Bills Digest 106 1996-97 Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 2) 1996-97


Numerical Index | Alphabetical Index

WARNING:
This Digest was prepared for debate. It reflects the legislation as introduced and does not canvass subsequent amendments. This Digest does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine the subsequent official status of the Bill.

CONTENTS

Passage History

Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 2) 1996-97

Date Introduced: 5 February 1997
House: House of Representatives
Portfolio: Finance
Commencement: Royal Assent

Purpose

To authorise the Minister for Finance to issue $363 000 from the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF), in addition to funds appropriated by the Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Act 1996-97, for the operation of the Parliamentary Departments during 1996- 97.

Background

(a) Glossary of Terms

Appropriation - is the setting apart, assigning or applying to a particular use or to a particular person a sum of money. In the budget context an appropriation usually refers to an authorisation by Parliament to draw on funds from the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF).

Budget Outlays - refer to the net cost to the taxpayer of providing government services. Appropriations/payments out of the CRF are adjusted to take account (for example) of many government receipts. Hence a hypothetical government program 'XYZ' may have a total appropriation of $600 million but this may only represent budget outlays of $500 million if the 'XYZ' receives income of $100 million from other (non budget) sources.

Running costs - are the full current and minor capital costs incurred by a department or agency in providing government services for which the department or agency is responsible. For many departments, staff salaries will represent the largest proportion of such costs.

Borrowings - Borrowings allow agencies to bring forward some future years appropriation to be spent in an earlier year. This is intended to provide agencies with the flexibility to respond to changing spending priorities; and a mechanism to meet unforeseen costs.

Borrowings are arranged either through annual appropriation or additional estimates bills, such as is the case with this Bill, with a consequent reduction in a future appropriation, or through the Provision for Running Costs Borrowing (PRCB) where the borrowing does not coincide with an appropriation Bill.

Agencies are allowed to borrow up to 10% of the total running costs budget from any one year.

Running Costs Borrowings (PRCB) - The PRCB is a reserve that agencies can draw on to borrow running costs funds from future appropriation where it is not viable to wait until the passage of the next Appropriation Bill. Agencies can borrow from the PRCB if: there is a legitimate reason to borrow running costs; the agency has a running costs appropriation; the borrowings are repaid in full from some future appropriation; and sufficient funds are available.

(b) Overview

Since 1982, the appropriations for the Parliamentary Departments have been effected by a separate Bill. This followed the Fraser Government's consideration of the Report of the Senate Select Committee (the Select Committee) on Parliamentary Appropriations and Staffing tabled on 18 August 1981.

Under current arrangements, the executive government maintains control over the contents of the Bill as introduced. In theory however, as the Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill is not for the ordinary annual services of the government, it may be amended by the Senate.

The Public Service Act 1922 provides that the administration of the Parliament is undertaken by five Parliamentary Departments - the Department of the Senate, the Department of the House of Representatives, the Joint House Department, the Department of the Parliamentary Reporting Staff (DPRS) and the Department of the Parliamentary Library.

The Department of the House of Representatives and the Department of the Senate are responsible for the provision of procedural, information and administrative services to Members and Senators respectively. The Joint House Department performs building management and maintenance functions associated with Parliament House. DPRS provides reporting, information technology, telecommunications and broadcasting services to the Parliament through Hansard, the Parliamentary Information Systems Office (PISO) and the Sound and Vision Office (SAVO). The Department of the Parliamentary Library is responsible for the provision of library, reference and research services to the Parliament.

Parliamentary Departments 1996-97 Funding

Funding across the Parliamentary Departments was to be reduced in 1996-97 by the 2% across the board cut to government agencies, the 1% annual efficiency dividend and a one-off cut of $10 million to the Parliament.

Excluding provisions for borrowings and various advances to the Speaker and the President, the sum appropriated for the Parliamentary Departments under the Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Act 1996-97 falls from $142.7 million in 1995-96 to $135.3 million for 1996-97. Allowing for inflation, in real terms this is a cut of approximately 7.5%.

The major additional appropriations sought by this Bill relates to running costs borrowings for the House of Representatives and the Senate. It is stated in the Second Reading Speech to this Bill that:

The increases sought relate primarily to an increase in the 'Provision for Running Costs Borrowings' for each of the Departments of the Senate and the House of Representatives from $50 000 to $200 000 to enhance their access to the borrowing arrangements under the running cost rules.

Main Provisions

The Minister Finance will be authorised to issue $363 000 from the CRF for the purposes specified in the Schedule of the Bill during 1996-97 (clause 3).

Clause 4 of the Bill allows the Minister to appropriate additional funds from the CRF for increases in salaries and similar payments during the year ending 30 June 1997. Amounts issued must be reported to the Parliament.

Contact Officer and Copyright Details

Ian Ireland
20 February 1997
Bills Digest Service
Information and Research Services

This Digest does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine whether the Bill has been enacted and, if so, whether the subsequent Act reflects further amendments.

IRS staff are available to discuss the paper's contents with Senators and Members and their staff but not with members of the public.

ISSN 1323-9031
Commonwealth of Australia 1996

Except to the extent of the uses permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without the prior written consent of the Parliamentary Library, other than by Members of the Australian Parliament in the course of their official duties.

Published by the Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1997.

This page was prepared by the Parliamentary Library, Commonwealth of Australia
Last updated: 24 March 1997



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