Australian Government bodies are diverse, which means classification is not always straightforward. The following table provides guidance on the main types of Australian Government bodies. Bodies may possess some but not all of the features listed. Where a government body could be classified under more than one body type, the most relevant classification has been chosen.
Scope of the Register
There are 12 main types of bodies which are listed in the Register:
- Principal Australian Government Entity
- Non-Corporate Commonwealth Entity;
- Corporate Commonwealth Entity;
- Commonwealth Company.
- Secondary Australian Government Entity
- Advisory Body – Policy and Stakeholder Consultation;
- Statutory Office Holders, Offices and Committees;
- Non-Statutory – Function with Separate Branding;
- Ministerial Councils and related bodies, including those established by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG);
- Inter-jurisdictional and international bodies.
- Other Entities
- Subsidiaries of Corporate Commonwealth Entities and Commonwealth Companies;
- Joint Ventures, Partnerships and Other Companies;
- National Law Bodies;
- Bodies Linked to the Australian Government through Statutory Contracts, Agreements and Delegations.
The Register excludes the following bodies:
- Internal management, advisory and administration bodies (including Commonwealth officials-only working groups and inter-departmental committees) – many of these are time limited and serve administrative and policy development/co-ordination purposes that are internal to government.
- The High Court of Australia - it is not a Commonwealth entity due to its status under its enabling legislation.
- Parliamentary Committees - their creation is controlled by the Parliament rather than the Government.
- Bodies that have been announced by the Government, but which are not yet established or substantially operational.
The Australian Government Organisations Register (the Register) uses information collected from portfolios. The Register is updated at least twice-yearly.
Types of bodies
|Type of Australian Government Body||Key Characteristics||Examples|
|A: Principal Australian Government Body - Non-Corporate Commonwealth Entity||
|B: Principal Australian Government Body - Corporate Commonwealth Entity||
|C: Principal Australian Government Body - Commonwealth Company||
|D: Secondary Australian Government Body - Advisory body - policy and stakeholder consultation*||
|E: Secondary Australian Government Body - Statutory office holders, offices and committees||
|F: Secondary Australian Government Body - Non-statutory function with separate branding||
|G: Australian Government Body - Ministerial Councils and related bodies, including those established by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG)*||
|H: Secondary Australian Government Body - Interjurisdictional and international bodies*||
|I: Other Body - Subsidiaries of Corporate Commonwealth Entities and Commonwealth Companies||
|J: Other Body - Joint ventures, partnerships and interests in other companies||
|K: Other Body - National Law bodies*||
|L. Other Body - Bodies linked to the Australian Government through statutory contracts, agreements and delegations*||
Sub-bodies of committees, working groups and advisory bodies, etc are generally listed as separate entries in the Register where:
- At least half of their memberships are drawn from outside the parent bodies’ memberships.
- Another consideration relevant to determining whether a sub-body should be listed separately on is whether the sub-body has its own separate terms of reference.
The following types of bodies are generally excluded from the Australian Government Organisations Register (the Register):
- Internal management, advisory and administration bodies (including Commonwealth officials only working groups and inter-departmental committees), as their primary purpose is to assist departments and other government entities with their internal management.
- The High Court of Australia, as it is not a Commonwealth entity due to its status under its enabling legislation.
- Parliamentary Committees, as their creation is controlled by the Parliament rather than the Government.
For queries on the types of bodies captured in the Register, please email OAR@finance.gov.au
‘Inactive’ bodies are dormant bodies, which meet for a specific purpose from time-to-time but are not considered to have ceased in the interim. In some instances they may lay dormant for a prolonged period of time, for years even, until a specific event triggers the members to meet to consider matters in order to provide advice and / or make decisions. Time Limited Bodies Some bodies are considered to be ‘time limited’, where they exists for only a set period of time. Only bodies that continue in existence for 3 months or longer ought to be reported by the Register.
Where the ‘life’ of the body is shorter than 3 months, they should be excluded from reporting except where there is a need to report the appointees as per Senate Order 15 requirements.
Abolitions and Cessations
A body created through statutory means can only cease once its enabling legislation has been successfully repealed. Even though a decision has been made to abolish the body by the Government, legally it still exists until its underlying authority is repealed. For subsidiaries of Corporate Commonwealth Entities and Commonwealth Companies, they can only be abolished once sold (or when the Government's material component is sold) or when they are wound-up and deregistered on ASIC's Organisation and Business Names register (or another similar Register for those bodies registered in an overseas jurisdiction).
In general, for all other bodies, they can only cease when the underlying authority is no longer relevant.
Reporting of Creation Dates
A Department’s or agency’s creation date will always be based on the authority that establishes it, for example:
- A Department’s creation date will be based on the date the Administrative Arrangement Order (AAO) was issued. This includes those changes where existing Departments are renamed by an AAO.
- For a PGPA Act agency the creation date will be based on the commencement date as specified by its enabling legislation or through listing in Schedule 1 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014.
Where a secondary body is replaced by a PGPA Act Department or entity, its creation date will be based on the commencement date as specified by the authority establishing the new PGPA Act Department or entity.
Similarly, where a PGPA Act agency is merged into an existing Department or entity and continues to exist as a secondary body with an identical name, the creation date will be based on the commencement date establishing the secondary body under the new authority (this could be through legislative or non-statutory means i.e. the date of effect for when the non-statutory function with a separate branding commenced operations).
This approach ensures the creation dates are tied to the relevant authority and overarching governance arrangements.
Secondary and Other Bodies
Equally, for secondary bodies their creation date will usually be based on the authority for when they were established. Sometimes that authority may mean when the Government assumed control of the entity. Some more specific examples are provided below:
- Where they are established by legislative means, their creation date will be based on the commencement provisions as specified by the Act. Usually applies to cat. E, cat. K bodies and to cat. L when they are considered to be established by the existence of a statutory contract.
- Where they are advisory / non-statutory bodies, their creation date would be based on the terms-of-reference and / or on a Ministerial announcement proclaiming its commencement and / or when it commenced operations and / or when it first meets and / or when the first chairman is appointed and has commenced in the role. Usually applies to cat. D and cat. F bodies.
- For COAG and inter-jurisdictional bodies, these would be based on the effective commencement date as specified within the agreement / treaty obligation. For smaller COAG bodies sometimes, considered working group bodies, their creation date could be determined by referring to their terms-of-reference where one exists. Usually applies to cat. G and H bodies.
- For subsidiaries of Corporate Commonwealth Entities and Commonwealth Companies their creation date should be based on when the Government assumed control of the entity which can vary depending on the circumstances:
- where the Government establishes the subsidiary from the beginning, the creation date will match the Registration date reported by the ASIC’s Organisations and Business Names register; OR
- where a Corporate entity assumes control of an existing subsidiary (i.e. purchases an existing entity), the creation date will need to reflect when the controlling interest was assumed to have taken effect i.e. the date for when the shares were transferred to the parent entity. Usually applies to cat. I bodies.
- For Joint ventures and partnerships their creation date needs to reflect when a controlling interest was assumed to have taken effect. Usually applies to cat. J bodies. Where a body existed prior to the 2014-15 financial year and its exact creation date is unknown, but the year in which it was created is, the creation date is to be defaulted to the start of the financial year (i.e. 1 July xxxx). Where the month is known, but the exact day is not, then refer to the first day of the month. The above covers the most common examples for determining a body’s creation date. Where a body exists that is not captured by one of the above examples, the principals of referring to when the underlying authority came into effect and / or when control was assumed continue to apply.