Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 2) 2014-2015

Bills Digest no. 80 2014–15

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WARNING: 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.

Dinty Mather and Daniel Weight
Economics Section
17 March 2015 

 

Contents

The Bills Digest at a glance
Background
Purpose of the Bill
Financial implications
Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights
Key issues and provisions

 

Date introduced:  12 February 2015
House:  House of Representatives
Portfolio:  Finance
Commencement:  On Royal Assent.

Links: The links to the Bill, its Explanatory Memorandum and second reading speech can be found on the Bill’s home page, or through the Australian Parliament website.

When Bills have been passed and have received Royal Assent, they become Acts, which can be found at the ComLaw website.

The Bills Digest at a glance

This Bill seeks to enact appropriations of $113.837 million from the Consolidated Revenue Fund. The main purpose for the additional funding is to improve the security arrangements of Parliament House.

Background

The Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 1) brought down under the Budget, provides a separation of the administration and operation of Parliament from the ordinary and other annual services of Government. The purpose is to reflect to some extent the supremacy of Parliament, and to provide autonomy from the Executive.[1] At this time salaries and allowances to Senators, Members and their staff are not paid out the Parliamentary appropriations.[2] 

Subsequent appropriations, over and above that originally budgeted, can be made when deemed necessary by the Government. The Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 2) serves this need. 

Purpose of the Bill

The purpose of the Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 2) 2014-2015 (the Bill) is to appropriate an additional $113.837 million for improving security in Parliament House. The appropriation is for the Department of Parliamentary Services.

Neither the Bill nor the Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements provide detail about the nature of the security upgrades.[3] On questioning by the Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee, the Department declined to explain, other than to say that the upgrades would involve the ‘hardening’ of entry points into Parliament House and ‘segmentation’. ‘Hardening’ was not explained but a description of ‘segmentation’ was provided in this exchange before the Committee:

Mr Skill: It means putting additional access points in different areas of the precinct so that you get greater security depth and delay or deter any kind of action that may be going.

Senator WONG: Would you like to put that into normal language.

Mr Skill: Essentially, if somebody wants to cause harm or access areas of the building, you put segmentation into specific areas of the precinct so that you can slow them down, track them down and stop them.[4]

The reluctance to provide detail was explained by the President of the Senate:

The PRESIDENT: I find this very difficult, Senator Wong. I am very much for providing the information—I think it is very important—but if we now highlight where the money is going to be spent and on what facets of the building, we instantly run up a flag saying that this is the weak spot. It is okay post the event because it then ceases to be a weak provision. That is my concern.[5]

Section 83 of the Constitution states ‘No money shall be drawn from the Treasury of the Commonwealth except under appropriation made by law’.[6]

Ordinarily, Parliament passes three Appropriation Bills as part of the Government’s budget process: 

  • Appropriation Bill (No. 1) and Appropriation Bill (No. 2) are for the ordinary and other annual services of Government respectively and
  • Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 1) is for the administration and operation of Parliament. 

The Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 1) to some extent reflects the constitutional independence of Parliament from the Executive.[7] The Bill does not provide for salaries, wages and other allowances for Senators, Members and their staff.[8]

Funding requirements may change after a Budget is brought down. In any given year, the additional estimates process will provide scrutiny and recommendations for further appropriations over and above that stipulated in the Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Act (No. 1). These additional appropriations form the Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 2).

For a general and contemporary discussion of Appropriation Bills refer to the Bills Digest for Appropriation Bill (No. 3) and Appropriation Bill (No. 4).[9]

Financial implications

The Bill seeks to appropriate $113.837 million from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights

As required under Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 (Cth), the Government has assessed the Bill’s compatibility with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of that Act. The Explanatory Memorandum states that ‘the Appropriation Bill is not seen as engaging, or otherwise affecting, the rights or freedoms relevant to the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011’.[10]

Key issues and provisions

Part 1 of the Bill deals with preliminary matters, including when the Act commences and how to interpret the Act. Clause 4 provides that the accompanying Portfolio Budget Statements and Additional Estimates Statements are extrinsic materials that may be used to interpret the provision of the Bill (or the proposed Act).[11]

Part 2 of the Bill outlines the quantum and types of appropriations to be made from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

Part 3 of the Bill replenishes the advances available to the Presiding Officer.[12]

Part 4 of the Bill provides, under clause 12, for crediting amounts to Special Accounts. Clause 13 contains the provision for appropriating monies from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.  

Schedule 1 outlines that the $113.837 million appropriation goes to the Department of Parliamentary Services, with $2.707 million to departmental expenditures, $2.730 million to administered expenditure and the remaining $108.400 million on non-operating expenditure.

 

Members, Senators and Parliamentary staff can obtain further information from the Parliamentary Library on (02) 6277 2500.



[1].         The Senate, Parliament’s appropriations and staffing: report of the Senate Select Committee, Parliamentary paper, 151, 1981, para 5.7, accessed 10 March 2015.

[2].         C Madden and D McKeown, Parliamentary remuneration and entitlements, Research paper, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2013, accessed 10 March 2015.

[3].         Department of Parliamentary Services, Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements 2014-15, accessed 16 March 2015

[4].         Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee, Official committee Hansard, 23 February 2015, p. 36, accessed 16 March 2015.

[5].         Ibid.

[6].         Australian Constitution, section 83, accessed 16 March 2015.

[7].         These types of Bill began to be used from 1982 onwards following reforms recommended by the Parliament’s appropriations and staffing report of the Senate Select Committee, 1981, op. cit.

[8].         C Madden and D McKeown, Parliamentary remuneration and entitlements, op. cit.

[9].         D Mather and D Weight, Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2014-2015 [and] Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2014-2015, Bills digest, 76, 2014–15, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2015, accessed 12 March 2015.

[10].      Explanatory Memorandum, Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 2) 2014-2015, p. 4, accessed 16 March 2015.

[11].      Acts Interpretation Act 1901, section 15AB, accessed 10 March 2015.

[12].      As defined in clause 3 of the Bill, the responsible Presiding Officer: for the Department of the Senate is the President of the Senate; for the Department of the House of Representatives is the Speaker of the House; and for the Department of Parliamentary Services and the Parliamentary Budget Office is both the President and the Speaker together.

 

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