Annual Report 2006-07: Our governance arrangements
Our governance arrangements
- Portfolio Minister and tripartite structure
- Responsible Minister
- Ministerial directions
- Executive responsibility
- Audit and Risk Committee
- Industry Complaints Commissioner
As an independent statutory authority within the Transport and Regional Services portfolio, CASA is accountable to the Commonwealth Parliament through the Minister for Transport and Regional Services (see Figure 8).
CASA, the Department of Transport and Regional Services (which includes the Australian Transport Safety Bureau) and Airservices Australia form a tripartite structure for providing safe aviation regulation in Australia. Each has separate and distinct functions, but the three organisations work together as an integrated system.
Senator the Hon Warren Truss was Minister for Transport and Regional Services from the beginning of the year under review, having been appointed to the portfolio on 6 July 2005. The Hon Mark Vaile MP was sworn in as Minister on 29 September 2006. Mr Vaile also held the portfolio of Transport and Regional Development between 1997 and 1998.
Under the Civil Aviation Act, the Minister may require CASA to act in accordance with directions or notifications about:
- the way its functions are performed and powers are exercised (section 12)
- strategic directions (section 12A)
- supplying documents and information to specified nominees (section 12B)
- reporting (section 12D).
Section 12C of the Act also gives the Minister the power to enter into an agreement with the Director of Aviation Safety (that is, the Chief Executive Officer of CASA) about the performance of CASA’s functions and the exercise of CASA’s powers. The Director must take all reasonable steps to comply with the terms of any such agreement.
To ensure regulatory independence, directions from the Minister about the performance of CASA’s regulatory function may only be of a general nature. This restriction also applies to notices under section 12A and any agreement under section 12C.
There were no statutory directions or notifications under section 12A, 12B or 12D of the Civil Aviation Act in 2006–07.
Under the Civil Aviation Act, the Director of Aviation Safety and Chief Executive Officer is directly responsible to the Minister for CASA’s management. The Director of Aviation Safety is the sole director of CASA for the purposes of the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 (the CAC Act).
Under the CASA corporate governance arrangements, the role of the Director and CEO includes:
- deciding the objectives, strategies and policies to be followed by CASA
- ensuring that CASA works within the broad framework of the Government’s policies and priorities
- ensuring that CASA performs its functions in a proper, efficient and effective manner.
In accordance with the CAC Act, CASA continued to maintain its Audit and Risk Committee in 2006–07.
The committee’s functions are broad, and include:
- assisting CASA to comply with its statutory obligations under the Civil Aviation Act and the CAC Act
- assisting CASA to comply with government policy, regulations, guidelines and codes of practice and conduct
- providing a forum for communication between CASA’s senior managers and its internal and external auditors
- overseeing CASA’s risk management and internal audit functions.
The committee operates under a charter, which was reviewed during the year to ensure best audit and risk committee practice. It reports to the CEO and has direct access to internal and external auditors; the Chief Financial Officer; the Manager, Risk Management and Internal Audit; the Head, Legal Services; and other senior managers.
At 30 June 2007, members of the Audit and Risk Committee were:
- Barbara Yeoh (Chair)
- Rod Alfredson (member)
- Shane Carmody (member).
A majority of the members of the committee are independent of CASA.
See Appendix 1 for details of the qualifications and experience of the Audit and Risk Committee members.
The committee met six times in 2006–07. Meeting dates are listed at Appendix 1.
During the year, the committee:
- assisted the CEO and CASA to comply with obligations under the CAC Act and other relevant legislation
- provided a forum for communication between the Director, CASA’s senior managers and the internal and external auditors
- assisted CASA generally to comply with its legislative and other statutory obligations
- endorsed CASA’s strategic risk management and internal audit plan and annual audit programme
- provided guidance on the effective management of risk
- advised the CEO on the adequacy of internal audit procedures, accounting procedures, audit and accounting systems, internal controls and financial reporting
- made recommendations for improving efficiency, effectiveness and ethical conduct in all areas of CASA’s operations
- provided accurate, high-quality and timely disclosure of financial and other information to the CEO and other key stakeholders
- reviewed internal audit reports.
The Industry Complaints Commissioner (ICC) is independent of CASA’s senior management, reporting directly to the CEO. The ICC delivers on CEO Bruce Byron’s commitment to a ‘Fair CASA’ and is part of CASA’s industry-focused risk management strategy.
The ICC is the central coordinating point for:
- all complaints made about CASA and about the conduct of any of CASA’s officers by a person who is not an employee of CASA
- all complaints or expressions of concern about matters related to or potentially affecting air safety, which have been referred to the ICC by or on behalf of a person who is not an employee of CASA.
The ICC provides an impartial and accessible means of investigating complaints and reviewing CASA actions but does not replace formal or legal avenues of appeal. It has the authority to investigate, report and make recommendations on issues and procedures arising from complaints.
The primary objective of the ICC is to resolve complaints in the fairest and most appropriate way.
The new Commissioner, Mr Michael Hart, commenced in June 2007. Prior to Mr Hart’s appointment Mr Rob Collins acted in this position.
The inaugural Commissioner, Mr Arthur White, retired from CASA in January 2007.
The ICC is responsible for the CASA Hotline, which provides a dedicated number (1800 074 737) for industry and members of the public to report matters that are or may be affecting air safety. Reports may be made confidentially.
The Commissioner attended industry briefings and met with industry regularly. In keeping with providing an accessible service, the Commissioner met with many complainants personally, which involved travel to Victoria and New South Wales.
The CASA website provides detailed information about the ICC and allows easy access for online complaint submissions.
During 2006–07, the ICC received 283 complaints and 58 Hotline calls. For further details see Complaints and investigations.