Performance measure 3.6: Administration of other legal frameworks for which the department is responsible
Legal frameworks and regimes which the department is responsible for are effectively administered and improvements are considered and implemented.
This performance measure was achieved.
3.6.1 Funding to grant recipients under the Native Title Anthropologists Grant Program is provided in line with agreed timeframes and subject to grant recipients meeting deliverables set out in funding agreements
3.6.2 Qualitative analysis shows the effectiveness of administration of the native title system, including managing the Commonwealth’s participation in native title claims
3.6.3 Qualitative analysis shows the effectiveness of administration of the personal insolvency regime
3.6.4 Simplification of the Personal Property Securities Act 2009 leads to increased usability of the Personal Property Securities Register, as indicated by the fact that draft legislation is prepared for consideration by the Attorney-General
- Portfolio Budget Statements 2020–21, Outcome 1, Program 1.1, page 30 and Program 1.6, page 37
- Corporate Plan 2020–24, page 33
3.6.1 All funds set aside for 2020–21 under the Native Title Anthropologist Grant Program were provided to grant recipients in line with agreed timeframes. Activities funded by the program support native title anthropologists working in the system. The program facilitates native title parties having access to qualified and experienced anthropologists to resolve claims and support an efficient and effective native title system. By measuring the provision of funding in line with the satisfactory completion of recipient obligations, we can assess the effective administration and management of the program.
Grant agreements and associated activity work plans set out recipient reporting deadlines as well as timeframes for half-yearly funding instalments to be paid and other grantee obligations. Under the program, recipients must meet their obligations before the next instalment of funds is released.
During the reporting period, all grant recipients reported against their grant activities within the timeframes. The Community Grants Hub and the department assessed progress reports against the agreed activities, taking into account the effects of the pandemic on activity delivery. All reports demonstrated satisfactory delivery of activities in line with benchmarks and criteria, as well as a responsive and flexible approach to delivering activities. Having satisfied obligations, all funds ($337,000) were paid to recipients.
3.6.2 The government’s participation in native title litigation, support of legislative reform and engagement with states and territories and other stakeholders in the system demonstrated effective administration of the native title system.
A number of cases studies that covered the different types of work involved in the administration of the native title system were selected for qualitative assessment using detailed selection criteria. These case studies were reviewed by nominated officers who assessed factors such as whether the government’s involvement in the matters had been targeted, proportionate and represented an appropriate application of legal and other resources. For the policy case study, the action officer assessed relevant materials and determined that our involvement in native title legislative reforms had facilitated the efficient passage of the amendments and, by regularly consulting with stakeholders, had effectively implemented relevant measures in the reforms.
We were able to assess the effectiveness of our administration of the native title system by conducting a qualitative analysis rather than relying on quantitative metrics such as total number of native title claims or percentage of claims. Case study analyses demonstrated achievement of this performance target. Further information on the assessment process is at Appendix 2: Methodologies.
As the native title system has matured, the majority of claims do not raise significant or complex issues for the Australian Government. The assessed case studies demonstrate that our management of the government’s participation in matters raising significant and/or novel issues was appropriate, effective and proportionate. This included ensuring the government met court deadlines by targeting the nature of its involvement to efficiently achieve policy outcomes and providing timely advice to decision-makers including the Attorney‑General and Assistant Minister to the Attorney‑General. The case studies also demonstrated our effective administration of the native title system more broadly through the passage of significant legislative amendments to the Native Title Act 1993 in February 2021. These amendments have broad stakeholder support and streamline and improve the native title claim process.
3.6.3 Achievement of this target reflects our ability to provide advice and consult on:
- legal frameworks underpinning the personal insolvency regime
- the appointment of personal insolvency experts to trustee committees
- responses to members of the public navigating the personal insolvency regime.
The Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA) is responsible for regulating the personal insolvency regime and delivering insolvency and trustee services to the public. Our policy work in 2020–21 supported AFSA to carry out its regulatory and administrative functions. Maintaining our strong stakeholder relationship with AFSA and receiving feedback from personal insolvency stakeholders enabled us to monitor and improve the effectiveness of the personal insolvency regime. Through this relationship, we were able to promptly identify opportunities for reform, provide advice to the Attorney-General and external stakeholders, progress administrative requests and correspond with members of the public.
To evaluate performance, we identified all policy work undertaken over the year. This included ministerial submissions, ministerial appointments, policy advice to external stakeholders, reform of personal insolvency laws and ministerial correspondence. A panel assessed the effectiveness of a selection of policy advice against the criteria of context, analysis, advice and action and allocated each assessed piece of work a score out of 5. A score of 1–2 equated to a performance result of ‘not achieved’, a score of 3 equated to ‘partly achieved’ and a score of 4–5 equated to ‘achieved’. Overall, the assessed policy work averaged a score of 4, indicating that the target had been achieved. Further information on the assessment process is at Appendix 2: Methodologies.
The panel noted that the selected policy work was clear about its purpose, context and policy objectives, and enabled a clear and informed decision. For select pieces of advice that had a reduced score, the panel noted that the advice required more clarity, particularly with respect to technical subject matter. We will consider this feedback as we continue to administer the personal insolvency regime.
A number of other factors contributed to our success in meeting this target including our effective stakeholder relationships. The use of templates and standardised procedures ensured work was consistent and completed to a high standard.
Personal insolvency regime policy development
Over the last year, we progressed initiatives to improve the administration of the personal insolvency regime. Our ability to progress this work indicates the personal insolvency regime is effectively administered and that options for reforming personal insolvency laws are comprehensively considered. The following examples were priorities for government and therefore formed part of a larger pool of policy work. They provide context for the policy advice that was assessed by the panel:
- Following temporary adjustments to the personal insolvency regime in response to the pandemic, the bankruptcy threshold was permanently increased from $5,000 to $10,000 on 1 January 2021. This change was informed by stakeholder consultation including with insolvency practitioner industry and member associations, and consumer advocates.
- We progressed 8 ministerial appointments to trustee registration and trustee disciplinary committees.
- We responded to 26 pieces of correspondence concerning the personal insolvency regime. This included communicating options to members of the public navigating the regime and providing information about personal insolvency laws.
- We published a discussion paper and sought public submissions on possible changes to the personal insolvency regime to inform the ongoing response to the pandemic. We received and considered 40 submissions, which will inform recommendations to the government.
- The Bankruptcy Regulations 2021 were remade and commenced on 1 April 2021 to replace the sunsetting Bankruptcy Regulations 1996.
3.6.4 Simplifying the Personal Property Securities Act 2009 will make it easier to understand and assist the operation of the Personal Property Securities Register. The target is partly achieved because the department prepared tranches of draft legislation for the consideration of the Assistant Minister. The target was not fully achieved as the criteria set out in the methodology required exposure draft legislation to be completed and submitted to the Assistant Minister. The methodology assumed receipt of all policy approvals and availability of drafting resources in time to enable an exposure draft to be finalised and provided to the Assistant Minister by 30 June 2021. Although an exposure draft was not submitted by that date, 3 submissions were made to the Assistant Minister for the consideration of policy as a necessary prerequisite to finalising the exposure draft. Given the progress made on tranches of the draft legislation that will ultimately form the exposure draft, this target is considered partly achieved.