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Appropriation Bill (No.4)
Date Introduced: 3 December 1998
House: House of Representatives
Portfolio: Finance and Administration
Commencement: On Royal Assent
To authorise the Minister for Finance to issue
an additional $254 977 000 from the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF)
to the funds allocated under the Appropriation Act (No. 2)
1998-99 for proposed expenditure on capital works and services,
payments to the States and Territories and other services.
The reader is referred to the Digest for the
Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 1998-99.
Outline of Major Additional
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and
Forestry - $5 600 000 is appropriated for grants to specialist
pigmeat processors. A further amount of $1 904 000 is appropriated
for the Pork Industry Development Group. An amount of $2 799 000 is
appropriated for assistance to the sugar industry.
Department of Communications, Information
Technology and the Arts - $3 516 000 is appropriated for
refurbishment and fitout of the Old Parliament House.
Department of Finance and Administration - $100
000 000 is appropriated for payments to assist people and small
business affected by the interruption to the Victorian gas
Department of Industry, Science and Resources -
$11 000 000 for a grant and $4 000 000 for a loan is appropriated
for IIF Investments Pty Ltd. The Innovation Investment Fund (IIF)
program is a strategy to improve access to venture capital by
innovative, high technology start-up companies.
Department of Transport and Regional Services -
$20 000 000 is appropriated to South Australia for runway extension
at Adelaide Airport. An amount of $10 000 000 is appropriated for
payment to the Northern Territory Indigenous Health
Department of the Treasury - $19 443 000 is
appropriated for a community education and information program
(CEIP) on the introduction of the new tax system. This program
relates to the advertising and information campaign undertaken by
the Howard Government prior to the 1998 General Election in respect
of its plan for a new tax system.
The Government approved an initial expenditure
of $10 million for this program in April 1998, intending to fund
the program from the Advance to the Minister for Finance and
Administration (AMFA), a fund from which payments may be made for
Commonwealth purposes which are both urgent and unforeseen. The
1998-99 Budget Papers(1) show that this sum was expected
to be expended by the end of June 1998, so no further appropriation
was sought for this purpose in the May 1998 (Appropriation Bill No.
2) although by early June,(2) Treasury officials were indicating
that the bulk of the money would be spent in 1998-99.
By the end of 1997-98, only $250,000 had been
issued from the AMFA of which $57 194 was actually expended.(3) The
Minister for Finance and Administration, on 1 July 1998, approved
the carryover of the remainder of the $10 million already approved
and any unspent funds into 1998-99.
During 1998-99, funding for the program
continued to be drawn from the AMFA since no annual appropriation
for it existed. Furthermore, on 28 July 1998, the Government
approved up to an additional $10 million for the program. In line
with the above arrangements, a sum of $1 million was issued from
the AMFA in July 1998, along with $4.5 million in August, $5.7
million in September and $650 000 in October. Item 978.01 of this
Bill represents, in part, a formal appropriation of funds already
issued from the AMFA in respect of the community education and
The expenditure of funds on this particular
program has been controversial. In particular, two issues have been
- the use of the AMFA to fund the program, and
- the propriety of using public funds to promote a policy
initiative of a Government just prior to an election. These issues,
among others, have been examined by the Commonwealth
The Auditor-General examined whether payments
from the AMFA for the program met the legislative requirement that
such funding may only be used for urgent and unforseen purposes.
The Auditor-General concluded that:
In light of legal advice received, the ANAO
[Australian National Audit Office] was satisfied that the approval
of funds from the AMFA met the legislative conditions that the
requirement for the funds was urgent and unforseen. However, in the
ANAO's view, at the cut-off time for the 1998-99 Appropriation
Bills in early May 1998, Treasury's expectation that there would be
no requirement for funds in 1998-99 was arguably optimistic given
the lead time, program length, guidelines and normal commercial
billing conditions for this type of program, as subsequent events
The issue of a Government's use of public money
to fund information programs has arisen on several occasions. The
Coalition, in opposition, criticised this activity on several
occasions, for example, in response to the Hawke Government's tax
advertising in 1986.(5) In 1995, Mr Howard stated that:
Today's Shadow Cabinet meeting in Gladstone
decided that, in Government, we will ask the Auditor General to
draw up new guidelines on what is an appropriate use of taxpayers'
money in this area.(6)
However, no such request appears to have been
made by the Howard Government to date.
In his recent report, the Auditor-General
In the light of...concerns surrounding the use
of public monies for government information and advertising...the
ANAO suggests that the Government and/or Parliament consider such
concerns and determine whether, in the interests of public
accountability and confidence, it is necessary to establish...
Parliamentary review of government information and advertising
arrangements to assist in determining appropriate guidelines for
taxpayer funded programs.(7)
Appendix 1 of the Auditor-General's report
outlines suggested principles and guidelines for the use of
government advertising, derived from guidelines adopted in New
Zealand and the United Kingdom and as suggested as a result of
reviews of government advertising in Victoria, New South Wales,
Queensland, Western Australia and British Columbia.
Clause 4 authorises the
Minister for Finance to issue an additional $509 973 00 from the
CRF for the year ending 30 June 1999 (Schedule 2 gives a portfolio
and program break-up of the proposed expenditure).
Clause 5 deals with payments to
the States. Schedule 1 deals with payments to the States 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.
- Portfolio Budget Statements, 1998-99, Treasury
Portfolio, pp. 40-41.
- Treasury evidence to the Senate Economics Legislative
Committee, 4 June 1998.
- Commonwealth of Australia, Issues from the Advance to the
Minister for Finance as a Final Charge for the Year Ending 30 June
1998, Commonwealth government Printer, 1998, p.15.
- Auditor-General. Taxation Reform. Community Education and
Information Program, Audit Report No. 12, 1998-99, p.9.
- Hansard, Prime Minister, Motion of Censure. Speaker:
Hon J. Howard, p. 3033.
- Press Release, Leader of the Opposition, 5 September
- Auditor-General, op. cit, p.14.
6 January 1999
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