Protecting the public interest: Queensland Ombudsman
The Queensland Ombudsman, being accountable to Parliament rather than the government of the day, plays a pivotal role in public agencies making fair and accountable decisions – a key element of open and transparent public administration. The Ombudsman has powers and authorities outlined within the Ombudsman Act 2001 to: investigate administrative actions of agencies; and improve quality of decision making and administrative practice in agencies. The Ombudsman also has oversight of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010.
TMR ensures the Director-General’s responsibilities under both the Ombudsman Act 2001 and the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 are executed diligently to ensure the department’s administrative processes are of a high standard and open to scrutiny. TMR are conducting an assessment of all incoming corruption or serious misconduct complaints to determine whether the complainant is a Public Interest Discloser (PID) as per the criteria outlined in the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010. The PID will then be supported throughout the process and protected from any reprisal action that may be taken against them, yet not at the expense of fettering the subject officer’s right to procedural fairness and natural justice.
Transparency and right to information
The department continues to be committed to providing the community with open and transparent access to information about our services and activities, including under our statutory obligations under the Right to Information Act 2009 (the RTI Act) and the Information Privacy Act 2009 (the IP Act).
The TMR website contains various publications and pages detailing our services and business operations.
Applications for documents not containing an applicant’s personal information are processed under the RTI Act, and requests for documents for an applicant’s personal information being processed under the IP Act.
Details on how to make a formal application requesting access to documents under the RTI Act or the IP Act are available on our website.
The most common types of applications the department receives are requests for access to documents relating to vehicle registration, passenger transport, roadworks and major construction projects in which TMR is involved.
In 2018–19, TMR received 561 applications under the RTI and IP Acts. 557 were completed, with the remaining applications to be finalised in 2019–20.
Details of the applications received by the department under the RTI Act are published on our disclosure log. Where possible, released documents are also published.
For more information on our disclosure logs
The department continued to mature our open data program during 2018–19. We remain one of the largest contributors to the Queensland Government’s open data portal, with our collection of published datasets increasing from 254 in 2017–18 to 263 in 2018–19. Datasets we publish empower our customers to make informed decisions about how and when they travel and enable our partners and industry to help us deliver better traffic and transport services for Queensland.
View the department’s open datasets
As a result of this growth, coupled with progress made on other activities geared towards improving and streamlining the release and management of our open datasets, we successfully demonstrated an overall improvement in open data maturity in our third annual open data maturity assessment conducted in January 2019. TMR’s open data maturity increased from 44 in 2017–18 to 52 in 2018–19, an 18 per cent increase within 12 months.
In addition to the audit of the department’s financial statements, during 2018–19 the Auditor-General conducted audits where recommendations were either specifically addressed to the department, were for all agencies to consider, or included learnings potentially applicable to the department.
These audits included:
- Monitoring and Managing ICT projects (Report 1: 2018–19)
- Delivering shared Corporate Services in Queensland (Report 3: 2018–19)
- Transport 2017–18 Results of Financial Audits (Report 11: 2018–19).
For more information on Auditor-General reports
The implementation status of recommendations is periodically monitored and reported.
In addition, the following 2018–19 audits are currently in progress and include coverage of the department’s operations:
- Managing Cyber Security Risk - (due to be tabled October 2019).
Coronial inquests and recommendations
Under the whole-of-government coronial reporting arrangements, Ministers are required to inform the Attorney- General within six months of coronial findings being handed down as to whether the recommendations are supported. Ministers must also provide progress updates every six months until the recommendation is implemented.
Where recommendations are directed to more than one department, the government is required to produce a single, coordinated response to the recommendation. These responses are published on the coroner’s website by the Department of Justice and Attorney-General.
The department’s response for the period January to June 2019 is required to be provided to the Attorney-General by 30 September 2019.
The department is pleased to report that no new recommendations were directed toward the department in the period July 2018 to June 2019. The department’s report for the period January to June 2019 will provide an update on 15 recommendations in total.
For more information on findings in the coroners court
Crime and Corruption Commission reports
The Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) is a statutory oversight body accountable to the Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee, set up to combat and reduce the incidence of major crime and corruption in the public sector. Its functions and powers are set out in the Crime and Corruption Act 2001.
Pursuant to the Crime and Corruption Act 2001, the Director- General has a duty to notify the CCC of matters involving a reasonable suspicion of corrupt conduct. TMR demonstrates a commitment to ensuring that all suspected corruption is reported to the CCC in a timely manner and dealt with in accordance with the subsequent directions of the CCC.
TMR is committed to investigating matters involving suspected corrupt conduct to assist the department to manage staff conduct and to enhance ethical culture. TMR maintains a dedicated proactive and reactive response to fulfil its statutory obligations in dealing with suspected corrupt conduct and or misconduct.
Parliamentary committees review legislation, investigate specific issues and report to the Parliament. Some committees also have continuing roles to monitor and review public sector organisations or keep areas of the law or activity under review. The committee which relates to the Department of Transport and Main Roads’ portfolio is the Transport and Public Works Committee. In relation to its areas of responsibility, the committee:
- examines Bills to consider the policy to be enacted
- examines the budget estimates of each department
- examines Bills for the application of the fundamental legislative principles set out in section 4 of the Legislative Standards Act 1992
- considers the lawfulness of subordinate legislation
- assesses the public accounts of each department in regard to the integrity, economy, efficiency and effectiveness of financial management by:
- examining government financial documents
- considering the annual and other reports of the Auditor General.
- considers departments’ public works in light of matters including the:
- suitability of the works for the purpose
- necessity for the works
- value for money of the works
- revenue produced by, and recurrent costs of, the works, or estimates of revenue and costs
- present and prospective public value of the works
- procurement methods used for the works
- actual suitability of the works in meeting the needs of and achieving the stated purpose of the works.
The Committee may initiate an inquiry into any matter it considers appropriate within its portfolio area.
The Committee must investigate any issue referred to it by the Legislative Assembly or under an Act, whether or not the issue is within the committee’s area of responsibility. The Committee either conducted or commenced the following parliamentary inquiries relating to the TMR’s portfolio in 2018–19:
- Heavy Vehicle National Law Amendment Bill 2019
- Transport Legislation (Road Safety and Other Matters) Amendment Bill 2019
- Personalised Transport Ombudsman Bill 2019
- Inquiry into the operations of toll roads in Queensland
- Inquiry into a sustainable Queensland intrastate shipping industry
- Transport Technology.
Auditor-General reports referred to the committee for consideration included:
- examination of portfolio subordinate Legislation
- consideration of 2018–19 portfolio budget estimates.
Parliamentary Inquiry into the Operations of Toll Roads in Queensland
In June 2018, the Legislative Assembly requested the Transport and Public Works
Committee inquire into the operations of toll roads in Queensland, including toll pricing, customer service and complaint processes. The department assisted the Committee by giving evidence at a public briefing on 17 July 2018 and a public hearing on 20 August 2018. TMR also made a written submission. A total of 199 written submissions were received by the Committee.
The Committee tabled its report on 13 September 2018. In its report the Committee made five recommendations related to fees and charges, earlier contact with customers with unpaid tolls, compliance activities and the establishment of a Queensland-based Toll Road Ombudsman service. The government response to the recommendations was tabled by the Minister for Transport and Main Roads on 13 December 2018. All five recommendations from the inquiry were supported.
TMR is working with key stakeholders to implement the government’s response to the establishment of a Queensland- based Toll Road Ombudsman service recommendation. The other four recommendations have already been implemented.
TMR was recognised with its sixth gold annual reporting award for excellence in reporting at the Australasian Reporting Awards for the 2017–18 Annual Report. The awards are used by TMR to benchmark and gain insight to allow the department to continually improve how we present and report on our performance throughout the year.
The receipt of the award demonstrates that the department is reporting to a high standard across industry and government and is providing a clear reflection of the expenditure and activities undertaken throughout the financial year.
TMR was also a finalist in the Governance category.
Suresh Cuganesan (left) Chair of Australasian Report, presents the award to Tracy O’Bryan, Deputy Director-General (Corporate).