(Parliamentary Departments) Bill
Date Introduced: 11 May 2004
House: House of
Commencement: On Royal Assent
To appropriate $178.663 million for
the recurrent and capital expenditure of the three parliamentary
departments for the 2004-2005 financial year.
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 on Parliamentary
Appropriations and Staffing which was 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 Parliamentary Service Act 1999 provides that the
administration of the Parliament is undertaken by at least two
parliamentary departments. Only the Departments of the Senate and
the House of Representatives (the chamber Departments) are created
by force of law. Other Departments may be established or abolished
by resolutions passed by each House.(1) In August 2003
the Senate and the House of Representatives both resolved that
there would be a Department of Parliamentary Services to support
the work of the Parliament,(2) and that it would be
established by amalgamating the Joint House Department with the
Departments of the Parliamentary Reporting Service and the
Parliamentary Library. The amalgamation was recommended by the 2002
Review by the
Parliamentary Service Commissioner of aspects of the administration
of the Parliament, more popularly known as the Podger
The new Department of Parliamentary
Services commenced on 1 February 2004. The President of the Senate
and the Speaker of the House of Representatives are joint Presiding
Officers responsible for the Department.
One of major rationales for
amalgamation of the three departments in the Podger report was cost
savings.(4) The report suggested that these savings
imply significant resources could be redirected to
core parliamentary business, eg to improve the quality of services
to Senators and Members.(5)
However, a significant part of these
savings appear now to have been redirected to meet increased
Parliamentary security costs. In the 2003-04 budget, the Government
allocated total additional on-going funding of over $6 million per
year to the two chamber departments for increased security at
Parliament House.(6) The increase in funding was to be
recovered, from the 2004-05 year onwards, by a cut of the same
amount in the funding for all the Parliamentary departments.
Specifically, a cut of some $3.6 million has been applied to the
2004-2005 Department of Parliamentary Services suppliers budget ,
with the chamber departments having cuts of $1.2 million each.
The Bill also provides $11.7 million
to the Department of Parliamentary Services for the cost of
constructing a barrier system in 2004-2005 around the internal
perimeter of Parliament Drive plus another one-off $1.3 million
allocated to security costs.(8)
Clause 4 provides
that Portfolio Budget Statements are to be considered as relevant
extrinsic material which may assist in the interpretation of the
Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) legislation. Portfolio
Budget Statements are statements prepared by portfolios (or by
departments in the case of parliamentary departments) to explain
the Budget appropriations in terms of outcomes. Their purpose is to
assist in explaining the proposed appropriations in the
Clause 6 lists the
total amount appropriated by the Bill that is $178.663 million.
Clause 7 provides that for departmental items,
the Finance Minister may issue from the Consolidated Revenue Fund
amounts that do not exceed that listed in the Schedule to the Bill,
and that such funds must be used for the departmental expenses of
the relevant parliamentary department. Departmental expenses are
incurred by parliamentary departments in providing the programs and
services indicated in the Portfolio Budget Statements.
Subclause 7(3) provides that where the amount is
for remuneration or allowances payable under the Remuneration
Tribunal Act 1973 or the Remuneration and Allowances Act
1990, the Minister for Finance must issue that amount.
For administered expenses,
clause 8 provides that the Finance Minister may
issue the lesser of two amounts; either the amount specified in the
item or the amount the Minister determines to be the administered
expenses incurred by the parliamentary department during the
current year. Administered expenses are funds administered by the
parliamentary department on behalf of the Commonwealth for its
purposes. An example is the Citizenship Visits Program funded
jointly by the Department of the House of Representatives and the
Department of the Senate and managed by the Department of the House
Clause 11 provides
that the responsible Presiding Officer may request the Finance
Minister to make a written determination reducing the appropriation
for an item in the budget of a parliamentary department by an
amount specified in the determination. The amount of reduction is
to be no greater than the amount requested, or, where payments have
already been made from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, the
difference between the amount appropriated to an item and the
amount already paid (proposed paragraph 11(4)(b).)
Reductions can only be made at the request of the responsible
Presiding Officer (proposed subclauses 11(1) and
11(3)). Proposed subclause 11(8)
provides that a determination made under this section may be
disallowed by either House of Parliament in accordance with the
provisions of section 46A of the Acts Interpretation
Under section 31 of the
Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997,
departments have access to certain monies received in payment for
services (clause 12). Services provided by
parliamentary departments which may attract receipts include
contributions from participants towards the cost of conferences and
seminars conducted by departments, asset sales, monies for accrued
leave entitlements of transferred employees, and interest earned on
fixed term deposits with the Reserve Bank of Australia. It should
be noted that resources received free of charge are not covered by
section 31 receipts but are part of the price of outputs. Revenues
from other sources are applied to the department s operating
Under clause 13,
the responsible Presiding Officer/s will be able to increase the
amount allocated to a departmental item to a maximum of $200 000
for each of the three Departments.(9)
Clause 14 is
similar to clause 13 but deals with increases in
items due to unforseen and urgent circumstances. The maximum
increase under clause 14 is a total of
$300 000 each for the Department of the Senate and House of
Representatives, and a total of $1 million for the Department
of Parliamentary Services.
Clause 17 will
appropriate the funds for services specified in Schedule
1 from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Parliamentary Service Act 1999, section 54.
The House of Representatives agreed to the resolution on 14
August 2003 and the Senate on 18 August 2004.
Podger Report, recommendation 5, p. 8.
ibid., see particularly pp. 40 and 45 46.
ibid., p. 46.
Budget Measures 2003-04, Budget Paper No. 2, p. 80.
ibid., p. 209. In the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 years, these cuts
will increase slightly to be $3.9 million and $1.3 million
Department of Parliamentary Services, Portfolio
Budget Statement 2004-2005, p. 20
Note that the amalgamation of the three former Departments into
the current Department of Parliamentary Services has not
reduced the amount available to the Department under clause 13 the
three departments have historically been limited to an additional
$200 000 shared between them.
This paper has been prepared for general distribution to
Senators and Members of the Australian Parliament. While great care
is taken to ensure that the paper is accurate and balanced, the
paper is written using information publicly available at the time
of production. The views expressed are those of the author and
should not be attributed to the Information and Research Services
(IRS). Advice on legislation or legal policy issues contained in
this paper is provided for use in parliamentary debate and for
related parliamentary purposes. This paper is not professional
legal opinion. Readers are reminded that the paper is not an
official parliamentary or Australian government document.
Published by the Parliamentary Library, 2004.