Director of National Parks Chief Executive Instructions
The Chief Executive Instructions direct the employees of Parks Australia to assist in carrying out the Directors functions under the EPBC Act and ensure that the corporation and its officers meet their obligations under both the EPBC Act and PGPA Act. The instructions draw on relevant corporate governance rules, policies and guidelines of the Australian Government. They are supported by policies and procedures that are subject to regular review.
The Director attends some meetings of the Portfolio Audit Committee. The primary objective of the Committee is to provide independent advice and assurance to the accountable authorities under the PGPA Act that appropriate controls and systems are in place and are working effectively. Members of the committee at 30 June 2020 are detailed in Table 19: Members of the Portfolio Audit Committee at 30 June 2020.
The Portfolio Audit Committee’s charter is available on the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment website at https://www.awe.gov.au/about/reporting/portfolio-audit-committee-charter-feb-2020.
Number of meetings attended
Mr Geoff Knuckey (chair)
32 years as a specialist in financial statements auditing and reporting, internal audit, corporate governance and risk management. Over 10 years as in professional Board roles in the private and public sectors.
Mr Dean Knudson (deputy chair)
20 years experience leading economic and environmental reforms in the Canadian Government.
Mr Mick Roche
Independent management consultant at senior levels in the Commonwealth Government, and has been a member of and chaired private and public sector advisory boards and audit committees.
Ms Jenny Morison
38 years of experience in accounting, commerce and government. 17 years’ experience as an independent member and chair of Commonwealth audit and risk committees for government entities.
Ms Kristen Tilley
12 years experience working on climate change issues in the Australian Public Service, in a senior advisory role.
Mr David Bryant
35 years experience in project management consultancy across the Australian Public Service. Provides advice and assurance to a range of government departments through consultancy and audit committee services.
No internal audits were completed by Parks Australia throughout 2019–20. An audit of the lease arrangements in jointly managed parks was planned for this period, however COVID-19 and the bushfires season caused considerable delays. The lease audit will now take place in 2020–21.
Employees, volunteers and contractors who undertake Director of National Park’s business often operate in remote areas, within inherently risky environments. The Director is committed to embedding best practice risk management into all business activities to safely deliver on our objectives. A proactive approach to risk management remains one of the most important ways that we can look after staff, volunteers, visitors and local communities.
Our Risk Management Policy and Framework supports effective risk management across all operations and has been developed in line with section 16 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act and the Commonwealth Risk Management Policy. The Policy and Framework aim to ensure that we:
- are conscious of the risks to achieving our objectives;
- make informed decisions in managing risks;
- harness opportunities that may arise from identifying the risks we face.
In previous years, the Comcover Risk Management Benchmarking Program has provided a ‘maturity’ rating for the agency’s risk management measured against the Commonwealth Risk Management Policy. The program did not take place this year, therefore a ‘maturity’ rating is not provided.
Indemnities and insurance
In 2019–20 the Director maintained comprehensive insurance cover for business operations through Comcover (the Australian Government’s general insurance fund) including general liability, professional indemnity, and directors’ and officers’ liability.
The Director also requires all commercial operators, contractors and scientific researchers in Commonwealth parks and gardens to indemnify the Director and maintain appropriate levels of insurance for their activities.
As a Corporate Commonwealth entity, the Director of National Parks complies with the Fraud Rule (section 10 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014). This ensures that there are suitable mechanisms in place to prevent, detect and respond to fraud. The Director has a Fraud Control Plan that is underpinned by a fraud risk assessment, which is reviewed regularly.
The Director reports data on detected, recorded and reported incidents of fraud or suspected fraud to the Australian Institute of Criminology through the Institute’s annual ‘Fraud against the Commonwealth’ questionnaire.