A Government Business Enterprises (GBE) is a Commonwealth entity or Commonwealth company that is prescribed by the rules (s8 of the PGPA Act).
- The Commonwealth Government Business Enterprises - Governance and Oversight Guidelines provide guidance on board and corporate governance, financial governance, and planning and reporting.
- The Role of Directors in Commonwealth Government Business Enterprises Guide provides an overview of GBE governance framework for directors.
The Australian Government's relationship to its GBEs is similar to the relationship between a holding company and its subsidiaries, features of which include:
- a strong interest in the performance and financial returns of the GBE
- reporting and accountability arrangements that facilitate active oversight by the shareholder
- action by the shareholder in relation to the strategic direction of its GBEs where it prefers a different direction from the one proposed
- management autonomy balanced with regular reporting of performance to shareholders and
- boards that are accountable to shareholders for GBE performance, and shareholders that are accountable to Parliament and the public.
To enable greater public accountability, GBEs are required to prepare a Statement of Corporate Intent (SCI) (or a public facing Corporate Plan) in consultation with Shareholder Ministers. An SCI focuses on the purpose and corporate outlook of a GBE, and expresses the expectations of its management in relation to future financial and non-financial performance.
Finance provides advice to the Australian Government relating to its GBEs and other commercial entities.
The primary tasks in relation to GBEs are to:
- provide sound strategic and analytical advice to the Government, in particular by engaging with the GBEs, analysing their operations and their environment, and consulting with stakeholders
- action the Minister's decisions including communicating objectives and
- ensure that there is a robust and sound governance framework in place by initiating change and contributing to policy development.
Finance also provides advice on other public non-financial corporations that are not prescribed as GBEs, for example Airservices Australia.
Section 5 of the PGPA Rule prescribes nine GBEs, comprising two corporate Commonwealth entities and seven Commonwealth companies.