gap bridging water registered to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CEWH) is at least 1,695 gigalitres (GL) by 30 June 2017b. Partially met: As at 30 June 2017, water entitlements with a long-term average annual yield (LTAAY) of 2,083.3 GL have been secured or agreed on in funding contracts towards ‘bridging the gap’ to the surface water sustainable diversion limits (SDLs) in the Basin Plan. Of this, 1,714.2 GL LTAAY is held by the CEWH. The registered recovery target for 2016–17 was reduced in the 2017–18 Portfolio budget statements from 1,768 GL as a result of the re-scoping of the Goulburn–Murray Water Connections Project, which delayed the transfer of water entitlements.

As at 30 June 2017, 2.7 GL LTAAY has been recovered towards ‘bridging the gap to the groundwater SDLs of 40.4 GL LTAAY and has been registered with the CEWH.

a Performance measures and targets published in the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Portfolio Budget Statements 2017–18,
p. 58. b All water recovery figures are expressed in long-term average annual yield (LTAAY) terms. The current Commonwealth water recovery target is 2,044 GL LTAAY, being 2,750 GL (Murray–Darling Basin Plan) less 650 GL (target for supply measure offsets plus at least 106 GL of efficiency measures so as to be consistent with the 5 per cent SDL net adjustment limit), less 162 GL LTAAY state recoveries. These figures may change following the operation of the SDL adjustment mechanism and the outcome of the Northern Basin review in 2017.

We are responsible for implementing the Australian Government’s contribution to the Basin Plan. We work with other Australian Government agencies, Basin states and the Australian Capital Territory to provide long-term sustainable management of Murray–Darling Basin water resources for farmers, communities and the environment.

The Basin Plan sets sustainable diversion limits (SDLs) on the amount of water that can be taken out of the system for consumptive use. A reduction to these SDLs is achieved mainly through our water recovery programs, which involve investing in more efficient on- and off-farm irrigation infrastructure and strategic purchasing of water entitlements.

As at 30 June 2017, 2,083.3 GL of surface water on average over the long term (LTAAY) had been contracted, with 1,714.2 registered with the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder towards the current target of 2,750 gigalitres (GL). This target is expected to decrease as a result of the Northern Basin review, which has recommended a reduction in the target of 70 GL LTAAY subject to states implementing a range of ‘toolkit’ measures.

These measures include the protection of environmental flows and works to improve fish habitat and connectivity, and are designed to improve water management so that similar environmental outcomes can be achieved under the Basin Plan. Groundwater recoveries of 2.7 GL LTAAY have been achieved towards the groundwater target of 40.4 GL LTAAY.

This water is managed by environmental agencies including the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder. The water is used to deliver environmental outcomes and to help protect and restore rivers, wetlands and floodplains in the Basin.

The government has prioritised investment in more efficient water infrastructure rather than the purchase of water entitlements, with more than $8 billion committed to infrastructure and water efficiency measures in the Murray–Darling Basin. This policy aims to minimise any adverse impact of water recovery as a result of the Basin Plan, as well as increasing the sustainability of irrigated agriculture across the Basin.

More than 900 kilometres of irrigation network delivery channels across the Murray–Darling Basin are being modernised through refurbishing, automation, reconfiguration and replacing existing open channels with pipeline. Reduced system-level water losses are resulting in improved capacity to deliver the same amount of water to the farm gate while extracting less water from rivers. The benefits of Australian Government investment in more than 2,000 on-farm water efficiency projects are far-reaching, including greater flexibility in crop choice, increased yields and improved quality.

The Australian Government has now accredited the first Water Resource Plan (WRP) under the Murray–Darling Basin Plan, providing certainty for water users and communities in the Warrego–Paroo–Nebine area. The accreditation of the WRP is a significant milestone in the implementation of the Murray–Darling Basin Plan. It is the first of 36 WRPs required under the Basin Plan. WRPs give local communities and irrigators the certainty they need about water planning and sharing going forward, including annual limits and rules on the use of water for consumptive and environmental purposes.

Snapshot: On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program

Reg and Kay Lehmann, who grow wine grapes in Renmark, South Australia, are seeing substantial water and labour savings after installing a modern watering system, funded under the Australian Government’s On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program (OFIEP).

OFIEP is a competitive grants program funding upgrades to improve efficiency and productivity of on-farm irrigation.

The Lehmanns replaced 21.5 hectares of old sprinklers with new pumps, filtration and irrigation equipment, an automated drip system and an EnviroSCAN soil moisture monitoring system. These initiatives saved around 48 megalitres (ML) of water—an average of 2.3 ML per hectare.

‘The old system was prone to blockages from ants, it watered unevenly and it required a lot of manual labour on checking and fixing’, Mr Lehmann said.

He estimates the old system took 200 hours of labour a year to maintain.

‘Much of this work was at unsociable times (weekends) and was always wet, as it involved driving up and down in sprinklers, which was not pleasant’, he said.

Now 15 hours of labour a year suffices, mostly related to filtration, flushing drip lines and occasionally fixing drip lines punctured by kangaroos.

The new system uses about 5.5 to 6.5 ML per hectare of water per year. The 22,000-litre tank collects and reuses backflush water, saving between 4 and 8 ML a year. The tank design prevents sediment from recirculating, with a valve to flush it out.

The new system cost $146,090—less than many new drip systems—because the main pipeline was already in place.

In addition to the economic benefits, the Lehmanns are also enjoying social and environmental benefits.

‘Given the labour savings, I now feel like I am semi-retired. With the old system, I would have needed to sell up as it was not sustainable. There are environmental benefits as well because my irrigation drains never run now’, Mr Lehmann said.

Photo: Mr Reg Lehmann in his vineyard, Renmark, South Australia.
Source: SAMDBNRM Board Case Study report prepared by RMCG,19 February 2016

Sustainable Diversion Limit adjustment mechanism

Annual performance statement
TABLE 22 Performance measure—Basin governments agree on and implement a package of measures for notification to the Murray–Darling Basin Authority on the sustainable diversion limit adjustment mechanisma
Target
Result against performance measure
Commonwealth funding agreement(s) are in place for supply and constraints projects notified in the reporting year. Partially met: On 16 June 2017, the Murray–Darling Basin Ministerial Council endorsed the final package of sustainable diversion limit adjustment mechanism (SDL) measures, including a second notification to incorporate an additional SDL adjustment project made possible by the November 2016 amendments to the Water Act 2007. Officials formally notified the Murray–Darling Basin Authority of the final package of measures, including the second notification on 28 June 2017.

The Australian Government can only confirm funding for the package of supply and constraints measures when the SDL adjustment is determined by the Murray–Darling Basin Authority in the second quarter of 2017–18. Funding arrangements with jurisdictions will be finalised at that time.
The Basin plan is amended to provide for a second notification. Met: The Water Legislation Amendment (Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment) Act 2016 was passed by parliament on 9 November 2016 and received Royal Assent on 23 November 2016. The Act amended the Basin Plan to provide for a second SDL adjustment notification by 30 June 2017 to maximise the benefits of the SDL adjustment mechanism and improve the socio-economic and environmental outcomes of the Basin Plan.
Basin governments agree on a second notification of further measures. Met: On 16 June 2017, the Murray–Darling Basin Ministerial Council endorsed the final package of SDL adjustment measures, including a second notification to incorporate an additional SDL adjustment project. Officials formally notified the Murray–Darling Basin Authority of the final package of measures, including the second notification on 28 June 2017.
Identified pilot efficiency measure projects are delivered. Met: The Australian Government On-farm Further Irrigation Efficiency (COFFIE) South Australian pilot funded 13 projects with annual water savings of 814 megalitres.

a Performance measures and targets published in the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 25.

Progress towards sustainable diversion limits

The Basin Plan’s SDL adjustment mechanism enables the Basin SDLs for surface water (10,873 GL per year) to be changed up or down by no more than 5 per cent, as long as environmental, social and economic outcomes are not compromised. A range of safeguards ensures there is no change to the reliability of supply for water consumers, and places limits on changes to environmental outcomes.

In 2016–17, we achieved a number of key milestones in the implementation of the SDL adjustment mechanism. The Water Legislation Amendment (Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment) Act 2016 was passed in November 2016, providing for a second notification of SDL adjustment measures by 30 June 2017. The legislation provided further opportunity for Basin governments to prepare new and enhanced projects to maximise the socio-economic and environmental benefits from the operation of the SDL adjustment mechanism. This builds on the package of measures agreed by the Murray–Darling Basin Ministerial Council on 22 April 2016.

A further milestone was reached on 9 June 2017, when Basin governments agreed at the Council of Australian Governments meeting to endorse the Murray–Darling Basin Ministerial Council’s plan outlining how the Basin Plan will be implemented. Through the plan, the governments committed to actions including an independent analysis of the efficiency measures program consistent with the Basin Plan requirement for socio-economic neutrality.

The plan includes implementing a package of SDL adjustment projects that, combined with remaining contracted water recovery projects, is expected to fully offset the remaining water recovery gap in the Southern Basin. The independent analysis will report to the Ministerial Council in December 2017.

On 16 June 2017, the Ministerial Council endorsed the final package of SDL adjustment projects. In consultation with governments and Basin communities, the Murray–Darling Basin Authority will determine the SDL adjustment from these agreed projects by 15 December 2017.

These projects will result in approximately 600 gigalitres less environmental water being recovered from productive use, while still meeting Basin Plan environmental outcomes and protecting the reliability of supply for irrigators. Savings of water through the projects mean there will be more water left in the Murray–Darling Basin for productive use, including for agricultural purposes.

The Commonwealth On-farm Further Irrigation Efficiency (COFFIE) program aims to recover efficiency measures entitlements under the SDL adjustment mechanism. The program commenced with a pilot program in South Australia on 14 September 2016. The COFFIE program is a procurement-based model that values water entitlements at a multiplier of the market value and funds on-farm infrastructure improvements that achieve water savings. As at 21 June 2017, 13 projects were approved and underway, accounting for water savings of 814 ML. The program is proving popular, with $4,228,264.80 contracted from the $15 million budgeted for the pilot, and additional projects are being developed.

National Water Infrastructure and development

Annual performance statement
TABLE 23 Performance measure—National Water Infrastructure Development Fund investments provide affordable water to support the growth of regional economiesa
Target
Result against performance measure
At least 25 water infrastructure feasibility studies are funded, including at least five in Northern Australia. Met: Of the 39 water infrastructure feasibility studies funded, 16 are located in northern Australia.

a Performance measure and target published in the Portfolio Budget Statements 2016–17, p. 53 and Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 25.

TABLE 24 Water infrastructure feasibility studies, by funding recipient and amount funded
Recipients
Feasibility studiesTotal funding
($m)
Outside northern Australia
In northern Australia
Outside northern Australia
In northern Australia
New South Wales32.350
Victoria93.868
Queensland696.72118.080
Western Australia342.3953.891
South Australia23.700
Northern Territory23.485
CSIRO115.000

Note: The $5 million Ord stage 3 feasibility study announced in the White Paper on Developing Northern Australia is reported against Western Australia ($2.5 million) and the Northern Territory ($2.5 million).

TABLE 25 Performance measure—The National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility is established to support state and territory governments’ investment in water infrastructure that will provide affordable water to support regional economic growth a
Target
Result against performance measure
Arrangements in place for state and territory governments to access the loan facility. Met: On 8 February 2017, the loan facility opened for expressions of interest for water infrastructure loans from state and territory governments.

a Performance measure and target published in the Portfolio Budget Statements 2016–17, p. 53 and Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 25.

Water infrastructure

The National Water Infrastructure Development Fund gives effect to the Australian Government’s commitment to start the detailed planning necessary to build water infrastructure, including dams, pipelines or managed aquifer recharge. This will help secure the nation’s water supplies and deliver regional economic development benefits for Australia, while also protecting our environment. The fund comprises a capital component ($440 million) and a feasibility component ($59.5 million).

Capital component

The Australian Government has committed $247.5 million to co-fund the construction of Rookwood Weir, Queensland ($130 million), Dungowan Dam, New South Wales ($75 million), Macalister Irrigation District modernisation, Victoria ($20 million), South West Loddon pipeline, Victoria ($20 million) and McLaren Vale wastewater treatment and reuse, South Australia ($2.5 million).

The funding is conditional on state governments matching the Australian Government’s funding commitment, gaining all required regulatory and planning approvals and demonstrating the economic viability of each project.

In addition, funding of $192.5 million, including approximately $40 million for water infrastructure in northern Australia, is available to state and territory governments to co-fund the construction of economically viable water infrastructure through the capital fund expressions of interest process. Capital funding is available from 1 July 2017.

All state and territory governments have signed on to the National Partnership Agreement for the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund—capital component under the Federal Financial Relations Act 2009.

The Australian Government has committed $59.5 million for 39 water infrastructure feasibility studies, including $40.4 million for 16 studies in northern Australia. All feasibility studies are underway, with seven studies completed, including two in South Australia, three in Victoria and two in Western Australia. This funding includes commitments for the feasibility studies announced in the White Paper on Developing Northern Australia, including:

  • $15 million for the CSIRO-led Northern Australia Water Resources Assessment project covering the Fitzroy River (Western Australia) and Mitchell River (Queensland) catchments and the Finniss, Mary, Wildman and Adelaide catchments in the Darwin region (Northern Territory) to be completed by June 2018
  • $5 million for the Nullinga Dam (Queensland) feasibility study
  • $5 million for the Ord stage 3 feasibility study, comprising $2.5 million to assess the suitability of the Keep River Plains (Northern Territory) for irrigated agriculture and $2.5 million to assess increasing the size of Lake Argyle (Western Australia) by raising the spillway.

All states except the Australian Capital Territory have signed on to the Partnership Agreement for the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund—feasibility component under the Federal Financial Relations Act 2009.

The $2 billion National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility is available to state and territory governments to provide concessional variable rate loans to co-fund the construction of nationally significant water infrastructure.

The loan facility opened for expressions of interest on 8 February 2017 and will be open continually for expressions of interest subject to availability of funding.

The loan facility is complementary to the development fund and provides state and territory governments with access to concessional loans to encourage them to bring forward the construction of major water infrastructure projects such as dams, weirs, pipelines and managed aquifer recharge projects. The goal is to provide affordable and secure water supplies to support the growth of regional economies and communities across Australia.

The administration and operation of the loan facility will transfer from our department to the Regional Investment Corporation on its establishment in 2018.

Snapshot: Water infrastructure investment in Northern Australia

The Australian Government’s investment in northern Australia recognises the region’s unique circumstances, especially the lack of water resource assessments at catchment level, which is a barrier to water infrastructure development.

The government has committed $40.4 million for 16 feasibility studies across northern Australia, to assess available water resources and the feasibility of new dams, pipeline and managed aquifer recharge projects. This includes funding for the 2017 election commitment for a feasibility study into the Hell’s Gate Dam ($2.2 million), funding for studies announced through an expression of interest process, and funding announced in the White Paper on Developing Northern Australia.

In addition, the government has committed $130 million to co-fund with the Queensland Government the construction of Rookwood Weir, provided the business case demonstrates that the project is economically viable. The detailed business case, funded by the Australian Government ($2 million), is being delivered by Building Queensland.

FIGURE 12 National Water Infrastructure Development Fund feasibility studies, Northern Australia
Source: ABARES

Additional activities

We undertook several activities to contribute to improving water-use efficiency and the health of rivers, communities, environmental assets and production systems.

National Partnership Agreement on Implementing Water Reform in the Murray–Darling Basin

We conducted an annual assessment of each jurisdiction’s performance against milestones in the National Partnership Agreement on Implementing Water Reform in the Murray–Darling Basin. The assessment considered performance against milestones for the period 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016, and was completed on 31 October 2016.

Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Scheme

We made the first registrations of ultra–water–efficient toilets and showers under the Water Efficiency Labelling Standards Scheme. This was made possible with the publication of a new standard that allows for the registration and labelling of four-star showers (high pressure only) and six-star toilets.

Great Artesian Basin Strategic Management Plan

We released the new Great Artesian Basin Strategic Management Plan to enable consultation with stakeholders. The plan is expected to be completed in 2017. As part of the development of the plan, a consultation process occurred in early 2017.

Lake Eyre Basin condition assessment

We delivered the draft Lake Eyre Basin State of the Basin Condition Assessment 2016 report as a requirement under the Lake Eyre Basin Intergovernmental Agreement. The draft report was released for public comment on 22 May 2017 and submissions closed on 30 June 2017. The report is expected to be considered by ministers and will inform the review of the Intergovernmental Agreement.

International relationships on water cooperation

We advanced Australia’s international relationships on water cooperation, finalising a new memorandum of understanding on water cooperation between Australia and the Indonesian Government. It is awaiting ministerial signing.

Australian water reform experience and water resource management expertise have been well promoted and received at international high-profile forums with the department’s support and contributions, including the United Nations- and World Bank-led High-Level Panel on Water and the 2017 G20 Agricultural Ministers’ meeting.


Strategic objective: Managing biosecurity and imported food risk

Objective 1: Use evidence-based risk management to ensure the safe movement into and out of Australia of people, animals, plants, food and cargo.

Objective 2: Coordinate emergency responses to exotic pest and disease incursions.

We undertake activities to preserve Australia’s favourable animal and plant health status. Our work helps maintain overseas markets and protect human health, the environment and the economy.

Australia’s biosecurity system aims to anticipate, prevent, prepare, detect and respond to and recover from biosecurity risks. Working across the biosecurity continuum—offshore, at the border and onshore—our biosecurity system relies on a risk-based approach supported by research, science and intelligence, which help us target what matters most.

This system is underpinned by the Biosecurity Act 2015, which commenced on 16 June 2016. The legislation has been designed to be flexible and responsive to changes in technology and future challenges. It aims to promote a shared responsibility between government and industry, provide a modern regulatory framework, reduce duplication and regulatory impacts, and allow for current and future trading environments.

This system is essential as it protects Australia’s environment and economy from exotic pests and diseases and helps maintain Australia’s reputation as an exporter of clean, green agricultural, fisheries and forestry commodities. We undertake a process of continuous improvement to ensure the actions taken to manage risks meet our international obligations and our appropriate level of protection (ALOP). The ALOP requires a high level of sanitary and phytosanitary protection aimed at reducing biosecurity risks to a very low level.

Our core activities include providing biosecurity services to screen people, cargo and food entering through Australia’s airports and seaports, and undertaking post-entry quarantine for animals and plants brought into the country. Our biosecurity controls work to minimise the risk of pest and disease incursions in Australia and protect our rural industries as well as our unique environment.

We collaborate with state and territory governments and industries to prepare for and respond to outbreaks of exotic animal and plant pests and diseases. We do this through the Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity, the Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement, the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed and the National Environmental Biosecurity Response Agreement.

In this chapter, we report on biosecurity performance measures and targets as reported in the 2016–17 corporate plan10 under the following themes:

  • maintaining Australia’s pest and disease status
  • responding to pest and disease incursions
  • managing import risks
  • engaging with the community to increase public awareness on biosecurity risks.

Maintaining Australia’s pest and disease status

Annual performance statement
TABLE 26 Performance measure—Australia maintains a favourable pest and disease statusab
Target
Result against performance measure
Qualitative assessment that the nature and impact of animal and plant biosecurity incursions has not significantly harmed Australia’s favourable pest and disease status. Met: In 2016–17, there was no disruption or loss of export market access because of exotic pest and disease incursions (based on a World Organisation for Animal Health standard). The same result was reported in 2015–16.

There was also no reported export disruption or loss because of exotic plant pest incursions for 2016–17.
Pest and disease eradication is funded through the year based on national priorities. Met: Pest and disease eradication was funded throughout the year based on national priorities agreed under formal national response arrangements for pest and disease incursions.

Funding was based on multi-year programs involving state and territory governments. The level of funding was commensurate with funding provided in previous years.

In 2016–17, there was an outbreak of white spot syndrome virus in south-east Queensland, tomato potato psyllid in Western Australia and the Varroa jacobsoni bee mite in Northern Queensland. Responses to these diseases are being pursued.
The Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity is found to be effective in managing the national biosecurity system. Met: An independent review of the agreement was released by all Australian agriculture ministers in July 2017. The review reported that the agreement has created a framework for governments to coordinate and identify priority areas of reform and action to build a stronger and more effective national biosecurity system.

It noted that this was an important step for governments, recognising the value of strengthening and institutionalising intergovernmental relationships and building on the previous memoranda of understanding between Australia’s governments.

a Assessment based on information, including World Organisation for Animal Health notifications, plant incursions and market access issues directly related to biosecurity. b Performance measures and targets published in the Portfolio Budget statements 2016–17, p. 50, and the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 27.

Maintaining a favourable pest and diseases status

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) is the intergovernmental organisation responsible for improving animal health worldwide, issuing international animal disease alerts and assessments of the animal disease status of member nations.

The OIE provides official recognition of member countries’ risk status for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and freedom from six other animal diseases. In 2016–17, Australia maintained the highest possible status, with continued OIE recognition of having a negligible BSE risk and freedom from:

  • African horse sickness
  • classical swine fever
  • contagious bovine pleuropneumonia
  • foot-and-mouth disease
  • peste des petits ruminants
  • rinderpest.

This official recognition of Australia’s disease status is important to market access, benefiting producers and exporters of Australian animals and animal products.

Australia has identified 40 national priority pests that are the focus of government investment and action. Activities include developing contingency plans and diagnostic protocols, introducing import requirements on risk material and developing communication tools to raise awareness.

Funding biosecurity response programs

There are three emergency response agreements to cover the management and funding of emergency response incidents, including cost-sharing arrangements. These allow governments and industry to work together under a shared decision-making approach.

These agreements set out the management and funding of nationally cost-shared responses:

  • Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement (EADRA)—animal disease incursions
  • Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed (EPPRD)—emergency plant pest incidents
  • National Environmental Biosecurity Response Agreement (NEBRA)—biosecurity incidents that primarily impact the environment and/or social amenity and where the response is for the public good.

In 2016–17, we coordinated the Australian Government’s role in nationally cost-shared responses, including responses to two new detections and contributing to 14 eradication programs initiated in previous years. This includes two pests that were declared eradicated during this period and another two pest detections that transitioned to nationally cost-shared management responses. In addition, four eradication programs have continued that are not nationally cost-shared, including three that are Australian Government-funded and one that is funded by the lead jurisdiction with Australian Government assistance.

The current responses are given effect through the EPPRD and the NEBRA. Others are off-deed responses.

Eradication is not always possible. In such cases, biosecurity efforts switch to recovery from an incursion, or ongoing management through local and regional biosecurity practices to reduce the spread and harm that a pest or disease causes.

During the year, 35 exotic agricultural pests were detected, of which 23 are, or may be, nationally significant. Additionally, there were five detections of exotic environmental pests, three of which are or may be nationally significant.

TABLE 27 Responses underway in 2016–17 for plant pests and environmental pests—nationally cost-shared
No.ResponseResponse arrangementCost-shared budget for 2016–17 ($m)
1Tomato potato psyllid (Bactericera cockerelli) in WA Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed$3.100
2Varroa mite (Varroa jacobsoni) in QldEmergency Plant Pest Response Deed$1.285
3Khapra beetle (Trogoderma granarium) in SAEmergency Plant Pest Response Deed$1.199
4Banana freckle (Phyllosticta cavendishii) in the NTaEmergency Plant Pest Response Deed$3.736
5Chestnut blight (Cryphonectria parasitica) in VicEmergency Plant Pest Response Deed$0.151
6Exotic fruit fly (Zeugodacus cucurbitae, Bactrocera dorsalis and B. trivialis) in Torres Strait and QldEmergency Plant Pest Response Deed $0.235
7Giant pine scale (Marchalina hellenica) in SA and VicEmergency Plant Pest Response Deed $1.064
8Red witchweed (Striga asiatica) in QldOff-deed$1.200
9National tropical weeds (Limnocharis flava, Miconia calvescens, Mikania micrantha, Miconia nervosa and Miconia racemosa) in QldOff-deed$2.648
10Red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) at South East Qld bOff-deed$19.027
11Red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) at Brisbane Airport, QldNational Environmental Biosecurity Response Agreement$0.216
12Red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) at Yarwun, QldNational Environmental Biosecurity Response Agreement$0.061
13Red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) at Port Botany, NSW cNational Environmental Biosecurity Response AgreementN/A. 2016–17 financial year not nationally cost-shared
14Electric ant (Wasmannia auropunctata) in Cairns, Qld cOff-deed N/A. 2016–17 financial year not nationally cost-shared
15Browsing ant (Lepisiota frauenfeldi) at Darwin Port, NTNational Environmental Biosecurity Response Agreement$0.287

a Cost-sharing actual figure up to 31 March 2017. b Indicative budget. c 2016–17 financial year not nationally cost-shared.

TABLE 28 Responses underway in 2016–17 for plant pests and environmental pests—not nationally cost-shared
No.ResponseResponse arrangementCost-shared budget for 2016–17
($m)
16Macao paper wasp (Polistes olivaceus) in the Cocos (Keeling) Island aNational Environmental Biosecurity Response Agreement N/A. CWTH funded, in-kind assistance from WA
17​Red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) in Port of Brisbane, Qld bOff-deed N/A. CWTH funded, border incident
19Browsing ant (Lepisiota frauenfeldi) at Perth Airport, WA cOff-deed N/A. CWTH funded, border incident

a Australian Government-funded, in-kind assistance from WA. b Australian Government-funded, border incident. c Indicative budget.

Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity

Within government, Australia’s approach to biosecurity is underpinned by the Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity between the Australian Government and all mainland states and territories. The agreement was signed by the first ministers of all jurisdictions except Tasmania11 and came into effect in 2012. The agreement created a framework for governments to identify and collaborate on priority areas of reform and actions to improve the national biosecurity system. The agreement reflects the intrinsic value of our intergovernmental relationships.

An independent review of the agreement was undertaken during 2016–17 and the review was released by all Australian agriculture ministers in July 2017. The report provides an important roadmap to guide the efforts of Australian, state and territory governments, the community and industry in strengthening the national biosecurity system over the next five to 10 years.

The report recognised that the Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity was a positive development and acknowledged that the challenges facing government stewardship of the national biosecurity system continue to increase. In light of the challenges of managing biosecurity into the future, the report notes that:

  • biosecurity risks are increasing because of factors such as increased global trade and travel, increased agricultural expansion and intensification, increased urbanisation close to farmlands and other factors such as climate change
  • a tight fiscal environment for governments places significant pressure on biosecurity budgets and the ongoing capacity of jurisdictions to meet their commitments
  • stakeholders, especially those bearing an increasing share of the costs, want a greater say in decision-making about the national system, greater alignment of biosecurity and market access efforts, more efficient delivery of government services and stronger arrangements for environmental biosecurity
  • major incidents continue to test public confidence in the national biosecurity arrangements.

The report will be considered by agriculture ministers early in 2017–18.

Snapshot: Combatting Xylella fastidiosa

In May 2017, we funded and hosted Australia’s first international symposium to raise awareness of Australia’s #1 National Priority Plant Pest, Xylella fastidiosa. Australia is currently free of this bacterial plant pathogen, and the symposium was part of our efforts to keep it that way.

Xylella is one of the most significant emerging plant disease threats worldwide. It is transmitted by common sap-feeding insects such as sharpshooters and spittlebugs.

Xylella is a quarantine concern because it:

  • has the ability to expand its geographical range and invade new areas
  • has a complex biology that enables it to colonise numerous host plants and common insects
  • causes damage to agricultural industries totalling millions of dollars annually.

More than 350 cultivated and uncultivated plant species are at risk. The primary driver of economically costly Xylella incursions is human activity, as people trade or transport infected plants and insects.

Xylella-caused diseases have cost the Californian grape industry an estimated US$104 million a year and the Brazilian citrus industry US$120 million a year. Xylella has also caused the loss of more than a million olive trees in southern Italy.

The international symposium covered four themes:

  • Xylella and its vectors
  • diagnostics and surveillance
  • management and control
  • research and collaboration.

The themes were addressed by speakers from Italy, France, Taiwan and the United States. Speakers drew on their countries’ extensive experience in responding to incursions or managing established pests, their insect vectors and the associated socio-economic complexities. Experts from Australia and New Zealand reported on potential impacts in our region and our preparedness to respond quickly if Xylella is detected. The highly successful two-day symposium was attended by 102 international and national delegates and speakers.

An important message from the symposium was the responsibility shared by all Australians, from producers to governments and the general public, to protect against the risk of Xylella and its insect vectors. Producers need to take proactive measures to identify and report any unusual pest or disease symptoms. Similarly, the public can help keep Australia free of Xylella by not bringing in plants or plant parts such as cuttings, flowers and leaves through the airport or by mail.

The symposium was supported by funding through the Stronger Biosecurity and Quarantine Initiative and the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper. Presentations and a report on the symposium will be made available in the future.

Speakers at International Symposium on Xylella fastidiosa, 17–18 May 2017 from left to right: Peter Whittle, Robert Taylor, Marie-Agnès Jacques, Alexander Purcell, Wen-Ling Deng, Tony Arthur, Anna Maria D’Onghia, Donato Boscia, Rodrigo Krugner, Leigh Pilkington, Baldissera Giovani, Jim Farrar, and Beth Stone-Smith.
Source: Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

Managing biosecurity risks

Annual performance statement
TABLE 29 Performance measure—The effectiveness and efficiency of biosecurity and food interventions on import pathways improves a
Target
Result against performance measure
The post-intervention compliance rate for passengers and mail is maintained or improved. Partially met: The post-intervention compliance rate of passengers was 96.9% for 2016–17, marginally lower than the compliance rate of 97.4% in 2015–16.

For 2016–17, the post-intervention compliance rate of mail was 99.9%, which was also the 2015–16 rate.
Interventions on low-risk pathways are reducedb. Met: The compliance-based inspection scheme for plant imports to Australia rewards importers that demonstrate consistent compliance with Australia’s biosecurity requirements by providing them with a risk-based inspection rate. These importers benefit from fewer inspections at the border resulting in reduced inspection costs and faster clearance of their goods.

We added eight new commodities in 2016–17, bringing the total to 25. A further four commodities will be added in 2017.
The compliance rate for all food inspected is maintained or improved. Met: Between 1 January and 31 December 2016, the compliance rate for all food inspected was 99%, compared with 98.6% in 2015.

The compliance rate for risk food was approximately 99.1% in 2016, compared with 98.9% in 2015.

a Performance measures and targets published in the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 27. b For imported plant products only.

Biosecurity work at the border

We undertake a range of activities to prevent biosecurity risks reaching Australia or emerging in Australia. Biosecurity Import Risk Analyses, reviews and other assessments are key activities to identify pests and diseases that might be associated with imports. We use these risk tools to set import conditions that reduce the likelihood of pests entering, becoming established or spreading in Australia.

Each year we process millions of arriving passengers, mail items, cargo consignments and animals sent to Australia. In 2016–17, the estimated compliance rate for air passengers was 96.9 per cent. This is a marginal decrease from 2015–16, despite the continuing increase in the number of international clearances. The number of international mail articles increased in 2016–17, and the estimated compliance rate was 99.9 per cent, the same as the previous year.

Table 30 shows the scale of our biosecurity work at the border. The tables also include additional information on compliance rates for air passengers and international mail. The ‘compliance rate’ estimates the proportion of arriving air passengers and international mail items that comply with our requirements on entry into the Australian community. This statistical estimate was developed in collaboration with the Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis.

TABLE 30 Size of the import task
ItemUnit2014–152015–162016–17

Passengers

International clearances

’00018,00019,00020,500
Seizures of items from air passengers a’000260270290
Compliance rate air passengers (estimate)b%97.397.496.9
Airports where we have staffno.889
Sea passenger and crew clearances’000600800840
Seizures of items from sea passengersc’0003.53.93.5
Mail
International mail articles

Non-letters d
Letters
Total



’000

’000
’000



54,000

92,000
146,000



57,000

81,000
138,000



82,000

76,000
158,000

Seizures of mail articles ’000242330
Compliance rate mail (estimate)b%99.999.999.9
International mail facilities where we have staffno.444
Vessels
Pratique visits—first ports
’000181818
Cargo
Wharf Gate sea container inspections e
’000130250130
Country Action List (CAL) sea container inspections (first port) f’000574645
Commercial consignments referred to the department g’000450450450
Air freight consignments referred to the department (under $1,000) ’000610640520
Import permit applications received’000221920
Import permits issued’000171719
Live animal imports processed at government post-entry quarantine facilities no.
cats 1,600
dogs 3,700
horses 390
avians 140
queen bees 0
alpacas 12
cats 1,500
dogs 3,700
horses 340
avians 160
queen bees 0
ruminants 0
cats 1,800
dogs 4,200
horses 460
avians 110
queen bees 0
ruminants 7
Hatching eggs processed at government post-entry quarantine facilities h’0004,2006,60011,000

a Seizures include declared and non-declared items. b ‘Compliance rate’ in previous annual reports related only to high-risk biosecurity goods. The estimates for 2016–17 and prior years have been adjusted to provide the estimated ‘compliance rate’ for all biosecurity risk goods. c Seizures include declared and non-declared items. d Non-letters include parcels and other articles. Declining mail volumes, predominantly letter class and other articles, attributed to increased use of electronic mail and fluctuations in the Australian dollar. e Wharf-gate inspect external surfaces of imported containers as they leave the wharf gates. f Country action list (CAL) countries are identified due to a particular risk from that country. g Includes full import declarations greater than $1,000 dollars and long-form self-assessment clearance. Goods that are part of larger consignment or commercial require permit or approval. h Variance in hatching eggs figures due to highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreaks in the Northern Hemisphere in 2014–15.

Our risk-based arrangements at the border support partnerships with importers whose commercial systems meet biosecurity requirements. These approved arrangements provide an opportunity for businesses to reduce costs while still managing biosecurity risks.

As of 30 June 2017, there were 3,653 approved arrangements in place with a range of businesses, including customs brokerages, cold stores, freight companies and importers. During the year, 408 businesses voluntarily cancelled their approved arrangements. We revoked one approved arrangement and four approved arrangements were suspended for a period of six months in response to the importation of prawns infected with white spot syndrome virus.

We continued to work with the Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis on ways to encourage importers to implement processes that reduce the likelihood of biosecurity risk material being present in consignments such as plant material. This work will be used to inform tailored approaches for compliance-based inspection protocols.

Intelligence and research provide important information on how to prevent and prepare for biosecurity risks. In 2016–17, we started developing the Biosecurity Integrated Information System. The system will provide a more sophisticated way of collecting and making available the data we need to manage biosecurity risks more effectively.

Annual performance statement
TABLE 31 Performance measure—Responses to biosecurity and imported food incidents improve a
Target
Result against performance measure
The department assesses that responses to biosecurity and imported food incidents have improved. Met: We have put in place a major program of reviews as specified in the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper. This includes initiatives that strengthen biosecurity through enhanced surveillance, intelligence and traceability systems such as the Maritime Arrivals Reporting System. This will improve our abilities to respond to biosecurity and imported food incidents.

a Performance measures and targets published in the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 27.

Managing maritime arrivals

December 2016 marked the official end of the staged rollout of our Maritime Arrivals Reporting System (MARS) across Australia. MARS is an intelligence-led and evidence-based online system used to ensure incoming vessels meet biosecurity regulations to minimise the risk of pests and diseases entering Australia. Since its implementation, MARS has had a significant positive impact on the maritime industry’s compliance with Australia’s vessel biosecurity clearance system.

MARS allows us to see a single electronic record of each international sea journey. This makes it easier to carry out vessel inspections and assess biosecurity risks.

The system won in the digital and data category in the 2017 Public Sector Innovation Awards in July 2017. Run by the Institute of Public Administration Australia and the Public Sector Innovation Network, the awards recognise, celebrate and share exceptional innovations in government.

Managing ballast water risks

Ballast water taken up at international ports and coastal waters by vessels outside Australia’s territorial waters is considered a high risk to the environment. The Biosecurity Act 2015 creates a national framework for regulating the biosecurity risks posed by ballast water. It gives effect to the International Maritime Organization’s International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments 2004 which Australia ratified on 8 June 2017. The convention comes into force internationally and in Australia on 8 September 2017.

Marine pest review

The marine pest review was an election commitment to protect Australia’s marine environment and resources. The review made 13 recommendations and focuses on prevention activities, better relationships between researchers, marine-based industries, government and the community. In 2016–17, we continued to implement the recommendations in consultation with stakeholders. The work is expected to be completed in 2018.

Snapshot: DNA tests keeping out exotic mosquitoes

Mosquitoes are not just annoying pests with a bite that makes you itch. They are responsible for more human deaths than any other animal, transmitting diseases such as malaria, dengue fever and the Zika virus.

Thankfully, many of the nastier mosquito species are not present in Australia and we aim to keep it that way. We perform vector monitoring at first points of entry around Australia to detect and respond quickly to exotic mosquitoes that may inadvertently be imported on international aircraft, vessels and imported cargo.

In 2015–16, there was an unprecedented number of exotic mosquito detections, with 55 separate detections at international airport passenger terminals across Australia. In response, we teamed up with research group cesar pty ltd to identify the origin of the exotic mosquitoes using next-generation DNA sequencing.

This highly sensitive DNA testing determined that the exotic mosquitoes were coming from a single geographical origin. Using these results, we worked with the relevant foreign government and the airlines flying from the point of origin to investigate the cause of the increased detections. We also collaborated with the Department of Health to introduce additional disinfection treatments for aircraft arriving from the identified country.

 

As a result, there was a significant decline in the number of exotic mosquito detections at international airport passenger terminals between October 2016 and April 2017, with only four separate exotic mosquito detections.

DNA testing has become an important tool for identifying the origins of exotic mosquitoes, showing that we are serious about preventing these unwelcome passengers from entering Australia.

Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper

During the year, we continued to work on the biosecurity surveillance and analysis initiative under the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, which is focussed on enhancing the biosecurity system to help us better target biosecurity risks and in turn support our access to premium markets overseas.

There were a large number of improvements in 2016–17. Some key highlights include:

  • new markets for our agricultural exports have been opened and maintenance of existing markets with new health protocols developed and improvement to conditions to support our agricultural exports. New markets include:
    • fruits and vegetables to New Zealand;
    • breeder cattle and buffalo to Cambodia;
    • live pigeons to Zimbabwe and the United Arab Emirates;
    • and bovine genetics to India.
  • several markets have also been regained, including feeder cattle to Japan and queen honey bees and packaged bees to Canada. Health certificates and protocols for a range of agricultural exports to over 15 trading partners have also been finalised
  • enhanced surveillance activities including:
    • additional Indigenous ranger groups to undertake biosecurity work in remote northern regions;
    • pro-active Foot and Mouth Disease training in Nepal and emergency animal disease identification, investigation and reporting training for approximately 220 private veterinarians;
    • conducting more plant, animal and aquatic surveys in Australia;
    • more plant and animal health surveys with neighbouring countries and territories;
    • completed the first rabies response simulation exercise in Timor–Leste;
    • established new sentinel herds in northern Australia, Timor–Leste and Papua New Guinea.

These surveillance activities help us to detect and respond to biosecurity threats both onshore and offshore before they reach Australia. It also importantly provides evidence to show freedom from pests and diseases to support access to export markets for our agricultural produce.

  • more accurate and modern diagnostic methods for high priority threats, and contemporary diagnostic equipment including more powerful microscopes, cameras, DNA analytical machines, culture incubators and autoclaves to provides faster, more reliable diagnostic results to optimise our response to possible biosecurity threats.
  • enhancement to the International Biosecurity Intelligence System (IBIS) which has demonstrated benefits for real time notification and management of new and emerging biosecurity risks as they arise around the world.
  • finalising the review of import conditions for a range of animal and plant products.
Managing imported food risk

We administer the Imported Food Inspection Scheme, which monitors importer compliance with Australia’s food standards. Food Standards Australia New Zealand provides advice on foods that pose a medium to high risk to public health. We classify these as ‘risk food’ under the inspection scheme, and classify all other food as ‘surveillance food’. Risk food is subject to an inspection rate of 100 per cent and surveillance food is subject to an inspection rate of 5 per cent.

Between 1 January and 31 December 2016, we inspected 31,226 lines of imported food, and applied 95,186 tests. The compliance rate was 99.0 per cent for all food inspected, and the compliance rate for risk food was approximately 99.1 per cent, an improvement on 2015.

Snapshot: Implementing a risk-based approach to biosecurity management

The department is strengthening its risk based management of biosecurity. The compliance-based inspection scheme (CBIS) was introduced to allow the department to focus its resources on plant import pathways of high biosecurity risk.

The CBIS identifies suitable plant commodities through extensive data analysis based on historical import data, failure and leakage rates. This information is used to select plant commodities that pose a low residual risk to Australia’s biosecurity and would therefore be suitable for the scheme.

Previously, the majority of commodities on the scheme were processed plant products for human consumption, spices and nuts. In the 2016-2017 financial year, the department has trialled horticultural fresh produce onto the scheme. The trial has demonstrated that CBIS can be implemented on fresh produce pathways. There are now 25 eligible plant products on the CBIS, with seven commodities added in the 2016-2017 financial year, including horticultural fresh produce. Many other commodities have also been assessed for their potential to be added onto the scheme in the next financial year.

To qualify under the CBIS, an importer must pass a defined number of consecutive inspections and document assessments for an eligible commodity. Only once they have demonstrated their compliance by meeting this threshold they qualify for a reduced pre-determined risk-based inspection rate. Inspection rates under CBIS range from 10-50 per cent, depending on the risk posed by the commodity. If a qualified importer fails one of their random inspections, they will return to a 100 per cent inspection rate until they once again meet the compliance threshold.

The CBIS presents a smarter, stronger risk-based approach to managing biosecurity. The scheme also acts as an incentive for importers to consistently comply with Australia’s biosecurity requirements. It is a mechanism for the department to target its resources to the risk areas, which will enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of biosecurity risk management and protecting Australian producers from exotic pests and diseases.

Responding to pest and disease incursions

Annual performance statement
TABLE 32 Performance measure—Risk assessments for imported goods use science-based risk analysis, drawing on the best available scientific information and advicea
Target
Result against performance measure
100% of import risk assessments are conducted in accordance with regulations and the best available science and advice. Met: 100% of import risk assessments were conducted in accordance with the regulations of the Biosecurity Act 2015 and/or relevant department policies and procedures.

The target requirement for best available science was addressed through involvement of expert department staff and internal reviewers and external peer review where appropriate.

a Performance measures and targets published in the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 27.

Responding to pest and disease incursions

Australia’s response to exotic pest and disease incursions has implications for its international export reputation, and for the effects on domestic agricultural production. We coordinate national activities to ensure a comprehensive, consistent and informed approach to response activities for biosecurity and work collaboratively with government agencies and industry groups to ensure a unified approach to animal, plant and food safety emergencies.

We carry out a range of activities that enhances our ability to respond to incidents. This includes developing sector-specific response plans and conducting and participating in training activities and simulation exercises. We are also a signatory to three emergency response agreements that cover the management and funding of emergency response incidents, including cost-sharing arrangements, and allow governments and industry to work together under a shared decision-making approach.

The agreements set out the management and funding of nationally cost-shared responses to:

  • animal disease incursions (Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement)
  • emergency plant pest incidents (Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed)
  • biosecurity incidents that primarily impact the environment and/or social amenity (National Environmental Biosecurity Response Agreement).

The EADRA is available on the Animal Health Australia website, the EPPRD is available on Plant Health Australia’s website and the NEBRA is available on the Council of Australian Governments website.

During 2016–17, 85 plant pests were notified under national emergency arrangements. Of these, eight were considered to be a pest of concern, with six deemed not technically feasible to eradicate. One notification is still under consideration and one has moved to a nationally cost-shared management. A further 12 notifications are under active consideration and 65 did not require an active response.

The Varroa jacobsoni bee mite and tomato potato psyllid were detected and managed under the EPPRD. We also provided $9,235 to AUSVEG, the industry representative body for vegetable and potato growers, to engage a scientific expert as part of the response to the tomato potato psyllid incursion.

During 2016–17, white spot syndrome disease was also detected in prawns and prawn product in south-east Queensland. An Aquatic Animal Disease Emergency Response Deed is still under development, so the response was managed according to existing nationally agreed procedures. We coordinated the government assistance package for affected prawn farmers.

Annual performance statement
TABLE 33 Performance measure—The ability of governments, industry and the community to quickly and effectively respond to exotic pest and disease incursions improves a
Target
Result against performance measure
Responses to pest and disease incursions and outbreaks are managed according to relevant frameworks. Met: In 2016–17, all responses to pest and disease incursions and outbreaks were managed according to the following national frameworks:
  • Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed
  • National Environmental Biosecurity Response Agreement
  • Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement​
Where a national framework is still under development, responses were managed according to existing nationally agreed procedures (for example, responses to aquatic animal diseases).

Requests for rapid response in the event of a significant exotic pest or disease outbreak are responded to immediately. Met: We received requests during 2016–17 in relation to white spot syndrome disease in prawns in Queensland and tomato potato psyllid in Western Australia. We initiated a response within two days for both requests.
100% of priority emergency plans (AUSVETPLAN, AQUAVETPLAN, EMPLAN and PLANTPLAN) reflect contemporary science on emergency responses to plant and animal pests and diseases. Met: Our plans included AUSVETPLAN, AQUAVETPLAN, EMPLAN and PLANTPLAN.

We collaborated with state and territory governments to publish five EMPLAN manuals and revise six priority AQUAVETPLAN manuals. Two revised AQUAVETPLAN manuals were published. We collaborated with Animal Health Australia, jurisdictions and industry to update and finalise the 11 priority AUSVETPLAN manuals published by Animal Health Australia.

During 2016–17, our PLANTPLAN guidelines were also amended to include normal commitments, jobs cards of key roles in an emergency response and operating guidelines for the Consultative Committee on Emergency Plant Pests. PLANTPLAN provides nationally consistent guidelines for response procedures as well as the key roles and responsibilities of industry and government during emergency responses to plant pest incidents.

Information for these plans is assembled from a number of reliable primary sources, including advice from scientists, engineers or other professionals with recognised expertise on the species or likely emergency operations, and from published, peer-reviewed literature. Reputable secondary sources of information, such as internet databases and ‘grey’ literature is used to supplement this advice or to prepare summary information and plans for expert review.

a Performance measures and targets published in the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 27.

Preparing for pest and disease incursions

At the end of 2016, we led an international emergency animal disease simulation. Exercise Athena tested arrangements for deploying personnel across international borders to respond to emergency animal disease events. This included the collaborative efforts of veterinary authorities from Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. Within the exercise, the department requested assistance from signatories to the International Animal Health Emergency Reserve (IAHER) Arrangements, which enables countries to share personnel during an emergency animal disease event.

Snapshot: White Spot Syndrome virus

On 1 December 2016, the presence of white spot syndrome virus was confirmed on a prawn farm located on the Logan River in south-east Queensland. Prior to this outbreak, Australia was considered free of the virus. Over the next 10 weeks, the virus spread to six other prawn farms located on the Logan River. It was also detected in the environment in the Logan and Brisbane Rivers and Moreton Bay. The virus has not been detected elsewhere in Australia as of 30 June 2017.

An emergency aquatic animal disease response was initiated on 1 December 2016, with the objective of eradicating the disease from prawn farms. Biosecurity Queensland within the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries is leading the response. We undertook the national coordination of incident management processes, as well as informing Australia’s trading partners and the World Organisation for Animal Health. A number of staff were also deployed to assist Biosecurity Queensland.

The eradication phase of the disease response was completed towards the end of May 2017 and, as at 30 June 2017, there had been no new outbreaks detected. The disease response program is now focusing on surveillance and biosecurity management to minimise any further spread in the wild.

We are conducting a major assessment of the biosecurity risks of and import conditions for prawns and prawn products for human consumption from all countries.

Funding has been allocated to the white spot disease outbreak, with $1.3 million provided to the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for response activities, including $400,000 to be paid directly to farmers for reimbursement of expenses incurred as part of the Queensland Government’s response.

An additional $221,000 has been allocated to the Australian Prawn Farmers Association to appoint a biosecurity liaison officer and engage scientific experts. Funding of $220,000 has been allocated to the Queensland Seafood Industry Association to appoint a biosecurity liaison officer to develop and implement an industry communication toolkit for the wild-harvest seafood industry.

In May 2017, the Australian Government announced it would provide up to an additional $20 million in funding directly to the prawn industry. This funding will cover owner reimbursement costs for prawn farmers affected by the outbreak, including the costs of farms standing down for up to 18 months as part of an agreed eradication response plan. Prawn farmers will repay up to $4 million of this funding through an industry levy.

Currently there is no formal industry–government agreement for responses to significant aquatic animal disease outbreaks. As such, there is no formal mechanism to assist industry and the affected jurisdiction with some of the costs of the outbreak, nor is there a formal mechanism for the response costs to be shared.

 

This incident has highlighted the importance of having a formal agreement in place. We are working with aquaculture industries, state and territory governments and Animal Health Australia to develop a draft agreement by the end of 2017.

Exercise Athena gave us the opportunity to test procedures, train staff and raise awareness of the requirements for participating in an animal disease response.

The exercise plays an important part in building our capability and preparedness in managing and responding to pest and disease incursions. Exercises such as this enable the department to identify improvements and best practice examples in respect to the identification, selection, deployment and repatriation of our staff during a response.

Stakeholder and community engagement

Annual performance statement
TABLE 34 Performance measure—Public awareness of biosecurity risks improvesa
Target
Result against performance measure
The number of followers on and the total reach of the ‘Australian Biosecurity’ Facebook page is maintained or increased. Met: As at 30 June 2017, the ‘Australian Biosecurity’ Facebook page had 4,331 followers, an increase of 2,825 followers compared to the same point in 2016.

From 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017, the page reached a cumulative audience of 561,642 people, with 14,002 engagements. The most successful post had an engagement rate of 29.3% and reached 9,487 Facebook users.

a Performance measures and targets published in the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 27.

Increasing the public’s awareness of biosecurity

We have continued to expand our efforts to increase the Australian public’s awareness of biosecurity requirements. This has included the development and release of a number of YouTube videos on our priority plant pests, airport and mail centre biosecurity statistics and collaborative efforts with other agencies, and awareness of our requirements around cultural and seasonal events.

A priority under the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper is to improve understanding of biosecurity and increase involvement in biosecurity initiatives through shared responsibility.

We’ve established a Scientific Advisory Group for legislated Biosecurity Import Risk Analyses (BIRA) and a BIRA liaison officer role to enhance our engagement with stakeholders on key biosecurity matters.

For biosecurity awareness in northern Australia, a focus has been on the development of applications that are accessible on mobile devices to capture, store and share biosecurity surveillance information to improve community engagement. This year we:

  • helped build capability of Indigenous rangers by providing biosecurity training and networking opportunities to share skills and experience so that ranger groups are better placed to maintain and undertake biosecurity work
  • developed a mobile application to assist Indigenous rangers doing biosecurity work to collect and submit plant, animal and aquatic data. This will allow rangers to upload photos, record GPS coordinates and track files and see current and previous information. It will allow field information to be assessed quicker and help with the early detection of potential biosecurity threats
  • we also promoted the need to be biosecurity aware through song—the music video, which is available on the department’s website is performed by Indigenous artists and captures the connection to land and the biosecurity partnership between governments, producers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
  • we continued this promotion by partnering with an northern Indigenous company (enVizion) to explain the importance of biosecurity in northern Australia to communities and the broader community by focussing on the work of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rangers and biosecurity officers.


Strategic objective: Building an efficient and capable department

Objective: Focus on performance, deliver on our objectives, meet our statutory obligations and parliamentary requirements, and continuously build organisational capability.

Our corporate capability underpins our work to deliver the government’s programs and achieve our strategic objectives.

Our Governance Strategy 2015–19 outlines the principles we apply to our business administration and operations management activities across the department. These include the authority that underpins our actions, our oversight and accountability mechanisms, and how we approach our business assurance and risk management.

Our People Strategy and Action Plan 2014–17 strengthens our client focus, helps us provide safe workplaces and promotes high performance to support and challenge our staff to reach their potential and build rewarding careers.

Through our Finance Strategy 2014–19, we undertake prudent financial management, make investments to maintain and improve our services to the government and our clients, and ensure our cost-recovered services are efficient, transparent and sustainably funded.

Our scientific and economic research through ABARES provides evidence-based research and data to support policy and decision-making across our strategic objectives.

We report achievements against this strategic objective in the context of the performance measures, targets and activities described in our 2016–17 corporate plan.12 This includes:

  • improving our safety and rehabilitation management systems and fostering a positive safety culture
  • continuing efforts to effectively managing unscheduled absences.

There are additional activities outlined in the 2016–17 corporate plan that are not addressed in the measures and targets. These are reported at the end of the chapter. We report on ABARES research at page 25, and service delivery at page 103.

Our workforce

Annual performance statement
TABLE 35 Performance measure—A positive, professional and engaged workforce is maintained or improveda
Target
Result against performance measure
The employee engagement score in the APS Employee Census is maintained or improved bc. Met: In 2017, our engagement scores (out of 10) for selected categories were ‘Job’ 6.8, ‘Team’ 6.6, ‘Supervisor’ 7.3 and ‘Agency’ 5.9. There has been a steady improvement in our results over the past five years and these are comparable with the APS average.
The gender balance across the Executive Level and Senior Executive Service classifications is 50% across the department, and there is progress toward 50% in each division. Met: As at 30 June 2017, 50.4% of Executive Level and Senior Executive Service employees were women.

Across the department, 50% of our employees were women, an increase from 49% in 2015–16. We have set targets to increase the percentage of women in the Service Delivery and Information Services divisions. The percentage of women increased in both these divisions. We will report across all divisions in the future.
The unscheduled absence rate is reduced. Met: Our personal leave rate for 2016–17 was 14.5 days per full-time equivalent (FTE), compared with 14.9 days per FTE in 2015–16d.

a Performance measures and targets published in the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2016–2017, p. 29.
b Australian Public Service Commission census results are assessed retrospectively for the year. c Employee engagement score uses the average engagement scores across the categories ‘Job engagement’, ‘Team engagement’, Supervisor engagement’ and ‘Agency engagement’. d Measured using the Australian Public Service Commission personal leave metric, excluding ‘Compensation’ and ‘Unauthorised leave’ types.

Managing our workforce

As at 30 June 2017, we employed 4,606 full-time equivalent staff (FTE), 130 of whom were casual. Our workforce is diverse and includes accountants, biosecurity officers, economists, information and communication technology specialists, meat inspectors, policy officers, program administrators, scientists, survey staff and veterinary officers. Our staffing statistics are at Appendix 3.

Employee engagement

We participated in the Australian Public Service Commission’s annual APS Employee Census to measure employee engagement and our performance against our People Strategy and Action Plan 2014–17. The census highlighted areas where we perform well, identifies improvement opportunities and benchmarks Australian Public Service (APS) achievement levels.

Our 2017 census results for employee engagement showed an increase in the key categories of ‘Team’ and ‘Supervisor’ and were comparable with the APS average. For the first time, our score for ‘Agency engagement’ was higher than the APS average. The 2017 engagement results reflect a steady improvement since 2012.

TABLE 36 APS Employee Census results—department engagement (2012–2017) and APS (2017)
Engagement type201220132014201520162017APS 2017
Job6.46.66.66.76.86.86.8
Team6.36.46.46.46.56.66.6
Supervisor6.77.07.07.07.17.37.4
Agency5.75.85.75.75.85.95.8

The census results also indicate that employee advocacy, loyalty and discretionary effort are higher in our department than the APS average.

We celebrate employee engagement with #ThatsMyStory, an internal digital package of communication activities using emotional storytelling techniques. The video and written profile campaign, launched in 2016, shares our employees’ passion for the department, the work they do and how it contributes to Australia’s economy and way of life. This initiative received an award from the Australian Public Service Commission and the Institute of Public Administration Australia.

An inclusive and productive workplace

In 2016–17, we continued our commitment to building and maintaining an inclusive and productive workplace environment. Some of the most significant improvements in this year’s census results were in the areas of inclusion and diversity. In the area of diversity, 79 per cent of participating employees agreed the department is committed to creating a diverse workforce. This is an increase of 11 per cent from the 2016 results.

We launched our Growing reconciliation: Reconciliation Action Plan 2017–2019 (RAP). This is our fourth RAP. It demonstrates our commitment to reconciliation within the organisation and across its sphere of influence. This includes a commitment to specific reconciliation actions and targets in the three years to 2019. The plan is supported by our staff, portfolio and partner agencies, stakeholders and communities (see Snapshot: Growing reconciliation).

We participated for the first time in the 2016 Reconciliation Barometer Survey, with 853 staff providing key insights into how they understand and engage with history, cultures and issues of First Australians.

During the year, we published a Gender Equality Commitment Statement, which gives effect to the principles of the Australian Public Service Gender Equality Strategy 2016–19 and reinforces our intention to build a gender-equitable and inclusive workplace. We have set gender equality targets and identified a range of actions to support our commitment statement. At the end of 2016–17, for the first time, our department comprised 50 per cent women.

We also implemented unconscious bias training, an initiative which was championed by our Culturally and Linguistically Diverse employee network and our other diversity networks. We hosted our first ‘Plus Series’ meeting. This format brings together a small number of the executive with an equal number of staff from diverse backgrounds to share their experience in the workplace.

TABLE 37 Representation of diversity groups, 30 June 2016 and 30 June 2017
FemaleAboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander
People with a disability
Employment Type30 June 201730 June 201630 June 201730 June 201630 June 201730 June 2016
Ongoing2,3572,21684888889
Non-ongoing29026218111010
Total 2,647 2,478 102 99 98 99
​Percentage 50.4 49.2 1.9 2.0 1.9 2.0

Note: Includes staff on leave without pay and excludes the secretary. These figures are based on all female employees and employees who identify themselves as members of one or more diversity groups.

In the area of performance management, 65 per cent of participating employees agreed their most recent informal performance feedback would help improve their performance, an 11 per cent improvement from 2016. This trend was reinforced by noticeable improvements in perceptions that supervisors provided clear and consistent performance expectations (up 6 percentage points) and supervisor commitment to performance management (up 6 percentage points).

The total ongoing separation rate for ongoing employees increased in 2016–17 from 6.5 per cent to 7.5 per cent. In 2015–16 our separation rate remained well below the APS average of 9.6 per cent. As at 30 June 2017, data was not available for the APS in 2016–17.

TABLE 38 Ongoing separations 2015–16 and 2016–17
2016–172015–16
Number of ongoing employees4,6334,439
Total ongoing separations338288
Natural attrition (including transfers)243228
Redundancies, invalidities and terminations9560
% separating (the department)7.56.5

In 2016–17, the personal leave rate was 14.5 days per FTE, compared with 14.9 days per FTE in 2015–16. Although this is an improvement, the rate remains high compared with the APS average.

We continue to focus on reducing unscheduled absence. In 2016–17, we created a positive attendance program, a multifaceted approach to improve our corporate culture and ensure our managers are skilled and equipped with tools to manage leave effectively within their teams.

Enhancing our learning and development to reinforce an active learning culture

We developed, sourced and delivered a range of electronic and face-to-face training courses to build our people’s capability and ensure we meet our legislative and regulatory obligations.

The 2017 APS Employee Census reported that 67 per cent of our staff felt the department provided access to effective learning and development—a 5 per cent improvement on our 2016 result, and 3 per cent higher than the APS average.

In 2016–17, we launched our learning management system—Learnhub. We worked on innovative approaches to training delivery, including immersive, interactive training and video-based eLearning. We also began rolling out a new pre-assessment option for mandatory eLearning courses, giving staff the opportunity to answer assessment questions without having to work through content with which they are already familiar.

We continued to deliver training to support the integrity of biosecurity operations as well as ensuring staff were competent and confident to use new powers under the Biosecurity Act 2015. We delivered training in alignment with our established competency requirements to ensure our staff were able to undertake business as usual activities in accordance with national standards. The technical training was supported by on the job assessment to validate training and assure competency.

We also boosted our corporate training, with new courses on unconscious bias, financial management, project management and work health and safety.

Snapshot: Growing reconciliation

Our Growing reconciliation: Reconciliation Action Plan 2017–2019 (RAP) embodies our commitment to an inclusive Australian society that benefits our staff, partners, stakeholders and communities. The RAP supports activities around reconciliation with the department and our communities.

The RAP is the product of extensive engagement, including with our First Australians staff located across the breadth of our business. It has a broad set of ambitious targets underpinned by in-depth consultation, including regular forums, focus groups and meetings with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ambassadors and the RAP working group.

The RAP was launched in March 2017, and received a stretch rating from Reconciliation Australia. We are one of a handful of APS agencies to hold this high status, which reflects our ambition to not only be an employer of choice but to put reconciliation into practice.

Our planned program of work covers five focus areas, emphasising the work of the department and our values:

  • Extending respect—widespread cultural learning, reconciliation awards, acknowledgment practices and efforts to address bias and racism
  • Northern futures—strengthening capacity for biosecurity surveillance and increasing contracted work with ranger groups
  • Inspired partnerships—partnering with ranger and community groups, sponsorships, outreach, and social media pilots
  • Rewarding careers—recruitment and retention in entry level programs, mentoring, and short-term secondments
  • Collective decisions—Indigenous procurement, divisional planning for reconciliation, RAP implementation and reporting.

Work health and safety

Annual performance statement
TABLE 39 Performance measure—The department maintains safe and healthy workplacesa
Target
Result against performance measure
The notifiable incident rate is maintained or reducedb. Not met: In 2016–17, the rate of notifiable workplace injuries was 4.94 per thousand employees, compared with 2.82 in 2015–16.

Of the 20 notifiable incidents reported to Comcare, 6 were classified as ‘serious injury’ and 14 classified as ‘dangerous incident’. Although the incident rate has increased slightly since 2015–16, reporting of notifiable incidents demonstrates a positive reporting culture, particularly of dangerous incidents. These will be used as lead indicators to proactively identify risk areas and take measures to prevent future incidents.
The department’s Comcare premium is maintained or reduced. Met: Our Comcare premium for 2017–18 was set at $11.4 million, a reduction of $1.1 million from 2016–17 ($12.5 million).

a Performance measures and targets published in the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 29.
b A notifiable incident is defined in the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and includes death of a worker; or serious injury or illness requiring immediate treatment as an inpatient at a hospital; or treatment within 48 hours of exposure to a substance or dangerous incident prescribed by the Work Health and Safety Regulations.

Maintaining safe and healthy workplaces

Strengthening work health and safety management systems to reduce injuries remains a key focus for us. In 2016–17, we delivered a number of initiatives, including:

  • a hazardous chemical management program and online chemical management compliance system
  • an online system to record WHS risks and corrective actions, ensuring a nationally consistent and transparent approach to managing risk across the department
  • completing a WHS training needs analysis report
  • face-to-face training across the department in the areas of fatigue, risk management, and third-party premises
  • developing hazardous manual task and noise management strategies.

Over the past few years, we have improved our application of early intervention strategies to provide more timely and effective support to our people, while reducing the number of claims being lodged with Comcare. These measures are expected to have long-lasting benefits.

In 2016, we developed and rolled out an effective early intervention workshop for supervisors, and introduced the Re-connect program to more effectively address long-term compensation claims.

During the year, we recorded our lowest number of accepted claims (22 claims in 2016–17, down from 60 in 2015–16). As a result of our efforts, our indicative workers’ compensation premium for 2017–18 was reduced by $1 million on the previous year.

The 2016–17 external audit of our Rehabilitation Management System was conducted in May 2017. Our compliance rate increased to 88.5 per cent, compared with 85 per cent in 2015–16.

TABLE 40 Reported serious personal injuries, prescribed incapacities and dangerous occurrences to employees 2015–16 and 2016–17
Category2016–172015–16
Deaths00
Serious personal injuries a67
Dangerous occurrences b145

a Serious personal injury means that a person needs emergency treatment by a doctor; treatment in a hospital as a casualty, with or without being admitted to the hospital; or admission to hospital. b Dangerous occurrences are ‘near misses’ that could have, but did not, result in death, serious personal injury or incapacity.

TABLE 41 Investigations, directions and notices under work health and safety legislation 2015–16 and 2016–17
Category2016–172015–16
Investigations310
Provisional improvement notices00
Directions or notices00


Financial performance

Annual performance statement
TABLE 42 Performance measure— the department delivers a balanced and financially sustainable budget
Target
Result against performance measure
A balanced budget is set at the beginning of the financial year. Met: We operated within our approved balanced budget (consistent with allowable losses) for 2016–17.

The department ended the year with a surplus of $12.7 million after allowable losses.
The department manages its cash in accordance with its capital management plan and with regard to its forward year commitments. Met: We have a healthy balance sheet and cash reserves which place the department in a good position to meet its short term obligations.
The end-of-year financial position is consistent with forecasts from the start of the year. Met: We performed better than the forecast at the start of the year. The improvement reflects better than expected cost-recovery revenue, the delayed pay rise and the favourable impact from government bond rate adjustments.
Managing our finances

Our 2014–2019 five-year finance strategy has the long-term objective of ensuring the department remains a financially sustainable Department of State and service delivery organisation. In particular, the strategy aims to ensure our cost-recovered services, which represent more than half of departmental expenditure, are efficient, transparent and sustainably funded.

In 2016–17, we implemented a number of initiatives to improve financial management. The initiatives include centralisation of non-discretionary expenditures, implementation of an activity-based accounting system, improvements in our departmental forecasting and reporting capability, and the establishment of a cost-recovery board. These initiatives have supported decision-making on the allocation of resources to meet changing business needs and to ensure the department is financially sustainable.

Our 2016–17 internal budget aligned to the Portfolio Budget Statements with an expected balanced budget (consistent with allowable losses). The 2016–17 full year result is in surplus of $12.7 million after allowable losses.

Revenue

In 2016–17, our revenue increased by $49 million from 2015–16 to $798.3 million. The increase was primarily due to additional revenue from government, totalling $37.2 million for new measures from the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper and for the transfer of water resources functions from the Environment portfolio. Own source income increased by $11.8 million, primarily from Biosecurity arrangements and resources received free-of-charge for the Mickleham Post-Entry Quarantine Facility.

Figure 13 shows the own source income received by the department over the past seven years and estimated own source income from 2017–18 as per the Portfolio Budget Statements 2017–18.

FIGURE 13 Own source income, 2010–11 to 2020–21

Total sales of goods and services revenue (including cost-recovery) collected in 2016–17 was $389.3 million with the breakdown by cost-recovery arrangement shown in Figure 14.

FIGURE 14 Sale of goods and services revenue by cost-recovery activity 2016–17
Note: ‘Other’ includes PGPA s. 74 receipts for biosecurity plant and animal health programs.
Departmental expenses

Our expenses totalled $802.3 million in 2016–17, against an estimated budget of $800.8 million (Portfolio Budget Statements 2016–17).

Figure 15 shows the trend of departmental operating expenses over the past seven years, and budgeted expenditure figures from 2017–18 as per the Portfolio Budget Statements 2017–18.

FIGURE 15 Departmental expenses 2010–11 to 2020–21
Note: Budget influx in 2015 and slow decline thereafter is mainly due to Water Resources machinery of government changes and Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper measures.
Cost-recovery reserves

We manage four Cost-Recovery Implementation Statements, comprising eight cost-recovery arrangements and the National Residue Survey arrangement. These are supported by cost-recovery reserves.

Figure 16 outlines the cost-recovery reserve balances at the end of the year.

FIGURE 16 Cost-recovery reserve balances at 30 June 2017
Note: Only surplus reserves are recorded in the department’s financial statements.
Administered program performance

We have a range of administered programs. The material programs are:

  • A Competitive Agriculture Sector—boosting farm profits through rural research and development
  • Drought Concessional Loans Scheme
  • Drought Recovery Concessional Loans Scheme
  • Farm Business Concessional Loans Scheme
  • Rural Financial Counselling Service
  • Farm Household Allowance
  • Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure Program (SRWUIP).

We managed administered assets of $2,010.4 million on behalf of the government. This largely comprised $696.5 million in loans and investments in seven portfolio entities of $369.5 million.

Administered revenue received for 2016–17 was $591.1 million, an increase of $36.0 million on the 2015–16 revenue figure of $555.1 million. This result was mainly because of increased levy revenue of $32.3 million and other revenue of $2.9 million. Additionally, other gains of $129.9 million are recognised in 2016–17, primarily relating to the recognition of water entitlement assets received free-of-charge under the SRWUIP grants program.

Expenditure for 2016–17 was $1,505.6 million, an increase of $325.3 million on the 2015–16 expenditure figure of $1,180.3 million. This increase was primarily in connection with levy disbursements and Commonwealth contributions ​valued at $54.3 million, the SRWUIP valued at $193.6 million and the payments valued at $59.7 million to Murray–Darling Basin Authority as a result of the transition to a corporate Commonwealth entity.

Managing our assets

A significant portion of the our expenditure is related to property leases and property maintenance costs. We maintain around 110 sites across Australia ranging from office accommodation to post-entry quarantine facilities, laboratories, data facilities and residences in remote locations. As at 30 June 2017, our asset base was valued at $161.9 million. Our major investments are in land, buildings and ICT hardware and software.

We invest in new assets to improve our systems and processes. We manage capital investment through an annual capital plan that reflects both government priorities and ongoing business needs. We use key principles of the balanced scorecard framework to evaluate capital proposals and ensure investments are made effectively.

Information and communications technology

Annual performance statement
TABLE 43 Performance measure—Information and communications technology meets the department’s business needs a
Target
Result against performance measure
No clients or staff are affected by an unplanned outage of department-managed ICT infrastructure or business application b. Not met: In 2016–17, core department systems were available 96.45% of the time, with only 22 incidents affecting general availability and 72 incidents involving an unplanned outage that affected users of department systems.

Incidents where unplanned outages affected users included localised network outages and events that were outside our control, such as power outages. The effect of these incidents on users ranged from reduced performance through to full system outages.
Ninety per cent of ICT projects are delivered on time and within budgetc. Partially met: In 2016–17, we completed 28 major ICT projects. We delivered 100% of the projects within budget. However, 46% of the projects exceeded the scheduled delivery time frame.

a Performance measures and targets published in the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 29.
b Excludes failures of infrastructure or equipment hosted by external vendors or on public networks that are outside of the department’s control. c Major projects are ICT-enabled projects valued at $50,000 and above. Minor work projects are those valued at under $50,000. Performance is based on the IT project management framework, which allows project modifications (scope, budget, timing) in response to changing business needs and priorities.

Our information and communications technology

Managing ICT capability and reliability is critical to our performance and delivery of services to clients. We monitor performance using an industry-standard impact and urgency matrix, where widespread impacts are rated ‘critical’ and more localised impacts to sites or systems are rated ‘high’.

Where full system outages occur, these are categorised in terms of duration, scope and severity of impact. Significant outages are subject to root cause analysis and reporting. We seek to minimise impacts on clients and put in place preventative strategies.

Snapshot: Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy gets better access to the web

Patchy and unreliable internet and mobile phone reception are issues for many remote and regional, departmental office and work sites. Improving capability is critical to managing biosecurity risk.

With this in mind, we rolled out improved ICT access for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rangers and officers in Torres Strait and northern Australia.

Our rangers carry out biosecurity surveillance activities through the Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy (NAQS). This valuable work provides an early warning system for exotic pest, weed and disease detections across northern Australia and helps to mitigate the unique biosecurity risks facing the region.

Following extensive investigation, we began work to deploy services including improved mobile phone connectivity and wi-fi access to 10 sites in Torres Strait and other sites, including Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. We also deployed internet connectivity to departmental vehicles used in Torres Strait.

We continue to support the biosecurity surveillance work of our rangers by providing ICT solutions for the collection, storage and reporting of tropical biosecurity data; to improve the diagnostic capacity of tropical biosecurity; and to expand biosecurity surveillance.

 

Further work will continue under the White Paper on Developing Northern Australia and the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper initiatives to expand the biosecurity work of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rangers.

To ensure good governance across projects we manage our ICT project work through an ICT Project Management office.

In 2016–17, we continued an active program of ICT projects focused on delivering the objectives of our ICT strategy. We delivered 100 per cent of projects within budget. However, 46 per cent of the projects exceeded their scheduled delivery dates. This partly reflects project modifications.

Additional activities

During 2016–17, we achieved a number of successful outcomes for activities that contributed to improving our department’s efficiency and capability and ensuring the delivery of services to our staff and stakeholders.

A new Enterprise Agreement

A ballot for a new enterprise agreement was conducted in June 2017 and we were successful in receiving a majority ‘yes’ vote. The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Enterprise Agreement 2017–20 commenced in July 2017.

Information and Data Management Agenda

In May 2017, we implemented our first Information and Data Management Agenda. As part of the agenda, we developed a new Information and Data Management Framework that looks at different information and data management functions, and how we can increase our maturity level in these functions. The framework includes a number of key activities that will be implemented over time. A new Information Management Committee will be established to provide strategic oversight of our information and data management practices. A new Data Policy Team is also being established to drive the implementation of this work.

This work will help us contribute to the government’s Public Data Policy and Digital Continuity 2020 Policy. It highlights the importance of properly managing our information and data assets to maximise their value, use and re-use. The new framework will also enable us to start releasing non-sensitive data publicly.

Implementing the government’s Shared and Common Services Program Agenda

The Shared Services Program is a major whole-of-government change transformation activity. The program aims to:

  • drive business process standardisation across the APS by consolidating service provision from 94 agencies into designated public sector providers (Hubs) by the end of 2020–21, each offering end to end financial and human resource services
  • consolidate corporate services across the APS. To this end, numerous consumer agencies will be transitioning their core transactional services to their nominated provider.

We are fully engaged with the program and have committed to select a service hub to host the department’s core transaction services. The transactional services in scope for the Tranche 1 project includes Financial Management (FMIS) and Human Resource Management (HRMIS) functions as follows:

  • accounts payable
  • accounts receivable
  • general ledger management
  • credit card management
  • payroll.

In preparing for the changes under the program, we are implementing an FMIS Replacement Project (TechnologyOne) and HRMIS (Aurion Version 11) to ensure that our business systems and practices will align with our selected hub practices. We are a participant in the Annual Shared Services Benchmarking Exercise and contribute to the Department of Finance’s Standardisation of Business Processes project for the APS.

Biosecurity Integrated Information Systems and Analytics (BISSA) Program

The Biosecurity Integrated Information System and Analytics (BIISA) program comprises two major initiatives funded by the Agricultural Competitiveness White paper. The BIISA is a business led, technology enabled program to improve the effectiveness of biosecurity functions by providing a technical architecture that facilitates decision making supported by better data access, data sharing and analysis. BIISA initiatives will enhance the department’s analytic capability to support better decision-making and management of biosecurity risks. BIISA also provides an opportunity to re-engineer biosecurity business processes to optimise efficiency and effectiveness. When fully implemented, BIISA will improve the way the department manages biosecurity risks, facilitates trade and market access, responds to policy changes, reviews existing import conditions and reacts to biosecurity issues or emergencies. Work on the program commenced in January 2017 and is on track for delivery in 2020.

Cyber Security

Our ongoing information security program mitigates information security risks by implementing controls recommended by Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) and taking into account the unique insights into contemporary threats that we receive from our close working relationships with our ICT suppliers. We prioritise controls selected from ASD’s strategy to mitigate cyber security incidents. Our Secure Internet Gateway service is provided by Macquarie Telecom. This gateway, in combination with systems managed by the department and DCX Technology, effectively isolate our Internet facing systems from the internal network and provides a number of additional security services including spam and malware filtering for email, DMZs to isolate web servers and other Internet facing systems, load balancing to increase system availability, monitoring services integrated with our Security Incident and Event Monitoring system (SIEM), Denial of Service (DOS) prevention and Intrusion Prevention System.

Macquarie Telecom blocks unsophisticated DOS attacks. If the department or another agency using the gateway is the victim of a sophisticated Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attack, Macquarie works with the agencies and upstream ISPs to mitigate the attack. We use a variety of controls to block and detect attacks that attempt to install malicious software on our systems. These controls include inspection of email attachments and files downloaded from the Internet, application whitelisting, a combination of blacklisting and whitelisting websites, host and network intrusion prevention systems and centralised security incident and event monitoring through the SIEM system. We regularly re-assesses its risk posture, taking into account all credible sources of information, to ensure adequate controls are in place to manage known threats and to be positioned to respond to and recover from adverse cyber events.

Agricultural Intelligence Transformation Project

The Agricultural Intelligence Transformation Project (AITP) aims to transform ABARES’ extensive data holdings into an environment where they are discoverable, accessible and usable by the department, government, stakeholders and clients.

Users of ABARES data will be able to better understand and respond to future agricultural risks and opportunities, provide quicker and more consistent responses to data and information requests, access enhanced analytical tools and business intelligence, and be able to more easily discover innovative solutions to policy questions including through self service solutions

The focus of the AITP–Phase One is the transformation of the ABARES farm survey system and associated business processes as a pilot project preceding the full transformation of ABARES business processes and data holdings into the enterprise environment.

Delivering major infrastructure projects

We commenced Phase Two of delivering the Mickleham post-entry quarantine facility in Victoria. This has expanded the range of services now available at the facility at Mickleham, with additional capacity for cats and dogs and the ruminants facility now up and running. Work is progressing to move the avian facility in 2017–18.

Strategic objective: Being a best practice regulator

Objective: Encourage regulators to undertake their functions with the minimum impact necessary to achieve regulatory objectives and to effect positive, ongoing and lasting cultural change.

We aim to be a trusted, effective and transparent regulator. We operate under a risk-based compliance approach that recognises good performance by reducing regulatory burden on our stakeholders.

We consider the regulatory burden for individuals, businesses and community organisations arising from our regulatory functions. This is given effect through a range of measures such as regulation impact statements and annual reporting on regulatory performance. Importantly, we are seeking to improve the experience and access for regulated entities through online service delivery and improved service standards. While this is not without challenges, there is a clear pathway to improvement over time.

The Regulator Performance Framework provides the basis for assessing our performance as a regulator. The first report on our performance was published in 2017.

We also report on other elements of our regulator performance role in relation to specific strategic objectives, including trade and market access, natural resource management and biosecurity.

No internal performance measures and targets for our regulatory performance were developed as part of the 2016–17 corporate plan. However, in this chapter we report against the targets identified in our 2017–18 corporate plan to provide a baseline for performance measurement in future years.

Regulatory performance

Annual performance statement
TABLE 44 Performance measure—Regulatory practices seek to minimise the impact of regulation on clients and stakeholders a
Target
Result against performance measure
New and amended regulations consider impacts on regulated entities b. Met: In 2016–17, we prepared 33 preliminary assessments and four regulation impact statements. The completed statements were certified as best practice by the Office of Best Practice Regulation.
We assess and report our performance as a regulator under the Regulator Performance Framework c. Met: The 2015–16 regulator performance report was published on our website in 2017. It reported our performance against key performance indicators.

a Performance measures and targets published in the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2017–18, p. 29.
b Based on regulator impact assessments and preliminary assessments undertaken by the department in 2016–17. c Based on published regulator performance assessments for the preceding year.

Regulation impact statements

Regulation impact statements (RIS) are required for all decisions made by the Australian Government and its agencies that are likely to have a regulatory impact on businesses, community organisations or individuals—unless the proposed change is a minor or machinery change. The Office of Best Practice Regulation (OBPR) determines whether a RIS is required based on preliminary assessments that we prepare. Where there are significant impacts on regulated entities, the OBPR may require us to develop a regulatory impact statement. This ensures the impact on regulated entities is assessed and minimises the likelihood of unintended negative impacts.

The regulatory assessments published in 2016–17 were:

  • Imported Food Reforms
  • Regulation impact statement: Export tariff quota regulatory streamlining
  • Tea Tree oil Levy
  • Horticulture Code of Conduct.
Regulator Performance Framework

We report annually on our regulatory performance. Performance is assessed against the six key indicators in the framework:

  1. Regulators do not unnecessarily impede the efficient operation of regulated entities.
  2. Communication with regulated entities is clear, targeted and effective.
  3. Actions undertaken by regulators are proportionate to the regulatory risk being managed.
  4. Compliance and monitoring approaches are streamlined and coordinated.
  5. Regulators are open and transparent in their dealings with regulated entities.
  6. Regulators actively contribute to the continuous improvement of regulatory frameworks.

This is published as a standalone Regulator Performance Framework report. To support our assessment, evidence-based metrics have been developed and approved by the Agricultural Industry Advisory Council. While we perform a broad range of functions to support the achievement of regulatory objectives, the following core regulatory functions are within scope:

  • delivery of biosecurity functions
  • control of exports, including certification
  • regulation of the importation of timber products and processing of raw logs to combat illegal logging
  • monitoring of imported food
  • implementing the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Scheme
  • collecting levies for research, development and marketing.

The Regulator Performance Framework report lists the activities we undertake to improve the operation of our regulations. In 2016–17, these included:

  • implementing the first phase of the Biosecurity Act 2015
  • efforts to reduce the impact of regulatory compliance with the Illegal Logging Prohibition Regulation 2012
  • reviewing the agricultural exports regulation to improve export opportunities and reforms
  • efforts to clarify labelling obligations under the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Scheme
  • improving accountability to levy payers through annual reporting on the performance of the levy system.

Our next report is due to be published in early 2018 and will be informed by a survey of our biosecurity and export regulation clients.

Service delivery

Annual performance statement
TABLE 45 Performance measure—Business processes and client services are improved through the better use of modern technology and improved work practices, and agreed service standards are met ab
Target
Result against performance measure
Service delivery modernisation initiatives implemented in the reporting year provide benefits to clients. Met: During 2016–17, our Service Delivery Modernisation program delivered a range of benefits to clients, including enhancements to the Post Entry Biosecurity System and implementation of an online facility for clients to apply to establish an approved arrangement.
Agreed service standards are met. Partially met: We are delivering our services within agreed timeframes and have demonstrated our strong commitment to improving our service delivery by meeting or exceeding our performance targets across 17 of the 18 client service standards.

For example, during the year, we received 220,747 calls through our national client service number. Of the 94.7% of calls answered, 87.8% were answered within the service level standard of 120 seconds, against our service target of 80%.

The inspection of goods at an approved premises target of 95% of inspections being undertaken within 3 business days of booking was not met in two locations because of periods of significant short-term increases in inspection activity.

a Excludes failures of infrastructure or equipment hosted by ex​ternal vendors or on public networks that are outside the department’s control. b Performance measure and targets published in the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 29.

Service Delivery Modernisation Program

Our Service Delivery Modernisation (SDM) program continues to find new ways to improve how we deliver biosecurity and export–related services.

Improvements to the Post Entry Biosecurity System have allowed importers of plants and plant material to move from paper-based post-entry quarantine processes to online process for managing bookings, releases and payment.

A new facility for approved arrangements means around 80 industry participants have moved from paper forms to online applications. This is providing a number of benefits, including improved data quality and performance.

Other SDM initiatives currently underway are expected to deliver significant benefits for clients and our workforce, including the provision of a single authenticated access point to department services.

Our service standards

Our Client Service Charter outlines our service commitments and establishes benchmarks for the delivery of biosecurity and export-related services.

The quality of service provided to our clients is measured against 18 client service standards. During 2016–17, we expanded the range of client service standards beyond our client contact services to include our import and export services.

TABLE 46 Performance against service standards, 2016–17
CategoryService standardMet/not met
Client contact servicesVia phoneMet
Via online formsMet
Via phone bookings or emailMet
Import servicesInspection of goods at an approved premisesNot met
TreatmentsMet
Inspection of non-standard vesselsMet
Assess/issue documentation lodged via COLSMet
Assess/issue documentation lodged via emailMet
Attend in-office for clearing of import and export goodsMet
Import applications using BICONMet
Export servicesInspection of goods at an export registered establishmentMet
Inspection of export goods for airfreightMet
Inspection of export goods for sea freightMet
Inspection of bulk vessels for exportMet
Assess/issue export documentationMet
Plant export authorised officer applications – application assessmentMet
Plant export authorised officer applications – deed of obligationMet
Plant export authorised officer applications – instrument of appointmentMet

We encourage feedback from the community and our stakeholders. During 2016–2017, we received 28 compliments, 253 complaints and 19 suggestions through our feedback channels.

Client feedback is reported quarterly to our Executive Management Committee, which considers trend data for planning and improving client interactions. We have also sought structured feedback on our services and this will inform our consideration of regulatory performance. We report on findings in relation to biosecurity performance.

Snapshot: Implementation of improved online Services—BICON

The Australian Government’s Biosecurity Import Conditions system (BICON) was launched in phases from August 2015 and became fully operational on 15 July 2016. BICON provides ready access to biosecurity import conditions for more than 20,000 plants, animals, minerals and biological products. It can be used to determine whether a commodity intended for import into Australia:

  • is permitted
  • is subject to import conditions
  • requires supporting documentation
  • requires treatment
  • requires an import permit.

Importers can apply, track and manage BICON import permits online through a registered user account. The system is also used to notify registered users when published conditions change, ensuring importers are aware of the most current import conditions.

Receiving more than 1.8 million unique web hits a month, and with more than 15,000 registered importers, BICON has made it much easier for importers to comply with their biosecurity obligations. We have calculated that this will lead to an annual saving of more than $26 million in compliance costs and regulatory burden. The lessons learnt from the first year of operation will inform system improvements.

Photo: Bicon website screenshot.


Management and accountability

Our governance

The Executive Management Committee (EMC) oversees the implementation and improvement of our governance structures and business operations, shares responsibility for building capability and promotes collaboration between business areas, other agencies and our stakeholders. During the year, the EMC shifted from weekly to fortnightly meetings.

In 2016–17, the EMC was supported by two sub-committees.

  • Business Transformation Committee
  • People, Safety and Culture Committee.

Following a sub-committee review, we are looking to implement a number of new processes during 2017–18.

TABLE 47 Executive committees—roles and membership at 30 June 2017
CommitteeRoleMembership
Executive Management Committee The EMC makes decisions and provides guidance to:
  • ensure the department achieves its purpose and objectives
  • build and maintain organisational capability
  • monitor performance against departmental objectives and priorities
  • monitor and respond to strategic, business and operational risks
  • allocate budgets and ensure financial sustainability
  • assure compliance with legislative, governance and administrative frameworks.
Met 35 times in 2016–17
Secretary (chair)
Deputy secretaries
Chief Finance Officer
Advisors:
Chief Information Officer
General Counsel
First Assistant Secretary, Service Delivery
First Assistant Secretary, Corporate Strategy and Governance (secretariat)
Audit Committee chair (as observer every quarter)
Business Transformation Committee The BTC is responsible for:
  • driving the strategic direction for business transformation within the department.
  • identifying linkages between projects and programs, particularly Tier 1 and Tier 2, and advise the EMC about the projects prior to funding.
  • identifying and prioritising substantial and significant change issues and related impacts to advise the EMC.
  • ensuring impacts of change activities across the portfolio are manageable for staff and clients.
  • promoting sharing of business experiences and best practice for change initiatives.
If delays were outside of the tolerance bounds set by the relevant Board, then the issues from projects and programs considered Tier 1 or Tier 2 come to the committee for resolution.

Met seven times in 2016–17
Deputy secretaries (one as chair)
Chief Finance Officer
Chief Information Officer
First Assistant Secretary, Corporate Strategy and Governance
First Assistant Secretary, Compliance
First Assistant Secretary, Service Delivery
First Assistant Secretary, Biosecurity Policy and Implementation
Executive Director, ABARES
The committee also includes the following advisors:
Assistant Secretary, Business Assurance
Assistant Secretary, Design and Change
Assistant Secretary, People Capability
Assistant Secretary, Information Management and Public Data Taskforce
Assistant Secretary, Food Competition and Investment
Assistant Secretary, Operations Integration
People, Safety and Culture Committee The PSCC is responsible for:
  • making recommendations to the EMC on overarching strategies and plans, and other people-related strategies of significance for the department or portfolio
  • making decisions, as appropriate, to implement or operationalise other issues, consistent with previous directions and decisions of the EMC
  • monitoring workforce impacts and associated risks to the department, and overseeing the effective implementation of appropriate management actions
  • undertaking regular performance monitoring on work health and safety, rehabilitation, performance, culture and unplanned absence
  • overseeing the resourcing, performance, implementation and continuous improvement of the department's people systems
  • identify and respond to strategic issues including work health and safety incidents, hazards and risks.
Met seven times in 2016–17
PSCC membership includes:
Deputy secretary (Chair)
First Assistant Secretary, Corporate Strategy and Governance (Deputy Chair)
First Assistant Secretary, Service Delivery Division
Three first assistant secretaries
Four assistant secretaries including one regional member
One external member from an APS agency at the discretion of the Chair.

Managing our risk

Our Enterprise Risk Management Policy and Framework is administered in line with the requirements of the Commonwealth Risk Management Policy. We take a risk-based approach to policy and program development, integrating risk management with governance, planning and performance management processes.

A new on-line portal, Planning Hub, which integrates planning, risk management, reporting and project planning into one tool, was deployed and successfully used to undertake risk assessments during the 2017–18 divisional business planning process.

An award of ‘Highly Commended’ was presented to the department in the Enterprise-wide Risk Management category at the biennial Comcover Awards for Excellence in Risk Management. This was the only award presented to a Commonwealth entity within this category.

During 2016–17 five strategic risks to achieving our purpose were monitored through the EMC:

  • Pest and disease incursions—maintaining capacity to prevent and respond to incursions
  • Maintain and improve market access—enabling the expansion of agricultural, fisheries and forestry exports, as well as preparing for and responding quickly to any loss of market access
  • Effective implementation of government priorities—ensuring the department meets timing and delivery expectations in respect of key government initiatives
  • Maintain and enhance reputation—ensuring the department continuously and effectively engages with key stakeholders and has their trust and respect
  • An efficient and effective department—ensuring the financial, workforce and systems capability of the department is sufficient to meet our legal obligations and achieve our strategic objectives.

Each division developed a risk management plan as part of its annual business plan, and risk management procedures were integrated into project management processes.

A review of our strategic risks and strategic objectives was undertaken in 2016–17, resulting in a streamlining of strategic risks from five to four. The four new strategic risks will come into effect in 2017–18. We have updated our Enterprise Risk Management Policy and Framework accordingly.

Our fraud control

We are committed to actively promoting the standards of behaviour outlined in the Australian Public Service Employment Principles, Values and Code of Conduct established under the Public Service Act 1999, the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 and the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013. Our Fraud and Corruption Control Plan is informed by independent fraud and corruption risk assessments. These assessments evaluate existing and emerging fraud and corruption risk and detail controls and treatment strategies to address these risks.

Our fraud and corruption awareness strategy includes mandatory training and regular fraud-related messaging to all staff to build understanding, recognition and reporting of fraud and corruption.

Allegations of fraudulent, corrupt and criminal behaviour involving the department, organisations or individuals who receive funding and services through our programs are investigated in accordance with the Attorney-General’s Department’s ‘Australian Government Investigations Standards’. All reasonable measures are taken to recover the proceeds of fraud against the department.

In accordance with the Law Enforcement Integrity Commissioner Act 2006, prescribed members of the department are under the jurisdiction of the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI).

Our security

Our Department Security Plan provides the protective security framework for mitigating against security risks to our people, information and assets in accordance with the Australian Government Protective Security Policy Framework.

Staff who require access to security classified information are required to obtain and maintain an appropriate security clearance. We undertake physical security risk assessments to protect our assets. We actively protect our information through mechanisms such as electronic access control and remote monitoring.

Our Security Executive, Agency Security Advisor, and Information Technology Security Officer provide protective security advice.

We report annually on our Protective Security Policy Framework compliance to the Attorney-General’s Department and other key stakeholders.

Our assurance process

The Audit Committee oversees an annual internal audit work program, undertaken by an independent internal audit team and contracted external service providers. The work program is developed in consultation with senior management and is reviewed regularly to ensure it is relevant and responsive to changes and business risks. The work program is approved by the Secretary.

The Audit Committee provides independent advice and assurance on reviewing the appropriateness of our financial reporting, performance reporting, system of risk oversight and management, and system of internal control.

Our operations are subject to further scrutiny by the Inspector-General of Biosecurity, a statutory body that reviews and reports on the way the department exercises its biosecurity powers, and the process for conducting import risk analyses.

The Australian National Audit Office conducts performance and financial statement audits on the department.

TABLE 48 Audit Committee—role and membership at 30 June 2017
CommitteeRoleMembership
Audit CommitteeProvides independent assurance and advice to the secretary on the department’s risk, control and assurance framework

Met five times in 2016–17
Ms Jenny Morison, independent member (chair)
Mr Geoff Knuckey, independent member
Ms Anthea Tinney, independent member
Mr David Parker (deputy chair)
Mr Nico Padovan, member

Compliance

In 2016–17, we did not report to the Minister any significant issue that has affected the department under paragraph 19(1) (e) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

Remuneration

Senior executive remuneration policy

The Remuneration Tribunal determines a classification structure for offices of secretary, specifies total remuneration pay points for each level, and determines the level that applies to the department’s secretary. The secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet assigns which total remuneration pay point within the level applies to the secretary.

The secretary determines the remuneration for the department’s Senior Executive Service (SES) officers under section 24 (1) of the Public Service Act 1999, with regard to the Workplace Bargaining Policy 2015.

Our remuneration policy allows variations in remuneration between individual jobs, based on market and work-value considerations. This is vital to our ability to compete effectively for the best people in the employment market.

Non-salary benefits

Non-salary benefits provided to SES Band 3 employees as part of their remuneration package include superannuation and car parking. SES Band 1 and 2 employees receive superannuation as the only non-salary benefit and pay for car parking.

The only non-salary benefits provided to non-SES officers as part of their remuneration package are generally limited to superannuation. In exceptional cases, employees may have private use of a Commonwealth vehicle where it is deemed necessary for the performance of their duties.

External service providers

Our procurement practices reflect the policies and principles outlined in the Commonwealth Procurement Rules. We focus on:

  • value for money
  • encouraging competition
  • efficient, effective, economical and ethical use of government resources
  • accountability and transparency
  • compliance with Australian Government policies.

Our divisions are responsible for their own procurement, subject to the accountable authority instructions and supporting departmental guidelines that complement the Commonwealth Procurement Rules.

We engage consultants where we lack specialist expertise or when independent assessment, research or review is required. Consultants are typically engaged to investigate or diagnose a defined issue or problem; carry out defined reviews or evaluations; or provide independent advice, information or creative solutions to assist in the department’s decision-making. Before engaging consultants, we take into account the skills and resources required for the task, the skills available internally and the cost-effectiveness of engaging external expertise.

We also enter into purchaser–provider arrangements with a range of government, industry and private sector agencies for services to improve the productivity, competitiveness and sustainability of Australia’s agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries.

Consultancies

In 2016–17, the department entered into 81 new consultancy contracts with the total number of active consultancies being 133. Actual expenditure of all active consultancy contracts was $12,554,166.

Table 49 shows the number and value of consultancies with a value greater than $10,000 and total expenditure on consultancies for 2016–17 and the two previous years.

TABLE 49 Consultancies—number, value and total expenditure
Category2016–172015–162014–15
Number of consultancies with a value greater than $10,000 let during the year81 9360
Total value of consultancies with a value greater than $10,000 let during the year$6,134,619$28,063,419$4,592,735
Actual expenditure on new and ongoing consultancies during the year$12,554,166$9,705,960$3,146,584

Note: the value of 2015-16 consultancies greater than $10,000 is higher due to a significant water investment.

Indigenous procurement

The government’s Indigenous Procurement Policy was launched on 1 July 2015 and aims to leverage the Commonwealth’s annual multi-billion procurement spend to:

  • drive demand for Indigenous goods and services
  • stimulate Indigenous economic development
  • grow the Indigenous business sector.

We support and implemented the government’s policy which includes considering Indigenous suppliers for all remote contracts and for all contracts valued between $80,000 and $200,000.

In 2016–17, the portfolio was set a target of 3 per cent or 31 contracts. The number of contracts entered into with Indigenous suppliers was 84, including multi-year contracts. Goods and services provided included Indigenous ranger services, building fit out, demolition and temporary personnel. Information on the Indigenous Procurement Policy, targets and results are available at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet website.

Procurement initiatives to support small business

We support small business participation in the Commonwealth procurement market. Small and medium enterprises participation statistics are available on the Department of Finance website.

We recognise the importance of ensuring small businesses are paid on time. The results of the Survey of Australian Government Payments to Small Business are available on the Treasury website.

Our procurement practices support small and medium enterprises by using:

  • the Commonwealth Contracting Suite for low-risk procurements valued at under $1 million
  • small business engagement principles, as outlined in the government’s industry innovation and competitiveness agenda, such as communicating in clear, simple language and presenting information in an accessible format
  • credit cards where possible for purchases under $10,000.
Other contract information

The secretary did not exempt any contracts let during 2016–17 from being published on AusTender on the basis that publication would disclose exempt matters under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

All contracts drafted by the department valued at $100,000 or more (GST inclusive) and let during the year provided for the Auditor-General to have access to the contractor’s premises.

Annual reports contain information about actual expenditure on contracts for consultancies. Information on the value of contracts and consultancies is available on the AusTender website.

Advertising and market research

Payments to advertising agencies, market research organisations, polling organisations, direct mail organisations and media advertising organisations are set out in Table 50.

During 2016–17, we conducted an advertising campaign relating to biosecurity restrictions on importation of red dates into Australia. The campaign titled ‘Red Dates’ was advertised in a number of Chinese publications. Further information on red date import conditions is available on the department’s website and in the reports on Australian Government advertising prepared by the Department of Finance.

TABLE 50 Advertising and market research for 2016–17
OrganisationDescriptionExpenditure a
Advertising agencies—creative head hours billed:
N/A
Market research organisations
DBM Consultants Pty LtdStakeholder perception of department’s performance$148,363.88
Instinct and Reason Pty LtdSocial attitudes and understanding of biosecurity to support market access and plant health surveillance$314,930.00
Q&A Market ResearchFocus groups in regards to marine pests and communities$24,032.34
The Social Research Centre Pty LtdPest animal and weeds management survey$24,961.91
Polling organisations
N/A
Direct mail organisations
N/A
Media advertising organisations—including recruitment and tender notices
Dentsu MitchellAdvertising$130,003.03
Recruitment $114,050.80 b
Total $756,341.96

a All figures are inclusive of GST. b Best available estimate as at 30 June 2017.


External scrutiny

Parliamentary committee reports

Parliamentary committees tabled five reports relevant to the department.

TABLE 51 Parliamentary committee reports tabled in 2016–17
CommitteeInquiryTabling date
Senate Environment and Communications References CommitteeFactory freezer trawlers in the Commonwealth Small Pelagic Fishery23 November 2016
House Standing Committee on Agriculture and Water ResourcesRoundtable on the biosecurity of the Australian honey bee industry27 March 2017
Senate Environment and Communications References CommitteeRisks and opportunities associated with the use of the bumblebee population in Tasmania for commercial pollination12 June 2017
Senate Finance and Public Administration References CommitteeThe operation, effectiveness, and consequences of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability (Location of Corporate Commonwealth Entities) Order 201613 June 2017
Joint Standing committee on Trade and Investment GrowthLeveraging our advantages—the trade relationship between Australia and Indonesia19 June 2017

Government responses to inquiry reports

The Australian Government responded to four parliamentary committee reports relevant to the department, shown in Table 52.

TABLE 52 Government responses tabled in 2016–17
CommitteeInquiryTabling date
Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References CommitteeImplications of the restriction on the use of fenthion on Australia’s horticultural industry5 October 2016
Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation CommitteeAnnual Reports (No. 1 of 2015)14 March 2017
Senate Select Committee on the
Murray–Darling Basin Plan
Refreshing the Plan16 February 2017
Senate Environment and Communications References CommitteeEnvironmental Biosecurity28 June 2017

Reports by the Auditor-General

The Auditor-General tabled five Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) reports on the department’s activities.

ANAO Audit Report No.17 2016–17: Design and Monitoring of the Rural Research and Development for Profit Programme

The audit assessed the effectiveness of the design process for the Rural Research and Development for Profit program, including performance measurement and reporting arrangements. The ANAO made two recommendations around the program’s design and performance measures. We agreed with both recommendations.

ANAO Audit Report No.18 2016–17: Confidentiality in Government Contracts: Senate Order for Entity Contracts (Calendar Year 2015 Compliance)

The audit assessed the appropriateness of the use and reporting of confidentiality provisions in Australian Government Contracts of the department and other entities. This was the ANAO’s first audit of compliance since the Senate Order was amended to allow the reporting of procurement contracts via AusTender for the purposes of the order.

We agreed with the overall findings in the ANAO report and will implement additional measures to improve compliance when assessing confidentiality provisions.

ANAO Audit Report No.34 2016–17: Implementation of the Biosecurity Legislative Framework

The audit assessed the effectiveness of the department’s implementation of the new biosecurity legislative framework. The report found the department had effectively established arrangements that supported a sound planning approach in the implementation of the new biosecurity legislative framework in accordance with legislated timeframes.

The ANAO made one recommendation aimed at the department finalising and implementing an effective Benefits Realisation Framework to effectively assess the impact the new legislation and the value of the reduction in costs and regulatory burden for external stakeholders. We agreed with the recommendation.

ANAO Audit Report No.52 2016–17: Managing Underperformance in the Australian Public Service

The audit assessed the effectiveness of the management of underperformance by the department and other entities and identify opportunities for improvement. The report identified four areas of key learnings for all entities relating to practices for managing underperformance.

We noted the report’s conclusions and acknowledged the need for change in the management of underperformance with the recommendations being incorporated into the review of our Performance Management Framework and associated processes.

ANAO Audit Report No.58 2016–17: Implementation of the Annual Performance Statements Requirements 2015–16

The audit assessed the department’s implementation of the annual performance statements requirements under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) and the enhanced Commonwealth Performance Framework. As this was the first year of published performance statements under the PGPA Act, no recommendations were made but key areas were identified in the report for further attention by the department.

We agreed with most of the ANAO’s findings indicating areas in which its performance measurement and reporting could be improved. These findings will inform its continued efforts to mature its performance reporting.

We did not accept the finding that its Audit Committee did not meet the requirements of its charter, or the requirements and intent of the PGPA Rule, in providing assurance of the certification process. The committee undertook a range of work to meet its charter and the department considers that the assurance provided was consistent with advice from the Department of Finance on the role of audit committees in the certification process​. We are committed to ensuring the Audit Committee meets the requirements of the PGPA Rule.

Reports by the Australian Commissioner for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI)

Since 1 July 2013, certain staff members have been prescribed to be within the ACLEI’s jurisdiction. Prescribed staff currently include the secretary, regional managers, members of staff involved in the assessment, clearance or control of vessels or cargo imported into Australia, and members of staff with access to the Integrated Cargo System.

In 2016–17, the ACLEI did not release any reports on the activities of the department.

Other reports

In 2016–17, the Commonwealth Ombudsman did not release any reports on the activities of the department.

Freedom of information

We make documents available to the public under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act), either in response to requests for access to information, or through its websites, in accordance with the Information Publication Scheme (IPS).

Agencies subject to the FOI Act are required to publish information to the public as part of the IPS, in accordance with Part II of the Act. Each agency must display on its website a plan showing what information it publishes in accordance with the IPS requirements. Our IPS plan is available on our website under ‘reporting’.

We also publish corporate and operational information on our website, and reports on information accessed through FOI applications in a disclosure log.

In 2016–17, we received 85 requests for access under the FOI Act and three requests for internal review and no requests for external review. We finalised 86 requests and four internal reviews. All requests were processed in accordance with the statutory timeframes. Further statistical data on FOI requests received and processed by the department and all Commonwealth agencies each financial year are published by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

In 2016–17, the Australian Information Commissioner did not review any decisions by the department to refuse access to a document requested under the FOI Act.

Reports by the Inspector-General of Biosecurity

The Inspector-General of Biosecurity has a broad scope to review the performance of biosecurity risk management systems and issues that are the department’s responsibility. The Inspector-General makes key findings and recommendations available publicly unless they contain information that is considered prejudicial to the public interest. We provide administrative support to the Inspector-General.

During 2016–17, the Inspector-General:

  • completed a review of the biosecurity risks posed by invasive vector mosquitoes, especially Aedes spp., entering or establishing in Australia
  • initiated reviews of:
    • the circumstances leading to the 2017 suspension of uncooked prawn imports into Australia and the biosecurity considerations relevant to future trade in uncooked prawns
    • the risks posed by ‘hitchhikers and contaminants’ (biosecurity risk material) associated with cargo containers, transport methods and conveyances (for example, vessels and aircraft)
    • the biosecurity risk management lessons that can be drawn from an analysis of recent (up to 10 years) terrestrial pest and disease incursions, border breaches and high-risk interceptions into Australia, as well as considering information from other QUAD countries (Canada, New Zealand and USA).

The Inspector-General of Biosecurity’s reports are available on its website.

Disclosure of information under the Biosecurity Act 2015

Section 590 of the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Biosecurity Act) requires the Director of Biosecurity to report on the use of protected information for the period 16 June 2016 to 30 June 2017. This is the first report on the use of protected information since the commencement of the Biosecurity Act in 2016.

During 2016–17, there were no reports of potential breaches of the Biosecurity Act in relation to the use of protected information.

There have been two written authorisations to disclose protected information under section 580(3) of the Biosecurity Act.


Appendices

Appendix 1: Entity resource and outcome statements

TABLE 53 Entity resource statement, 2016–17
Actual available appropriation
for 2016–17

$’000
Payments made
2016–17

$’000
Balance remaining
2016–17

$’000
  (a)(b)(a)–(b)
Ordinary annual services1
Departmental appropriation
Prior year departmental appropriation 48,80548,805
Departmental appropriation2 385,627330,41355,214
s. 74 retained revenue receipts 28,64628,646
Total  463,078 407,864 55,214
Administered expenses 
Outcome 1 118,406102,002– 
s. 74 retained revenue receipts439439– 
Prior year available 38,75126,636– 
Section 51 determinations(8,160)– 
Outcome 231,05627,602– 
s. 74 retained revenue receipts177177– 
Prior year available 3,3271,664– 
Section 51 determinations(3,490)– 
Outcome 3​ 404,093294,325– 
s. 74 retained revenue receipts77– 
Prior year available 25,16911,718– 
Section 51 determinations(73,951)– 
Total  535,824 464,570– 
Total ordinary annual services A 998,902 872,434– 
  
Other services
Administered expenses 
Specific payments to States, ACT, NT and local government
Outcome 3—National Urban Water and Desalination Plan 2,1001,972128
Total  2,100 1,972 128
Departmental non-operating 
Equity injections 12,7034,6588,045
Prior year available 4,6031,4043,199
Total​  17,306 6,062 11,244
Administered non-operating 
Administered assets and liabilities 487,045234,090252,955
Prior year available296,88545,000251,885
Total  783,930 279,090 504,840
  
Total other services B 803,336 287,124– 
Total available annual appropriations​ (A+B) 1,802,238 1,159,558– 
  
Special appropriations 
Special appropriations limited by criteria/entitlement 
Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Administration) Act 1992—s. 58 (6) amount payable to the APVMA34,460​
Australian Animal Health Council (Live-stock Industries) Funding Act 1996, s. 57,519
Australian Grape and Wine Authority Act 2013,
s. 32—payments to the Authority
33,029
Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997, s. 63(2)—payments to the industry marketing body76,978
Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997,
s. 64(2)—payments to the industry research body
26,013
Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997, s. 64A(2)—payments to the livestock export marketing body3,422
Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997,
s. 64B(2)—payments to the livestock export research body
685
Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997, s. 64C(2)—payments to the meat processor marketing body9,800
Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997,
s. 64D(2) – payments to the meat processor research body
7,506
Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997, s. 66(1)—Commonwealth contribution to industry research body49,303
Dairy Produce Act 1986, s. 6(1)57,968
Egg Industry Service Provision Act 2002, s. 8(1)9,763
Farm Household Support Act 2014, s. 105—Payments for Farm Household Allowance61,601
Forestry Marketing and Research and Development Services Act 2007, s. 9(1) payments and matching payments to an industry services body and Commonwealth administration expenses11,913
Horticulture Marketing and Research and Development Services Act 2000, s. 16(9)104,878
Pig Industry Act 2001, s. 10(1) 21,262
Plant Health Australia (Plant Industries) Funding Act 2002, s. 6 2,230
Plant Health Australia (Plant Industries) Funding Act 2002, s. 10B 4,796
Primary Industries Research and Development Act 1989, s. 30(3)—Cotton R&D Corporation 11,487
Primary Industries Research and Development Act 1989, s. 30(3)—Grains R&D Corporation—Other Grains 105,756
Primary Industries Research and Development Act 1989, s. 30(3)—Grains R&D Corporation—Wheat 105,147
Primary Industries Research and Development Act 1989, s. 30(3)—Rural Industries R&D Corporation6,663
Primary Industries Research and Development Act 1989, s. 30A(3) and s. 30B(9)—Fisheries R&D Corporation20,669
Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013, - s58, National Residue Survey, Departmental16,000
Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013, s. 77—Repayments1,445
Sugar Research and Development Services Act 2013, s. 7—payment to the sugar industry services body32,662
Wool Services Privatisation Act 2000,
s. 31(4)
73,001
Water Act 2007—S86AG—AAO 21/9/2015 Environment to Agriculture110,000
Total special appropriations C 1,005,956 1,005,956
  
Special Accounts4 
Opening balance 94,069
Appropriation receipts5 245,991
Non-appropriation receipts to Special Accounts 391,927
Payments made 539,914
​Total Special Accounts D 731,987 539,914 192,073
Total resourcing (A+B+C+D)  3,540,181 2,705,428
Less appropriations drawn from annual or special appropriations above and credited to Special Accounts and/or payments to corporate entities through annual and special appropriations5  652,498652,498
Total net resourcing for Agriculture  2,887,683 2,052,930

1 Appropriation Acts (Nos.1 and 3) 2016–17. This also includes prior year departmental appropriation, s. 74 retained revenue receipts and s. 51 determinations. 2 Includes an amount of $9.9 million in 2016–17 for the Departmental Capital Budget. For accounting purposes this amount has been designated as ‘contributions by owners’. 3 Appropriation Acts (Nos.2 and 4) 2016–17. This also includes prior year administered appropriation and s. 51 determinations. 4 Does not include ‘Special Public Money’ held in Services for Other Entities and Trust Moneys Special accounts (SOETM). 5 Appropriation receipts from the department's annual appropriations for 2016–17 are included above.

TABLE 54 Expenses for Outcome 1, 2016–17
Outcome 1: More sustainable, productive, internationally competitive and profitable Australian agricultural, food and fibre industries through policies and initiatives that promote better resource management practices, innovation, self-reliance and improved access to international markets.Budget* 
2016–17

$’000
(a)
Actual Expenses
2016–17

$’000
(b)
Variation 
2016–17

$’000
(a) – (b)
Program 1.1: Agricultural Adaptation 
Administered expenses
Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Act No. 1)
Clean Energy Future—Creating Opportunities on the Land—extending the benefits of the Carbon Farming Initiative10,52611,617(1,091)
Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year
Write-down and impairment of assets(2)2
Departmental expenses 
Departmental appropriation6,8936,956(63)
Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year249267(18)
Total for Program 1.1 17,668 18,838 (1,170)
Program 1.2: Sustainable Management – Natural Resources
Administered expenses
Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Act No. 1) 
A More Competitive and Sustainable Fisheries Sector—Recognise OceanWatch as a Natural Resource Management Group600600
Stronger Farmers, Stronger Economy—strengthening research, skills and management of natural resources—Pest Animal and Weed Management9,1501,9977,153
National Landcare Program9093,499(2,590)
National Landcare Program transfer to Special Account(909)(3,499)2,590
National Carp Control Plan2,5484,291(1,743)
Special Accounts
Natural Resources Management Account—s. 80, PGPA Act 2013
[s. 11, Natural Resources Management (Financial Assistance) Act 1992]
1,9233,202(1,279)
Departmental expenses
Departmental appropriation12,7706,5776,193
Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year153198(45)
Total for Program 1.2 27,144 16,865 10,279
Program 1.3: Forestry Industry
Administered expenses
Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Act No. 1) 
National Institute for Forest Products Innovation – establishment200(200)
Special appropriations
Forestry Marketing and Research and Development Services Act 2007, s. 9(1) payments and matching payments to an industry services body and Commonwealth administration expenses10,56111,898(1,337)
Departmental expenses
Departmental appropriation5,8044,3641,440
Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year116165(49)
Total for Program 1.3 16,481 16,627 (146)
Program 1.4: Fishing Industry
Administered expenses
Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Act No. 1)
A More Competitive and Sustainable Fisheries Sector—Support for Recreational and Commercial Fishing Peak Bodies200300(100)
Fisheries Resources Research Fund4401,043(603)
Special appropriations
Primary Industries Research and Development Act 1989, s. 30A(3) and s. 30B(9)—Fisheries R&D Corporation21,43123,283(1,852)
Departmental expenses
Departmental appropriation10,4047,3553,049
Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year189263(74)
Total for Program 1.4 32,664 32,244 420
Program 1.5: Horticulture Industry
Administered expenses
Special appropriations
Horticulture Marketing and Research and Development Services Act 2000, s. 16(9)95,79699,693(3,897)
Departmental expenses
Departmental appropriation1,5051,902(397)
Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year877710
Total for Program 1.5 97,388 101,672 (4,284)
Program 1.6: Wool Industry
Administered expenses
Special appropriations
Wool Services Privatisation Act 2000, s. 31(4)69,10074,953(5,853)
Departmental expenses
Departmental appropriation93787166
Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year2324(1)
Total for Program 1.6 70,060 75,848 (5,788)
Program 1.7: Grains Industry
Administered expenses
Special appropriations
Primary Industries Research and Development Act 1989, s. 30(3)—Grains R&D Corporation—Other Grains 84,443106,827(22,384)
Primary Industries Research and Development Act 1989, s. 30(3)—Grains R&D Corporation—Wheat 98,234106,015(7,781)
Departmental expenses
Departmental appropriation1,7611,069692
Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year3652(16)
Total for Program 1.7 184,474 213,963 (29,489)
Program 1.8: Dairy Industry
Administered expenses
Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Act No. 1)
Dairy Industry Assistance Package900(900)
Special appropriations
Dairy Produce Act 1986, s. 6(1)58,45152,9445,507
Departmental expenses
Departmental appropriation946657289
Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year1728(11)
Total for Program 1.8 59,414 54,529 4,885
Program 1.9: Meat and Livestock Industry
Administered expenses
Special appropriations
Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997,
s. 63(2)—payments to the industry marketing body
66,12075,601(9,481)
Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997,
s. 64(2)—payments to the industry research body
22,07525,606(3,531)
Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997,
s. 64A(2)—payments to the livestock export marketing body
4,0953,443652
Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997,
s. 64B(2)—payments to the livestock export research body
821689132
Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997,
s. 64C(2)—payments to the meat processor marketing body
5,66510,623(4,958)
Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997,
s. 64D(2)—payments to the meat processor research body
10,0716,5873,484
Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997,
s. 66(1)—Commonwealth contribution to industry research body
53,66255,783(2,121)
Pig Industry Act 2001, s. 10(1) 21,88821,249639
Departmental expenses
Departmental appropriation7551,161(406)
Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year56(56)
Total for Program 1.9 185,152 200,798 (15,646)
Program 1.10: Agricultural Resources
Administered expenses
Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Act No. 1)
A Competitive Agriculture Sector—Boosting Farm Profits Through Rural Research and Development19,79918,4001,399
A Competitive Agriculture Sector—Improved Access to Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals2,5322,50032
Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Minor Use Program1431367
Australian Grape and Wine Authority2,0002,000
Beef Week and the Beef Australia Expo850(850)
Community Development Grants Program100(100)
Northern Australia Rice industry1,000(1,000)
Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation9,1709,170
Stronger Farmers, Stronger Economy—a fairer go for farm businesses—farm co-operatives and collaboration pilot6,8886,888
Special appropriations
Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Administration) Act 1992
s. 58 (6) amount payable to the APVMA
30,77031,331(561)
Australian Grape and Wine Authority Act 2013, s. 32—payments to the Authority29,55132,562(3,011)
Egg Industry Service Provision Act 2002, s. 8(1)9,1609,712(552)
Primary Industries Research and Development Act 1989, s. 30(3)—Cotton R&D Corporation10,75312,260(1,507)
Primary Industries Research and Development Act 1989, s. 30(3)—Rural Industries R&D Corporation 8,1897,1301,059
Sugar Research and Development Services Act 2013, s. 7—payment to the sugar industry services body28,93333,150(4,217)
Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year
Write-down and impairment of assets967(967)
Departmental expenses
Departmental appropriation56,89243,49513,397
Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year1,9281,437491
Total for Program 1.10 216,708 213,088 3,620
Program 1.11: Drought Programs
Administered expenses
Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Act No. 1)
Farm Business Concessional Loans Scheme—administration6,2505385,712
Drought relief package—concessional loans—administration127(127)
Drought recovery concessional loans scheme—administration74(74)
Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year
Farm Business Concessional Loans Scheme—discount expenses3873,044(2,657)
Drought Recovery—concessional loans—administration160(160)
Drought Recovery—concessional loans—discount expenses 2(2)
Drought relief package—concessional loans—administration1,3201,979(659)
Write-down and impairment of assets56(56)
Departmental expenses
Departmental appropriation2,8913,244(353)
Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year3749(12)
Total for Program 1.11 10,885 9,273 1,612
Program 1.12: Rural Programs
Administered expenses
Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Act No. 1)
Rural Financial Counselling Service16,23217,297(1,065)
Stronger Farmers, Stronger Economy—new drought management framework—managing farm risk program5,5501145,436
Special appropriations
Farm Household Support Act 2014, s. 105—payments for Farm Household Allowance117,73660,83356,903
Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year
Write-down and impairment of assets5,389(5,389)
Farm Finance—concessional loans scheme—administration1,5501,550
Departmental expenses
Departmental appropriation10,3568,5261,830
Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year153429(276)
Total for Program 1.12 151,577 94,138 57,439
Program 1.13: International Market Access
Administered expenses
Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Act No. 1)
Agriculture Advancing Australia—International Agricultural Cooperation145145
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)12,63613,491(855)
Indonesia–Australia Red Meat and Cattle Partnership2,6953,197(502)
International Organisations Contributions1,8552,104(249)
Stronger Farmers, Stronger Economy – improvements to access premium markets – cooperation activities1,5001,4955
Departmental expenses
Departmental appropriation34,51031,6552,855
Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year523723(200)
Total for Program 1.13 53,864 52,810 1,054
 
Outcome 1: Totals by appropriation type
Administered expenses
Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Act No. 1)111,768104,0737,695
Special appropriations857,505862,172(4,667)
Special Accounts1,9233,202(1,279)
Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year3,25713,145(9,888)
Less amounts transferred within the department(909)(3,499)2,590
Departmental expenses
Departmental appropriation1,2 146,424117,83228,592
Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year3 3,5113,768(257)
Total expenses for Outcome 1 1,123,479 1,100,693 22,786
 
 2015–162016–17– 
Average Staffing Level (number) 607 581– 

1 Departmental Appropriation combines Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Acts No. 1) and Retained Revenue Receipts under section 74 of the PGPA Act 2,013. 2 Departmental appropriation allocations are notional and reflect the current structure of the department.
3 Departmental ‘Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year’ is made up of depreciation expenses, amortisation expense, write down and impairment of assets and resources received free of charge.
* Original budget as presented in the 2016–17 Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS).

TABLE 55 Expenses for Outcome 2, 2016–17
Outcome 2: Safeguard Australia's animal and plant health status to maintain overseas markets and protect the economy and environment from the impact of exotic pests and diseases, through risk assessment, inspection and certification, and the implementation of emergency response arrangements for Australian agricultural, food and fibre industries.Budget* 
2016–17

$’000
(a)
Actual Expenses
2016–17

$’000
(b)
Variation 
2016–17

$’000
(a) – (b)
Program 2.1: Biosecurity and Export Services
Administered expenses
Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Act No. 1)
A Competitive Agriculture Sector—support for small exporters2,4222,33488
Stronger Farmers, Stronger Economy—improvements to access premium markets—Improve Biosecurity8,4808,062418
Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk and Research1,7821,793(11)
Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year
National Residue Survey Account—s. 80, PGPA Act 2013,
[s. 6, National Residue Survey Administration Act 1992]
9,24310,341(1,098)
Write-down and impairment of assets(179)179
Departmental expenses
Departmental appropriation176,689195,648(18,959)
Special Accounts
Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service Special Account—
s. 78, PGPA Act 2013
381,033388,086(7,053)
National Residue Survey Account—s. 80, PGPA Act 2013
[s. 6, National Residue Survey Administration Act 1992]
10,25211,347(1,095)
Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year11,93627,115(15,179)
Total for Program 2.1 601,837 644,547 (42,710)
Program 2.2: Plant and Animal Health
Administered expenses
Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Act No. 1)
A Competitive Agriculture Sector—Stronger Biosecurity and Quarantine Arrangements1,8881,146742
A Competitive and Sustainable Fisheries Sector—Review of Invasive Marine Pests1,6431,096547
Animal Biosecurity and Response Reform98395825
Commonwealth membership of Animal Health Australia and Plant Health Australia2,0522,213(161)
International Organisations Contribution—World Organisation for Animal Health241263(22)
Other Exotic Disease Preparedness Program6336321
Payment to CSIRO—Contribution to the operating costs of the Australian Animal Health Laboratory8,0478,047
Plant Biosecurity and Response Reform1,3851,3841
Stronger Farmers, Stronger Economy—strengthening research, skills and management of natural resources—Emergency Response Exotic Pest and Disease Incursions—Immediate Assistance Fund1,5001,500
Special appropriations
Australian Animal Health Council (Live–stock Industries) Funding Act 1996, s. 56,4017,415(1,014)
Plant Health Australia (Plant Industries) Funding Act 2002, s. 6 2,0262,217(191)
Plant Health Australia (Plant Industries) Funding Act 2002, s. 10B2,4484,759(2,311)
Departmental expenses 
Departmental appropriation40,99025,80415,186
Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year5801,030(450)
​Total for Program 2.2 70,817 56,964 13,853
Outcome 2: Totals by appropriation type
Administered expenses 
Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Act No. 1)31,05627,9283,128
Special appropriations10,87514,391(3,516)
Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year9,24310,162(919)
Departmental expenses
Departmental appropriation1,2217,679221,452(3,773)
Special Accounts391,285399,433(8,148)
Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year312,51628,145(15,629)
Total expenses for Outcome 2 672,654 701,511 (28,857)
  
 2015–162016–17– 
Average Staffing Level (number) 3,505 3,759– 

1 Departmental Appropriation combines Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Act No. 1) and Retained Revenue Receipts under section 74 of the PGPA Act 2,013. 2 Departmental appropriation allocations are notional and reflect the current structure of the department.
3 Departmental 'Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year' is made up of depreciation expenses, amortisation expense, write down and impairment of assets and resources received free of charge.
* Original budget as presented in the 2016–17 Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS).

TABLE 56 Expenses for Outcome 3, 2016–17
Outcome 3: Improve the health of rivers and freshwater ecosystems and water use efficiency through implementing water reforms, and ensuring enhanced sustainability, efficiency and productivity in the management and use of water resources.Budget* 
2016–17

$’000
(a)
Actual Expenses
2016–17

$’000
(b)
Variation 
2016–17

$’000
(a) – (b)
Program 3.1: Water Reform
Administered expenses
Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Act No. 1)
Commonwealth Contribution under the Murray–Darling Basin14,10012,9601,140
Murray–Darling Basin Authority84,74659,73925,007
Stronger Farmers, Stronger Economy—National Water Infrastructure Development Fund7,0007,000
Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure298,247214,68083,567
Other services (Appropriation Act No. 2)
National Urban Water and Desalination Plan2,1001,972128
Special appropriation
Water Act 2007110,000110,000
Transfer to special account(110,000)(110,000)
Special Accounts
WELS Account—s.80 PGPA Act 2013 [s.64(1) Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Act1,9811,407574
Water for the Environment Special Account—s.80 PGPA Act 2013 [s.86AB Water Act 2007]110,0001,791108,209
Water Resources Special Account 2016658(658)
Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year416,245173,324242,921
Write-down and impairment of assets497(497)
Departmental expenses
Departmental appropriation29,38230,601(1,219)
Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year1,090(1,090)
Total for Program 3.1 963,801 505,719 458,082
Outcome 3: Totals by appropriation type
Administered expenses 
Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Act No. 1)404,093294,379109,714
Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Act No. 2)2,1001,972128
Special accounts111,9813,856108,125
Special appropriations110,000110,000
Less amounts transferred within the department(110,000)(110,000)
Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year416,245173,821242,424
Departmental expenses
Departmental appropriation1,229,38230,601(1,219)
Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year31,090(1,090)
Total expenses for Outcome 3 963,801 505,719 458,082
 2015–162016–17– 
​Average Staffing Level (number) 116 173– 

1 Departmental Appropriation combines Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Acts No. 1) and Retained Revenue Receipts under section 74 of the PGPA Act 2,013. 2 Departmental appropriation allocations are notional and reflect the current structure of the department.
3 Departmental 'Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year' is made up of depreciation expenses, amortisation expense, write down and impairment of assets and resources received free of charge.
* Original budget as presented in the 2016–17 Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS).


Appendix 2: Ecologically sustainable development and environmental performance

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has a statutory requirement under section 516A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act) to report on:

  • our contribution to ecologically sustainable development (ESD) through our outcomes and activities
  • the environmental performance of our internal operations.

Ecologically sustainable development principles

The principles of ESD outlined in section 3A of the EPBC Act are that:

  • decision-making processes should effectively integrate both long-term and short-term economic, environmental, social and equity considerations
  • if there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation
  • the present generation should ensure that the health, diversity and productivity of the environment is maintained or enhanced for the benefit of future generations
  • the conservation of biological diversity and ecological integrity should be a fundamental consideration in decision-making
  • improved valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms should be promoted.
Our contribution to ecologically sustainable development through our outcomes and activities

Our outcomes embody the ESD principles:

Outcome 1: More sustainable, productive, internationally competitive and profitable Australian agricultural, food and fibre industries through policies and initiatives that promote better resource management practices, innovation, self-reliance and improved access to international markets.

Outcome 2: Safeguard Australia's animal and plant health status to maintain overseas markets and protect the economy and environment from the impact of exotic pests and diseases, through risk assessment, inspection and certification, and the implementation of emergency response arrangements for Australian agricultural, food and fibre industries.

Outcome 3: Improve the health of rivers and freshwater ecosystems and water use efficiency through implementing water reforms, and ensuring enhanced sustainability, efficiency and productivity in the management and use of water resources.

We play a leading role or contribute to national and international policies with significant ESD objectives. We deliver programs to fund research, training and projects aimed at mitigating climate change and improving sustainable resource management. Our role in biosecurity is critical to maintaining biodiversity in Australia and overseas. We also deliver funding to community organisations and to the portfolio research and development corporations whose work includes activities supporting ESD.

Our work supports the goal of development that meets Australia’s current needs while conserving our ecosystems for the benefit of future generations.

Our key activities in 2016–17 are outlined in Part 2: Annual performance statements.

Legislative responsibilities

The following legislation, administered by the department under the current Administrative Arrangements Order, contributes directly to ESD:

  • Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Act 1994
  • Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Administration) Act 1992
  • Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Code Act 1994
  • Biosecurity Act 2015
  • Export Control Act 1982
  • Fisheries Administration Act 1991
  • Fisheries Management Act 1991
  • Illegal Logging Prohibition Act 2012
  • Natural Resources Management (Financial Assistance) Act 1992
  • Primary Industries and Energy Research and Development Act 1989
  • Regional Forest Agreements Act 2002
  • Torres Strait Fisheries Act 1984
  • Water Act 2007
  • Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Act 2005.

Environmental impact of our operations

Energy efficiency

Our central office buildings in the Canberra CBD maintain a base building rating of 4.5 stars under the National Australian Built Environment Rating System. Both buildings contain T5 energy efficient lighting and movement sensors, which turn off lighting in office areas after hours. The buildings also contain energy efficient window blinds, which reduce the energy required to heat and cool the buildings during the day. We acknowledge the importance of green energy in the electricity contracts for our Canberra buildings. These contracts include a 10 per cent allocation of green power through the whole-of-government electricity contract.

Our electricity and gas consumption has increased primarily because of the commissioning of the plant facility at the post-entry quarantine facility at Mickleham in Victoria. In 2016–17, our energy consumption (excluding diesel and petroleum products) increased by 42 per cent to 73,149 gigajoules. It is important to note that the energy consumption at the majority of our buildings decreased during the year. We continue to take initiatives to reduce overall energy consumption across the department.

FIGURE 17 Energy consumption, 2012–13 to 2016–17
Transport

We monitor the fuel consumption and kilometres travelled for all fleet vehicles and encourage drivers to purchase ethanol blended fuel (E10) where possible.  We increasingly replaced fleet with efficient hybrid or diesel vehicles where this is practical. During 2016–17, the proportion of hybrid vehicles in our fleet has grown to 39 per cent and diesel vehicles to 16 per cent.  As at 30 June 2017, we had 396 fleet vehicles, which included 158 hybrid vehicles and 65 diesel vehicles. Total fleet numbers have decreased.

In 2016–17, we consumed 17,704 gigajoules in transport fuels for passenger vehicles. There was a rise in consumption because of an increase in distance travelled.

FIGURE 18 Transport energy consumption, 2012–13 to 2016–17

We consistently exceed the target set under the Commonwealth Green Vehicle Guide (GVG) requires that half of all fleet vehicles have a GVG rating of 10.5 or above by 2020. Our fleet averages a GVG rating of 13, and 384 vehicles, or 92 per cent of the fleet, exceed the 10.5 GVG rating. We encourage staff to consider a variety of personal transport methods to reduce emissions, including cycling and public transport.

Water conservation

Our central office buildings recycle and capture stormwater to flush all toilets. In bathrooms and change rooms, we have waterless urinals, water saving shower heads, infrared motion-active hand basins and 4A-rated dual flush toilets. These initiatives contribute to reducing our reliance on the local water supply.

Waste management

We continue to encourage good recycling practices, providing ready access to segregated waste streams in the office environment. Recycling bins are located throughout central office buildings in kitchens and common areas and include general waste, organic recycling and co-mingled recycling.

The organic waste stream is a unique feature of our central office buildings and can be used to dispose of compostable materials and foodstuffs. Through this process, all organic waste from all levels of the participating buildings is collected and relocated off-site and then processed into mulch for further use. This reclaims usable materials and reduces the quantity of general waste from these sites.

Over the five years to 30 June 2017, we have increased reclaiming of usable materials and reducing the quantity of general waste. The organic waste stream captured 10.3  tonnes of organic waste in 2016–17.

FIGURE 19 Organic waste collected 2012–13 to 2016–17

The co-mingled recycling program continues to be well supported in the Canberra offices. We collected and processed 49 tonnes of co-mingled recycling in 2016–17.

FIGURE 20 Co-mingled recycling collected 2012–13 to 2016–17


Appendix 3: Human resources statistics

TABLE 57 Employees (headcount) by classification and employment type
30 June 201730 June 2016
ClassificationOngoingNon-ongoingOngoingNon-ongoing
APS 13544
APS 215281636
APS 3481176707168
APS 41,2117297669
APS 56525761632
APS 6920110861113
Meat Inspectors 1–4143128150133
EL 17123063729
EL 24061037814
SES 16769
SES 217120
SES 355
Total 4,632 617 4,439 598

Note: Headcount includes staff on leave without pay and excludes the secretary.

TABLE 58 Employees (headcount) by attendance and employment type
Employment type30 June 201730 June 2016
Ongoing employee full time3,8323,595
Ongoing employee part time800844
Non-ongoing employee full time200198
Non-ongoing employee part time6629
Non-ongoing employee casual351371
Total 5,249 5,037

Note: Headcount includes staff on leave without pay and excludes the secretary.

TABLE 59 Employees (headcount) by physical location and employment type
30 June 201730 June 2016
Physical LocationOngoingNon-ongoingOngoingNon-ongoing
ACT2,2941992,091180
NSW6986172861
NT5314547
QLD602127587127
SA1773017432
TAS9484
VIC519111533103
WA2617124684
Overseas1918
Total 4,632 617 4,439 598

Note: Headcount includes staff on leave without pay and excludes t​he secretary.

TABLE 60 Employment contractual arrangements at 30 June 2017
ArrangementNo. of employees under contract
Enterprise agreement5,180
s.24(1) determinations69
Common law contracts0
Non-SES Australian Workplace Agreements0
Total 5,249
TABLE 61 Department salary structure at 30 June 2017
ClassificationSalary range
APS1$43,606–$48,847
APS2$51,298–$53,331
APS3$56,034–$73,135
APS4$62,818–$78,362
APS5$69,238–$83,930
APS6 a$77,602–$109,584
EL1$94,208–$106,301
EL2 b$113,671–$146,971
SES c$210,368–$364,191

Note: Remuneration negotiated through Australian Workplace Agreements or Individual Flexibility Arrangements can exceed the salary ranges for non-SES classifications. a Positions requiring mandatory veterinary qualifications can access paypoints between $92,404 and $109,584. b Positions requiring mandatory veterinary or scientific qualifications can access paypoints between $134,497 and $146,971.
c SES salaries are determined on a case-by-case basis. APS3 to APS5 includes salary ranges of both the Meat Inspection EA and Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry EA.


Appendix 4: Grants programs

Information on grants awarded by the department in 2016–17 is available on the department’s website.

TABLE 62 Grants programs for 2016–17
Program 1.1 Agricultural adaptation
Carbon Farming Futures—Action on the Ground a
Carbon Farming Futures—Extension and Outreach a
Carbon Farming Futures—Filling the Research Gap a
Program 1.2 Sustainable management—natural resources
Control Tools and Technologies for Established Pest Animals and Weeds Program
National Landcare Program (including Community Landcare Grants 2013–14, 25th Anniversary Landcare Grants, Regional Delivery) ab
National Landcare Program – Sustainable Agriculture Small Grants Round 2015–16 a
Program 1.10 Agricultural resources
Assistance Grants—Access to Industry Priority Uses of Agvet​ Chemicals
Rural Research and Development (R&D) for Profit
Leadership in Agricultural Industries Fund
Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Program 1.12 Rural programs
Rural Financial Counselling Service 2016–2019 (RFCS) a
Managing Farm Risk Program
Program 1.13 International market access
Australia-China Agricultural Cooperation Agreement (ACACA) Program
Agricultural Trade and Market Access Cooperation Program (ATMAC)
Program 2.1 Quarantine and export services
Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis (CEBRA) a
Package Assisting Small Exporters (PASE)
Program 3.0 Water Reform
Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure Program—New South Wales Private Irrigation Infrastructure Operators Program a
Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure Program—On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program a
Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure Program—Private Irrigation Infrastructure Program in South Australia a

a No new opportunities called, management of existing grants only. b Joint program with the Department of the Environment and Energy.


Appendix 5: Report on the operation of the Natural Resources Management (Financial Assistance) Act 1992

The Natural Resources Management (Financial Assistance) Act 1992 assists the development and implementation of an integrated approach to natural resource management. In particular, this approach supported the Sustainable Agriculture component of the National Landcare Program. Under subsection 26(1) of the Act, a report must be prepared each year on the operation of the Act and agreements made under it. This is that report.

The 2016–17 appropriations funded under the Act totalled $4.97 million, comprising $3.50 million of administered funds from the Landcare appropriation and the balance in departmental funding. Appropriations in 2015–16 were $7.53 million.

Section 11 of the Act established the Natural Resource Management special account and allowed $3.50 million of administered funds to be paid into the special account to cover agreements made under Section 6. In addition, funds from 2015–16 were carried forward in the special account.

As well as projects approved for funding in previous financial years, which were outlined in the 2015–16 annual report, project funding provided in 2016–17 included:

  • $2.59 million to support activities focusing on Wild Dog Management
  • $0.99 million to support Landcare Australia Limited activities including the National Landcare Conference, State and National Landcare Awards, and community awareness activities for the Landcare community
  • $0.27 million for the Wild Dog Alert System, which aids land managers to prevent wild dog incursions and attacks on livestock. The system provides an unprecedented opportunity to monitor wild dog activity and efficiently inform the development and review of strategic regional wild dog management plans
  • $0.06 million for the National Honey Bee Survey, which will collect baseline data on the current economic situation of Australian beekeepers. The survey will capture the adoption of research and development initiatives, the state of honey bee health and the size of the commercial pollination services sector
  • $0.19 million for river remediation near Tamworth, which will provide the Namoi Catchment with economic, social and environmental benefits from reduced erosion. The Peel River Anabranch project will address streambank erosion issues on a stretch of the Peel River, a watercourse of the Murray–Darling Basin.


Appendix 6: National Residue Survey Annual Report 2016–17

The National Residue Survey (NRS) monitors residues of pesticides and veterinary medicines and environmental contaminants in Australian food commodities. This monitoring is fully industry funded, principally through levies on the commodities that are tested.

The NRS tests animal commodities including cattle, sheep and pigs, camels, deer, goats, horses, kangaroos, poultry (chicken, duck turkey etc.), ratites (emus and ostriches), wild boars, honey, eggs and aquatic species (both aquaculture and wild-caught seafood).

In horticulture, the almond, apple, citrus, macadamia and pear industries all participate in NRS testing.

The NRS grains program covers:

  • cereals (wheat, barley, oat, maize, sorghum and triticale)
  • pulses (chickpea, cow pea, pigeon pea, field pea, faba bean, lentil, vetch, navy bean, mung bean and lupin)
  • oilseeds (canola, sunflower, soybean, safflower and linseed).

Information about NRS activities in 2016–17 is reported in Strategic objective: Managing biosecurity and imported food risk.

Under section 10 of the National Residue Survey Administration Act 1992 (the NRS Act), the Minister for Agriculture is required to provide an annual report to Parliament, setting out details of the operation of the NRS Special Account. In accordance with the NRS Act we provide the annual report for the NRS, including key financial information below.

TABLE 63 National Residue Survey—summary of results for all random monitoring programs in 2016–17
CommodityTotal number of samplesCompliance with relevant Australian Standards (%) a
Animal products (36 different products sampled)
Meat, eggs, honey and aquatic species9,61399.77
Plant products (32 different products sampled)
Grains and Horticulture9,77499.07

a The compliance rate is based on numbers of samples in compliance. In a very small number of samples, one sample may contain more than one violative residue.

TABLE 64 National Residue Survey—revenue and expenses
  2016–17
$’000
2015–16
$’000
Revenue
Sale of goods and rendering of services655911
Interest on investments426399
Levies10,34210,579
Revenue from government1363
Total revenue 11,424 12,251
Expenses
Employee benefits1,8251,896
Analytical testing5,8835,668
Other3,1653,034
Total expenses​ 10,873 10,598
Surplus/(deficit) 551 1,653
TABLE 65 National Residue Survey—assets, liabilities and equity
  2016–17
$’000
2015–16
$’000
Assets
Trade and other receivables1,3541,699
Investments16,00014,500
Intangibles and other assets1,7952,094
Total assets 19,149 18,293
Liabilities
Suppliers and other payables910595
Employee provisions and other liabilities916918
Total liabilities 1,826 1,513
Equity 
Reserves16,82916,274
Other494506
Total equity 17,323 16,780
TABLE 66 Transactions in and out of the National Residue Survey Account
  2015–16
$’000
   2016–17
$’000
Balance brought forward from previous period1,5241,723
R​eceipts
Appropriation for reporting period9363
Other Receipts26,20524,356
Total receipts 26,214 24,719
Payments
Payments made to employees(1,880)(1,831)
Payments made to other(24,621)(23,087)
Total payments made (26,501) (24,918)
​Total balance carried to the next period 1,237 1,524


Appendix 7: Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Scheme Annual Report 2016–17

Section 75 of the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Act 2005 (WELS Act) requires the WELS Regulator to, as soon as practicable after the end of each financial year, prepare a report on the operation of the WELS scheme during the year.

The Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Scheme Annual Report 2016–17 covers the operation of the WELS scheme from 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017.

Background

The objectives of the WELS Act are to:

  • conserve water supplies by reducing water consumption
  • provide information for purchasers of water-use and water-saving products
  • promote the adoption of efficient and effective water-use and water-saving technologies.

The WELS Act and corresponding state and territory legislation provide for the operation of the WELS scheme. The scheme is administered by the Australian Government on behalf of the other governments.

Through the scheme, information is provided to consumers on the water efficiency and general performance of water-using and water-saving products, allowing informed choice to be made regarding water use. As a result, domestic water savings in the order of 100 gigalitres per annum are now being realised nationally. These savings are projected to increase to 204 gigalitres per annum by 2030 with the replacement of products to more efficient models.

It is estimated that water efficiency improvements have resulted in consumer savings of $520 million per annum in household utility bills (e.g. water, electricity and gas). These savings are projected to increase to $2 billion per annum by 2030.

Dishwashers, clothes washing machines, taps, showers, lavatories, urinals and flow controllers are all covered by the WELS scheme. To be legally supplied, these products must meet the performance and testing requirements of the WELS standard, and must be registered and labelled correctly.

Operation of the WELS scheme

General

In August 2016, the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Determination 2013 (No. 2) was amended to give effect to a new WELS Standard: AS/NZS 6400:2016 Water Efficient Products – Rating and Labelling. The new standard allows for the registration and labelling of four-star showers (high pressure only) and six-star toilets. The amendment to the determination also provides for transitional arrangements for the registration and labelling of high pressure showers. The WELS Regulator made additional arrangements to assist industry with transitioning to new label designs and requirements for promotional material required by the amended standard.

Commonwealth, state and territory governments agreed to the 2016–2019 WELS Scheme Strategic Plan and to the joint government response to the recommendations of the second independent review of the WELS scheme.

In collaboration with Standards Australia and several interested countries, WELS staff began exploring the development of an ISO International Standard for water efficient product testing, rating and labelling. Work toward an ISO International Standard is expected to commence in early 2017–18.

During 2015–16, the administration of the WELS Act was transferred to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources from the Department of the Environment. Transition and integration of the WELS registrations database into the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources was completed in the first half of 2016–17, with minimal disruption to clients.

The WELS scheme newsletter (InkWELS) returned with the first issue published in June 2017. The InkWELS newsletter is planned to be circulated quarterly with information about the latest developments with WELS and highlights of our achievements.

A project to update the WELS website has commenced and is expected to be completed in the first half of 2017–18.

Assistance was directly provided to product manufacturers and suppliers, particularly giving guidance on product registrations, through telephone and online enquiries.

As of 30 June 2017, there were 24,468 registrations (20,965 products and 3,503 variants) and 3,738 ceasing registrations (2,678 products and 1,060 variants) under the WELS scheme.

Compliance and Enforcement

The WELS Act requires that all products be registered and labelled at all points in the supply chain.

In 2016–17, compliance activities focused on the whole of supply chain and internet-based sales. Communication with the building, construction and development industry, aimed at increasing awareness in the industry of their responsibilities under the WELS Act, commenced in 2017.

The approach to compliance with the WELS legislation is outlined in the WELS Compliance and Enforcement Policy. The policy was updated in March 2017 to include references to the WELS Regulator’s Infringement Notice Statement, which was also first published in early 2017.

Consultation with industry was undertaken to identify industry views on where compliance and enforcement efforts should be focused over the three years from 2017 to 2020.

All inspections and follow-up enforcement actions were undertaken in accordance with the WELS Compliance and Enforcement Policy.

Financial

Total fee revenue collected from the registration of WELS products during 2016–17 was $1.526 million.13


Appendix 8: Water for the Environment Special Account

Section 86AI of the Water Act 2007 requires the secretary of the department to, as soon as practicable after 30 June each year, prepare and provide to the Minister a report on the operation of the Water for the Environment Special Account (WESA).

Payments totaling $1,790,598.34 were made from the WESA during 2016–17.

Measures that remove constraints on water movement through the regulated system are a key element of the sustainable diversion limit (SDL) adjustment mechanism set out in the Murray–Darling Basin Plan. Business cases, prepared by New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia using funding paid in 2015–16 were submitted and assessed as part of the SDL adjustment mechanism process. No payments were made during 2016–17 toward preparation of business cases or implementation of constraints measures.

In September 2016, a Deed of Standing Offer was signed with the South Australian Murray–Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board (SAMDBNRM Board) as the delivery partner for a pilot of the Commonwealth On-Farm Further Irrigation Efficiency (COFFIE) program. The COFFIE program is the first being developed to implement the efficiency measures component of the SDL adjustment mechanism set out in the Basin Plan. The program will assist irrigators to improve the water use efficiency and productivity of their irrigation activities, with water savings being made available to the environment.

Thirteen on-farm projects have been approved with a total value of $4,228,264.80 and contracted water recovery of 814 megalitres. Payments of $1,749,523.95 have been made. No water contracted has yet been returned to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder. All water contracted to date under the COFFIE program has involved works within the South Australian River Murray water resource plan area (SS11).

Payments totalling $41,074.39 were made for specialist advice in the development and promotion of the COFFIE program.

TABLE 67 Water for the Environment Special Account
Financial yearAppropriated amount Movement of fundsExpended
2015–16$40,000,000 Nil$3,985,145.00
2016–17$110,000,000 $70,000,000$1,790,598.34


Financial statements

​​​​This section of the Annual Report 2016-17 contains the following Financial statements:

  • Independent auditor’s report
  • Statement by the Chief Executive and Chief Finance Officer
  • Overview
  • Statement of comprehensive income
  • Statement of financial position
  • Statement of changes in equity
  • Cash flow statement
  • Notes to and forming part of the financial statements
  • Administered schedule of comprehensive income
  • Administered schedule of assets and liabilities
  • Administered reconciliation schedule
  • Administered cash flow
  • Notes to and forming part of the financial statements
DocumentPagesFile size
Financial statements 2016-17 ​PDF62​1.2 MB

If you have difficulty accessing these files, please visit web accessibility.

References

Footnotes

1Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 15

2Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Annual Report 2015–16, p. 25.

3Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2016–17, pp. 17–18.

4 Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 21.

5Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 23.

6 2007, Guidelines for the ecologically sustainable management of fisheries, Department of the Environment and Water Resources, 2nd edition.

7 2016, Reforming Australia’s illegal logging regulations: consultation regulation impact statement, Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Canberra, November.

8 2017, The Report on the Review of the National Landcare Program, Commonwealth of Australia

9Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 25.

10Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 26.

11 Tasmania did not sign the agreement because of concerns with a particular provision. However, it has agreed to abide by the other provisions and participates in all activities relating to the agreement.

12Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 29.

13 Department of Agriculture and Water Resources figures only.

Abbreviations and acronyms

ABARES Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences

ACLEI Australian Commissioner for Law Enforcement Integrity

ACLUMP Australian Collaborative Land Use and Management Program

AFMA Australian Fisheries Management Authority

ALOP appropriate level of protection

ANAO Australian National Audit Office

APVMA Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority

AQUAPLAN Australia’s National Strategic Plan for Aquatic Animal Health

AQUAVETPLAN Australian Aquatic Veterinary Emergency Plan

AUSVETPLAN Australian Veterinary Emergency Plan

BICON Biosecurity Import Conditions system

BSE bovine spongiform encephalopathy

COFFIE Commonwealth On-Farm Further Irrigation Efficiency program

CSIRO Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

EADRA Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement

EMC Executive Management Committee

EMPPLAN Australian Emergency Marine Pest Plan

EPPRD Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed

ESD ecologically sustainable development

FMIS Financial Management Information System

FOI Act Freedom of Information Act 1982

FOI freedom of information

FTE full-time equivalent

GST goods and services tax

HRMIS Human Resources Management Information System

ICT information, Communication and Technology

IPPC International Plant Protection Convention

IPS Information Publication Scheme

MARS Maritime Arrivals Reporting System

NAQS Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy

NEBRA National Environmental Biosecurity Response Agreement

NRS National Residue Survey

NRS Act National Residue Survey Administration Act 1992

OBPR Office of Best Practice Regulation

OFIEP On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program

OIE World Organisation for Animal Health

PLANTPLAN Australian Emergency Plant Pest Response Plan

PSCC People, Safety and Culture Committee

QDSITI Queensland Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation

RAP Reconciliation Action Plan

R&D research and development

RD&E Research, development and extension

RIS regulation impact statement

SAMDBNRM South Australian Murray–Darling Natural Resources Management Board

SDL Sustainable Diversion Limit

SES Senior Executive Service

SRWUIP Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure Program

TRQ tariff rate quota

UAE United Arab Emirates

US United States

WELS Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards scheme

WELS Act Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Act 2005

WESA Water for the Environment Special Account

WHS work health and safety

WTO World Trade Organization

Glossary

administered items: revenues, expenses, assets and liabilities that the government controls, but which an agency or authority manages on the government’s behalf
APS employee: a person engaged under section 22, or a person who is engaged as an Australian public service employee under section 72 of the Public Service Act 1999
biosecurity: the protection of the economy, environment and people’s health from pests and diseases
biosecurity continuum: the management of biosecurity risks offshore, at the border and onshore, with an emphasis on intelligence and information analysis, planning, verifying and auditing third-party service providers
certification of exports: the provision of official documentation confirming that goods exported from Australia conform to the importing countries conditions
cost-recovery: the charging of fees to cover the costs of provision of government goods and services
enterprise agreement: an agreement between an employer and a group of employees, or between an employer and a union or unions representing employees, made under the Fair Work Act 2009
G20: the Group of Twenty forum for international economic cooperation, comprising members from 19 countries and the European Union
headcount: the number of actual individuals—including staff on temporary transfer from other agencies and staff on any type of leave—employed at the time the data is collected. The total headcount figure only excludes office holders
levies: money collected and administered by the department on behalf of industry for use in research and development, marketing and promotion, plant and animal health programs and residue testing activities that benefit industry
market access: the openness of a country’s trading market to foreign goods and services
outcomes: the government’s objectives in each portfolio area. Outcomes are desired results, impacts or consequences for the Australian community, as influenced by the actions of the Australian Government. Actual outcomes are assessments of the end results or impacts achieved
performance information: evidence about performance that is collected and used systematically. Evidence may relate to appropriateness, effectiveness and efficiency. It may be about outcomes, factors that affect outcomes and what can be done to improve them
program: the name given to the variety of activities a government agency may undertake to achieve stated outcomes
Portfolio additional estimates statements: statements prepared by portfolios to explain additional Budget appropriations in terms of outcomes and outputs
Portfolio budget statements: statements prepared by portfolios to explain the Budget appropriations in terms of outcomes and outputs (that is, where the appropriated funds are going to be spent)
quota: a limit to the amount of a particular commodity that can be exported or imported
sanitary and phytosanitary: relating to issues of human, animal and plant health, most often in regard to biosecurity measures

List of tables

1Performance measure—Portfolio industries record an increase in productivity
2Performance measure—The rate of return on capital invested across portfolio industries is maintained or increased
3Performance measure—Investment in rural research and development corporation programs demonstrates positive returns
4Performance measure—Stakeholders and clients assess ABARES research and analysis as
high-quality evidence- based accurate and meeting their needs
5Performance measure—A high level of efficiency is achieved in collecting and distributing levies to fund research and development in research and development corporations
6Status updates—Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper
7Performance measure—Financial and business assistance improves primary producers business and personal circumstances
8Performance measure—Primary producers use deposits and withdrawals under the Farm Management Deposits Scheme to manage their financial risks and income variations
9Performance measure—Recipients of business and financial assistance report improved business management skills and increased confidence to make informed business decisions
10Performance measure—Funding and grants programs are delivered according to requirements and have a positive end-of-program evaluation
11Performance measure—Trend in value of agricultural exports increases in real terms over time
12Performance measure—Access to overseas markets accepting Australian agricultural, fisheries and forestry exports is gained, maintained or improved
13Performance measure—Positive industry feedback is received on agreed market access priorities and resolution of market access problems
14Performance measure—International policy and standards supporting Australian agricultural, fisheries and forestry exports are maintained or improved
15Performance measure—Australia’s international agricultural relationships are upheld
16Performance measure—Export certification meets importing country requirements
17Compliance certification of export commodities by number processed, 2013–14 to 2016–17
18Performance measure—The status of the resource base is maintained or improved
19Performance measure—Positive industry feedback on the applicability and usability of better practice information that the department provides
20Performance measure—Funding and grants programs are delivered according to requirements and have positive program evaluations
21Performance measure—Water recovery continues in the Murray – Darling Basin, consistent with the Water Recovery Strategy
22Performance measure—Basin governments agree on and implement a package of measures for notification to the Murray–Darling Basin Authority on the sustainable diversion limit adjustment mechanism
23Performance measure—National Water Infrastructure Development Fund investments provide affordable water to support the growth of regional economies
24Water infrastructure feasibility studies, by funding recipient and amount funded
25Performance measure—The National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility is established to support state and territory governments’ investment in water infrastructure that will provide affordable water to support regional economic growth
26Performance measure—Australia maintains a favourable pest and disease status
27Responses underway in 2016–17 for plant pests and environmental pests—nationally cost shared
28Responses underway in 2016–17 for plant pests and environmental pests—not nationally cost-shared
29Performance measure—The effectiveness and efficiency of biosecurity and food interventions on import pathways improves
30Size of the import task
31Performance measure—Responses to biosecurity and imported food incidents improve
32Performance measure—Risk assessments for imported goods use science-based risk analysis, drawing on the best available scientific information and advice
33Performance measure—The ability of governments, industry and the community to quickly and effectively respond to exotic pest and disease incursions improves
34Performance measure—Public awareness of biosecurity risks improves
35Performance measure—A positive, professional and engaged workforce is maintained or improved
36APS Employee Census results—department engagement (2012–2017) and APS (2017)
37Representation of diversity group, 30 June 2016 and 30 June 2017
38Ongoing separations, 2015–16 and 2016–17
39Performance measure—The department maintains safe and healthy workplaces
40Reported serious personal injuries, prescribed incapacities and dangerous occurrences to employees, 2015–16 to 2016–17
41Investigations, directions and notices under work health and safety legislation, 2015–16 to 2016–17
42Performance measure—the department delivers a balanced and financially sustainable budget
43Performance measure—Information and communication technology meets the department’s business needs
44Performance measure—Regulatory practices seek to minimise the impact of regulation on clients and stakeholders
45Performance measure—Business processes and client services are improved through the better use of modern technology and improved work practices, and agreed service standards are met
46Performance against service standards, 2016–17
47Executive committees—roles and membership at 30 June 2017
48Audit Committee—role and membership at 30 June 2017
49Consultancies—number, value and total expenditure
50Advertising and market research for 2016–17
51Parliamentary committee reports tabled in 2016–17
52Government responses tabled in 2016–17
53Entity resource statement, 2016–17
54Expenses for Outcome 1, 2016–17
55Expenses for Outcome 2, 2016–17
56Expenses for Outcome 3, 2016–17
57Employees (headcount) by classification and employment type
58Employees (headcount) by attendance and employment type
59Employees (headcount) by physical location and employment type
60Employment contractual arrangements at 30 June 2017
61Department salary structure at 30 June 2017
62Grants programs for 2016–17
63National Residue Survey—summary of results for all random monitoring programs in 2016–17
64National Residue Survey—revenue and expenses
65National Residue Survey—assets, liabilities and equity
66Transactions in and out of the National Residue Survey Account
67Water for the Environment Special Account

List of figures

1Portfolio structure at 30 June 2017
2Programs and strategic objectives, 2016–17
3Organisational structure at 30 June 2017
4Commonwealth performance framework
5Department of Agriculture and Water Resources performance framework 2016–17
610-year growth in agricultural and market sector productivity, 2007–08 to 2016–17
7Average rate of return on capital for broadacre and dairy farms, 2007–08 to 2016–17
8Value of rural exports in real terms (2016–17 constant dollar), 2006–07 to 2016–17
9Index of value of Australian wine exports and total value of exports, selected countries, 2006–07 to 2015–16
10Value of agricultural exports to China, Japan and the Republic of Korea in real terms (2016–17 constant dollar)
11Biomass assessment for Australian managed fish stocks
12National Water Infrastructure Development Fund feasibility studies, Northern Australia
13Own source income 2011–12 to 2021–22
14Sale of goods and services revenue by cost-recovery activity, 2016–17
15Departmental expenses, 2011–12 to 2021–22
16Cost-recovery reserve balances at 30 June 2017
17Energy consumption, 2012–13 to 2016–17
18Transport energy consumption, 2012–13 to 2016–17
19Organic waste collected, 2012–13 to 2016–17
20Co-mingled recycling collected 2012–13 to 2016–17

Compliance index

Description
Letter of transmittal.
Table of contents.
Abbreviations and acronyms.
Index.
Glossary.
Contact officers.
Internet home page address and Internet address for report.
List of requirements.
Review by accountable authority
A review by the accountable authority of the entity.
Overview of the entity
A description of the role and functions of the entity.
A description of the organisational structure of the entity.
A description of the outcome and program structure of the entity.
A description of the purposes of the entity as included in corporate plan.
An outline of the structure of the portfolio of the department.
Where outcome and program structures differ from PBS/PAES or other portfolio statements accompanying any other additional appropriation bills (other portfolio statements), include details of variation and reasons for change.
Report on performance
Annual performance statements in accordance with paragraph 39(1)(b) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) and section 16F of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014.
Report on financial performance
A discussion and analysis of the entity’s financial performance.
A table summarising the total resources and total payments of the entity.
If there may be significant changes in the financial results during or after the previous or current reporting period, information on those changes, including: the cause of any operating loss and how the entity responses to that loss and any matter that will have a significant impact on the entity’s future financial operations.
Corporate governance
Information on compliance with section 10 of the PGPA Act (fraud systems).
A certification by the accountable authority that fraud risk assessments and fraud control plans have been prepared.
A certification by the accountable authority that appropriate mechanisms for preventing, detecting incidents of, investigating or otherwise dealing with, and recording or reporting fraud that meet the specific needs of the entity are in place.
A certification by the accountable authority that all reasonable measures have been taken to deal appropriately with fraud relating to the entity.
An outline of structures and processes in place for the entity to implement principles and objectives of corporate governance.
A statement of significant issues reported to Minister under section 19(1)(e) of the PGPA Act that relates to non compliance with finance law and action taken to remedy non compliance.
External scrutiny
Information on the most significant developments in external scrutiny and the entity’s response to the scrutiny.
Information on judicial decisions and decisions of administrative tribunals and by the Australian Information Commissioner that may have a significant effect on the operations of the entity.
Information on any reports on operations of the entity by the Auditor General, a Parliamentary Committee, or the Commonwealth Ombudsman.
Information on any capability reviews on the entity that were released during the period.
Management of human resources
An assessment of the entity’s effectiveness in managing and developing employees to achieve entity objectives.
  • Statistics on the entity’s APS employees on an ongoing and non ongoing basis; including:
  • Statistics on staffing classification level;
  • Statistics on full time employees;
  • Statistics on part time employees;
  • Statistics on gender;
  • Statistics on staff location; and
  • Statistics on employees who identify as Indigenous.
Information on any enterprise agreements, individual flexibility arrangements, common law determinations under 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999, common law contracts and AWAs.
Information on the number of SES and non SES employees covered by agreements etc.
The salary ranges available for APS employees by classification level.
A description of non salary benefits provided to employees.
Information on the number of employees at each classification level who received performance pay.
Information on aggregate amounts of performance pay at each classification level.
Information on the average amount of performance payment, and range of such payments, at each classification level.
Information on aggregate amount of performance payments.
Assets management
An assessment of the effectiveness of assets management where asset management is a significant part of the entity’s activities.
Purchasing
An assessment of entity performance against the Commonwealth Procurement Rules.
A summary statement detailing the number of new contracts engaging consultants let during the period; the total actual expenditure on all new consultancy contracts let during the period (inclusive of GST); the number of ongoing consultancy contracts that were entered into during a previous reporting period; and the total actual expenditure in the reporting year on the ongoing consultancy contracts (inclusive of GST).
A statement that “During [reporting period], [specified number] new consultancy contracts were entered into involving total actual expenditure of $[specified million]. In addition, [specified number] ongoing consultancy contracts were active during the period, involving total actual expenditure of $[specified million]”.
A summary of the policies, procedures and main categories for which consultants were selected and engaged.
A statement that “Annual reports contain information about actual expenditure on contracts for consultancies. Information on the value of contracts and consultancies is available on the AusTender website.”
If an entity entered into a contract with a value of more than $100,000 (inclusive of GST) and the contract did not provide the Auditor General with access to the contractor’s premises, the report must include the name of the contractor, purpose and value of the contract, and the reason why a clause allowing access was not included in the contract.
If an entity entered into a contract or there is a standing offer with a value greater than $10,000 (inclusive of GST) which has been exempted from being published in AusTender because it would disclose exempt matters under the FOI, the annual report must include a statement that the contract or standing offer has been exempted, and the value of the contract or standing offer, to the extent that doing so does not disclose the exempt matters.
A statement that: “[Name of entity] supports small business participation in the Commonwealth Government procurement market. Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) and Small Enterprise participation statistics are available on the Department of Finance’s website.”
An outline of the ways in which the procurement practices of the entity support small and medium enterprises.
If the entity is considered by the department administered by the Finance Minister as material in nature—a statement that “[Name of entity] recognises the importance of ensuring that small businesses are paid on time. The results of the Survey of Australian Government Payments to Small Business are available on the Treasury’s website.”
Financial statements
Inclusion of the annual financial statements.
Other mandatory information
Advertising and market research (Section 311A of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918) and statement on advertising campaigns.
A statement that “Information on grants awarded to [name of entity] during [reporting period] is available at [address of entity’s website].”
Outline of mechanisms of disability reporting, including reference to website for further information.
Website reference to where the entity’s Information Publication Scheme statement pursuant to Part II of the FOI Act can be found.
Work health and safety (Schedule 2, Part 4 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011).
Ecologically sustainable development and environmental performance (Section 516A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999).
Correction of material errors in previous annual report.
Access and availability

The report includes a list of abbreviations and acronyms to help the reader.

The annual report is available in HTML and PDF versions on our website at
agriculture.gov.au/about/reporting/annualreport.
The department’s website is at
agriculture.gov.au.

Feedback

We welcome your comments regarding the readability and usefulness of this report. To provide feedback, please contact us in the following ways:

Email:
annual-report.contact@agriculture.gov.au

Phone: 1800 900 090

Postal address:
Annual Report
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
GPO Box 858
Canberra ACT 2601

Copyright

© Commonwealth of Australia 2017

ISSN 2204-6003 (print)

ISSN 2204-6011 (online)

ISBN 978-1-760031-42-8

Ownership of intellectual property rights

Unless otherwise noted, copyright (and any other intellectual property rights, if any) in this publication is owned by the Commonwealth of Australia (referred to as the Commonwealth). 

Creative Commons licence

All material in this publication is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Australia Licence, save for content supplied by third parties, logos and the Commonwealth Coat of Arms. 


Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Australia Licence is a standard form licence agreement that allows you to copy, distribute, transmit and adapt this publication provided you attribute the work. A summary of the licence terms is available from creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0. The full licence terms are available from creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode.

This publication (and any material sourced from it) must be attributed as the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Annual Report 2016–17.

Use of the Coat of Arms

The terms under which the Coat of Arms can be used are set out on the It’s an Honour website at itsanhonour.gov.au.

Acknowledgements​

Thank you to all contributors and coordinators in the department.

​​​​

Oth​e​r format​​​​​

Annual Report 2016-17 (full document) PDF​​
[7 MB, 259 pages]