PRACTICE AND EXPERIENCE IN THE
4.1 When considering Parliament's appropriations
immediate difficulty arises
in defining what constitute, or perhaps should constitute, those appropriations. The cur
rent practice provides for only certain
specific items to be included
in the annual Appropriation Bills under the general heading
of Parliament and therefore under the general
control of the Presiding Officers (separately in respect of the two House
departments and jointly
in respect of the joint service departments). Other specific items are contained in the votes for certain Executive departments, such as Administrative Services, Capital Territory,
Finance, Housing and Construction and Prime Minister and Cabinet, and are therefore under the administrative control of those Departments.
4.2 Based on approximate figures supplied by the Department of Finance, an examination of the Appropriations, including Special Appropriations, which might be said to relate
directly and indirectly to the operation
of the Houses of Parliament and the parliamentary activities of their Members shows that, for the year 1980-81, approximately 39% of the estimated expenditure falls into the category
of moneys under the control of the
Presiding Officers and the remaining
61% into the category of moneys under the
control of Executive departments. It should be made clear that this calculation can at
best be only approximate, depending as it does on an assessment of what functions re late to the operations of the Parliament. The figures used in
the calculation include,
for example, the office of Parliamentary Counsel, the inclusion
of which as a charge
against the Parliament is, at best, doubtful: They do not, and cannot,
make any allowance for largely unknown
services provided by departments whose activities may range through messenger duties to Parliament House, consideration of legislation, amendments, etc., to Parliamentary liaison
duties, and police security services.
4.3 In general
terms the votes under the Presiding Officers'
control currently relate
to the salaries and allowances of Senators and Members (Special
Appropriations flowing from the provisions of the Remuneration Tribunals Act 1973),
salaries, etc., of Parliamentary staff, the administrative costs of all Committees of the Houses
and of the Parliamentary departments, and Parliamentary printing.
4.4 The votes administered
Executive departments on behalf of the Parliament cover matters such as the provision
of electorate offices
and equipment, the salaries of research and electorate staff (including those provided to assist party committees),
official overseas travel
of Senators and Members, local travel of Senators and Members'
staffs, telephone charges
outside of Parliament House, and other comparable matters.
4.5 Current procedures for the preparation of the estimates
for the Parliamentary departments are similar to those
existing in Executive
departments and they are prepared under the same guidelines.
4.6 Draft Estimates
of Expenditure, which eventually form the basis of the Budget
Appropriation Bills (Nos I and 2), are prepared in March/April
each year in accordance with the classifications and principles set out
Finance Directions and the
Annual Estimates Memorandum
of the Department of Finance. In the Department of the Senate, these draft estimates
are prepared in the Administration Office of the Department, after consultation with and, where necessary, submissions from other sections of the Department.
4.7 After consideration by the Clerk they are then submitted
to the President for his approval. Formal advice of the estimates is forwarded directly
to the Minister for Finance, in accordance with recent arrangements made between the Presiding Officers and the Government. Copies of the approved estimates, together with the explanations, are sent to the Department
the submission of the approved
estimates, the contents
are the subject of formal discussions, at officer level, between the Senate and the
Department of Finance. If agreement cannot
be reached on any items of proposed expenditure these are referred back to the President
for reconsideration. Formal discussions between the
President, the Leader of the Government in the Senate and the Leader of the House may be held at this stage if agreement has not been reached. Discussions are held with the
Speaker in relation
to the House of Representatives and, in the case of the three jointly controlled Parliamentary departments, with both the President and the Speaker.
4.9 When agreement has been finally reached,
the estimates are included in the relevant Appropriation Bills. If agreement cannot
be reached, the Minister for Finance on behalf
of the Government, would ultimately include the figures
which the Govemment deemed appropriate, in accordance with its economic
policy. Included as Appendix 5 is
a list detailing examples over recent years of additional expenditures for the Parliament
which have been requested and rejected.
The funds available to Parliament for what are described as civil
works and repairs and maintenance are not contained
in the appropriations of any parliamentary department, but such requirements are also subject
to an estimating process
within each of the parliamentary departments. At present the funds are contained in the appropriations for the Department
of Housing and Construction.
4.11 The Departments of the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Parliamentary Library and Hansard submit their estimates for these items to the Joint House Department, which then submits estimates for Parliament to the Presiding
Officers for their approval.
After approval by the Presiding
Officers the proposals
are forwarded to the Minister for Finance and copies of the relevant
portions are forwarded
to the Department of Housing
and Construction. These estimates are subject to the same negotiation arrangements outlined
in paragraphs 4.8 and
area of interest, and possible
concern, relates to the control
of expenditure subsequent to the passage
of Appropriation Bills.
At any stage during a financial year, the Government may determine
that actual expenditure by departments will be restricted or reduced, regardless
of the appropriations made by Parliament. For example, the actual expenditure during a financial year on civil works may bear little relationship to the sum appropriated for that year, because it is controlled by the Civil Works Programme and a cash allocation set by the Government through the Department of Housing and Construction. This determines how much of particular projects is actually carried
out during the year.
4.13 Estimates for Special Appropriations made under the Remuneration Tribunals Act 1973 are prepared
at the same time as the ordinary
estimates for the Department.
They are subject to the same procedures as the ordinary
appropriations, but as they
are determined by the Tribunal, they are not in fact open for any possible
negotiation or disagreement.
estimates for the payment of:
Senators and Members' salaries and allowances in the nature of salary;
Senators and Members' travelling allowances;
Senators and Members'
postage (Canberra); and
the salary and allowances of the Clerks of the Senate and the House of Representatives and the other Parliamentary Permanent Heads.
(Estimates for other payments made pursuant to this Act are prepared
by and come under the control
of the Department of Administrative Services).
4.14 Staffing of the five Departments of the Commonwealth Parliament is governed
by much the same procedures and conditions of service as apply to the Australian Public Service. Section
9 of the Public Service Act 1922
does, however, contain
special pro visions relating
solely to the staffing of the Parliament.
4.15 The legislation provides for all appointments and promotions of officers
of the departments of the Parliament to be made by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Presiding Officer(s). The Presiding Officer(s) substitute for the Public Service Board where such a substitution is not inconsistent with the context
of the legislation; similarly, references in the legislation to 'the Minister'
are to be construed as references to the Presiding Officers.
The classification of offices is made by the Presiding
Officer(s), but the Presiding Officer(s) may request, the Public Service
Board to make the classification. However, a long standing arrangement (see paragraphs 2.17 to 2.19) which has been imposed
upon the Parliament has meant that the Presiding
Officers must consult with the Board be fore
classifying or creating
an office. The Board
is also consulted by the Parliamentary
departments on a range of other matters affecting the Parliamentary staff
for example, organisation, pay, employment conditions and industrial matters.
Sections 9 (6) and (7) of the Act provide that the Presiding
Officer(s) make regulations on all matters on which the Board may do so,
but a regulation made by the
Board will apply unless and until
is inconsistent with, or dealt with in a regulation relating to parliamentary officers; or
(b) the Governor-General, on the recommendation of the Presiding
Officer(s) declares that it shall not apply.
Staff numbers in the Australian Public Service are currently subject
to a policy of
Executive determined levels,
commonly referred to as staff ceilings. The Parliamentary departments are also subject to these
staff ceilings. The following extract
from correspondence between the Prime Minister and the President
indicates the extent of
government control over parliamentary staff numbers:
'The Public Service Board,
the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the
Treasury prepared a joint report for me on revised ceilings
for departments and statutory
authorities wholly or partly
financed from the Budget.
After consideration of the rec ommendations of that report I have approved
revised staff ceilings
for the Parliamentary Departments as set out in the attachment to this letter .
. . The setting
of these ceilings is consistent with the Government's general approach of achieving economies
in expendi ture wherever
possible and ensuring
that maximum restraint is exercised with respect to staffing in the public sector. Accordingly, I am writing
to you, the Speaker and to all Minis ters asking that, among other things, it be emphasised to departments and statutory authori ties that funds for 1976-77 will only be provided to support
staffing levels up to but not exceeding the ceilings set to apply
at 30 June 1976.'
4.19 The application of Executive imposed
staff ceilings to the Parliamentary departments is a matter of grave concern to the Committee as it clearly
undermines the principle that Parliament regulates
its own affairs.
Notes and references
Public Service Act 1922, section 9 (1)
ibid, sections 9 (2) and (3)
Extract from letter from the Prime Minister to the President, 10 February 1976
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