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Government engagement

Throughout 2018–19, our staff had regular meetings with ministers, parliamentarians and senior staff from relevant government departments to discuss their needs, share research activities and provide scientific information. We also provided advice to inform policy development and program implementation and evaluation.

During the last financial year, we made 10 submissions to parliamentary inquiries and our staff provided information at 11 inquiry hearings. The inquiry topics included automated mass transport; cane toad control; the impact of vegetation and land management policy on the agricultural sector; the national energy market; the impact of feral pigs, goats and deer; electric vehicles; consumer data rights; the mining sector and regional economies; and faunal extinction in Australia.

Legislation and government policy

We are a Corporate Commonwealth entity constituted and operating under the provisions of the Science and Industry Research Act 1949 (SIR Act).

Our primary functions are to carry out scientific research to:
  assist Australian industry and to further the interests of the Australian community
  contribute to national and international objectives and responsibilities of the Commonwealth
  encourage or facilitate the application and use of the results of CSIRO scientific research.

Our secondary functions include international scientific liaison, training of research workers, publishing research results, technology transfer of other research, providing scientific services and disseminating information about science and technology.

Reporting, accountability and other rules for our operations are set out in the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act).

Pursuant to section 19 (1) (e) of the PGPA Act, we have had no instances of significant non-compliance with finance law in 2018–19.

We also provide administrative support services to the Trustee of the Science and Industry Endowment Fund consistent with the Science and Industry Endowment Act 1926. The Fund has its own governance structure (see Part 6 for more information on the Fund).

There were no government policy orders to CSIRO during 2018–19.

Responsible Minister

karen andrewsHon Karen Andrews MP, Minister for Industry, Science and TechnologyAs at 30 June 2019, the responsible Minister for CSIRO was the Hon Karen Andrews MP, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology. Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, Minister for Jobs and Innovation, was the responsible Minister for CSIRO from 1 July 2018 to 28 August 2018.

Under the SIR Act, the Minister has power to:

  • add to the purposes for which CSIRO may carry out scientific research (SIR Act, section 9(1)(a)(iv))
  • provide to the CSIRO Board, in writing, directions and guidelines with respect to the performance of the functions, or the exercise of the powers, of the Board or of the Organisation (SIR Act, section 13).

The Minister provides CSIRO with a Statement of Expectations and the Board responds with a Statement of Intent. The latest Statement of Expectations was provided by then Minister Greg Hunt on 18 November 2016. CSIRO’s responding Statement of Intent was provided to then Minister Arthur Sinodinos on 1 May 2017.

These documents are available at www.csiro.au/en/About/Leadership-governance/Minister-and-Board/Statement-of-Expectations.

Ministerial directions and notifications

On 15 July 2014, the Minister directed the CSIRO Board to apply the Australian Government Public Sector Workplace Bargaining Policy to Enterprise Bargaining Agreement negotiations in CSIRO. During 2018–19, CSIRO kept its responsible Minister and the Minister for Finance informed of the activities of CSIRO through our Board and in accordance with section 19 of the PGPA Act.