The governing legislation is the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research Act 1982 (the Act), proclaimed on 3 June 1982 as Act No. 9 of 1982. The Act was described as ‘an Act to encourage research for the purpose of identifying, or finding solutions to, agricultural problems of developing countries’.
The Act was amended in 2007, coming into effect from 1 July 2007. The principal purpose of the amendments introduced in the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Amendment Act 2007 (the Amendment Act), was to change the governance arrangements of ACIAR. This replaced the Board of Management with an executive management structure involving a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and a seven-member Commission. The functions of the CEO are set out at Section 5 of the legislation, and cited below.
5. Functions of the CEO
1. The functions of the CEO are:
a. to formulate programs and policies with respect to agricultural research for either or both of the following purposes:
i. identifying agricultural problems of developing countries
ii. finding solutions to agricultural problems of developing countries
b. to commission agricultural research by persons or institutions (whether the research is to be conducted in Australia or overseas) in accordance with such programs and policies
c. to communicate to persons and institutions the results of such agricultural research
d. to establish and fund training schemes related to the research programs referred to in paragraph (a)
e. to conduct and fund development activities related to those research programs
f. to fund international agricultural research centres.
2. The CEO must, in performing his or her functions with respect to agricultural research, have regard to the need for persons or institutions in developing countries to share in that research.
3. Nothing in this section authorises, or permits, the CEO to carry out research on behalf of the Commonwealth.
4. The CEO must, in performing his or her functions, comply with any directions given to the CEO under section 5A.
5.A. Power of Minister to give directions
1. The Minister may, by writing, give directions to the CEO with respect to the performance of the CEO’s functions under this Act (including in relation to the appropriate strategic direction the CEO should take in performing his or her functions). Note: A direction under this section is included in the annual report: see section 39.
2. A direction given under subsection (1) is not a legislative instrument.