Bills Digest 164 1996-97 Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill 1997-98

Numerical Index | Alphabetical Index

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.


Passage History

Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill 1997-98

Date Introduced: 13 May 1997
House: House of Representatives
Portfolio: Finance
Commencement: Royal Assent


To appropriate $138 450 000 for the recurrent and capital expenditure of the five Parliamentary Departments for 1997-98.

The appropriation represents less than 50% of total outlays for all services provided to Members and Senators. The figure for total outlays for 1997-98 (excluding superannuation benefits for Members and Senators) is estimated at $336.9 million.(1)


(a) Glossary of Terms

Appropriation - is the setting apart, assigning or applying to a particular use or to a particular person a sum of money. In the budget context an appropriation usually refers to an authorisation by Parliament to draw on funds from the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF).

Budget Outlays - refer to the net cost to the taxpayer of providing government services. Appropriations/payments out of the CRF are adjusted to take account (for example) of many government receipts. Hence a hypothetical government program 'XYZ' may have a total appropriation of $600 million but this may only represent budget outlays of $500 million if the 'XYZ' receives income of $100 million from other (non budget) sources.

Running costs - are the full current and minor capital costs incurred by a department or agency in providing government services for which the department or agency is responsible. For many departments, staff salaries will represent the largest proportion of such costs.

Borrowings - Borrowings allow agencies to bring forward some future years appropriation to be spent in an earlier year. This is intended to provide agencies with the flexibility to respond to changing spending priorities; and a mechanism to meet unforeseen costs.

Borrowings are arranged either through annual appropriation or additional estimates bills, such as is the case with this Bill, with a consequent reduction in a future appropriation, or through the Provision for Running Costs Borrowing (PRCB) where the borrowing does not coincide with an appropriation Bill.

Agencies are allowed to borrow up to 10% of the total running costs budget from any one year.

Running Costs Borrowings (PRCB) - The PRCB is a reserve that agencies can draw on to borrow running costs funds from future appropriation where it is not viable to wait until the passage of the next Appropriation Bill. Agencies can borrow from the PRCB if: there is a legitimate reason to borrow running costs; the agency has a running costs appropriation; the borrowings are repaid in full from some future appropriation; and sufficient funds are available.

(b) Overview

Since 1982, the appropriations for the Parliamentary Departments have been effected by a separate Bill. This followed the Fraser Government's consideration of the Report of the Senate Select Committee (the Select Committee) on Parliamentary Appropriations and Staffing tabled on 18 August 1981.

Under current arrangements, the executive government maintains control over the contents of the Bill as introduced. In theory however, as the Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill is not for the ordinary annual services of the government, it may be amended by the Senate.

The Public Service Act 1922 provides that the administration of the Parliament is undertaken by five Parliamentary Departments - the Department of the Senate, the Department of the House of Representatives, the Joint House Department, the Department of the Parliamentary Reporting Staff (DPRS) and the Department of the Parliamentary Library.

The Department of the House of Representatives and the Department of the Senate are responsible for the provision of procedural, information and administrative services to Members and Senators respectively. The Joint House Department performs building management and maintenance functions associated with Parliament House. DPRS provides reporting, information technology, telecommunications and broadcasting services to the Parliament through Hansard, the Parliamentary Information Systems Office (PISO) and the Sound and Vision Office (SAVO). The Department of the Parliamentary Library is responsible for the provision of library, reference and research services to the Parliament.

(c) Impact on Major Departments

House of Representatives

The department's running cost appropriation for 1997-98 will be $23 826 000. Total appropriations, for running costs and appropriations, will be $24 227 000. The running cost appropriation represents an increase of $1 570 000 (+4.4%) over the 1996-97 figure. The rationale given in the department's Portfolio Budget Statement for the increase is a decision of the Presiding Officers to transfer $1 999 000 from the Joint House Department to the Department of the House of Representatives and the Department of the Senate.(2)

The areas of expenditure to be covered by the funding transfer are the replacement of security systems within the Parliament, new statutory responsibilities for the Joint Committee of Public Accounts as the Audit Committee of Parliament, and the introduction of desk top access to the Internet for Parliamentarians and their staff in Parliament House.

Department of the Senate

The department's appropriation for 1997-98 will be $25 687 000. This total represents an increase of $1 528 000 on the 1996-97 figure. The department's Portfolio Budget Statement's state that the increase of $1 528 000 represents monies for new policy proposals funded by a reallocation of funds from the Joint House Department (see above).

The new policy proposals comprise:

  • $0 605 000 for a security asset replacement program;
  • $0 144 000 for desk top internet access for Senators;
  • $0 138 000 for 12 extra sitting days in the 1996 budget session; and
  • $0 108 000 to upgrade one of the positions in the office of Deputy President.

Main Provisions

Clause 3 provides that the Minister for Finance is authorised to appropriate a total of $138 450 000 from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the purposes listed in the Schedule to the Bill. These funds equate to the anticipated cost of the services provided by the Parliamentary Departments in 1997-98.

Clause 5 allows the Minister, based on the determinations of the Presiding Officers, to draw additional funds from the CRF for increases in salaries and payments during the year ending 30 June 1998. Amounts issued must be reported to the Parliament.

Clause 8 allows the President or Speaker, separately, to make advances up to $300 000 for expenditure to cover unforseen, erroneously omitted or understated circumstances in the appropriations proposed by the Bill in relation to the Senate or the House of Representatives. The President and Speaker can also make a joint advance, up to $1 million, to cover urgent and unforeseen circumstances in relation to the Department of the Parliamentary Reporting Staff, the Parliamentary Library or the Joint House Department.

Part 2 of the Bill (Clauses 10-17) provides for the application of certain provisions of the proposed Financial Management and Accountability Actrelating to appropriations. The Financial Management and Accountability Bill 1996 is currently before the Senate.


  1. Budget Paper No. 1, 1997-98, p. 3-48
  2. Department of the House of Representatives, Portfolio Budget Statement 1997-98, p. 4.

Contact Officer and Copyright Details

Ian Ireland
26 June 1997
Bills Digest Service
Information and Research Services

This Digest does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine whether the Bill has been enacted and, if so, whether the subsequent Act reflects further amendments.

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ISSN 1328-8091
© Commonwealth of Australia 1997

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Published by the Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1997.

This page was prepared by the Parliamentary Library, Commonwealth of Australia
Last updated: 14 July 1997

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