External scrutiny

The following information provides details of the most significant developments in external scrutiny for the department.

Judicial decisions

During the year the Department of Education was only involved in one matter before courts and administrative tribunals.

Williams v Commonwealth [2014] HCA 23

On 8 August 2013, Mr Ron Williams commenced proceedings in the High Court of Australia against the Commonwealth, the Minister for Education and Scripture Union Queensland ( SUQ) seeking to have payments made by the department to SUQ under the National School Chaplaincy and Student Welfare Program declared invalid.

The High Court, in a decision handed down on 19 June 2014, unanimously decided that the payments were not validly made. In reaching that conclusion the High Court held that the payments were not validly authorised by section 32B of the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 as they were not supported by a head of Commonwealth legislative power.

Administrative tribunal decisions and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

There were no decisions of administrative tribunals or the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner during 2013–14 that have had a significant impact on the operations of the department.

Reports on the operations of the department by the Commonwealth Ombudsman

There were no reports of relevance to the department by the Commonwealth Ombudsman during 2013–14.

Reports by the Auditor-General

  • Audit Report No. 13 2013–14 Audits of the Financial Statements of Australian Government Entities
  • Audit Report No. 33 2013–14 Indigenous Employment in Australian Government Entities
  • Audit Report No. 44 2013–14 Interim Phase of the Audits of the Financial Statements of Major General Government Sector Agencies for the Year Ending 30 June 2014
  • Audit Report No. 47 2013–14 Managing Conflicts of Interest in FMA Agencies

Details of these reports can be found on the Australian National Audit Office website.

Parliamentary committee inquiries

The department appeared before the Senate Standing Committee on Education and Employment for Supplementary Budget Estimates on 20 November 2013; Additional Budget Estimates on 26 February 2014; and Budget Estimates on 4–5 June 2014.

The department also made appearances before, or submissions to, a number of parliamentary committee inquiries during the year (see Table 18). Details of these inquiries can be found on the APH website.

Table 18: Parliamentary committee inquiries 2013–14

Committee Inquiries, submissions and appearances
Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee Family Assistance Legislation Amendment (Child Care Measures) Bill 2014
Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Amendment Bill 2014
Senate Education and Employment References Committee Inquiry into the delivery of quality and affordable early childhood education and care services
Inquiry into the immediate future of the childcare sector in Australia
Inquiry into technical and further education in Australia
Inquiry into the effectiveness of the National Assessment Programme—Literacy and Numeracy
Senate Select Committee on School Funding Inquiry into the development and implementation of national school funding arrangements and school reform
Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit Review of Auditor-General’s Reports Nos 23 and 25 (2012–13) and 32 (2012–13) to 9 (2013–14)
Senate Economics References Committee Inquiry into affordable housing