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Australian Government Solicitor

 

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Helping clients implement new legislation

This year saw the introduction of some significant new legislation that directly affected our clients’ operations as government entities. AGS developed a range of training services, forums and publications, to help them implement the changes.

Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013

The Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (the PGPA Act) changed the longstanding financial framework of government departments and agencies. Courses addressing the significant changes resulting from the PGPA Act were offered to:

  • all staff of agencies governed by the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 (the FMA Act), which generally became ‘non-corporate Commonwealth entities’ under the PGPA Act
  • all staff of Commonwealth authorities governed by the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 (the CAC Act), which generally became ‘corporate Commonwealth entities’ under the PGPA Act
  • directors of CAC Act authorities.

The sessions for all staff of FMA Act and CAC Act bodies covered the major features of the new framework, including the duties imposed on officials by the PGPA Act. The presentations for directors of CAC Act authorities were specifically designed to inform directors about their new duties.

The course presenters included Mark Molloy (Senior General Counsel), Olivia Abbott (Counsel), Sam Arnold (Counsel) and Irene Ghobreal (Senior Lawyer). We offered 6 general courses for 98 government employees, plus 7 agency-specific sessions for the Departments of Infrastructure, Health, Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Remuneration Tribunal.

Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013

Another significant development was the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (PID Act), which commenced on 15 January 2014. The PID Act changes the way Commonwealth agencies need to deal with disclosures of misconduct by public officials, including certain reports of alleged breaches of the APS Code of Conduct.

We delivered introductory training to clients on the PID Act, as well as a training course which focused on the key role of the authorised officers under the Act. The training was delivered by Richard Harding (Special Counsel Dispute Resolution) and Leah Edwards (Senior General Counsel).We delivered 13 general courses for 230 attendees (in Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth), and another 8 sessions were provided in-house to agencies. In addition, we developed for clients a number of publications on the PID Act, including agency procedures and supporting forms, ‘need-to-know’ guides (for supervisors, authorised officers, disclosers and principal officers), a flowchart for handling a public interest disclosure and a set of Frequently Asked Questions about the PID Act for Australian Public Service employees.

This is an extract from the 2013–14 AGS annual report