Notes to and forming part of the financial statements

Note 1: Summary of significant accounting policies

The Department of the Senate is a not-for-profit entity. Its activities are classified as departmental. Departmental activities involve the use of assets, liabilities, revenues and expenses controlled or incurred by the department in its own right within its one outcome. Further details are contained in the statement of comprehensive income and the statement of financial position, and in the resource statement on page 101.

1.1 Basis of preparation of the financial report

The financial statements are general purpose financial statements and are required by section 42 of the Public Governance Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

The financial statements and notes have been prepared in accordance with:

  • the Public Governance Performance and Accountability (Financial Reporting Rule) 2015 (FRR), and
  • Australian Accounting Standards and Interpretations – Reduced Disclosure Requirements issued by the Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB) that apply for the reporting period.

The financial statements have been prepared on an accrual basis and are in accordance with historical cost convention, except for certain assets at fair value. Except where stated, no allowance is made for the effect of changing prices on the results or the financial position.

The financial statements are presented in Australian dollars and values are rounded to the nearest thousand dollars unless otherwise specified.

1.2 Significant accounting judgements and estimates

In the process of applying the accounting policies listed in this note, the department has made the following judgements that have the most significant impact on the amounts recorded in the financial statements:

leave provisions involve assumptions based on the expected tenure of existing staff, patterns of leave claims and payouts, future salary movements and future discount rates.

No accounting assumptions or estimates have been identified that have a significant risk of causing a material adjustment to carrying amounts of assets and liabilities within the next accounting period.

1.3 New Australian accounting standards

Adoption of new Australian Accounting Standard requirements

All new or revised standards and interpretations issued prior to the signing of the Statement by the Clerk and Chief Finance Officer that were applicable to the current reporting period had no material financial impact on the department, and are not expected to have a future financial impact.

Future Australian Accounting Standard requirements

No new or revised pronouncements were issued by the Australian Accounting Standards Board prior to the finalisation of the financial statements which are expected to have a material financial impact on the department in future reporting periods.

1.4 Revenue

The department receives revenue from appropriations and the rendering of services. Revenue from rendering of services is recognised by reference to the stage of completion of contracts at the reporting date. The revenue is recognised when:

  • the amount of revenue, stage of completion and transaction costs incurred can be reliably measured, and
  • the probable economic benefits associated with the transaction will flow to the entity.

The stage of completion of contracts at the reporting date is determined by reference to the proportion that costs incurred to date bear to the estimated total costs of the transaction.

Revenue from government

The departmental appropriation for the financial year (adjusted for any formal additions and reductions) is recognised as revenue from government when the department gains control of the appropriation. Appropriations receivable are recognised at their nominal amounts.

Resources received free of charge

Resources received free of charge are recognised in the statement of comprehensive income as revenue where the amounts can be reliably measured and the services would have been purchased if they had not been provided free of charge. Use of those resources is recognised as an expense.

The department’s resources received free of charge relate to audit services from the Australian National Audit Office and accommodation at Parliament House from the Department of Parliamentary Services.

1.5 Transactions with the government as owner

Equity injections

Amounts appropriated which are designated as equity injections for a year (less any formal reductions) and Departmental Capital Budgets (DCB) are recognised directly in contributed equity in that year.

1.6 Employee benefits

Liabilities for ‘short-term employee benefits’ (as defined in AASB 119 Employee Benefits) and termination benefits due within twelve months of end of reporting period are measured at their nominal amounts.


The liability for employee benefits includes provision for annual leave and long service leave. No provision has been made for personal leave as all personal leave is non-vesting and the average personal leave taken in future years by employees of the department is estimated to be less than the annual entitlement for personal leave.

The leave liabilities are calculated on the basis of employees’ remuneration at the estimated salary rates that will apply at the time the leave is taken, plus the department’s employer superannuation contribution rates, and applicable on-costs, to the extent that the leave is likely to be taken during service rather than paid out on termination.

The liability for long service leave has been determined by reference to FRR 24.1(a) using the shorthand method. The estimate of the present value of the liability takes into account attrition rates and pay increases though promotion and inflation.


Employees of the department are members of the Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme (CSS), the Public Sector Superannuation Scheme (PSS), Public Sector Superannuation accumulation plan (PSSap) or other elected defined contribution schemes.

The CSS and PSS are defined benefit schemes for the Commonwealth. The PSSap is a defined contribution scheme.

The liability for defined benefits is recognised in the financial statements of the Australian Government and is settled by the Australian Government in due course. This liability is reported by the Department of Finance as an administered item.

The department makes employer contributions to the relevant employees’ defined benefit schemes at rates determined by an actuary to be sufficient to meet the current cost to the government and accounts for the contributions as if they were contributions to defined contribution plans.

The liability for superannuation recognised as at 30 June 2019 represents outstanding contributions for the final pay fortnight of the year.

1.7 Leases

Operating lease payments are recognised as an expense on a straight-line basis which is representative of the pattern of benefits derived from the leased assets.

The department manages two operating leases on behalf of Senate office-holders; non- cancellable three year motor vehicle leases of $9,697 (2018: $31,023). There is no purchase option available. Both lease agreements will be replaced in 2019. The reporting requirements of AASB16 Leases will apply to these new lease agreements.

1.8 Financial assets

Cash is recognised at its nominal amount. Cash and cash equivalents include cash on hand and deposits in bank accounts.

Trade receivables and other receivables are held for the purpose of collecting contractual cash flows and measured, and carried, at amortised cost.

1.9 Financial liabilities

Financial liabilities are measured at amortised cost.

1.10 Contingent liabilities and contingent assets

The department had no quantifiable or unquantifiable contingent assets or liabilities as at 30 June 2019 (2018: nil).

1.11 Acquisition of assets

Purchases of non-financial assets are initially recognised at cost in the statement of financial position, except for purchases costing less than $2,000, which are expensed in the year of acquisition (other than where they form part of a group of similar items which are significant in total).

The cost of acquisition includes the fair value of assets transferred in exchange and liabilities undertaken. Financial assets are initially measured at their fair value.

1.12 Property, plant and equipment


Following initial recognition at cost, plant and equipment are carried at fair value. Carrying amounts are reviewed every year to determine if an independent valuation is required. The regularity of independent valuations depends upon the volatility of movements in market values for the relevant assets.

Revaluation adjustments are made on a class basis. Any revaluation increment is credited to equity under the heading of asset revaluation reserve except to the extent that it reverses a previous revaluation decrement of the same asset class that was previously recognised through operating result. Revaluation decrements for a class of assets are recognised directly in the surplus/deficit except to the extent that they reverse a previous revaluation increment for that class. Upon revaluation, any accumulated depreciation is eliminated against the gross carrying amount of the asset. A revaluation of the department’s assets was last undertaken as at 30 June 2018.


Depreciable plant and equipment assets are written-off to their estimated residual values over their estimated useful lives to the department, using in all cases the straight-line method of depreciation. Heritage and cultural assets are not depreciated.

Depreciation rates (useful lives), residual values and methods are reviewed at each reporting date.

Depreciation and amortisation rates applying to each category of depreciable asset are based on the following useful lives:

Asset class 2019 2018
Plant and equipment 5 to 15 years 5 to 15 years
Furniture and fittings 5 to 100 years 5 to 100 years


All assets, including software, were assessed for indications of impairment at 30 June 2019. Where indications of impairment exist, the asset’s recoverable amount is estimated and an impairment loss recognised if the asset’s recoverable amount is less than its carrying amount.


An item of property, plant and equipment is derecognised upon disposal or when no further future economic benefits are expected from its use or disposal. Gains or losses from disposal of plant and equipment are recognised when control of the asset has passed to the buyer.

1.13 Fair value measurement

All property, plant and equipment is measured at fair value in the statement of financial position. When estimating fair value, market prices (with adjustments) were used where available. Where market prices were not available, depreciated replacement cost was used. A reconciliation of movements in property, plant and equipment has been included in Note 4.

1.14 Intangibles

The department’s intangibles comprise of internally developed software and purchased software for internal use. These assets are carried at cost less accumulated amortisation and accumulated impairment losses.

Software is amortised on a straight-line basis over its anticipated useful life. The useful life of the department’s software is 3 to 7 years (2018: 3 to 7 years).

1.15 Taxation

The department is exempt from all forms of taxation except Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) and the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

1.16 Events occurring after the reporting period

No events have occurred after balance date that should be brought to account or noted in the 2018-19 financial statements.

Note 2: Expenses
Note 2A: Employee benefits
Wages and salaries 14,299 14,664
Defined benefit plans 1,520 1,354
Defined contribution plans 1,379 1,413
Leave and other entitlements 3,986 3,261
Total employee benefits 21,184 20,692
Note 2B: Suppliers
Goods and services
Professional and financial fees 363 318
Facilities and infrastructure 603 990
Recruitment and staff development 88 103
Hire charges and hospitality 176 223
Travel 668 805
Media and communications 134 157
General office 386 442
Printing 136 146
Resources received free of charge
DPS – Accommodation at Parliament House 2,041 1,986
ANAO – 2018–19 audit fee 86 83
Total goods and services 4,681 5,253
Other supplier expenses
Workers compensation 79 95
Total other supplier expenses 79 95
Total supplier expenses 4,760 5,348
Note 3: Financial assets
Appropriation receivable 12,079 11,105
Trade and other receivables 23 1
GST receivable (from ATO) 22 12
Total trade and other receivables 12,124 11,118
Note 4: Non-financial assets
Reconciliation of opening and closing balances of property, plant and equipment and intangibles
  $’000 $’000 $’000
  PP&E Intangibles Total
As at 1 July 2018
Gross book value 1,877 841 2,718
Accumulated depreciation, amortisation and impairment - (782) (782)
Total as at 1 July 2018 1,877 59 1,936
Additions by purchase 453 - 453
Depreciation/amortisation expense (129) (29) (158)
Disposals (84) - (84)
Total as at 30 June 2019 2,117 30 2,147
Total as at 30 June 2019 represented by:
Gross book value 2,246 841 3,087
Accumulated depreciation, amortisation and impairment (129) (811) (940)
Total as at 30 June 2019 2,117 30 2,147
Note 5: Aggregate assets and liabilities
Assets expected to be recovered in:
No more than 12 months 12,717 11,651
More than 12 months 2,147 1,936
Total assets 14,864 13,587
Liabilities expected to be settled in:
No more than 12 months 1,672 1,627
More than 12 months 5,714 5,136
Total liabilities 7,386 6,763

Note 6: Key management personnel compensation, related parties and executive remuneration

Note 6A: Key management personnel compensation

Key management personnel are those persons having authority and responsibility for planning, directing and controlling the activities of the department, directly or indirectly, including any director (whether executive or otherwise) of the department.

The department has determined the key management personnel to be the Clerk, Deputy Clerk, Clerk Assistants and the Usher of the Black Rod. Key management personnel compensation is reported in the table below.

Key management personnel compensation
Short-term employee benefits 1,528 1,582
Post-employment benefits 236 214
Other long-term employee benefits 35 35
Total key management personnel compensation 1,799 1,831

The total number of key management personnel, included in the above note, relate to seven employees.

Note 6B: Related party transactions

Related parties to this department are defined as key management personnel and close family members of key management personnel. A related party transaction is a transfer of resources, services or obligations between the department and a related party, regardless of whether a price is charged.

During 2018–19, there were no related party transactions.

Note 6: Key management personnel compensation, related parties and executive remuneration (continued)

Note 6C: Executive remuneration disclosure – Key management personnel
    Short-term benefits Post- employment benefits Other long-term benefits Termination benefits Total remuneration
Name Position title Base salary
Other benefits and allowances
Superannuation contributions
Long service leave
Other long-term benefits
$ $
R Pye Clerk of the Senate 384,680 - 1,169 56,538 9,671     452,058
M Weeks Deputy Clerk of the Senate 251,693 - 26,689 42,207 5,968     326,557
J Morris Clerk Assistant, Procedure 186,600 - 26,689 36,083 4,829     254,201
T Bryant Clerk Assistant, Committees 193,699 - 26,689 35,430 4,814     260,632
R Callinan Clerk Assistant, Table 196,321 - 26,689 29,301 4,807     257,118
B Hallett1 Usher of the Black Rod 24,028 - 14,707 18,794 920     58,449
J Begley2 Usher of the Black Rod 147,840 - 20,817 17,988 3,654     190,299
Total3   1,384,861 - 143,449 236,341 34,663     1,799,314
  1. Retired on 22 January 2019
  2. Commenced on 17 September 2018
  3. The total amounts outlined in this table correspond with the disclosure at Note 6A

Note 6D: Executive remuneration disclosure – Senior executives and other highly paid staff

During the reporting period, all the department senior executives were included in the key management personnel disclosed above (2018: Nil). The department does not have any other highly paid staff that meet the reporting threshold (2018: Nil).

Note 7: Appropriations
Note 7A: Annual appropriations (recoverable GST exclusive)
Annual appropriation 23,463 23,387
PGPA Act – section 74 receipts 696 663
Departmental capital budget (DCB)1 775 914
Total appropriation 24,934 24,964
Appropriation applied (current and prior years) 23,960 23,921
Variance 974 1,043
  1. The DCB is appropriated through the Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Act (No. 1). It is not separately identified in the Appropriation Act.
Note 7B: Unspent annual appropriations (recoverable GST exclusive)
Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Act (No. 1) 2016–17 - 110
Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Act (No. 1) 2017–18 150 11,206
Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Act (No. 1) 2018-19 12,153 -
Total 12,303 11,316
Note 7C: Special appropriations managed through third party arrangements (recoverable GST exclusive)
Department of Finance – Parliamentary Entitlements Act 1990 (s. 11) - 72
Australian Public Service Commission – Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973 (s. 7)3 - 9,605
Department of Finance – Parliamentary Superannuation Act 2004 (s. 18) 2,495 2,398
Department of Finance – Commonwealth of Australia Constitution (s. 66) 1,516 1,604
Department of Finance – Parliamentary Business Resources Act 2017 (s. 59) 20,099 9,829
Total 24,110 23,508
  1. Arrangements have been entered into with the Department of Finance and the Australian Public Service Commission (for 2017–18) to allow the department to draw upon these appropriations.
  2. From 1 January 2018, following the commencement of the Parliamentary Business Resources Act 2017, the department ceased making payments on behalf of the Australian Public Service Commission.

Note 8: Budget variances

The comparison of the unaudited original budget as presented in the 2018–19 Portfolio Budget Statements to the 2018–19 final outcome as presented in accordance with Australian Accounting Standards and Interpretations – Reduced Disclosure Requirements is included in the statement of comprehensive income, the statement of financial position, the statement of changes in equity and the cash flow statement. Explanations of major variances are those within the control of the department.

Major variances
Explanation of major variance "Variance to budget
% of budget Affected line items
The Trade and other receivables balance was higher than originally budgeted primarily due to higher than anticipated appropriation receivable balance. The contributing factors for this difference were the reduced supplier expenditure due to lower than anticipated departmental activity as a result of the election period and the significantly lower than budgeted asset purchases due to delays in ICT projects and under spends in furniture acquisitions. (4,493) -59% "Statement of financial position:
– Trade and other receivables"
The Property, plant and equipment, Intangibles and Contributed equity balances were lower than budgeted due to assets transferred to Department of Parliamentary Services late in 2017–18, after the budget was passed. 3,347 43% "Statement of financial position:
– Property, plant and equipment"
2,160 99% "Statement of financial position:
– Intangibles"
2,254 47% "Statement of changes in equity:
– Contributed equity"
The variance of Employee provisions to budget is primarily due a revision of the methodology for calculating the provision which occurred after the original budget was set in the 2017–18 PBS. In addition, the significant reduction of the 10 year bond rate has resulted in an increase in the discounting factor applied to the leave balances. (1,580) -30% "Statement of financial position:
– Employee provisions"