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This audit would examine whether the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) has effectively managed nuclear and related scientific assets to support Australia’s international competitiveness in scientific research, innovation and engagement with industry.
ANSTO manages over $1 billion of nuclear and related scientific assets, for which it incurred over $73 million in depreciation in the last financial year. These assets include highly specialised facilities, such as the Open Pool Australian Lightwater (OPAL) nuclear research reactor, the Australian Synchrotron electron accelerator, and nuclear medicine production equipment. These facilities aim to advance Australia’s commercial and scientific interests by employing world-leading technology.
This audit would examine IP Australia’s management of the implementation of the Rights In One program.
Online transactions account for around 97 per cent of IP Australia’s customer transactions. This means that information and communications technology (ICT) systems are central to the organisation’s intellectual property rights management work. In this context, IP Australia has commenced a large, multi-year ICT project—the Rights In One program. This project involves the development of a new system to manage IP Australia’s rights administration workflow across patents, trademarks, designs and plant breeders’ rights. It is expected to allow IP Australia to streamline its ICT operations and retire a range of legacy systems, thus delivering efficiencies and enhancing productivity. IP Australia has reported that, in 2015–16, it completed the build of the first component—the administration system for designs.
This audit would examine whether Geoscience Australia is providing timely and effective information on the location of bushfires.
The Sentinel Bushfire Monitoring Service is an internet-based mapping tool that provides information about potential bushfire hotspots to emergency service managers and the general public through the use of satellite imagery. It is seen as particularly important when there are multiple fire fronts or large-scale incidents across state and territory borders, as emergency services can draw upon Sentinel when deciding where and how to prioritise resources.
The Sentinel service was developed following the December 2001 and January 2002 bushfires. In 2015, the Australian Government provided additional funding to transform the existing delayed monitoring service into a more responsive emergency management tool for firefighters. Specifically, the additional funding was to be used to increase the frequency of updates from every six hours to every 10 minutes to enable emergency services to monitor fire development in close to real time.
This audit would examine whether the administration of assistance provided under the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) is protecting the Australian Government’s financial interests and providing value for money.
The 2015–16 Budget announced that a $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility would be established to provide concessional loans for the construction of major infrastructure such as ports, roads, rail, pipelines, and electricity and water supply. It was intended that the facility would increase private sector investment in infrastructure in northern Australia. Key elements of the governance arrangements are as follows:
The NAIF Board is responsible for all decision-making in relation to concessional finance. It is supported by the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation for origination, execution and administration functions via a service level agreement.
Concessional financial assistance to be funded by a special appropriation, attributable to the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science as the accountable authority.
A master facility agreement to provide a contractual arrangement between the Commonwealth (represented by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science), the NAIF and the states, for the provision of the concessional financial assistance. This is to enable each of the states to provide concessional finance (such as loans or guarantees) to the project proponents as a pass-through arrangement, and to collect repayments for onforwarding to the Commonwealth.
In October 2016, the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia announced that more than 70 enquiries about project funding had been received, with one project undertaking due diligence and another 13 working towards a formal investment proposal. The minister stated that these projects represented a total investment of over $10 billion, but that not all would receive assistance and other projects proposals were still encouraged.