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The key legislative instrument defining the broad function and activities of the Museum is the National Museum of Australia Act 1980. This act established the Museum as a Commonwealth statutory authority and, along with the National Museum of Australia Regulations, defines its role, functions and powers. The functions and powers of the Museum are in Appendix 2.
The Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 provides a single set of core reporting, auditing and accountability requirements for directors of Commonwealth authorities. It deals with other matters such as banking and investment and the conduct of officers. It also states that directors are responsible for the preparation and content of the report of operations in accordance with the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies (Report of Operations) Orders 2002.
The Public Service Act 1999 covers the powers of the Director of the National Museum of Australia in relation to the management of human resources.
Council and committees
The Council of the National Museum of Australia is responsible for the overall performance of the organisation, including setting the strategic direction and establishing goals for management. The Council works with senior management in developing, executing, monitoring and adjusting the appropriate strategies.
The National Museum of Australia Act 1980 provides for a Council comprising a Chairman, the Director and not less than seven or more than 10 members. All members are appointed by the Governor-General and, apart from the Director, are part-time and appointed for terms of up to three years, although terms of appointment can be extended. The Director is appointed for a period not exceeding seven years.
The current membership of the Council provides a mix of skills and experience in the areas of business, financial and strategic management, journalism, museum management and government policy and administration. The Commonwealth Remuneration Tribunal determines remuneration for non-executive members.
During 2003-2004, the terms of three non-executive members lapsed and four new members were appointed to the Council for terms of three years. The term of the Director (executive member) expired on 14 December 2003 and an Acting Director was appointed. On 24 June 2004 the Acting Director was subsequently appointed Director for a period of three years.
The Council usually meets every two to three months, and four meetings were held during 2003-2004. Details of Council members are in Appendix 1. A senior officer from the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, attends Council meetings as an observer.
The Museum provides Council members with information on Government changes to corporate governance responsibilities as it becomes available, including Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) documents and guidelines.
The Council has policy and procedures for the disclosure and resolution of any matter for its consideration that may result in conflict of interest. Members are required to make the nature of that interest known at the commencement of a Council meeting and details of such disclosures are recorded in the minutes of the meeting.
The Council has three committees to assist in the execution of its responsibilities. These are:
- Audit and Finance Committee
- Collections Committee
- Development Committee.
Details of Council Committees are in Appendix 1.