Glossary of common governance terms

Administrative Arrangements Order – An instrument issued by the Governor-General that formally establishes the matters dealt with by each Department of State and the legislation for which each Minister of State administering a Department of State is responsible.

Australian Government – All bodies that comprise the public sector at the national level. This includes the Commonwealth, office holders, statutory corporations, Commonwealth companies and their subsidiaries.

body – Includes any department, listed entity, executive agency, statutory agency, statutory authority, statutory office holder, company, association, cooperative, partnership, trust or departmental function with distinct branding.

body corporate – A legal entity, other than a body politic or a natural person. It includes a statutory corporation, a company and an incorporated association.

commission – A generic term for a body of persons that is authoritatively charged with particular activities. This document primarily uses the term in a technical sense to describe a statutory authority that comprises more than one person. However, the term also occurs in the names of certain entities that are led by a single office holder, such as the Australian Public Service Commission.

Commonwealth – The legal entity of the Commonwealth of Australia, created by the Australian Constitution. The term may also be used to differentiate the Australian Government from state and territory governments.

Commonwealth company – A Corporations Act company that the Commonwealth controls; however, it does not include a company that is a subsidiary of a Commonwealth company, a subsidiary of a corporate Commonwealth entity or a subsidiary of the Future Fund Board of Guardians.

Commonwealth entity – A non-corporate Commonwealth entity or a corporate Commonwealth entity under the PGPA Act, further defined as a Department of State, a Parliamentary Department, a listed entity, or a body corporate established by a Commonwealth law or listed in the PGPA Rule.

company – A body corporate that has its status conferred by the Corporations Act 2001.

corporate Commonwealth entity –A Commonwealth entity that is a body corporate under the PGPA Act.

Consolidated Revenue Fund – A fund established by section 81 of the Constitution, comprising money raised or received by the Commonwealth.

Department of State – As established by the Governor-General (in Council) under section 64 of the Constitution.

Executive Agency – An agency designated, in an executive order made by the Governor-General-in-Council, as separate from a department, for staffing and accountability and reporting purposes, under the Public Service Act 1999.

enabling legislation (also known as ‘establishing legislation’) – Parliament’s authorisation in statute for a body to be established with certain powers and functions. See also statutory authority.

Entity – A non-corporate Commonwealth entity or corporate Commonwealth entity as defined by the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

general government sector – A group comprising entities that are primarily budget-funded or that obtain their funds from government generally.

member – A generic term used primarily in this document to describe a person who is a shareholder or a guarantor of a company. (It can also describe a director in terms of being a member of a board or a member of an accountable authority.)

non-corporate Commonwealth entity –A Commonwealth entity that is not a body corporate.

Parliamentary Department – A part of the Commonwealth that is established as a department of the Parliament under the Parliamentary Service Act 1999.

person – A generic term encompassing any natural person, body corporate or body politic.

Public Service Act 1999 – The legislation under which Australian Public Service employment arrangements are applied to a Department of State, an Executive Agency or a Statutory Agency. Not all PGPA Act Commonwealth entities employ their officials under the Public Service Act.

Regulatory power – the power to control or direct according to a rule or law, including the ability to set mandatory standards.

special account – A ledger, in law, that allows relevant money to be drawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for specified purposes, up to the special account’s balance. It enables separate accounting to support an identified activity, including within a department.

Statutory Agency – A statutory authority identified in an Act as a ‘Statutory Agency’ for the purposes of the Public Service Act.

statutory authority – A generic term for an Australian Government body established through legislation for a public purpose. This can include a body headed by, or comprising, an office holder, a commission or a governing board.

statutory corporation – A statutory body that is a body corporate, including an entity created under section 87 of the PGPA Act.

For further information, contact GovernancePolicy@finance.gov.au.

Last updated: 09 November 2017