Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 1) 2013-2014

Bills Digest no. 140 2012–13

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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.

Rob Dossor
Economics Section
13 June 2013

Contents
Purpose
Main issues
Key provisions
Table 1: Comparison of proposed 2013–2014 appropriations with actual available appropriations for 2012–2013

 

Date introduced: 14 May 2013
House: House of Representatives
Portfolio: Finance and Deregulation
Commencement: On Royal Assent

Links: The links to the Bill, its Explanatory Memorandum and second reading speech can be found on the Bill's home page, or through http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation. When Bills have been passed and have received Royal Assent, they become Acts, which can be found at the ComLaw website at http://www.comlaw.gov.au/.

Purpose

The purpose of the Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 1) 2013-2014 (the Bill) is to appropriate from the Consolidated Revenue Fund $184.8 million for expenditure in relation to the Department of the House of Representatives and the Department of the Senate (the chamber departments), the Department of Parliamentary Services and the Parliamentary Budget Office (collectively the Parliamentary departments).

Main issues

The Parliamentary departments will receive marginally more funding than in the 2012–13 financial year. The table provides a summary of the appropriation.

Table 1: Comparison of proposed 2013–2014 appropriations with actual available appropriations for 2012–2013

 

2012–2013

$m

2013–14

$m

Department of the Senate

21,141

21,905

Department of the House of Representatives

22,691

23,218

Department of Parliamentary Services

123,718

131,950

Parliamentary Budget Office

6,063

7,702

Total: Parliamentary Departments

173,613

184,775

Source: information extracted from Schedule 1 of the Bill.

 

For a general discussion of Appropriation Bills, see—for example—Bills Digest No. 126, 2013–14 Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2013–2014 [and] Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2013–2014.[1]

Funding statements

The Parliamentary departments have received an increase in funding to cover the additional demands that have been placed on them.

The Department of the House of Representatives’ Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS) states:

The Department’s activity levels reflect the parliamentary cycle, with significant variations in activity over the three years of a parliament. An election will be expected to be held in September 2013 and the financial year 2013-14 is the first year in the 44th Parliament. As a consequence there will be some reduction in the resources required for the chamber and parliamentary committees during the first quarter of the financial year. However, once the 44th Parliament has met the Department will see an increase in activity levels. The additional sitting hours for the House and Federation Chamber, and additional committee activity including the establishment of two Joint Select Committees during 2012-13, have placed considerable strain on the Department’s resources. However, the Department has been successful in obtaining additional funding to support the Joint Select Committees to enable research and administrative support for those committees. The extension of funding in 2013-14 for support for Parliamentary Reform will mean the Department will have sufficient funding to adequately resource the operation of the House and Federation Chamber in the first months of the 44th Parliament, provided that activity levels remain at current levels.[2]

The Department of the Senate PBS states:

The total appropriation for the department in the 2013-14 Budget is $21.9m (compared with $21.1m appropriated in 2012-13). The current budget includes ongoing funding for Legislative Drafting ($0.2m) and Enhanced Publishing Online ($0.1m). It also includes additional ongoing support of ($0.3m) for the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights. The current budget also provides support ($0.6m) for the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples for two years, due to cease in 2014-15. The funding for the Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform ($0.4m) ceased at the end of 2012-13.[3]

The PBS for the Department of Parliamentary Services and the Parliamentary Budget Office do not include any funding statement.

New measures

Chamber departments

For the Department of the Senate, the 2013–14 Budget provides an additional $3.6 million over four years to support the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights and the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, as well as funding to coordinate online publishing of all papers tabled in the Senate and to engage a specialist office to perform legislative drafting.[4]

For the Department of the House of Representatives, the Budget makes provision for $1.3 million over four years to provide refreshments to school groups visiting Parliament House.[5]

Department of Parliamentary Services

The 2013–14 Budget does not provide any significant additional program funding.

Parliamentary Budget Office

The 2013–14 Budget provides an additional $4.5 million over five years (beginning 2012–13) to enhance the Parliamentary Budget Office’s fiscal policy analysis and costing capabilities and to produce post-election assessments of election commitments. Funding was initially provided for the Parliamentary Budget Office in the 2011–12 Budget.[6]

Key provisions

Many of the key provisions of Appropriation Acts are similar from year to year.

Part 1—Preliminary

Clauses 1, 2, 3 and 5 are formal or technical clauses, such as when the Bill commences and the definitions used.

Clause 4 provides that the Portfolio Budget Statements for the Parliamentary departments are extrinsic materials that may be used to interpret provisions of the Bill (or the proposed Act).[7]

Part 2—Appropriated items

Clause 6 states that the total appropriation for the Parliamentary departments is $184,775,000. The total appropriation includes amounts for departmental items (clause 7), administered items (clause 8), administered assets and liabilities items (clause 9) and other departmental items
(clause 10).

Part 3—Adjusting appropriated items

Clause 11 provides that the responsible Presiding Officer[8] may request the Finance Minister to make written determinations to reduce the appropriation for departmental items, administered assets and liabilities items and other departmental items in the budget of a parliamentary department by an amount specified in the relevant determination. The written determination would be a legislative instrument and may be subject to parliamentary disallowance under section 42 of the Legislative Instruments Act 2003, but would not be subject to the sunsetting provisions in Part 6 of that Act (subclause 11(7)). In short, this means that the Finance Minister’s determinations are disallowable by Parliament, but if they are not disallowed they will not expire.

Clause 12 allows for reduction of the appropriation for administered items. Under this provision, if the relevant Parliamentary department’s 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. Subclause 12(2) enables the Finance Minister to make written determinations relating to the proposed reduction. Again, the written determination would be a legislative instrument and may be subject to parliamentary disallowance under section 42 of the Legislative Instruments Act 2003, but would not be subject to the sunsetting provisions in Part 6 of that Act (subclause 12(3)). Again, this means that the Finance Minister’s determinations are disallowable by Parliament, but if they are not disallowed they will not expire.

Clause 13 deals with advances of appropriation due to unforeseen and urgent circumstances, or because of an erroneous omission or understatement. These advances are made by determinations of the responsible Presiding Officer. The maximum advance under clause 13 is a total of $300,000 for each of the chamber Departments and the Parliamentary Budget Office, and a total of $1 million for the Department of Parliamentary Services. These amounts are the same as those contained in the Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Act (No. 1) 2012–2013.

Determinations under clause 13 are legislative instruments, but would not be subject to disallowance nor sunsetting under section 42 and Part 6 respectively of the Legislative Instruments Act 2003 (subclause 13(7)).

Part 4—Miscellaneous

Clause 14 provides for crediting amounts to Special Accounts. A ‘special account’ is one established under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 by the Finance Minister, or established under another Act.[9]

Clause 15 appropriates funds from the Consolidated Revenue Fund as necessary for the purposes of the proposed Act, including the operation of the proposed Act as affected by the FMA Act.

Schedule 1—Service for which money is appropriated

Schedule 1 to the Bill provides details of the appropriations for each parliamentary department—a summary of which is provided in the table in this Digest.

Members, Senators and Parliamentary staff can obtain further information from the Parliamentary Library on (02) 6277 2500.



[1].       R Dossor, Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2013-2014 [and] Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2013-2014, Bills Digest, 126, 2013–14, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2013, accessed 25 May 2012.

[2].       Australian Government, Portfolio budget statements 2013–14: budget related paper no. 1.19A, p. 8, accessed 3 June 2013.

[3].       Australian Government, Portfolio budget statements 2013–14: budget related paper no. 1.19B, p. 11, accessed 3 June 2013.

[4].       Australian Government, Budget measures: budget paper no. 2: 2013–14, 2013, p. 229, accessed 3 June 2013.

[5].      Ibid., p. 230.

[6].     Ibid., p. 229.

[7].     See section 15AB of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 (Cth), accessed 13 June 2013.

[8].     As defined in clause 3 of the Bill, the responsible Presiding Officer: for the Department of the Senate is the President of the Senate; for the Department of the House of Representatives is the Speaker of the House; for the Department of Parliamentary Services is both the President and the Speaker together; and for the Parliamentary Budget Office is the Parliamentary Budget Officer.

[9].      See Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997, sections 5 (definitions), 20 (establishment of special accounts by Finance Minister) and 21 (special accounts established by other Acts), accessed 7 June 2013.

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