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Programme 1.8: Royal commissions

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Programme objective

This programme contributes to Outcome 1 by protecting and promoting the rule of law and building a safe, secure and resilient Australia.

Programme deliverables

Establish royal commissions and maintain their ongoing operations in order for the commissioners to make and report findings and recommendations as set out by the terms of reference for each royal commission.

Achievements contributing to programme deliverables

The royal commissions operate in accordance with terms of reference set out in Letters Patent issued by the Governor-General. The department provides administrative support to royal commissions. This includes preparing Letters Patent and establishing the royal commissions, representing the Commonwealth’s interests before royal commissions and administering legal assistance for witnesses and other parties.

As at 30 June 2015, there were two royal commissions operating under this programme: the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption.

Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

In 2014–15 the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse continued a programme of private sessions, public hearings, research and policy. It has completed 16 research projects, released one issues paper and held a number of public roundtables to bring together perspectives, expertise and experience to exchange ideas on areas that will inform the royal commission’s work and recommendations. On 13 November 2014, the Governor-General amended the Letters Patent to extend the royal commission for a further two years with the final report to be delivered by 15 December 2017.

At 30 June 2015, the royal commission had conducted 3,704 private sessions. Private sessions have been held in each capital city and several regional centres, such as Cairns and Bunbury. To date the royal commission has held 28 public hearings across each of the states and territories. Each public hearing focuses on a different institution or theme. In 2014–15 the royal commission also explored a number of themes such as out-of-home care, redress and civil litigation. At 30 June 2015, the royal commission had received a total of 23,590 calls to its call centre and 11,904 pieces of correspondence. It has referred 657 matters to authorities, including police, for investigation.

Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption

In 2014–2015 the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption conducted hearings into unions named in the terms of reference and some other unions. The hearings have taken place in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane. The royal commission delivered its interim report on 19 December 2014. The report contains recommendations that several matters involving witnesses are to be referred to the relevant authorities to consider whether civil or criminal proceedings should be commenced. A volume of the report remains confidential to government, to protect witnesses and their families. On 30 October 2014, the Governor-General issued amended Letters Patent to extend the royal commission’s reporting time-frame by 12 months to 31 December 2015, and added an additional term of reference that provides a clearer focus on criminal matters. On 19 May 2015, the royal commission released a discussion paper which set out law reform proposals for the consideration of stakeholders. The paper considered issues including regulation of unions generally, possible reforms concerning the duties, qualifications and privileges of union officials, union funds and benefits, and conduct of unions in the building and construction industries.

Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Program

On 1 September 2014 The report of the Home Insulation Program Royal Commission was tabled in Parliament. The report’s recommendations included the establishment of an independent compensation scheme for pre-existing home insulation businesses. On 30 September 2014, the Prime Minister informed the Parliament that the Attorney-General, the Minister for Industry and the Minister for Finance would develop options for a scheme that will compensate those pre-existing businesses that were adversely affected by the programme. The Minister for the Environment is coordinating the overall government response to the report. The Minister for Industry and Science is responsible for the implementation of the Home Insulation Program Industry Payment Scheme.

Results against key performance indicators

Key performance indicators

Reports are delivered on time in accordance with the terms of reference

Result

2014–15: Achieved

2013–14: Achieved

In accordance with the terms of reference the Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Program provided a report of its findings and recommendations by its reporting date of 31 August 2014. The Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption provided an interim report of its findings and recommendations on 15 December 2014.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is required to provide a final report of its findings and recommendations by 17 December 2017 and the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption is required to provide a final report of its findings and recommendations by 31 December 2015.

Key performance indicator

Effective administrative support for royal commissions

Result

2014–15: Achieved. Trend information is not available as this is a new key performance indicator set out in the Portfolio Budget Statements.

The department facilitated the tabling of the Interim report of the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption on 19 December 2014, and the tabling of the Interim report of the Royal Commission into Institutionalised Responses to Child Sexual Abuse on 30 June 2014. The department facilitated tabling of case studies by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the appointment of counsel assisting to both royal commissions.

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