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About the portfolio

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The Attorney-General's portfolio provides expert advice and services on a range of law and justice, national security and emergency management issues to our ministers and the Australian Government. The portfolio contributes to the Australian Government's priorities for a stronger and fairer Australia that is capable of meeting new and evolving challenges.

The department is the central policy and coordinating element of a very diverse portfolio, providing leadership on issues critical to the effective delivery of portfolio responsibilities. The portfolio covers wide ranging areas such as administrative law, bankruptcy law, emergency management, Commonwealth courts and tribunals, inter-country adoption, national security and counter-terrorism, human rights, Indigenous justice, organised crime, criminal law, customs and border protection, policing and law enforcement and security intelligence. The portfolio includes the statutory office of the Solicitor-General, who is the Second Law Officer of the Commonwealth (the Attorney-General is the First Law Officer). The annual reporting requirements and arrangements for those portfolio elements not covered by this Annual Report are set out in Appendix 1.

Structure of the portfolio

The portfolio is structured as follows:

  • Attorney-General's Department
  • Administrative Appeals Tribunal
  • Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity
  • Australian Crime Commission
  • Australian Customs and Border Protection Service
  • Australian Government Solicitor
  • Australian Federal Police
  • Australian Human Rights Commission
  • Australian Institute of Criminology
  • Australian Law Reform Commission
  • Australian Security Intelligence Organisation
  • Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre
  • CrimTrac Agency
  • Family Court of Australia
  • Federal Circuit Court of Australia
  • Federal Court of Australia
  • High Court of Australia
  • Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia
  • Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
  • Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions
  • Office of Parliamentary Counsel

Changes to the portfolio

The functions of the former Office of Legislative Drafting and Publishing within the department were transferred to the Office of Parliamentary Counsel from 1 October 2012.

On 12 April 2013, the Federal Magistrates Court of Australia became known as the Federal Circuit Court of Australia to reflect the court's modern role in the judicial system. The title of the Chief Federal Magistrate became the Chief Judge, and the Court's magistrates became known as judges.

In the 2012–13 Budget, the Australian Government announced its decision to effect native title institutional reform in relation to the operations of the National Native Title Tribunal and the Federal Court of Australia to provide a more efficient and effective native title system. These reforms were finalised on 12 March 2013, with the commencement of the Courts and Tribunals Legislation Amendment (Administration) Act 2013. The reforms transferred the Tribunal's budget, staff and some administrative functions to the Federal Court of Australia, removing the Tribunal's status as a Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 (FMA Act) agency.

Our ministers

As at 30 June 2013, the portfolio had the following ministers and parliamentary secretary:

  • The Hon Mark Dreyfus QC MP, Attorney-General and Minister for Emergency Management
  • The Hon Jason Clare MP, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Justice
  • The Hon Shayne Neumann MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Attorney-General.

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