Amata and Mimili: tracking government expenditure

First posted on 18 November 2011 under Amata & Mimili.
This article has been updated and archived.
Tags: accountability, COAG, government funding & service delivery

Summary

In late 2008, the Australian, State and Territory Governments agreed to focus their efforts and resources on improving conditions in 29 remote Indigenous communities. Two of these communities are located on the APY Lands (Amata and Mimili).[i]

On 30 September 2011, Australia’s Coordinator-General for Remote Indigenous Services (Mr Brian Gleeson) called for an “agreed statement” of government expenditure in the communities to be publicly released by the end of 2011.[ii]

The statement of expenditure is expected to reveal how much funding individual State and Federal government departments are spending in each of the 29 communities.

On 1 November 2011, Mr Gleeson explained that the statement would provide a “scorecard” of government expenditure in Amata and Mimili that could be aligned with the commitments contained in key planning documents.[iii]

On 27 April 2012, Mr Gleeson reported that the release of the statement was ” well overdue” and that this “important task” was “not receiving sufficient attention.”[iv]

As of 6 July 2012, the statement on government expenditure had not been published.[v]

The Paper Trail

Introduction

In November 2008, the Council of Australian Governments agreed to a new National Partnership Agreement on Remote Service Delivery.[vi]

The Agreement aims to improve the delivery and coordination of services to 29 remote Indigenous communities, including Amata and Mimili on the APY Lands.[vii] More than $290 million has been allocated towards the cost of implementing the Agreement.[viii] [ix]

The Agreement requires remote service delivery “priorities” to be “embodied in publicly available documents” that include “targets, actions and associated milestones and timelines.”[x]

Under the terms of the Agreement, comprehensive “local implementation plans” must be developed for each of the 29 communities and “implemented in a timely and accountable way.”[xi] The plans for Amata and Mimili were completed in mid 2010.[xii] Each plan includes more than 300 “actions” to be undertaken by June 2014.[xiii]

The Agreement requires a “clear statement of expenditure” for each of the 29 locations – including Amata and Mimili – to be produced a year after implementation begins.[xiv] As of 30 September 2011, this requirement had not been met.[xv]

Coordinator-General for Remote Indigenous Services

In February 2009, the then Prime Minister of Australia (Hon Kevin Rudd MP) announced that his Government would establish a “Coordinator-General for Remote Indigenous Services“.[xvi]

Information released at the time, indicated that this position would:

be given the authority to coordinate across agencies, … cut through bureaucratic blockages and red tape, and … make sure services are delivered effectively… [and] build on the Council of Australian Government’s $291 million agreement to reform remote service delivery.[xvii]

Legislation to establish the position passed the Australian Parliament on 25 June 2009.[xviii]

The Coordinator-General’s statutory functions include monitoring, assessing, advising and driving “the development and delivery of government services and facilities” in the 29 communities covered by the Agreement.[xix]

The first Coordinator-General (Mr Brian Gleeson) commenced work in July 2009.[xx]

Fourth report

Twice a year, by law, the Coordinator-General must report to the Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs (Hon Jenny Macklin MP) on the “development and delivery” of government services and facilities in each of the 29 communities.[xxi]

On 30 September 2011, the fourth such report was provided to the Federal Minister. It was publicly released on 14 October 2011.[xxii]

The fourth report highlighted the importance of governments fulfilling the thousands of actions contained in the 29 local implementation plans. It also drew attention to the failure of governments to provide “clear statements of expenditure” in each community as required under the Agreement.[xxiii]

As part of the report, the Coordinator-General formally recommended that Australian, State and Territory governments:

  • give “urgent and ongoing priority … to tracking progress” made completing the many thousands of “actions” contained in the local implementation plans, and
  • “publish an agreed statement of … expenditure” – by the end of 2011 – on efforts to improve service delivery in the 29 communities.[xxiv]

Paper Tracker interview

On 1 November 2011, the Paper Tracker’s Radio Show interviewed the Coordinator-General about his role and work.[xxv]

In the course of this interview, the Coordinator-General:

  • discussed some of the findings and recommendations contained in the fourth report,
  • explained how the process of completing each local implementation plan’s ‘actions’ is documented in regular “LIP Tracker” reports, and
  • spoke of his plan to publish those reports online.

The Paper Tracker asked the Coordinator-General why he had called for the publication of an expenditure statement and how much detail he expected would be included in that statement.

In reply, he explained that:

  • he had been “concerned about the whole question” of the “effectiveness and impact of expenditure” going into the 29 communities,
  • he felt it was important to be able to “assess and monitor investments against outcomes”, and
  • the purpose of his recommendation was to ensure reporting was “much more” strongly focused on “a place-based expenditure reporting system”.

Mr Gleeson confirmed that this place-based reporting would reveal “how much money is being spent by different departments and the State and Australian Government in each of the [29] communities” and that this information would provide a “scorecard of expenditure” that could be aligned with the commitments contained in each local implementation plan.

Additional information (updated 7 July 2012)

In his September 2011 report to the Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs (Hon Jenny Macklin MP), Mr Gleeson called for the government expenditure statement to be publicly released by the end of 2011.[xxvi]

This did not happen.

As of 4 January 2012, Mr Gleeson had not received the requested statement but remained hopeful that it would be provided within “the next couple of weeks.”[xxvii]

On 27 April 2012, Mr Gleeson noted that the release of “clear statements” on government expenditure in Amata, Mimili and other priority communities was “now well overdue” and that this “important task” was “not receiving sufficient attention.”[xxviii]

As of 6 July 2012, the statement of expenditure had not been published.[xxix]

This article was last updated in July 2012. It has been archived and will no longer be updated. It will, however, remain accessible online as a source of background information for anyone wishing to undertake further research on this issue. Information included in the article was current at the time it was archived. Keep in mind, however, that Ministerial changes and names of departments, among other things, may have since changed.


[i] Council of Australian Governments, November 2008, “Remote Service Delivery National Partnership Agreement,” fact sheet, p2.

[ii] Gleeson, B. 2011. Coordinator-General for Remote Indigenous Services Six Monthly Report April 2011 – September 2011, p4, see also p30.

[iii] Mr Gleeson offered this and other information during a pre-recorded 30-minute interview for the Paper Tracker radio show. The interview was recorded on 1 November 2011 and subsequently broadcast on metropolitan, regional and remote radio stations.

[iv] Gleeson, B. 27 April 2012. Coordinator-General for Remote Indigenous Services Six Monthly Report October 2011 – March 2012, p2.

[v] Gleeson, B. 6 July 2012. Email to J. Nicholls.

[vi] Council of Australian Governments, November 2008, “Remote Service Delivery National Partnership Agreement,” fact sheet, p2.

[vii] The Agreement originally focused on 26 communities/locations. This was increased to 29 communities/locations in mid 2009 (See: Gleeson, B. 15 November 2011. Email to J. Nicholls).

[viii] The Agreement came into force on 27 January 2009 and is set to run until 30 June 2014 See: Council of Australian Governments, 2008, “National Partnership Agreement on Remote Service Delivery.” Also: House of Representatives. 2009, “Coordinator-General for Remote Indigenous Services Bill 2009: Explanatory Memorandum. (Circulated by the authority of the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, the Hon Jenny Macklin MP),” p2).

[ix] Other agreements committed separate and substantial funding towards the tasks of improving health, housing, early childhood development and economic opportunities in these and other remote communities. This included the 2008 National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing that committed more than $4.7 billion, over 10 years, to improving community housing in remote Aboriginal communities. Information on this and other COAG partnership agreements is available on the website of the Ministerial Council for Federal Financial Relations. Available at: http://www.federalfinancialrelations.gov.au/content/national_partnership_agreements/indigenous.aspx. Accessed: 14 November 2011.

[x] Council of Australian Governments, 2008, “National Indigenous Reform Agreement,” p8.

[xi] See: Council of Australian Governments, 29 November 2008, “National Partnership Agreement on Remote Service Delivery,” p8-10.

[xii] McColm, M (FaHCSA). 26 July 2010. Email to J. Nicholls; Weaver, M (FaHCSIA). 25 July 2010. Email to J. Nicholls. Also: FaHCSIA. 12 July 2010, “ROC News July 2010 – LIP sign off ,” email newsletter, APY Lands Remote Service Delivery – Adelaide Regional Operations Centre.

[xiii] Commonwealth of Australia, 2010. Planning together for Mimili’s future: APY Lands Remote Service Delivery, Local Implementation Plan; Commonwealth of Australia, 2010. Planning together for Amata’s future: APY Lands Remote Service Delivery, Local Implementation Plan. See also: Council of Australian Governments, 2008, “National Partnership Agreement on Remote Service Delivery,” p4.

[xiv] Council of Australian Governments, 2008, “National Indigenous Reform Agreement,” p10.

[xv] Gleeson, B. 2011. Coordinator-General for Remote Indigenous Services Six Monthly Report April 2011 – September 2011, p30.

[xvi] Rudd, K. 26 February 2009, Hansard, House of Representatives, Parliament of Australia, p2032.

[xvii] See: Rudd, K. 26 February 2009, “Coordinator General for remote Indigenous services,” joint media release with the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous services. Also: Rudd, K. 26 February 2009, Hansard, House of Representatives, Parliament of Australia, p2032. And also: Government of Australia, February 2009, Closing the Gap on Indigenous Disadvantage: The Challenge for Australia, p6.

[xviii] Australian Senate. 25 June 2009, Hansard, (Third Reading) “Coordinator-General for Remote Indigenous Services  Bill 2009,” p4309.

[xix] Section 8, Coordinator-General for Remote Indigenous Services Act 2009.

[xx] Gleeson, B. 2009. Coordinator-General for Remote Indigenous Services Six Monthly Report July-November 2009, p113.

[xxi] Section 15, Coordinator-General for Remote Indigenous Services Act 2009.

[xxii] Gleeson, B. 30 September 2011. Letter to Hon J. Macklin MP. Also: Macklin, J. 14 October 2011. “Fourth report into Remote Indigenous Service Delivery,” media release.

[xxiii] Gleeson, B. 2011. Coordinator-General for Remote Indigenous Services Six Monthly Report April 2011 – September 2011, p29-30.

[xxiv] Gleeson, B. 2011. Coordinator-General for Remote Indigenous Services Six Monthly Report April 2011 – September 2011, p4, see also p30.

[xxv] The interview was conducted by phone on 1 November 2011. The interviewer was Jonathan Nicholls with Pitjantjatjara/Yankunytjatjara interpretation provided by Rose Lester.

[xxvi] Gleeson, B. 2011. Coordinator-General for Remote Indigenous Services Six Monthly Report April 2011 – September 2011, p4, see also p30.

[xxvii] Gleeson, B. 4 January 2012. Email to J. Nicholls.

[xxviii] Gleeson, B. 27 April 2012. Coordinator-General for Remote Indigenous Services Six Monthly Report October 2011 – March 2012, p2.

[xxix] Gleeson, B. 6 July 2012. Email to J. Nicholls.

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