Accountability

Freedom of information

In accordance with the Australian Government requirement for agencies to be open and transparent with regard to the functions they perform and the information they hold, the Registrar’s website includes an information publishing plan for ORIC and a freedom of information (FOI) disclosure log. In 2017–18:

  • 16 FOI requests were made to the Registrar, compared to 66 in 2016–17
  • 26 FOI requests and three requests for internal review were finalised.

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) advised ORIC of receipt of an Australian Information Commissioner review application in respect of an internal review decision notified in December 2016. ORIC provided its response to the OAIC on 17 March 2017 and was awaiting advice from the OAIC regarding the outcome of its review.

Complaints about ORIC

ORIC responds to complaints about its staff and contractors in accordance with policy statement PS–03: Complaints about the Registrar’s staff and contractors. During 2017–18, one complaint about staff was received, compared to eight complaints received the year before. The complaint was reviewed and the complainant notified of the outcome.

In 2017–18 ORIC received one ‘section 8’ notice from the Commonwealth Ombudsman. Under the Ombudsman Act 1976, the Ombudsman requested information from ORIC to help investigate a complaint made to the Ombudsman about ORIC. The Registrar responded to all issues raised in the Ombudsman’s notice, and the Ombudsman advised that no further investigation was warranted.

Federal court proceedings:

Onus v Registrar of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporations

These proceedings involved challenges to two decisions by the Registrar to put Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC under special administration. In the first case, the court made orders that had the effect of ending the special administration before the completion of special administrator’s original term of appointment. However, in the second case, the Court made orders with the effect that the special administration continued to the end of the special administrator’s term of appointment.

Despite the proceedings, the special administrator was able to achieve significant outcomes that strengthened the corporation’s governance arrangements before returning control to the directors.

Legal services expenditure

The tables below are a statement of legal services expenditure by ORIC for 2017–18 and provided in order to comply with paragraph 11.1(ba) of the Commonwealth’s Legal Services Directions 2017.

Table 24: Expenditure on legal services and legal service providers 2017–18

Internal legal services expenditure $GST exclusive
Total internal legal services expenditure 325,000.00
External legal services expenditure $GST inclusive
Professional fees:  
Australian Government Solicitor 118,431.81
DLA Piper 117,574.16
Minter Ellison 77,332.10
Taylor David Lawyers 3,417.00
Total professional fees paid 316,755.07
Counsel briefs 59,187.21
Other disbursements on external legal services 74,954.68
Total external legal services expenditure 450,896.96

Note: Internal legal services expenditure was derived through estimates of the percentage of time spent by legally qualified staff on legal work. Expenditure was calculated using base salaries and overheads.

Table 25: Briefs to counsel 2017–18

Number of counsel briefed
Number of male counsel briefed 3
Number of female counsel briefed 1
Value of counsel briefs
Value of briefs to male counsel (GST inclusive) $36,891.76
Value of briefs to female counsel (GST inclusive) $22,295.45