Bills Digest 122 1996-97 Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 1996 97


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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 Bill (No. 4) 1996 97

Date Introduced: 5 February 1997
House: House of Representatives
Portfolio: Finance
Commencement: Commencement: The Act commences on the day on which it receives the Royal Assent

Purpose

To authorise the Minister for Finance to issue an additional $471 270 776 from the Consolidated Revenue Fund in addition to the funds allocated under the Appropriation Act (No.2) 1996 97 for proposed expenditure on capital works and services, payments to the States and Territories and other services.

Background

Annual authorisations for expenditure are contained in the Appropriation Act (No. 1), which authorises expenditure for the ordinary services of government.The Appropriation Act (No. 2), deals with expenditure on capital works and services, payments to the States and other purposes not authorised by special legislation. The Parliamentary Departments are covered by the Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bills.

Additional appropriations may be sought in further Appropriation Bills, commonly known as additional estimates, when the appropriation sought in the Appropriation Bills is insufficient for the financial year.

Supply Bills are required as a result of the timing factors in the Budget cycle. The Commonwealth financial year begins on 1 July, but the Budget is often not presented until August and it is usually not until November that the Appropriation Bills have been enacted. Since the Appropriation Bills of the previous financial year lapse on 30 June, a hiatus of approximately five months duration appears in the financial activities of the Government (In recent years the Budget has been presented, where possible, in May). This hiatus necessitates interim appropriations. This is achieved through the passing of Supply Bills shortly before the end of the previous financial year.

The major additional appropriations effected by this Bill are:

  • Department of Transport and Regional Development $364 380 000 $347 400 000 is appropriated for the purpose of restructuring the Australian National Railways Commission.
  • Department of Industry Science and Tourism $32 510 000 Agrant of $5 000 000 and further loan of $25 000 000 is being made to Australian Leather Holdings Limited (ALHL).The Minister second reading speech states that the $30 000 000 package is assistance following the agreement reached with the United States to remove automotive leather from eligibility under the textiles, clothing and footwear Import Credit Scheme.
  • Attorney General's Department $448 776 $49 776 is appropriated for legal costs incurred by, or on account of acting for, Dr Carmen Lawrence for or in relation to the Marks Royal Commission.A question without notice which appears at page 53 of Hansard for 12 February 1997 sets out the Attorney General's position on the issue of payment of Dr Lawrence's legal costs and is extracted at Endnote 1.
  • Department of Environment, Sport and Territories $4 522 000 $4 080 000 is appropri ated as payments to the states and territories for the management of World Heritage Properties.
  • Department of The Prime Minister and Cabinet $220 000 $200 000 is appropriated as a contribution to the Port Arthur Victims Appeal Fund.

Main Provisions

The effect of clause 3 is to authorise the Minister for Finance to issue from the Consolidated Revenue Fund an additional $471 270 776 for the year ending 30 June 1997 (Schedule 2 gives a portfolio and program breakup of the proposed expenditure).

Clause 4 deals with payments to the States.Schedule 2 deals with payments to the Sates and Territories by each Department.Payments to States details in Schedule 1 must be made on the terms and conditions determined by the specified Minister.

Endnotes

1. QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE

Member for Fremantle: Legal Costs

Mr RICHARD EVANS

--My question is addressed to the Attorney-General. Minister, I understand from press reports that the former solicitors of Dr Lawrence, the member for Fremantle, intend to commence legal proceedings against the Commonwealth claiming that it should pay all of Dr Lawrence's legal costs in relation to the Marks royal commission and her challenges to it. Can you advise the House what the government proposes to do about this claim?

Mr SPEAKER

-- call the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice.

Mr WILLIAMS

--I thank the honourable member for Cowan for his question. The legal costs of the member for Fremantle fall into three categories: the costs of her representation before the Marks royal commission, the costs of her court challenges to the appointment of the royal commission, and the costs of the Western Australian government which courts ordered she pay in respect of failed challenges. As I stated in this House on 19 November last year, the government intends to comply with the parliament's previous explicit decision to approve payment of only so much of the member for Fremantle's legal costs as were reasonably incurred in appearing before the Marks royal commission, less such costs as are payable by the state government of Western Australia. Under the appropriation approved by parliament for the 1995-96 financial year, $319,927 has already been paid by the Commonwealth in respect of these costs. This appropriation lapsed on 30 June 1996.

I said on 19 November that the government intended to seek parliament's approval of a further appropriation of approximately $50,000. That remains the government's position. That amount represents the balance of the royal commission costs, after making allowance for the amount of the royal commission costs which we understand are payable by the state government. The government intends not to pay any of the court costs, in accordance with the parliament's previous explicit decisions. In other words, the foreshadowed litigation has not affected the government's intentions.

When the proposed payment of Dr Lawrence's legal costs was put before this House in 1995, the then government agreed, in this House, to a coalition amendment reducing the amount of money appropriated by parliament to pay for Dr Lawrence's legal costs by the amount of the court costs. In the Senate, the wording of the appropriation was amended explicitly to exclude the payment by the Commonwealth of any costs other than the royal commission costs. We understand that these costs other than the royal commission costs were to have been paid by the Carmen Lawrence Defence Fund, which was set up specifically to pay those costs that the parliament had refused to authorise the government to pay. The Australian public and the donors to that fund are entitled to ask why the fund has not been applied in payment of those costs, as this was the stated reason for the fund being set up. It might also be asked whether any interest has accrued on the funds, or whether administration fees have been charged. The fund was set up to pay those costs and should be applied accordingly.

Contact Officer and Copyright Details

Lee Jones
24 March 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: 9 April 1997


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