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Accountability and governance


GRDC was established in 1990 under the Primary Industries Research and Development Act 1989 (PIRD Act).

As a corporate Commonwealth entity, GRDC is subject to the requirements of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) and other Commonwealth legislation.

Accountability to the Australian Government

We are part of the Australian Government’s Agriculture portfolio.

During 2019–20, the position of Minister for Agriculture was held by Senator, the Hon Bridget McKenzie from 29 May 2019 to 2 February 2020. The Hon David Littleproud was appointed Minister, Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management from 6 February 2020.

Ministerial directions

We fully comply with relevant directions made by Ministers under the PIRD Act, the PGPA Act or other Commonwealth legislation.

Under section 143 of the PIRD Act, the Minister for Agriculture may give written directions to GRDC as to the performance of its functions and the exercise of its powers. No such directions were given in 2019–20.

Under section 22 of the PGPA Act, the Minister for Finance may give written directions to the Corporation regarding complying with the general policies of the government. No directions were given in 2019–20.

Funding agreement

Section 33(4) of the PIRD Act allows the Minister to enter into a funding agreement with GRDC. A new Funding Agreement with the Commonwealth was negotiated and agreed in April 2020. The Funding Agreement is underpinned by Performance Principles to guide our performance against the requirements of the Funding Agreement.

Significant events

The Chair of GRDC Board writes to the Minister after each board meeting, outlining all key decisions. Significant events in 2019–20 reported to the Minister were:

  • the establishment of Grains Australia Limited with the corporation as the sole founding member This company was established to consolidate the delivery of industry good functions with cooperation across industry and a steering committee consisting of GRDC, Grain Producers Australia, GrainGrowers Ltd and Grain Trade Australia
  • recruitment of a new Managing Director
  • ANAO Probity Review
  • selection and appointment of all three regional advisory panels consisting of 30 panel members for a two-year term.

Government priorities

Our research, development and extension (RD&E) investment strategies, as articulated in each 5-year RD&E plan, are designed to address the Australian Government’s Science and Research Priorities and Rural Research, Development and Extension Priorities. Our R&D investments meeting our priorities are detailed in Appendix C.

Accountability to the grains industry

We are accountable to the Australian grains industry through the industry’s representative organisations, as described in the PIRD Act, and consult widely with other industry organisations and grower groups.

Representative organisations

In 2019–20, GrainGrowers Limitedand Grain Producers Australia were the declared representative organisations under section 7 of the Act.

We meet with the industry representative organisations at least once every six months and provide a formal opportunity for them to review our performance annually.

Consultation with the representative organisations in 2019–20 included discussions on:

  • Updates on GRDC performance
  • Research partner engagement strategy
  • Grain Innovate
  • Modernising RDC Review
  • Grains Australia
  • Access to GRDC research
  • Levy payer register
  • Grains Australia
  • Fall armyworm
  • Sorghum Pre-Breeding
  • Transport
  • Grain Sustainability Framework
  • Community Trust in Rural Industries investment
  • Glyphosate.

We paid $17,297.79 (GST incl.) to GrainGrowers and $18,623.13 (GST incl.) to Grain Producers Australia for industry consultation costs during 2019–20, in accordance with section 15 of the PIRD Act.

Business relationships

Many of our business relationships are governed by research agreements, licence agreements to commercialise resulting intellectual property, and agreements which procure services.

In some cases, the formation of companies and joint venture partnerships (for-profit or not-for-profit) is the most effective way to deliver technologies, services, information and policy advice to Australian grain growers and the wider grains industry.

Table 11 describes the companies in which we had shares or membership at 30 June 2019. In most cases we also nominated one or more directors to the company’s board.

Table 11: Companies in which GRDC had shares or membership at 30 June 2020



GRDC role

Companies limited by guarantee

Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre Limited

ACN 160 912 032

Provides research and development related to the Australian export grains industry.

Is a member of the company Nominates a director

Grains Australia Limited

Industry good functions.

Is the sole member of the company

Invasive Animals Ltd

ACN 114 965 276

Serves as the IP holding/management company for the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre.

Is a member of the company Does not nominate a director

Wheat Quality Australia Limited

ACN 147 439 656

Manages and delivers the wheat variety classification process.

Is a member of the company and pays the company for services May nominate a director

Companies limited by shares

Australian Grain Technologies Pty Ltd

ACN 100 269 930

Undertakes commercial wheat and barley breeding.

Is a 39 per cent shareholder
Nominates three of seven directors

InterGrain Pty Ltd

ACN 128 106 945

Undertakes commercial wheat and barley breeding.

Is a 38.3 per cent shareholder Nominates one director

Grains industry priorities

We consulted extensively with grains industry participants to develop the research, development an extension (RD&E) Plan 2018–23. The consultation involved multiple consultative mechanisms to reach the widest range of stakeholders, including workshops, roadshows, face-to-face meetings, surveys and open submissions.

We continually monitor evolving industry priorities, nationally and regionally, through advisory panels and Regional Cropping Solutions networks. We also use a wide range of other consultative forums, including Grower Solutions Groups, and direct feedback from growers and other industry participants.

Each year, the industry priorities are embedded in our annual operational plan and our performance in meeting the priorities is described in the corresponding annual report.

Industry levies

In 2019–20, a levy rate of 0.99 per cent applied to all leviable crops covered by the corporation, except for maize, which was levied at 0.693 per cent.

The levies were imposed and collected as stipulated by the:

  • Primary Industries (Excise) Levies Act 1999, supported by the Primary Industries (Excise) Levies Regulations 1999, Schedules 4, 12, 20 and 25
  • Primary Industries Levies and Charges Collection Act 1991, supported by the Primary Industries Levies and Charges Collection Regulations 1991, Schedules 8, 19, 29 and 34.

We paid the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment $819,586.04 for the collection and management of levies in 2019–20.

Corporate governance

Our Board has overall responsibility for corporate governance within the organisation and places high value on continuously improving our performance in this area.

Key corporate governance activities overseen by the Board in 2019–20 included:

  • timely completion of statutory planning and reporting obligations
  • a fraud risk assessment
  • completion of a new Fraud Control Policy and Fraud Control Plan
  • regular review and monitoring of GRDC’s strategic risk profile
  • completion of a new Risk Policy and Risk Management Framework
  • approval of updated Procurement Policy, Guidelines and tools
  • changes to the structure and content of GRDC Policy Library
  • refresh of GRDC Complaints Handling policy and procedures
  • review and update of key governance documents including, Code of Conduct and Work Health and Safety Management Strategy.

Risk management and fraud control

We continually review and refine our risk management framework to reflect changes in the business environment and our structure.

The Board considers a strategic risk report at its monthly meeting and reviews the operational risks every six months, or more often if significant changes arise in the operating environment.

We commission external assessments of fraud risk every two years. The Fraud Control Plan was finalised in 2020 and will be updated again toward the end of 2022. There were no incidences of fraud during 2019–20.

The Board’s Audit and Risk Committee oversees the preparation and implementation of the risk management initiatives and fraud control policy and plan.

Independent audits

The Auditor-General is required to audit each Commonwealth entity’s financial statements. In addition, the Auditor-General Act 1997 confirms the power of the Auditor-General’s office to carry out performance audits of Commonwealth entities and, in this role, to obtain documents and information.

The Auditor-General’s independent audit report on our financial statements for 2019–20 is presented on pages 73 and 74.

Code of conduct

Our Code of Conduct sets out the principles and expected standards of behaviour for directors, staff and panel members. New directors and staff members are introduced to the code during induction, and presentations on the code are made to staff at regular intervals.

Indemnities and insurance premiums for officers

We hold directors’ and officers’ liability insurance cover through Comcover. During the year, no indemnity-related claims were made. The cost of directors’ and officers’ indemnity insurance for 2019–20 was $15,452.50 (GST excl.).

Judicial decisions and reviews by outside bodies

In 2019–20, the corporation was not affected by judicial decisions or reviews by administrative tribunals, parliamentary committees, the Commonwealth Ombudsman or the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner. The Auditor-General completed an audit of our probity management arrangements along with that of four other Research and Development Corporations. The audit report was published on 18 December 2019. We accept all the recommendations made in respect of its probity management arrangements. The completed audit report and our responses can be found at: https://www.anao.gov.au/work/performance-audit/probity-management-rural-research-and-development-corporations.