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Objectives of the Attorney-General's Department

The Attorney-General's Department supports the Attorney-General in achieving a just and secure society through the maintenance and improvement of Australia's law, justice, security and integrity frameworks. It is a not-for-profit entity.

The department provides expert advice and services on a range of law and justice issues to the Attorney-General, the Hon Christian Porter MP, and the Australian Government.

The department's outcome statement has been amended to reflect changes under the Administrative Arrangements Orders (AAO) of 20 December 2017 and 10 May 2018 and consequential transfers of appropriation under section 75 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

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, justice, security and integrity frameworks.

There are nine programs within the Outcome: 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) (the majority of functions under this program were transferred to the Department of Home Affairs under the AAOs of 20 December 2017 and 10 May 2018), 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) (transferred to the Department of Home Affairs on 20 December 2017), Australian Government Disaster Financial Support Payments (1.8) (transferred to the Department of Home Affairs on 20 December 2017) 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 the outcome 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 2017; and
  • Australian Accounting Standards and Interpretations – Reduced Disclosure Requirements 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:


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

1 Jan 2019

AASB 15 establishes the principles that an entity shall apply to report useful information to users of financial statements about the nature, amount, timing and uncertainty of revenue and cash flows arising from a contract with a customer.

AASB 16 Leases

1 Jan 2019

AASB 16 brings 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.

AASB 1058 Income of Not-for-Profit Entities

1 Jan 2019

AASB 1058 establishes principles for not-for-profit entities that apply to: transactions where the consideration to acquire an asset is significantly less than fair value principally to enable a not-for-profit entity to further its objectives; and the receipt of volunteer services.


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 administered schedules 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


On 1 July, the Intelligence Services Amendment (Establishment of the Australian Signals Directorate) Act 2018 (No. 25, 2018) commenced, consolidating responsibility for a variety of cyber security-related functions within the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) as an independent statutory agency. This included responsibilities for the functions previously performed by CERT Australia within AGD.

In respect of the functions relinquished, the net book value of assets and liabilities to be transferred from AGD to ASD for no consideration and de-recognised as at 1 July 2018.

Subject to agreement between respective Chief Financial Officers, AGD assets and liabilities to be transferred to ASD at 1 July 2018.

Financial assets 76
Non-financial assets  9,398
Total assets 9,474
Financial liabilities 3,302
Non-financial liabilities 1,902
Total liabilities 5,204
Net assets relinquished 4,270


There were no subsequent events that had the potential to significantly affect the ongoing structure and financial activities of the department.

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