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Corporate governance

Our corporate governance framework assists agency staff to plan and manage activities and deliver on the expectations of government and the community. The framework articulates the lines of authority, accountability, direction and control within our agency. It is designed to ensure our staff understand their accountabilities and our agency delivers outcomes in a controlled, transparent and accountable manner, in line with relevant legislation and government policy.

Governance processes

Our governance processes and policies include:

  • risk management
  • protective security management
  • business planning
  • financial management
  • performance and conformance monitoring and reporting
  • staff performance agreements
  • internal auditing
  • fraud prevention, and
  • Chief Executive Directions and Instructions.

Our governance framework supports our agency culture—which promotes and upholds the Australian Public Service Values and Code of Conduct—and enables us to monitor and improve our performance.

Governance structure

Our committee structure supports the agency's governance and provides leadership and oversight of agency operations and performance.

Figure 7: Our committee structure as at 30 June 2016

Figure 7: Our committee structure as at 30 June 2016

Executive Committee

The Executive Committee is an advisory committee to the Chief Executive Officer. It provides a formal venue for clearance of papers referred to the Regulator.

The Executive Committee comprises our Chief Executive Officer, Executive General Managers and General Counsel. This committee meets monthly before each meeting of the Regulator.

Strategic Leadership Team

The Strategic Leadership Team leads our agency in setting the strategic direction for operations including our agency regulatory posture, risk appetite, corporate plan, purpose and objectives. This team makes decisions about policies, allocates resources and monitors and regulates our agency's regulatory posture.

The Strategic Leadership Team has the same membership as the Executive Committee and generally meets weekly.

Business Leadership Team

The Business Leadership Team is responsible for decisions about implementing our agreed annual and business plans. This forum manages matters that require collaboration across divisions. The Business Leadership Team also monitors resolution of identified issues and implementation of our agency's strategic priorities.

Audit Committee

The Audit Committee provides independent assurance and assistance to the Chief Executive Officer on our agency's internal audit work program and our external accountability under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013. This includes reviewing our annual financial statements and annual performance statement.

The Audit Committee comprises three members, including an independent Chair and at least one other external member. A member of the Regulator attends as an observer. This committee meets at least quarterly, and may hold special meetings to review annual financial statements and performance statements or to meet other specific committee responsibilities.

Security Management Committee

The Security Management Committee provides centralised strategic direction and advice on our protective security and information technology policies and practices. It ensures we comply with relevant government policy requirements.

This committee comprises the Agency Security Executive (Chair), the Chief Information Security Officer, the Chief Information Officer, the General Manager Investigations and Enforcement, the Information Technology Security Advisor, the Agency Security Advisor and the Assistant Agency Security Advisor. This committee generally meets quarterly.

Project Portfolio Board

The Project Portfolio Board ensures that investment in our suite of projects will achieve agreed outcomes.

The Project Portfolio Board comprises the Chief Operations Officer (Chair), and Executive General Managers and is supported by subject matter expertise from the Chief Information Officer, Chief Financial Officer and Manager Project Management Office. The Chair is accountable to the Strategic Leadership Team. The Project Portfolio Board generally meets monthly.

Staff Consultative Committee

The Staff Consultative Committee provides a forum for consultation on workplace issues, including seeking staff views.

This committee comprises the People and Communications General Manager (Chair) and employee representatives from each branch as well as two management representatives. It is required to meet at least quarterly, and generally meets monthly.

Work Health and Safety Consultative Committee

The Work Health and Safety Consultative Committee provide ways for staff to participate in preventing work-related injury and illness, and encourage agency-wide participation. It considers matters relevant to workers' health and safety as raised by managers, health and safety representatives or other staff.

The Work Health and Safety Committee comprises the People and Communications General Manager (Chair), agency health and safety representatives, worker representatives and elected officers. It is required to meet at least quarterly.

Planning and reporting

The Clean Energy Regulator Corporate Plan 2015–19 sets out our purpose, objectives and strategic approach. Published annually, our Corporate Plan articulates the strategies we use to achieve our objectives and provides a framework for us to measure our performance, in accordance with paragraph 35(1)(a) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

Our Corporate Plan is one of several documents that contribute to our business planning, which provides clear line of sight between our strategic direction, planning at each level within our agency, and individual contributions.

Our business planning also considers the allocation of human resources, investment, risk management and performance measurement and incorporates our agency's performance reporting framework.

The key performance indicators in our Corporate Plan are designed to measure achievements against our purpose and objectives. We developed these indicators to meet our external and internal reporting requirements, while ensuring the flexibility to incorporate changes in government policy and our operating environment and also reflecting our core activities as a regulator. Our key performance indicators link our planning and reporting framework at the strategic, operational and individual level as represented in the following diagram.

Figure 8: Our planning and reporting framework

Figure 8: Our planning and reporting framework

Our Portfolio Budget Statements 2015–16 includes higher level key performance indicators, which we use to assess and monitor our performance in achieving our required outcome to government of contributing to a reduction in Australia's net greenhouse gas emissions.

As required under section 39 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 we report on our performance against the key performance indicators in our corporate plan and portfolio budget statement in 3: Annual performance statement from page 26.

Risk management

Our approach to risk takes into account the legislative framework, Australian Government policy and our available resources. Our risk appetite reflects the nature of the schemes we administer and the criticality of events we face.

In administering legislation on behalf of the Australian Government, we must understand what might undermine our ability to achieve our objectives and meet our statutory obligations.

Identifying and managing risks to these objectives at the strategic and operational level enables us to:

  • streamline regulatory processes across and within the schemes we administer
  • target resources towards areas of highest risk
  • reduce compliance obligations on low-risk stakeholders
  • achieve organisational efficiencies, and
  • deliver the specific objectives of relevant legislation effectively and efficiently.

We continue to embed and enhance our risk management framework into day-to-day operations, adopting a strong risk management culture where all staff understand how their daily work fits into our agency's capability to mitigate risk across our full range of functions.

The aim is to maximise return on investment against our purpose, while managing material risks, drawing on agency knowledge and evidence to inform decisions, processes and client engagement.

Image acknowledgment: Clean Energy Regulator. Clean Energy Regulator staff member, Australian Capital Territory.


Image acknowledgment: Clean Energy Regulator. Clean Energy Regulator staff member, Australian Capital Territory.

Our strategic risks

Our strategic risks are the high level risks to achieving our objectives, which we have identified as:

  • uncertainty impedes us from achieving our purpose
  • our accountabilities are misunderstood with substantial consequences
  • we get a job that does not align with our purpose, and
  • we cannot free resources, or we lack critical capability, to meet changing demands.

These risks, along with our operational risks, are actively managed and reviewed on a continuous basis.

Fraud prevention and control

We take a holistic approach to fraud control to ensure we have robust governance, strong controls, effective risk assessment and management complemented by clear policies and procedures.

Our latest fraud control plan was implemented in March 2016. This plan fosters continued legislative compliance, reflects the overall agency and fraud control structure and provides information on preventing, detecting and responding to internal and scheme-related fraud. It also aligns risk management with business planning and agency roles and responsibilities.

Our fraud control plan integrates fraud controls including:

  • standard operating procedures for conducting investigations
  • the agency fraud governance framework
  • templates and procedures, and
  • security management principles for information and communications technology.

We integrate our internal and scheme-related fraud risk assessments into our enterprise risk registers, which reflect the various prevention, detection and response controls in place across our agency.

We can receive allegations of fraud from internal or external sources by several means. We treat all allegations of fraud seriously and we are committed to maintaining confidentiality and protecting those who provide information concerning alleged fraud. We record and address any alleged, apparent or potential fraud and non-compliance incidents in accordance with the Australian Government Investigations Standards.

Compliance approach

Our Compliance, Education and Enforcement Policy is designed to optimise voluntary compliance with the schemes we administer.

We recognise that engagement, education and support are critical to ensuring scheme participants meet their obligations and avoid inadvertent non-compliance, and publish various guidance materials and resources to advise our clients of their obligations.

If we do need to address non-compliance, our response is proportionate to the risks posed by non-compliance and takes into account the behaviour and motivation of the relevant party.

We publish details of enforcement actions taken when clients do not comply with their obligations, demonstrating to our clients that we will take enforcement action in appropriate circumstances and providing an added incentive for our clients to voluntarily comply.

Where necessary, we pursue civil penalties and criminal prosecutions in more serious cases of deliberate non-compliance.

We submitted one brief of evidence for prosecution during 2015–16 to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions. Also during the year the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions finalised one prosecution resulting from a referral in a previous year, with Mr Neville Voss convicted and sentenced to four years' imprisonment.


Strengthening our compliance capability

One of our agency objectives is to have engaged, active and compliant clients. Different areas across our agency are responsible for helping ensure our clients are informed, capable and willing to comply with the laws we administer. We encourage and support compliance in numerous ways from publishing information and guidance, to answering questions and running client workshops. We also work one-on-one with clients at risk of non-compliance and, where necessary, take action to enforce the law.

This year we strengthened our compliance capability through initiatives including a Compliance Community of Practice, specific regulatory officer development and a mentoring program.

Our Compliance Community of Practice brings together staff involved in monitoring compliance or addressing non-compliance. The aim is to encourage innovative thinking and team approaches to problem solving, as well as forward thinking about current and emerging objectives, issues and opportunities.

Monthly meetings include topical discussions, brainstorming sessions and presentations from internal and external experts. For example, Regulator Member Michael D'Ascenzo shared insights from his experience as Commissioner of Taxation and a speaker from the Australian National Audit Office discussed its Better Practice Guide on administering regulation.

Through the Compliance Community of Practice, we have identified common issues, priority and focus areas, and shared knowledge and experience to assist in achieving a balanced and consistent compliance approach.

This year we implemented a four-day development program to build the capability of staff in regulatory officer roles. To further enhance opportunities, we are in the process of aligning our training with nationally recognised Certificate IV in Government for our regulatory officers and with a Diploma in Government for senior staff. We are also contributing to the Australian Public Service Commission's broader regulatory officer program being developed for Commonwealth regulatory agencies.

To support our regulatory officers, we have created a mentoring program that enables less experienced staff to benefit from the knowledge, skills and experience of selected regulatory mentors.

Work also began on our agency's first compliance plan. This plan will spell out our key compliance activities and implications for client and stakeholder behaviour.


During 2015–16, a total of 42 investigations were opened, while 31 investigations were closed. As a result of these closed investigations, a total of 9 636 small-scale technology certificates were surrendered.


In 2015–16 a total of 42 investigations were opened, while 31 investigations were closed.

In support of investigations, with assistance from the Australian Federal Police, we executed four search warrants under the Criminal Code Act 1914. In addition, we executed two monitoring warrants under the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000.

During 2015–16, we referred one matter to the Australian Federal Police and another Commonwealth agency for consideration of action by them. We referred two other matters to other Commonwealth and state authorities for action by those agencies.

As at 30 June 2016, a total of 39 investigations remained open.

Table 11: External investigations opened in 2015–16, by type and scheme
Type of non-compliance allegedRenewable Energy TargetNational Greenhouse and Energy Reporting schemeEmissions Reduction Fund
(Carbon Farming Initiative)a
Fraudulent activity250126
Systems breach/non-compliance150015
Failure to comply with notice0101

a The Carbon Farming Initiative transferred to the Emissions Reduction Fund during 2014–15.

Table 12: External investigations closed in 2015–16, by type and scheme
OutcomeRenewable Energy TargetNational Greenhouse and Energy Reporting schemeEmissions Reduction Fund
(Carbon Farming Initiative)a
Carbon pricing mechanismbTotal
No further action required41117
Administrative action (including voluntary surrender of certificates, recertification/reinspection of installations)00000
Referred to an external agency10001
Warning or advisory letter2000020
Agreed enforceable undertaking11002
Successful prosecution10001

a The Carbon Farming Initiative transferred to the Emissions Reduction Fund during 2014–15.
b The carbon pricing mechanism was repealed with effect from 1 July 2014.

As at 1 July 2015, a total of 28 investigations were on hand, while as at 30 June 2016, a total of 39 investigations were on hand.

Table 13: Total external investigations in 2015–16
OutcomeRenewable Energy TargetNational Greenhouse and Energy Reporting schemeEmissions Reduction Fund
(Carbon Farming Initiative)a
Carbon pricing mechanismbTotal
On hand as of
1 July 2015
Received 2015–164011042
Closed 2015–162721131
On hand as of
30 June 2016

a The Carbon Farming Initiative transferred to the Emissions Reduction Fund during 2014–15
b The carbon pricing mechanism was repealed with effect from 1 July 2014

Conflict of interest

We inform our staff about their obligations under the Public Service Act 1999. Directions under this Act require staff to refrain from acquiring or disposing of interests in an organisation while our agency is considering making a decision that affects that organisation, to avoid conflicts of interest. Every staff member is required to complete an annual declaration of interest form. Compliance with this requirement is reported to the Audit Committee.

Business continuity management

During 2015–16 we reviewed our business continuity management framework. The updated arrangements are fit-for-purpose, better aligned with our agency's risk appetite and comply with requirements under the Protective Security Policy Framework.

Business continuity arrangements are overseen by the Management Response Team, which comprises the Chief Operations Officer (Chair), Chief Financial Officer (Deputy Chair), Chief Information Officer and executives from each division as members and deputy members. The Management Response Team also manages the Business Continuity Test arrangements by undertaking and reviewing exercises intended to test our agency's preparedness for a business disruption event and incorporate necessary improvements to continually build our resilience to a business disruption. During 2015–16, all exercises were successfully completed in accordance with the approved test schedule.

Internal audit

The Chief Internal Auditor is responsible for the efficient and effective operation of our internal audit function, reporting to the Chief Executive Officer through the Chief Operations Officer and the Audit Committee.

During 2015–16 the Audit Committee held quarterly meetings (in September, December, March and June). The committee held a meeting in August 2016 to discuss the 2015–16 financial statements. The Audit Committee endorsed the 2016–17 Strategic Internal Audit Work Program and internal audit reports on performance and compliance issues. It also reviewed our agency's financial and performance reporting, systems of risk oversight and management and internal controls.

Oakton Services Pty Ltd provides internal audit services to our agency. During 2015–16 Oakton Services completed internal audits on:

  • conflict of interest
  • National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting data integrity and compliance monitoring
  • IT contract management
  • Large-scale Renewable Energy Target
  • performance measurement and reporting
  • investigations
  • leave management, and
  • business continuity and IT disaster recovery.

Regulatory reform

The Australian Government's regulatory reform agenda aims to reduce unnecessary or inefficient regulation imposed on individuals, business and community organisations.

The Regulator Performance Framework requires all Commonwealth regulators to report against six uniform key performance indicators, starting in 2015–16. These reports need to be externally validated by clients or their representatives before Ministerial consideration and publication.

As part of the everyday administration of our schemes, we assess the potential burden on clients and implement practical, flexible regulatory approaches that appropriately balance the needs of both parties and apply effort proportionate to risks. Whenever possible, we engage with clients early and effectively.

During 2015–16, we continued to engage proactively with the Environment portfolio on all regulatory reform activities. We published measures developed in late 2014–15, to assess our performance against the six Regulator Performance Framework key performance indicators, in consultation with the Australian Industry Greenhouse Network, Carbon Markets Institute, Clean Energy Council and other regulators. Our first annual self-assessment will be published in the last quarter of 2016.

We will continue to collect appropriate data for reporting against the goals of the Australian Government's reform agenda.


We work closely with our regulatory partners to share information to ensure the integrity of the schemes we administer. We also provide information to assist other Commonwealth, state and territory government organisations to discharge their responsibilities under respective legislation.

A range of formal agreements, lawful disclosure arrangements and staff secondments underpin our partnerships with other agencies. These mechanisms facilitate cooperation and information exchange to assist each agency to fulfil its regulatory responsibilities. This includes sharing relevant information, gathering intelligence and referring matters to the appropriate body, including law enforcement if necessary. During 2015–16, we made referrals to Commonwealth, state and territory agencies to enable and support enforcement activities as required.

Client survey

We conduct client surveys to understand client perceptions about our overall agency performance, staff performance, regulatory burden and preferred communication channels. This is the second year of our client communications survey, enabling us to compare results.


84% of clients agree the agency is doing a good job

Table 14: Key client survey findings in 2015–16
% agree or strongly agree
% agree or strongly agree
The agency is doing a good job80%84%
Client organisation has an effective working relationship with the agency84%84%
The agency performs functions effectively82%82%
The agency engages effectively with clients76%76%
The agency has a clear direction and purpose72%75%
The agency has a sound focus on important issues68%70%

Overall, client satisfaction either increased or remained steady compared with 2014–15 results. Findings highlighted:

  • Strong overall performance. An increased percentage of clients surveyed agree that we doing a good job, 84 per cent compared with 80 per cent last year. A total of 84 per cent believe they have an effective working relationship with us. In addition, nearly half stated it has become easier to deal with our agency over the last 12 months.
  • Areas to sustain. We want to maintain our strong results for having clear direction and purpose, and staff performance.
  • Areas to improve. We will work on reducing the need for clients to contact us more than once on the same matter, continue to streamline and simplify processes for complying with our schemes, and further improve consistency of information across communications channels and schemes.

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