Chapter 8 - External Liaison and Scrutiny

Overview

This chapter includes reporting on social justice and equity, the National Capital Authority’s involvement with courts and tribunals, the Commonwealth Ombudsman and Privacy Act 1988, regulation review and legislative instruments.

Highlights

The NCA appeared at three public hearings before the Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories.

As at 30 June 2015 the NCA was not aware of any Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 breaches that would materially affect the signing of the 2014–15 Financial Statements.

Social justice and equity

The Australian Government envisions a socially inclusive society, one in which all Australians feel valued and have the opportunity to participate fully in the life of our society. The NCA embraces this vision by promoting social justice and equity through integrating planning and policy-making with economic, social and environmental considerations. The NCA aims to achieve a fair distribution of resources to develop the National Capital, thereby providing a quality environment, appropriate environmental standards, and an efficient structure and transportation network.

The NCA incorporates the views of its stakeholders and the Australian community through open and transparent decision-making as detailed in the ‘Commitment to Community Engagement (August 2011)’ protocol.

The NCA aims to provide equal access for Australians to participate in discussions about the way the National Capital is developed and managed. The NCA’s consultation webpages encourage feedback from all Australians on topics open for public consultation. The community can also provide comments in writing, on the phone or using social media tools such as Twitter.

Australians can also find out about the role and significance of the National Capital through the NCA’s website www.nationalcapital.gov.au and the education portal www.education.nationalcapital.gov.au

Parliamentary Committees

Estimates of government expenditure are referred to Senate committees as part of the annual budget cycle. This opportunity to examine the operations of Australian Government departments and agencies plays a key role in parliamentary scrutiny. The NCA appeared before the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee on 24 February 2015.

The Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories is empowered to inquire into the NCA through its resolution of appointment, which provides for the Annual Reports of the NCA to be referred to the committee for any inquiry the committee may resolve to adopt. The NCA is committed to appearing before the committee at least biannually. The hearings are a means of maintaining and improving the level of transparency and parliamentary accountability applying to the NCA.

During 2014–15 the NCA appeared at public hearings on 17 July 2014, 27 November 2014 and 18 June 2015.

Transcripts of the NCA’s appearances are available via the Parliament of Australia’s website at www.aph.gov.au

Complaints to the Commonwealth Ombudsman

During 2014–15 the Commonwealth Ombudsman did not refer any complaints to the NCA for its consideration.

Complaints to the Privacy Commissioner

During 2014–15 the NCA did not receive any complaints or requests from the Privacy Commissioner.

Courts and tribunals

The Australian Government Solicitor has been retained by the NCA to pursue a claim in the ACT Supreme Court for damages against two contractors relating to the design and construction of a memorial.

The Australian Government Solicitor was retained by the NCA in relation to proceedings brought in the Federal Court by an applicant for works approval for a ‘pop-up retail outlet’ in Canberra City. The applicant discontinued the proceedings.

Regulation Review

A Regulation Impact Statement is mandatory for all decisions made by the Australian Government and its agencies that are likely to have a regulatory impact on business or the not-for-profit sector, unless the impact is of a minor or machinery nature and does not substantially alter existing arrangements.

The Department of Finance’s Office of Best Practice Regulation vets and reviews regulations to ensure they are properly formulated and do not impose undue costs on business and the community. A regulation may include any laws or other government rules that influence the way people behave. Regulation is not limited to primary or delegated legislation.

Government policy requires that a Regulation Impact Analysis Compliance Return be prepared for regulatory proposals that may affect business, individuals or the economy. Amendments to the Plan are classified as regulatory proposals.

  • During 2014–15 the NCA submitted two returns to the Office of Best Practice Regulation.

The returns concerned the following:

  1. Notice Management Plans Rule 2014:
    • Removal of Infringement Notice Management Plans Rule 2044
    • Staffing and Delegations Rule 2014
    • Open Areas Parking Rule 2014
    • Suspension for Non-Payment of Infringement Notice Rule 2014
    • Extension of Time Rule 2014
  2. Parking Authority Declaration – 2014 High Court of Australia

The Office of Best Practice Regulation assessed that the regulations did not require the preparation of a Business Cost Calculator report or a Regulation Impact Statement.

See Chapter 1 for an overview of the pay parking on National Land enabling legislation.

Legislative Instruments

During 2014–15 the following legislative instruments came into effect:

  • Pay Parking Fees Rule 2014
  • Parking Permit Fees rule 2014
  • Parking Permit Rule 2014
  • Removal of Infringement Notice Management Plans Rule 2044
  • Staffing and Delegations Rule 2014
  • Open Areas Parking Rule 2014
  • Suspension for Non-Payment of Infringement Notice Rule 2014
  • Extension of Time Rule 2014
  • Parking Authority Guidelines Rule 2014
  • Parking Authority Declaration – 2014 High Court of Australia.

Certificate of Compliance

On 28 August 2015 the NCA provided its 2014–15 Certificate of Compliance return to the relevant Ministers. None of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 breaches detected and reported in the 2014–15 Certificate of Compliance return was of a nature or size to materially affect the signing of the 2014–15 Financial Statements.