Secretary's review

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I am pleased to present the 2015–16 Annual Report of the Attorney-General’s Department.

Our mission is to support the Australian Government in achieving a just and secure society - one that is protected by the rule of law. We achieve this by supporting the Attorney-General, the Minister for Justice and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Counter-Terrorism.

In practical terms, the department delivers programmes and policies to maintain and improve Australia’s law and justice framework, as well as strengthen our national security and emergency management arrangements. This provides the foundation for the safety, freedom, productivity and wellbeing of all Australians.

This important work involves strategic thinking and outcome focussed actions. It also involves partnerships – productive collaboration within our portfolio, across government and industry. Our success in this regard has been reflected in the positive results of our first stakeholder survey. We performed well on all measures, including overall performance, staff expertise and effectiveness, relationships and leadership and delivering quality results.

This consideration and expertise has also been reflected in achieving our key priorities.

The year in review

We have continued to support the Attorney-General as First Law Officer by ensuring the Government has high-quality legal and related services. On 1 July 2015 the Australian Government Solicitor (AGS) was consolidated into the department. This positioned us as the pre-eminent source of legal and legal policy advice to the Attorney-General, the Government and government agencies. We also continued to support the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce and the Commonwealth’s engagement with Royal Commissions.

We continue to ensure national security legislative frameworks are effective and responsive to evolving challenges. This includes working with Australian Government entities and the telecommunications industry to effectively implement data retention obligations, and a National Facial Biometric Matching Capability.

In terms of Australia’s justice system, in 2015–16 we worked to improve the efficiency of federal courts and tribunals through the effective use of available resources, including technology. We also focused on the family law system.

We made good progress in pursuing national responses to serious and organised crime and improving community safety. A key initiative is working with states and territories to implement a national domestic violence order scheme to ensure victims remain registered if they move between jurisdictions. Another area of reform is combatting illicit drugs through improved laws, including new psychoactive substances and precursor chemicals, and supporting the National Ice Taskforce.

Enabling a free society with balanced rights, freedoms and responsibilities is being achieved through activities such as implementing a data-breach notification scheme. It will ensure affected people are informed if their personal information is compromised by a data breach.

We continued to provide national leadership in terms of emergency management. This involved reforming national disaster relief and recovery arrangements to improve transparency and accountability of expenditure. It also included consulting with states and territories to improve the effectiveness of disaster mitigation and recovery.

The year ahead

The department will continue to play a lead role in achieving a just and secure society for all
Australians, including:

  • protecting australia by delivering effective national security policies, legislation and
  • maintaining an efficient and effective  commonwealth justice system
  • pursuing national responses to serious and organised crime, and improving
    community safety
  • enabling a free society with balanced rights, freedoms and responsibilities
  • providing national leadership in emergency management.

I am confident these and other priorities will be progressed successfully, thanks to the skill, dedication and professionalism of our staff. Together, we look forward to delivering on the Government’s priorities and serving the people of Australia.

Chris Moraitis PSM

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