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Overview

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Objectives of the Attorney-General's Department

The Attorney-General's Department (the Department) supports the Attorney-General and the Minister for Justice and the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Counter-Terrorism in achieving a just and secure society. It is a not-for-profit entity.

The Department provides legal services to the Commonwealth (including legal advice and representation), protects and promotes national security, and leads within government on justice, law enforcement and emergency management policy.

The Department's outcome is described below together with its related programs.

Outcome - A just and secure society through the maintenance and improvement of Australia's law and justice framework and its national security and emergency management system.

The nine programs within the Outcome are: Attorney-General's Department Operating Expenses - Civil Justice and Legal Services (1.1), Attorney-General's Department Operating Expenses - National Security and Criminal Justice (1.2), Australian Government Solicitor (1.3), Justice Services (1.4), Family Relationships (1.5), Indigenous Legal and Native Title Assistance (1.6), National Security and Criminal Justice (1.7), Australian Government Disaster Financial Support Payments (1.8) and Royal Commissions (1.9).

The continued existence of the Department in its present form and with its present programs is dependent on Government policy and on continuing appropriations by Parliament for the Department's administration and programs.

The Department's activities contributing toward these outcomes are classified as either departmental or administered.  Departmental activities involve the use of assets, liabilities, income and expenses controlled or incurred by the Department in its own right.  Administered activities involve the management or oversight by the Department, on behalf of the Government, of items controlled or incurred by the Government.

Basis of preparation of the financial statements

The financial statements are required by section 42 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 and are general purpose financial statements.

The financial statements and notes have been prepared in accordance with:

  • Financial Reporting Rule (FFR) for reporting periods ending on or after 1 July 2016; and
  • Australian Accounting Standards and Interpretations issued by the Australian Accounting Standards Board

(AASB) that apply for the reporting period.

The financial statements have been prepared on an accrual basis and in accordance with historical cost convention, except for certain assets and liabilities at fair value.  Except where stated, no allowance is made for the effect of changing prices on the results or the financial position.

The financial statements are presented in Australian dollars and values are rounded to the nearest thousand dollars unless otherwise specified.

New Australian Accounting Standards

Adoption of New Australian Accounting Standard Requirements
No accounting standard has been adopted earlier than the application date as stated in the standard.

Future Australian Accounting Standard Requirements
The following new standards, amendments to standards and interpretations were issued by the Australian Accounting Standards Board prior to the sign-off date.  These are expected to have a financial impact on the Department for future reporting periods:

Standard/Interpretation Application date for the entity Nature of impending change/s in accounting policy and likely impact on initial application
AASB 15 Revenue from Contracts with Customers - October 2015 (Compilation) 1 Jan 2018 AASB 15 replaces the previous revenue Standards: AASB 118 Revenue and AASB 111 Construction Contracts. AASB 15 also replaces the related Interpretations on revenue recognition: AASB Interpretation 13 Customer Loyalty Programs, AASB Interpretation 15 Agreements for the Construction of Real Estate, AASB Interpretation 18 Transfers of Assets from Customers, AASB Interpretation 131 Revenue—Barter Transactions Involving Advertising Services and AASB Interpretation 1042 Subscriber Acquisition Costs in the Telecommunications Industry. With the exception of Interpretation 1042, which was developed to address a specific interpretative issue in Australia, each of the standards and interpretations being replaced by AASB 15 correspond to IASB standards and interpretations being replaced by IFRS 15.
Changes include:
- establishes principles for reporting information about the nature, amount, timing and uncertainty of revenue and cash flows arising from an entity's contracts with customers, with revenue recognised as 'performance obligations' are satisfied; and
- will apply to contracts of NFP entities that are exchange transactions. AASB 1004 Contributions will continue to apply to non-exchange transactions until the Income for NFP project is completed.
AASB 16 Leases 1 Jan 2019 AASB 16 addresses this issue by bringing all leases onto the balance sheet of lessees, thereby increasing the transparency surrounding such arrangements and making the lessee's balance sheet better reflect the economics of its transactions.

Taxation

The Department is exempt from all forms of taxation except Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) and the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Reporting of administered activities

Administered revenues, expenses, assets, liabilities and cash flows are disclosed in the Schedule of Administered Items and related notes. Administered items are distinguished by shading in the financial statements.

Except where otherwise stated, administered items are accounted for on the same basis and using the same policies as for departmental items, including the application of Australian Accounting Standards.

Events after the reporting period

Departmental

On 18 July 2017 the Prime Minister announced the establishment of the Home Affairs Portfolio and enhance the Attorney-General's oversight of Australia's intelligence, security and law enforcement agencies. This decision will lead to certain functions transferring into and out of the department. However, at the date of this report, the administrative arrangements to give effect to this decision have not been settled. The department is therefore unable to reliably measure the financial outcome of the Government's decision and reflect these in the 30 June 2017 financial statements.

Administered

On 18 July 2017 the Prime Minister announced the establishment of the Home Affairs Portfolio and enhance the Attorney-General's oversight of Australia's intelligence, security and law enforcement agencies. This decision will lead to certain functions transferring in to and out of the department. However, at the date of this report, the administrative arrangements to give effect to this decision have not been settled. The department is therefore unable to reliably measure the financial outcome of the Government's decision and reflect these in the 30 June 2017 financial statements.

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