Bills Digest no. 104 2007–08
Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 1)
This Digest was prepared for debate. It reflects the legislation as
introduced and does not canvass subsequent amendments. This Digest
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Departments) Bill (No. 1) 2008-2009
introduced: 13 May
House: House of Representatives
Portfolio: Finance and Deregulation
relevant links to the Bill, Explanatory Memorandum and second
reading speech can be accessed via BillsNet, which is at http://www.aph.gov.au/bills/.
When Bills have been passed they can be found at ComLaw, which is
To appropriate $170.956 million
out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for expenditure in relation to
the Parliamentary Departments.
The Parliamentary Services Act 1999 provides that the
administration of the Parliament is undertaken by at least two
parliamentary departments. Only the Departments of the Senate and
the House of Representatives (the chamber departments) are created
by force of law. Other departments may be established or abolished
by resolutions passed by each House. The current third Parliamentary
Department, the Department of Parliamentary Services, commenced
operations in February 2004, following the amalgamation of the
(then) Joint House Department with the Departments of the
Parliamentary Reporting Staff and the Parliamentary Library.
Note that as the Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill
(No. 1) 2008-2009 is not for the ordinary annual services
of the Government, it may be amended by the Senate.
The Bill appropriates $170.956 million for the 2008-09 financial
year. This compares to $169.807 million for 2007-08.
The Parliamentary Departments are facing budgetary pressures in
terms of maintaining existing levels of services. For example, the
Department of Parliamentary Services Budget paper notes:
The main financial challenge for DPS in the
year ahead is to manage the reduction in the appropriation from the
additional 2% efficiency dividend while trying to maintain
services. Although the cut is referred to as a one-off , the effect
of the 2008-09 cut will continue to be felt in subsequent years,
because the future years appropriations are effected by the
reduction to the 2008-09 base funding.
The application of the additional 2% efficiency
dividend has reduced the DPS 2008-09 departmental appropriation by
$2.373m. The efficiency dividend is not applied to DPS s
As part of the strategy to manage the reduction
in appropriation, DPS is actively looking at the budget allocations
between the major resource groups and is reviewing the maintenance
plans and replacement cycles of our assets. DPS may have to
consider cuts in services but will put any such proposals to the
Presiding Officers [emphasis added].
And the Budget paper of the Department of the House of
The decrease in revenue for 2008-09, when
compared to 2007-08, reflects the decision by government to apply a
one-off 2% increase to the efficiency dividend. Departmental
funding is not expected to return to 2007-08 levels before
The combination of reduced income and pressure
on expenses is expected to result in a very tight budgetary
situation for the Department from next financial year onwards.
While the Department will endeavour to maintain its levels
of service to the Chamber, committees and Members, the budgetary
pressure may mean the Department has to reassess service
levels. [emphasis added].
Table 1: comparison
of proposed 2008-09 appropriations and actual available
appropriations for 2007-08.
Department of the Senate
Department of the House of Representatives
Department of Parliamentary Services
Total of Parliament Departments
Source: Schedule 1, Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments)
Bill (No. 1) 2008-2009
Clause 4 provides
that the Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS) may be used to interpret
provisions of the Bill where necessary under section 15AB of the
Acts Interpretation Act 1901.
Clause 6 states
that the total appropriation for the Parliamentary Departments is
$170.956 million, a figure virtually unchanged from 2007-08.
Schedule 1 to the Bill details the appropriations
for each Parliamentary Department, a summary of which is reproduced
in Table 1 in this Digest.
Clause 11 provides
that the responsible Presiding Officer may request the Finance
Minister to make a written determination reducing the appropriation
for an item in the budget of a parliamentary department by an
amount specified in the determination. Subclause
11(6) provides that any such determination by the Finance
Minister may be disallowed by either House of Parliament in
accordance with the provisions of section 42 of the Legislative
Instruments Act 2003.
Clause 12 allows for the reduction the
appropriation for administered items. Under this provision, if the
relevant Parliamentary Departmental annual report specifies that
the amount required for the item is less than that originally
anticipated, the appropriation is taken to have been reduced to the
lesser amount. The Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill
Clause 12 is a new clause in the annual
appropriation bills. Section 8 of the previous Appropriation Act
appropriated amounts for administered items and provided for those
amounts to be reduced in accordance with a determination of the
Finance Minister (see paragraph 22 above). Determinations under
section 8 limited the amount of annual appropriation available, but
did not reduce the amount of the appropriations.
Clause 12 establishes a more efficient process
to permanently reduce administered items. It does this by limiting
the amount that may be applied for an administered item to the
amount reported for that item in a Parliamentary Department s
annual report. Subclause 12(1) provides that if the amount
published in the annual report is less than the amount of the item,
then the administered item is taken to be reduced to the amount
specified in the annual report. The amount of the item specified in
Schedule 1 of the Bill may be increased or reduced by the other
clauses of Part 3 of the Bill or in accordance with sections 30 to
32 of the [Financial Management and Accountability Act
1997]. The amount in the annual report must therefore be
compared with the amount for the item in Schedule 1 together with
any adjustments that have been made to that amount.
Under section 31 of the
Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997,
departments have access to certain monies received in payment for
services. These payments are facilitated via an agreement between
the relevant department and the Finance Minister known as a Net
Appropriation Agreements or Section 31 Agreements. Clause
13 provides that any increases in section 31 payments must
be made according to the conditions set out in the Net
Appropriation Agreement, and that the increase cannot be more than
the relevant receipts covered by the agreement.
Clause 14 deals
with increases ( advances ) to appropriations due to unforseen and
urgent circumstances. These advances are made via determinations by
the responsible Presiding Officer. The maximum advance under clause
14 is a total of $300,000 each for the chamber departments, and a
total of $1 million for the Department of Parliamentary Services.
These amounts are the same as those contained in the equivalent
2007-2008 Appropriation Act. Determinations under clause 14 are
legislative instruments, but not subject to disallowance:
appropriates funds from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for services
specified in Schedule 1.
23 May 2008
Bills Digest Service
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